Earlier in Forum







Q: Should IAS officers be appointed vice-chancellors?
This is the first instalment of readers’ response

Any VC should be academician first

If in this globalised world, schools, colleges and universities want to be seen as centres of excellence, the desired change can only be brought in with good reputation. This can only be possible if the vice-chancellor of the institute has a good worldwide reputation and proven academic credentials, too, along with teaching experience and administrative acumen. Any VC should have had a distinguished academic career, having held various high-rank degrees, besides the minimum qualification (doctorate) and should have taught for a minimum of 10 years in a college or university. He or she should have simultaneously held an administrative post, which means he or she is now in a position to frame better progressive future strategies for the better prospects of students. In contrast, if an IAS officer is appointed VC, he or she cannot deliver the goods. He or she might be an able administrator and good in bringing economic self-sufficiency, but this person will be unable to offer dynamic academic solutions. All IAS officers are trained to work in isolation and cannot adjust to the new environment of teaching, planning for examinations, changing syllabi, university rules and affiliations. Transparency is not what you can normally expect from a civil servant.


IAS officer is more neutral

The IAS officers should definitely be given an opportunity to serve as vice-chancellors for various reasons. As collectors and deputy commissioners, when they can handle various other administrative issues properly, they can also run a university. The general argument is that only high-profile academicians should be appointed VCs, but the IAS officers are equally intelligent, hard working and determined, who have already proved their academic talent by getting selected from among a large section of society on merit only. An IAS officer is more neutral than any academician and can handle political pressures more comfortably than any other incumbent. The only point of worry is that directly appointed bureaucrats lack sufficient experience of working with deep-rooted education policies. For this, a special training course is enough to make them well acquainted with the system. When the whole country can survive under the shadow of bureaucracy, what’s a university?


IAS officers specialise in all fields

IAS officers should indeed be appointed vice-chancellors. They are the kind of persons who can handle any problem in almost every field because to become an IAS officer, a person has to study various fields thoroughly. A teacher is a specialist in teaching, an engineer excels in technical knowledge, a doctor is an authority on medicine, but an IAS officer has got not only a good knowledge of all these fields but also an added experience in administration. Also, a VC does not have to deal with only educational matters. A younger IAS officer may prove to be more fruitful and energetic as a VC than an old academician.



Yes, if the IAS officer in question is capable, he or she can be made vice-chancellor. This type of assignment needs special qualifications and academic excellence along with good values and all-round qualities, which an IAS officer can easily offer.

AMAN JAIN, Ambala City

Merit is the sole criterion

A highly qualified and respected bureaucrat vice-chancellor once said: "We the bureaucrats go by the file." What I understood from it was that in a government department, there are a set of rules, whereas, universities mainly run on byelaws that can be framed by even nominated or ex-officio members representing the executive council. This does not mean that academicians are full of virtues. Vice-chancellors can be from any field, the only condition is they should have proven merit, mettle and excellence. Vice-chancellors these days have unbridled powers with no accountability or checks. Private tuition is banned, but government teachers from outside the city have permission to coach postgraduate students. Who is to be blamed; the IAS or the system?

Prof S. P. SINHA (Retd), Kurukshetra

Holistic knowledge is bureaucrat’s trump card

Yes, only the IAS officers should be appointed vice-chancellors, because they come through a fair and tough competition and after getting the best of training. They are the people who form the backbone of any successful government and who have got enough intellect to understand any problem. The role of vice-chancellor involves detailed understanding of the problems arising in a university caused either by teachers or students, which an IAS officer can ably tackle because of his or her training. The IAS officers can act as excellent vice-chancellors because they are good administrators.


Confidence sets apart civil servants

Everything hinges on the administrator, and the IAS officers are known for their virtue. These are the people who get their confidence from the knowledge that they have served in different departments for a long time. Nobody can point a finger at them. All bureaucrats know the flaws of our education system, which is now devoid of ethics and morality and because of which our youth are facing so many problems. Our education system requires some fundamental changes and an IAS officer can ably take up this job. Our government should also take the services of these highly reputed, intelligent Indians and free them from political interference. If you are to make them perform well as VCs, give them autonomy and their chosen teams.


Are good professors in short supply?

Is there any shortage of learned professors that a VC should now be chosen from among the IAS officers? Only educationists should be the VCs, as they can view everything from an academician’s point of view. Their aim is always to do everything possible for the good of students and not for the personal benefit of the government and political leaders. The IAS lobby is trying to control every aspect of society and be the boss everywhere. That’s bad for the coming generations.


What if they want to be Generals next

Yes, an IAS officer should be made vice-chancellor`85 of a university where they teach how to fight corruption. The incumbent can be even a serving officer put on the hook because he is a capable one. We can’t waste him or her after having spent a lot of money on his or her training, but nothing can be further from logic if we were to make him or her vice-chancellor. Universities are meant for providing our youth with top-quality education and only an academician can give you that. Let the IAS officers remain in a domain that is meant for them. Tomorrow, they may want to be Army chiefs.

VINOD TULI, On e-mail

Bureaucrat educators should go

A vice-chancellor should be from the faculty only. He or she should be a distinguished academician, a teacher of exceptional ability, an administrator, a person of great wisdom and one who possesses deep understanding of all university affairs. There are reasons to believe that this post is gradually slipping out of the hands of academicians and intellectuals. The government is deliberately abandoning the practice of appointing academicians as vice-chancellors. It is most unfortunate that our universities are now going to fall into the hands of political lobbies. The posts exclusively meant for technocrats are now being offered to favourites from bureaucracy as rewards for their services for their political bosses. In one of the most politicised states, retired IAS officers has been appointed vice-chancellors. Are intellectuals not competent enough? After more than half a decade of Independence, we should have the courage to examine minutely the hereditary insufficiency in the bestowed system. The first step towards freeing higher education is that bureaucrat-turned-administrators basking under political patronage should go for good. Neither legislators nor administrators are trained to select and appoint educators or to prescribe the contents of education.


It’s a question of competence

I am of the firm opinion that only renowned academicians who have a brilliant career in the field should be appointed vice-chancellors. This opinion falls in line with the view that if the country is to march forward, only competent persons need to be appointed to various posts. There is no fun appointing a man of history to teach chemistry. An IAS officer should never be considered for appointment as vice-chancellor.


Academician VCs haven’t been good

I strongly recommend the appointment of IAS officers as VC's in order to stop inefficiency and unaccountability in our universities. The recent wave against the appointment of IAS officers as VC's is not only short-sighted but also the result of hidden selfish interests. When a university teacher is chosen as VC, as is the trend nowadays, it is often seen that he or she is selected without due credence to his or her scientific background and academic merit. Only the people who find favour with the management and politicians are chosen after ignoring even seniority in most cases. This brings not only discontent among his or her peers but also breeds professional rivalry which is detrimental to the health of higher education in our country. Such an undeserving person, when chosen, often victimises the people who are not in his or her good books. Inefficient people who find favour with him garner plum posts. The bias is bound to affect the performance and intellectual development of an institution. A VC needs to be balanced and efficient administrator, besides an able guide. Dr Randhawa, an illustrious IAS officer who served as VC of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, in the 1970s, gave the university’s reputation a tremendous boost.


IAS has withstood test of time

If over-the-hill politicians, retired IAS/IPS and Army Generals can be appointed as governors and thereby chancellors also, there is nothing wrong with the appointment of IAS officers as vice-chancellors. The universities are supposed to be centres of excellence in various fields of human activity and, more often than not, only the best from these universities get in to the elite IAS and allied services. The IAS, which is post-Independence reincarnation of the "steel frame" ICS, has done reasonably well over the years and sometimes in extremely trying conditions. It has kept the administrative machinery running at the Centre as well as the states for close to six decades now. If this "band of brothers" can run sensitive ministries like home, defence, finance, commerce and industry, then why not universities?

M. K. BAJAJ, Zirakpur

This is era of specialists

This is the era of specialists. Since the university administration and programmes are connected with academics and research chiefly, and culture and support generally, the persons heading such institutions should be from the field of academics and they should have an outstanding background in teaching and research at the postgraduate level or higher. The IAS officers, broadly, may not able to do justice to the duties of the VC. They may not serve with grace because they are not specialists in any area of education. Moreover, being a political appointee, there is always the likelihood of an IAS officer not gaining full confidence of the teaching fraternity. It is high time we learn from the experience of advanced countries like the USA, the UK, France, Russia and Australia and discard our colonial attitude of treating the IAS as panacea.


The job is basically the same

Yes, the IAS officers should be appointed as vice-chancellors. The job of the IAS officer and that of the vice-chancellor is just the same: it’s that is of an administrator. An IAS officer, being a trained administrator, can well perform the job of a vice-chancellor and run the university in just the same way a person of equal qualification can do. Rather, in some cases, an IAS officer can manage the affairs of the university more efficiently than say a professor having better qualification and experience. This is again because of his or her experience in running the administration. Professors take up administrative duties much later in their career, maybe only when they becomes a vice-chancellors. If technocrats can enter the field of management, why can’t the IAS officers be vice-chancellors?

NAVJOT KAUR, Chandigarh

Teaching is different from ruling

IAS officers should not be appointed as vice-chancellors. The IAS officers are meant to govern. There is a lot of difference between ruling and teaching. The VC should be an academician and highly educated. He should be a good builder of teacher-student relations. He should be a first-rate scholar and expert in the fields of administration and education simultaneously. The VC should be an intellectual, visionary and a person of integrity. There are number of colleges under each university and a VC has to coordinate with them and meet everyday challenges. In foreign countries, the chancellors are highly educated and non-political. No doubt the IAS officers can be good administrators, but it’s different when it comes to spreading education. If the VC is an educator, he or she might have studied differenteducation set-ups and their different phases, which can help him or her a great deal in running the university.

— M.L. Garg, Chandigarh


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