Earlier in Forum







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

VC must be a distinguished educationist

The Education Commission (1964-66) headed by Dr D. S. Kothari held that "generally the vice-chancellor should be a distinguished educationist or an eminent scholar in any of the disciplines or professions with a high standing in his field and adequate administrative experience. We are not generally in favour of appointment of persons who have retired from other fields. An exception to this general recommendation should be made only in the case of very outstanding persons whose association with universities would be desirable from every point of view and should not be made an excuse for 'accommodating' or 'rewarding' individuals who do not fulfil the conditions laid down."

According to the UGC Committee on Appointment of Vice-Chancellors in Indian Universities (1991-93), "The vice-chancellor should be a distinguished educationist. He has commitment to the values for which the universities stand. He should be appointed solely on academic considerations and ability to provide leadership to the university by his academic worth, administrative competence and moral stature. Government officials (serving or retired) should not be appointed as vice-chancellors." A committee on "Model Act for Universities" had recommended that the first vice-chancellor should be appointed by the Visitor/chancellor or the government. The Kothari Commission rectified a lacuna in it (not explained) and suggested that the authority to appoint the VC during the first five years be vested with the Visitor/chancellor. A VC is appointed usually on the recommendation of the senate and the syndicate. The person appointed is generally a senior academic, "more often that not from another university". In this connection, Lord Robbins had observed in his writings: "I do not think that the VC should have been an academic, in the sense that he himself has made important contribution to the advancement of knowledge or has been outstanding as a teacher, though, if such a qualifications be combined with administrative ability, and the capacity to handle difficult people, as it sometimes is, it is a very fortunate circumstance." In the present scenario of globalisation of the higher education system, an IAS officer (serving or retired) may be appointed VC for the first five years. After this period, an academician alone having flavor for administration be appointed VC.


We need learned men of integrity

Gone are the days when we had upright men of vision and intellect as VCs. The present-day VCs, whether academicians or bureaucrats, are mere managers and paper shufflers, who only listen to the diktat of their political mentors. We need learned men of integrity and accountability who have triumphed over self-seeking. One of the reasons why wrong choices are made is that when a university wants a VC, it wants it in a hurry. There is no effort to promote a sense of continuity after the appointment. Being a teacher, when I compare the old enlightened, dedicated and devoted VCs with today's lacklustre, dispirited and unscrupulous persons, only one idea strikes the mind — what a fall! A university may be run as a fiefdom, but it cannot be run as a conspiracy. The power and influence of a university are not expected to be spelt out exhaustively and exclusively in its status. By its decisions and attitudes, it is expected to build up such moral authority as individuals and institutions would hesitate to defy. There are no statutory substitutes for the will to insist on the right standards. Our universities could be well managed and yet be poorly led. Despite the straits to which the VCs have been reduced, the importance of this coveted office survives, and no university is likely to be better than its VC wants it to be; hence, the importance of the right choice of an upright person.



Civil servants should do their own job

"Jiska kaam usi ko saaje, aur kare to danda baaje." It has become a habit with bureaucracy to capture all power. The adverse condition of the rule we all are experiencing all over the country. Our country does not have a shortage of highly qualified and clean technocrats, medicos, etc. Though some of them have gone to foreign countries due to poor working conditions at home, which are basically the outcome of corruption and misgovernance perpetrated by a few people, this should not give an opportunity to bureaucrats who work in tandem with like-minded political bosses. If every IAS officer with average qualifications and calibre can run the administration, then more experienced, disciplined, dedicated and sincere bureaucrats should be equally good. The Defence Services Welfare Department of Punjab, led by an IAS officer, does not have a single person with defence background in the department. That's why ex-servicemen and defence widows get only sewing machines and shawls, but hardly ever their quota of jobs, land and other entitlements. Therefore, work culture of an educational institution should not be substituted by any "danda-man".

Lt Col S. S. SOHI,


Bureaucrats have proved bad VCs

The IAS officers are certainly the finest brains of the nation, who are actually administering this big country, but it would not be judicious to assign them the responsibility of looking after the academic affairs of a university. Nor can we give this special job to retired Generals, even though they are quite indispensable for the security of the country and our borders. Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, has been gravely affected from time to time because of having non-academic vice-chancellors. Therefore, I can say with full conviction that non-academic vice-chancellors cannot do justice to the quality of teaching and research work at a university.



IAS VC will depend on others

The IAS officers should not be appointed vice-chancellors because their temperament is generally administrative, bureaucratic, authoritarian and result-oriented. An IAS officer may be intelligent, but not necessarily creative and humanistic. He may know nothing about the psychological aspects of curriculum, methodology of teaching, evaluation system, educational research and other co-curricular activities. In the absence of educational approach, he may remain at loggerheads with the faculty and spoil the educational or research-oriented environment. Quality education may suffer because of his dependence on others to understand the intricacies of the educational process. The educational success can't be gauged merely by examination results. The whole personality of a student needs to be developed and evaluated. An IAS officer may prove a good education secretary to a government, but he is sure to fail as a VC because a university is never run like a government department. Only an academician with a good temperament can be successful as a VC.



Civil servants don't have much vision

The post of VC is a specialised one, which requires a person with a rich experience in education at the university level. It requires a thorough professional with an understanding of education policies, research work in various disciplines and administration of examination work on a huge scale. Since a university is responsible for maintaining high academic standards in the affiliating colleges, a VC is expected to be a visionary and an individual who can get along well with the teaching faculty in university and affiliated colleges. It is a tall order indeed to become a successful VC as one has to have sharp intellect and an intuitive outlook with regard to the affairs of a university.

It is clear from the arguments put forward here that an ideal candidate for the post of VC in any university has to be a person with a vast experience in education and administration at the university level. That obviously rules out the appointment of IAS officers as vice-chancellors. Even officers from other fields such as the Army and judiciary don't fit in.

Dr B. R. SOOD,
Padhiana (Jalandhar)


Would you let a teacher act as doctor?

Just as a teacher cannot perform the duty of a doctor, in the same way an IAS officer cannot act as VC so efficiently. The job of the VC is to look into education-related matters and to frame and implement the new policies to make the education system better. On the other hand, an IAS officer is largely unfamiliar with educational policies. Due to his or her lack of experience in the field of education, he or she cannot get familiar with the views and requirements of students. Therefore, only educationists should be appointed vice-chancellors.

Nagrota Surian (Kangra).


Contacts make civil servants a better choice

In my opinion, there is no harm if retired IAS officers are made vice-chancellors of universities. After all, they are good administrators who know their duties well. They enjoy a good rapport with the government. When we have IAS officers as vice-chancellors, there are least chances of conflicts either from the non-teaching employees or from the teaching side. Therefore, IAS officers can prove an asset for the institution.



Universities should not be political fields

It does not make any differences if IAS officers are appointed as vice-chancellors. Owing to gross indiscipline, irregularities in conducting of examinations, sale of fake degrees, misuse and misallocation of funds, lack of resources and discouragement to the meritorious, the functioning of a number of universities has come to standstill. These have now become a hub of political activity. Education and suitable academic environs have been relegated to the background. A culture of lavish show-off is now an order of the day. In the fourth and sixth centuries, Fa-hien and Huein Tsang from China had to cross thousands of miles and had to face several odds in their pursuit and search for divine knowledge in India. They left behind an important description on the sanctity and high standard of Nalanda and Taxila universities. Only those who were desirous for higher education were permitted to enter the premises of these universities. Thus, it is not an IAS officer but a valuable academician of high stature who knows how to create a proper academic environment should occupy the dignified chair of VC.


IAS VC can only be stopgap

Any reputed university has to be a centre of academic excellence with distinguished scholars and brilliant teachers. In such a milieu, an IAS officer as VC may be out of place. However, if there are administrative problems in the university, a competent IAS officer may be appointed as a purely stopgap arrangement. An IAS officer of sufficient seniority is a multi-skilled manager and a trouble-shooter. Let us not forget that faced with problems, the famous Landon School of Economics brought in John Ashworth as its Director even though Ashworth was not an economist, sociologist or political scientist, but only a biochemist with administrative skills.

P. C. HOTA, former Chairman, 
UPSC, New Delhi

IAS officers think they are superhuman

Educational institutions are better looked after by educationists, as they are the real promoters of education. The IAS officers always consider them to be superhuman and always behave accordingly. If the IAS officers are appointed vice-chancellors, educationists will feel humiliated and this may cause inferiority complex in them. Then, there will be permanent rift between IAS-VC and his or her highly educated staff. There will be even more administrative hurdles in running the universities. Further, if educationists lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, there will be dissatisfaction among them, as their aspirations will be dashed, and that may affect their performance as educationists. It appears that the IAS lobby is keeping an eye on the highest posts in every department. Keep the IAS officers away, at least from our universities.



Academic leadership is vital

To create a healthy academic atmosphere in a university free from fear and politics, there is a strong case for appointing a person who understands academics and its problems in toto. A vice-chancellor should be capable of providing the university with academic leadership for creating a healthy work culture for teaching and research, which is otherwise deteriorating day by day. The appointment of a VC should follow some basic criteria, which should be above politics. An academic personality capable of giving leadership should be appointed as vice chancellor, regardless of whether or not he or she is an IAS officer. There are some IAS officers who are full of academic zeal, scholarship, vision and leadership qualities and are capable of saying "I am sorry", if needed. They are the real cream of the country (the direct entry), who somehow never get the opportunity to prove their real potential. On the other hand, there are certain IAS (retd) officers, particularly promotees, who don't possess the qualifications of a school lecturer and are of a brand "I am safe". They thrive under the political clout believing completely, absolutely and literally in "yes sir" culture. He follows "his master's voice" approach and bends the way of his political masters, even if it means flouting all norms and standards and polluting the academic work culture, which should be saved at all costs.

Prof M. M. GOEL,


Functions of universities can guide us

To be able to offer one's views with some accuracy, one has to have a thorough knowledge of the functions of the universities and the duties required of the Vice-Chancellor. Without this basic knowledge, the suggestions offered would be based merely on one's imagination. If the universities are purely seats of higher learning and research and the duties of the VC mainly involve promotion of the above functions, the vice-chancellor then should be a highly qualified academician. If the universities are more like an examining body and less institution of learning and the duties of the VC are more of an administrative nature, the VC then should be a person of proven management qualities, with or without experience in the education line. As most universities today fall in the second category, it will be more appropriate if these are headed by college principals having requisite experience in administration or by the IAS officers who are versatile administrators.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd),


These are two different job areas

The IAS officers should not be appointed as vice-chancellors. The duties of a VC are somewhat different. Vice-chancellors are the custodians of universities, which are temples of higher education. The VCs should be highly qualified academicians with track record of honesty, integrity and dedication. They should also have a sufficient experience of teaching in reputed colleges and universities with all-round excellence. In my opinion, a person from the field should only head any institution in that field. A round peg in a square hole is totally unwarranted and undesirable. Even ministers and chairmen of various boards should possess the requisite qualifications if they were to run the government well. It is illogical to appoint a person as minister/chairman/governor who does not have the appropriate qualifications. How often have we seen a minister getting one portfolio today and shifted to another ministry after some time. Is he of she not fit for the portfolio(s) he or she was holding earlier? The government of the day should keep these aspects in mind.

Mandi Gobindgarh

Make it a partnership

There is no denying the fact that much administrative work is added amongst the duties of a VC. Administrative problems surface, if vice-chancellors are taken only from the education cadre. On the other hand, when IAS officers are appointed as vice-chancellors, the academic work suffers because they are not well versed in this field. Appointing vice-chancellors from the education field and giving the administrative work in universities to administrators from the administrative side can solve these problems. Such persons can be deputed to function as secretaries. When IAS officers can work as secretaries in the Punjab State Electricity Board, this practice can be adopted in universities, too. A university functions under the syndicate and the senate. Therefore, appointment of IAS officers as administrators in universities would not downgrade their status.


Not really the optimum use of talent

I think it is not fair to appoint an IAS officer as vice-chancellor. The IAS officers are trained to do administrative jobs well, but the VC's is such a post that is not meant for a bureaucrat because this will not be the optimum use of his or her ability. The Indian Civil Services Examination is the toughest of all examinations in the country and such qualified persons should be placed at more important and strategic posts to fully utilise their potential. There are many other areas in which we can utilise their intellectual skills optimally. By appointed the IAS officers as VCs, we will only hamper their performance and also rob the country of able administrators. Civil servants are supposed to hold jobs that require extra intelligence and skill, besides a sense of responsibility and accountability If we were to appointing them as VCs, their job area will be restricted to a particular miniscule university or educational institute.

Cheeka (Kaithal)


Civil servants would bring civility

The IAS officers are broadminded and good law protectors. They know how to deal with the population of learners and even know the way of providing them with a good study atmosphere. These people have worked hard all their lives to achieved a good knowledge of diverse fields. They have been brilliant students all their lives, so it doesn't take them much time to learn anything new. They have achieved the position on the basis of merit, good study discipline, knowledge, background and atmosphere. To exert control over students, who are given to misbehaviour and unusual strikes, the Indian Administrative Service officers are the ideal choice, because this is not something which an academician can do. With their coming in as VC, the education process will become smooth and this will bring in good manners and discipline in students. It is good to adopt an IAS officer as VC of premier universities just to make the Indian youth efficient, gallant and more civilised.

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