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

An outstanding academician should be the head

One must understand the functioning of the university before selecting a vice-chancellor. The university is a vibrant place humming with activities where the future of the nation is moulded in the shape of carriers of young men and women. The informal training one gets on the campus plays an important role in every sphere of life. The students not only get an opportunity to earn their degrees that help build their carrier, but also have a feel of the atmosphere on the campus which is responsible for building their overall personality.

The standard of any educational institution is reflected by the excellence of its products in different fields. Thus, universities have rightly been designated as the seats of education and learning. These institutions have to be administered shrewdly by academicians having strong administrative capabilities and vision, and also a humane touch to understand the psychology of young minds. Therefore, these institutions do not require only administrators in the form of IAS officers who are otherwise not trained to tackle academic matters and university affairs. They can behave as experts in different fields but not in education. Only an outstanding academician of impeccable character should head the university. A national panel can be set up to find such persons. On the other hand, the administrative system in most of the universities has deteriorated to such an extent that it would be wise to appoint vice-chancellors from outside the states like governors. Education in India has already paid dividends, and this has to continue in the global competition, too.

— V. K. GUPTA,
Dean Post Graduate Studies (retd),
HPKV, Palampur

Administrator would be a better option

I feel that an administrator would make a better vice-chancellor any day. Running a university is a huge task, and this has little to do with theoretical knowledge. After all, with an experience of taking most crucial decision, making work effective within the given framework and moving forward taking everyone in stride, an administrator has all the abilities of making a university reach greater goals and objectives. An academician might have a sound knowledge of all the fields but the practical knowledge is where he would lack. Also I feel that lots of decisions taken by the vice-chancellor are more administrative in nature than academic. The VC has to be a good manager, a quality seldom associated with an academician. Hence I feel that an administrator would be a better option for vice-chancellor.


Authoritarian need of the hour

Why not? The attributes for being a vice-chancellor are nearly synonymous with that of an IAS officer. Moreover, a vice-chancellor might be a good educationalist but that doesn't necessarily mean he would be an able administrator as well. Considering the present status of educational institutions, authoritarian rather than an academician is the need of hour, who could turn the tables by going deep into the roots of corruption and mismanagement that is hindering the growth of our education system. The field of education is complicated like politics, which requires a person of high degree of intelligence, vigilance and pragmatism.

On e-mail

The post calls for specialisation

An academician should head the chair of vice-chancellor because the university is a place of higher learning, and only an experienced academician can best understand the concerns and issues of this great learning body. One can understand the problems of teachers/students only if he goes through this stage himself. A lot of decisions that need to be taken by a vice-chancellor might not sound best to an administrator, but when one analyses it from a student's point of view, or from the view of furthering the cause of greater awareness, one would notice that the decision has been the best. The post calls for specialisation and should be held only by an experienced person. When nobody talks about a teacher being appointed as Block Developmental Officer, then why should an IAS officer be appointed as vice-chancellor?


IAS officers can act decisively

IAS officers are good administrators as they are prepared to learn everything about something and something about everything. Thus, they can act decisively because this particular quality makes them efficient enough to handle different situations that demand different treatments. No doubt academicians would be good enough to make discipline, growth and hard work as the motto of their lives as well as that of the institution in toto, and would know when to take corrective measures. There is nothing bad in appointing IAS officers as VCs because they are competent enough to handle such jobs that require good decision-making skills and strong will.


Free varsities from politics

Universities are the temples of higher learning. These are the nurseries of future administrators, scholars, scientists, technocrats and leaders of the country. The management of universities should be conducive to growth of academic excellence. These should be free from any kind of political interference. The atmosphere should be congenial for studies. Therefore, senior most educationists who understand the requirements of teaching, research and academics should be appointed as vice-chancellors. An IAS officer is not well acquainted with the affairs of the university, which are quite different from the general administration. Moreover, academicians serving in different universities on higher positions for long time should also get a chance to prove their mettle.

HIRD, Nilokheri

Select those who fulfil conditions

There is no doubt that IAS officers are the real administrators of the country. Their intellectual abilities and high competence cannot be challenged. But the VC's job is not just that of a bureaucrat. He should have some experience in the field of education, too. This doesn't mean that only teachers or scholars are suitable for this position. Any person who holds a high educational background and is aware of the lines on which great institutions are run can be considered for the post. Some IAS officers have great integrity and leadership qualities but lack educational experience. Whereas, academics although raise the educational level but fail in the administrative sphere. A vice-chancellor should be the one who is capable of lifting the academic level of a university and should also be able to run the administration honestly and efficiently. An IAS officer fits well into the role of an administrator but should be appointed VC only if he fulfils the conditions from the educational aspect as well.


Bureaucrats are meant to rule

The vice-chancellor should be a distinguished academician. He should be a teacher of exceptional ability, an administrator, a person of great wisdom who possesses a deep understanding of university affairs. He should be an intellectual, visionary and a man of integrity. And there is no dearth of such learned persons in our country. IAS officers should not be appointed vice-chancellors because they always work for their personal benefits, the government, political parties, etc. and not for the betterment of students who are the main part of educational institutions. On the other hand, a vice-chancellor having a distinguished academic career always tries to help build good relations between the teachers and students. Therefore, IAS officers should not be appointed vice-chancellors because they are meant to rule, and there is lot of difference between ruling and teaching.


The job suits academicians

The appointment of vice-chancellor should be the academicians' prerogative because the main role of the university is to maintain the high standard of education in all streams and instil discipline, sincerity and integrity in students as well as teachers effectively. It is purely a specialised job that only suits to teachers, professors and principals. Academics understand in depth the educational procedures as well as needs of the student community. IAS officers having background of arts may be good at civil administration, but their less acquaintance with other disciplines may affect their performance. If IAS officers are given weightage just because of their administrative skills, then the most suitable persons for this coveted post should be the retired Army chiefs who are proven administrators and able leaders.

— Col BEANT SINGH (retd),
Jalandhar Cantt

Academicians too need elevation

Whenever a bureaucrat is appointed vice-chancellor, a lot of dust is raised in the university concerned by the academicians who, too, expect to occupy this apex position. What academicians often fail to stomach is the political interference in the appointment process. While selecting vice-chancellors, the prime consideration should be the qualities and mental make up of a man. There is no doubt that IAS officers, who belong to a highly disciplined class, have been through various assignments that provide them a better knowledge of situations than academicians who spend most of the time in dealing with education-related issues. But at the same time, it cannot be denied that the highest position in a university, which a highly accomplished academic can aspire for, is that of a vice-chancellor. And if it goes to an IAS officer, it is highly demoralising for the academic fraternity.

Academicians should also be given preference because they have no other fields of elevation, which are available aplenty to IAS officers. It is wrong to suggest that a civil servant can run a university better than an academician because the job is basically an administrative one. While an academician may lack the administrative edge that an IAS officer has, the fact is a bureaucrat often lacks the academic sensitivity and intellectual culture, the vital parts essential in running a university. However, we have seen from contemporary experience that extreme postures on this issue are not advisable. I would prefer academicians than IAS officers because universities have become the hub of politics these days. The real research for which universities are established is trailing behind, and universities are now in news mostly because of strikes by students and employees, admission date and recruitment-related issues, etc. Hardly one sees a university in news for some new research.

— Dr J. S. ANAND,
On e-mail

Appoint distinguished persons

Only the acumen, sagacity and temperament of the person concerned and full support from the government can make a vice-chancellor successful. In my opinion, only distinguished educationists should be appointed vice-chancellors. They may be eminent scientists, technocrats, distinguished professors or principals of good repute. If the employees and students know that the government would support the vice-chancellor, most of the sinister designs on the part of the employees as well as students to paralyse the working of the universities on flimsy grounds can be avoided.

A bureaucrat tends to show inclination towards the administrative side, there are chances he may not be able to concentrate on teaching and research work. There is another danger. An IAS officer may take the university as another government department and thus may jeopardise the autonomous status of the seat of higher learning. A senior professor/principal with an administrative aptitude can deliver the goods in a more effective manner, provided he is well supported by the government. Therefore, an educationist should be at the helm of university affairs.

— Dr N. K. NAGPAL,

IAS officers fulfil all requirements

The chair of vice-chancellor is of great dignity and responsibility. Therefore, a vice-chancellor should be a dynamic leader as well as administrator with an elementary knowledge of all subjects. In the presence of a good vice-chancellor, chances of disputes are diminished because he can handle all problems and disputes on his own. There should be no doubt on the integrity of IAS officers because they have all the required qualities that make for a good vice-chancellor.

Dharmour, Mandi


Yes, IAS officers should be appointed as vice-chancellors. India is a democratic country where every citizen has the legitimate right to have public office on merit. If Army Generals can be appointed Governors of the states, then there should be no problem in appointing IAS officers as vice-chancellors. The university requires an able administrator who is willing to learn its functioning, and IAS officers fulfil both requirements.

Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur

A man of proven integrity is needed

Whenever an IAS officer is made vice-chancellor, he has to leave before the end of his tenure. Despite his best administrative acumen and academic capabilities, he finds himself encircled by a horde of problems-administrative, academic and political-just because he fails to appease, placate or subdue the disgruntled or mischievous elements. An IAS officer comes with a brilliant record after putting tons of persistent labour. But as a vice-chancellor, he realises sooner or later that he has lost his honour and dignity without any fault. Foes pop up their heads from all sides and the university looks like a battleground. The onslaught of problems leaves him doubtful about his own academic achievements, too.

The experience of vice-chancellors from the academic side is no different. The rot is deep as the malady cries for drastic remedies. Only a man of great intellectual capability and proven integrity should be made a vice-chancellor, no matter if he is an IAS officer.


Appoint academician of repute

Bureaucrats should not be appointed as vice-chancellors. To provide the academic and administrative leadership to the highest institution of learning, the vice-chancellor should be an eminent academic person who has been consistently engaged in research and teaching. Generally, a bureaucrat is involved in administration and not in teaching and research. His temperament and perception are totally different than that of academicians. Whenever a state government experimented by appointing a bureaucrat, the academic interests of the institution suffered miserably. This kind of practice is not prevalent in the central universities, where academicians are appointed as vice-chancellors who ably provide the academic and administrative leadership. But in state universities, the experiment of using administrative experience of bureaucrats and ex-servicemen has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the faculty and the students. Today's bureaucrats generally don't have any interest in research and teaching. So it is the duty of the government to appoint the academician of repute to lead the university and to save the higher education.


Bureaucrats should first reform their own field

For over a century, India's administration under ICS/IAS officers has been known for its inefficiency. It has always invited adverse criticism from the Indians, NRIs and foreigners. The departments that have traditionally been under these administrators are the worst afflicted with corruption. Over 100 years, these administrators have been unable to change the image of patwari, kanungo, havaldar and thanedar. The situation has only worsened after Independence. Therefore, IAS officers should first reform their own field. A vice-chancellor, who deals with educated people, has to have a completely different mindset from the mindset of an administrative officer. An IAS officer is trained to listen to the slogans against his official/personal position. He would bring to the places of learning an iron rod that may drown dissent, suppressing independent thoughts. The inductions of IAS will also increase political interference in the universities because of his nexus with the politician.


IAS officers deserve the post

Yes, IAS officers deserve to be appointed as vice-chancellors because they have been serving the country whole-heartedly. They should be rewarded for their most difficult task that they had accomplished by being a top-most officer. I think an IAS officer, who has managed to be at one of the top post of the country, is capable of performing his/her duty as vice-chancellor, too. They are the only one who can control the undisciplined elements effectively. They have many years of experience behind them and know how to tackle the situation efficiently. IAS officers may prove trump cards, if they are appointed as vice-chancellors. The post of vice-chancellor is a hot seat that requires responsibility, and good administrators are certainly in short supply.


Academic leadership is vital

After going through all the views published in these columns, I agree with Prof M. M. Goel's views that understanding of teaching and research work is the first requirement of a vice-chancellor. Here is an example: One of the learned vice-chancellors of Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, had initiated a step to encourage D.Litt. I got due permission from Jammu University to apply for the registration in D.Litt degree in Kurukshetra University. My application along with fee etc. was properly processed.

Unfortunately, the aforesaid vice-chancellor was shifted from the university and an IAS officer was appointed in his place. My case was placed before him. I got a letter in which I was asked to meet him in connection with the D.Litt application. I reached Kurukshetra from Jammu and got frustrated to know that I had been called from the long distance to be told that Kurukshetra University is discontinuing D.Litt. Degree. An academician VC would not have done so. Now readers themselves can judge who deserves the post.

— Prof BALDEV RAJ GUPTA (retd),



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