No attempt to curtail Amartya Sen’s tenure as Nalanda University Chancellor: Government

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The Centre on Friday said that no attempt is being made to curtail Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen’s tenure as Nalanda University Chancellor hours after the world renowned economist accused it of doing so.

“There is no attempt to curtail Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s tenure as Nalanda University Chancellor,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson.

MEA is yet to receive approved minutes of the meeting of Governing Board of Nalanda University; the MEA spokesperson said.

The reaction from the government came hours after Sen, who is one of the world’s most celebrated economists and thinkers, reportedly hit out the BJP government for pressurising him not to pursue a second term as the Chancellor of Nalanda University.

The noted economist recently shot off a five-page letter to the Governing Board of the university in which he has mentioned that he is opting out of a second term despite his unanimous election by the Board for the coveted post on January 13.

Sen alleged in the letter that the Visitor, President Pranab Mukherjee, has also not been able to provide his consent to the board’s decision because of the absence of government’s approval.

“As board members are aware, our visitor — President Pranab Mukherjee — has always taken a deep personal interest in the speedy progress of the work of Nalanda University, and given that, we have to assume that something makes it difficult — or impossible — for him to act with speed in this matter,” Sen was quoted as saying in the letter by reports.

“Non-action is a time-wasting way of reversing a Board decision, when the Government has, in principle, the power to act or not act,” Sen further said.
“It is hard for me not to conclude that the Government wants me to cease being the Chancellor of Nalanda University after this July, and technically it has the power to do so,” the veteran economist wrote.

Sen also condemned increasing political interference in matters related to academic institutions in his five-page letter.

He, however, concluded by saying that he has written the letter with a “heavy heart since re-establishing Nalanda has been a life-long commitment for me” and is “using this occasion to publicly communicate that I shall do whatever I can over the remaining time I have, though the leadership of the long-run planning of Nalanda has, obviously, to come from someone else”.

Dr Amartya Sen is known to be a vocal critic of PM Narendra Modi and had criticised his leadership throughout the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign. Dr Sen’s latest face-off with the Modi-led BJP government at the Centre may soon catapult into a political debate, considering the involvement of high-profile persons in the case.