The more you try to unshackle, the more you tie up in knots. This best describes Presidency College’s plan to become autonomous. One may wonder why it so happens. Why is it that the urgency of autonomy is so badly entangled that nobody knows for sure when it would happen?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the web of self-serving and often conflicting interests is so thick that any heavyweight plan can at best sag it to the maximum, not tear it off.
I admit not having any detail design of the ‘web’ I mention above, but if one looks carefully at the newspaper reports and listens to the talks on the road, it becomes amply clear that Presidency’s autonomy plan is simply ricocheting off the ‘walls’ erected by groups who fear loss of ‘control’ once autonomy is in place. These groups are thus jockeying for positions that will see minimum damage to their control.
If Presidency presents one facet of state government’s dithering, the other is that about BE College at Sibpur. Going by today’s report in ABP, the state government loathes to accept center’s candy of whopping Rs.519 crore for BE College (now BESU, or Bengal Engineering & Science University) because it feels the candy rather tastes sour.
Why? First, according to center’s proposal, BESU will henceforth be known as Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology. Second, if the center ‘acquires’ BESU, it will no longer be possible to reserve 75% of seats for students from the state keeping the rest for ‘outsiders’. There perhaps are other reasons.
The state government’s thinking is that so far BESU has largely been funded from its coffers. So, it ought to have a say in its future too. The catch is state government doesn’t have enough funds to take BESU to world standard like IITs, which the center has and is ready to offer.
In the last book fair at Salt Lake Stadium, BESU students took out processions everyday to press for center’s promise of largesse to improve the standards of the institute, one of the oldest destinations in our country to study engineering. One feels there was little knowing then that the main thorn on the way to realize the dream is the state government itself.
Partha Chattopadhyay, the general secretary of BESU’s teachers’ council strongly feels the state government must agree to center’s proposal. To have a world-standard engineering institute is itself a matter of great pride, even if that means letting go some control over it.
After all, the process of industrialization will get a major fillip in the state since there is scope of knowledge-based research in such institutes like BESU. This aspect alone is worth invaluable for industries eager setting up bases in the state.
Blessed is Bengal for it has excellent institutes of learning centered in Kolkata. In rough reckoning, no other city in the country can boast of such an incomparable congregation. This is the city that seen scores of scholars and scientists in the past who have ‘conquered’ the world.
Though there are still gaps in higher studies of some disciplines (which can be easily filled up), there is no denying that Kolkata is home to creation of superlative knowledge.
For a long time the brains left the state in search of better alternatives elsewhere. Other than deteriorating ‘climate’ in the field of higher education, absence of industries also contributed to the flight of talent.
Of late the tide is gradually turning in the state’s favor. Time the state government pulls up its socks and ensures that no amount of dithering must obfuscate the revival of high standard of quality education in the state. It’s perhaps now or never.