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Centre shows down VC’s plea to gag teachers
Published on 25 Jun. 2010 12:59 AM IST
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Human resource development ministry has struck down a controversial proposal from Nagaland University vice-chancellor K. Kannan to penalise teachers for airing political views.
If implemented, the proposal could have set a precedent for faculty across the country, especially in Bengal where the faculties of some of the universities are highly politicized.
Kannan had proposed an ordinance for Nagaland University for penalising teachers for political acts and views, including participating in political events such as rallies.
But the HRD ministry has decided to ask Kannan to amend the proposed ordinance to remove the plan to punish teachers for expressing political views; top government officials have told The Telegraph.
The Government of India’s service rules for bureaucrats require them to remain politically impartial.
They can be penalised for airing views deemed politically biased and participating in political events such as rallies.
But teachers at the country’s central higher educational institutions are not bound by these rules. “The proposal from the vice-chancellor would have been untenable,” a source said.
The source added in jest that “if teachers were to be barred from holding political views, Murli Manohar Joshi would never have risen to become HRD minister”.
Joshi, who taught physics at Allahabad University, is one of the BJP’s seniormost leaders and was the HRD minister between 1998 and 2004. If Kannan’s proposal had been accepted, other central universities could make similar demands, sources said.
“Bureaucrats and officers are not paid to engage in creating new ideas or engaging in academic and political debate. Teachers, however, must be allowed to do so, or we would curb new intellectual thought from emerging,” a source said.
Kannan’s proposal represents the latest chapter in a long battle at Nagaland University between the vice-chancellor and teachers who have accused him of corruption and dictatorial administration.
A probe ordered by President Pratibha Patil, in her capacity as visitor to the university, confirmed some of the allegations against Kannan and recommended action. But no action has been formally taken.

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