Full text: Ex-Mumbai University V-C writes open letter to Maharashtra governor over varsity crisis

Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar is a Rajya Sabha MP and the former vice chancellor (V-C) of the University of Mumbai. Recently, the university had been in the news for failing to deliver the results of over 400 examinations, held in March, by the 21 July deadline. The root cause of the delay was said to be the hasty digital transition of paper correction, which included on-screen marking of answer papers. Although the 160-year-old university intended to promote transparency with the move, it received flak for it's inability to identify its realities in advance. 

On 26 July, Mungekar had expressed his disappointment at a press conference on the university's state of crisis. He asked for the current vice-chancellor Dr Sanjay Deshmukh's resignation and also demanded an enquiry in the evaluation process. The deadline, later extended to 5 August by Maharashtra governor, also the Chancellor of the university, CH Vidyasagar Rao, was one of his main concerns.

On Thursday, the former vice chancellor reached out to the governor to convey his thoughts on the situation.

Read the full text of the open letter here:

Shri C H Vidyasagar Rao,

Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra and The Chancellor of the University of Mumbai,

I am writing this letter to your good-self with extreme pain and anguish with a view to putting forth the voice of lakhs of students of the Mumbai University (MU) and their parents who have irreparably suffered due to the recent crisis that has held to the ransom their academic future.

Being privileged to be VC of this prestigious University (2000-04), following professional ethics, I assiduously avoided commenting on many unpleasant events in the University affairs thereafter. But I cannot remain a silent spectator to the ongoing unprecedented crisis and chaos of its own making that is jeopardizing not only the future of its students but the ethos of one of the most prestigious universities, unfortunately in its 160th year. In view of this, it is with utmost respect to your good-self as the Constitutional Head of the State of Maharashtra and the Chancellor of MU, that I am constrained to painfully submit the following for your careful consideration.

File image of Dr Mungekar. Image courtesy: archive.india.gov.in

File image of Dr Mungekar. Image courtesy: archive.india.gov.in

1) Since most details of agonies faced by MU on account of short-sighted, irrational, ill-prepared and irresponsible decision of online assessment taken by The VC, Sanjay Deshmukh, are in public domain, I don’t think these need further substantiation to seek his immediate resignation. But the damage doesn’t end there !

2) Your intervention on 4th of July to review the situation, which had already gone well out of control, was too late to plan any further remedial operations.

3) One finds extremely difficult to justify the deadline of ‘31st July’ given by your good-self, knowing that, by then, only less than 10% out of 18 Lacs answer-books were corrected. Further, the sanctity of the deadline renders meaningless when you gave another extension of 5 days to complete more than 60% of the ‘target’ (i.e. 306 out of 477 examination results are still pending). I am sure, you would appreciate that the arbitrary ‘fixation’ and ‘extension’ of these deadlines have made a mockery of the whole process & its seriousness.

4) These deadlines have taken an irreparable toll on the ‘quality’ of the assessment for sure. Has there been a prior approval taken by the VC before involving teachers from other universities (Pune, Nagpur, Shivaji) who donot teach MU syllabi, nor are they conversed with the MU examination patterns. Leaving the news of occasions where even the non-teaching staff was assigned the work of assessing the answer-books, this leads to an unprecedented violation of the examination rules and also propriety, hence the system is answerable.

5) Of late, it is evident that, on order to meet the target-date, MU has started declaring partial results with around 80% of answer-books checked, keeping the remaining results in abeyance or reserve. This defies comprehension. How is the VC emboldened to take such decision? Does this have your approval and do we expect this as a precedent for the future?

I must bring to your attention that this unprecedented chaos on account of ill-preparedness of MU in conducting online assessment is a resultant of the ‘over-empowerment’ of the VC and his non accountability in the absence of ‘systemic checks & balances’ over the last two years. Thus,

  1. Why didn’t you intervene when MU was running without Pro VC for more than 2 years (statutory provision after 250-300 affiliated colleges, and MU has more than 800 colleges), who holds primary responsibility of conducting examinations & declaring results in time?
  2. Why didn’t you intervene when MU was running without full time controller of examination? Especially during the period when MU had taken a decision of this radical shift to online assessment?
  3. Why didn’t you intervene when various academic bodies of the University such as the Management Council, Academic Council, Senate, Board of Studies, Board of Examinations formed as the Maharashtra State Universities Act, 1994 were unmindfully abolished by the state government after their term was completed and just ad-hoc bodies were constituted?

Last, but not the least, do you have any words to console students and their parents who have suffered in this unjustifiable and ignominious delay in declaring their results of the crucial degree examinations and possible forthcoming questions on the ‘quality’ of assessments?

It’s a time for a deep introspection to reinstate the confidence of students, teachers and people of this state in the institutions that are built over years.

This calls for your immediate action in this matter w. r. t. the following:

  1. Immediate resignation of current VC and initiating the process of appointing a new VC;
  2. Appointment of an administrator to manage affairs of MU in the interim;
  3. Appointment of full-time Controller of Examinations;
  4. Initiating a process of forming Management council, Academic council, Senate, Board of Studies, Board of Examinations etc as per University Act;
  5. Appointment of high-level judicial committee under the chairpersonship of a retired High Court judge to comprehensively enquire into all issues relating to this unprecedented crisis

I have no ambiguity in my mind that your good-self would be extremely concerned to bring the sense of urgency in this matter & restore the confidence in the system. Else, the traces of the chaos would cross the Rajabhai Tower to the Rajbhavan.

With most respectful regards,

Yours sincerely,

Bhalchandra Mungekar


Published Date: Aug 04, 2017 01:14 pm | Updated Date: Aug 04, 2017 01:14 pm


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