Mumbai University V-C Sanjay Deshmukh may face axe and the reasons aren't too hard to find

Following an unprecedented delay in declaration of results, Mumbai University's vice-chancellor (V-C) Sanjay Deshmukh was forced to go on leave, while V-C of Shivaji University, Devanand Shinde, took over as the acting V-C.

The demand for Deshmukh's resignation had come from various education experts and student groups. Calling for an enquiry in the evaluation process, the former vice-chancellor (V-C) of the university, Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar appealed Maharashtra governor, also the chancellor of the university, CH Vidyasagar Rao, to ask Deshmukh to step down.

The university has already missed the two first deadlines for declaring university exam results, on 31 July and 5 August. The third revised deadline is for 15 August.

File image of Sanjay Deshmukh. News18

File image of Sanjay Deshmukh. News18

Rao faced constant pressure to take a call on Deshmukh. Sources in the government have said Deshmukh would be on leave "until further notice".

Deshmukh, who took charge as the V-C of the institution on 8 July, 2015, only had good intentions for the education system. However, there are a few reasons that made the tables turn against him.

Unrealistic transition

Deshmukh decided to make the marking system online in the wake of May 2016 cheating scam, reported News18, that dug out a racket of cheats who used to source answer sheets from the university, tamper them and then replace. But as Rakshit Sonawane highlights in this Firstpost article, one of the major errors by Deshmukh and his staff was the poor assessment of grass root realities.

In April 2017, Deshmukh had announced that over 19 lakh answer sheets would be assessed online but the institution was quite under-prepared for the step. Usually, the university announces the results of graduation and post-graduation examinations within 45 days of the last paper.

The hasty digital transition of paper correction required scanning and uploading of physical answer sheets, and on-screen marking of answer papers. Although the 160-year-old university intended to promote transparency with the move, Deshmukh received flak for its inability to identify its realities in advance.

Failure to meet deadlines

Even after Governor Rao intervened and fixed deadlines for the results to be announced, the university failed to adhere to them.

By the initial deadline of 31 July, less than 10 percent out of 18 lakh answer-books were corrected. Even though the deadline was extended twice after that, it is still unknown whether the university will manage to declare all the results by 15 August. Mungekar pointed in his 3 August letter to Rao, "The sanctity of the deadline renders meaningless when you gave another extension of five days to complete more than 60 percent of the ‘target’ (i.e. 306 out of 477 examination results are still pending)." The university had earlier claimed that mostly all results would be declared by 5 August.

Political interference

Aditya Thackeray primarily demanded the removal of both, the vice-chancellor and the education minister, Vinod Tawde of the BJP. Reacting to Aditya’s demand, Tawde has snapped that the minister of state for higher and technical education is Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Waikar, and that probably Aditya was referring to Waikar.

Congress, too, threatened to 'gherao' the university campus if it does not declare results of all examinations by 31 July. Mumbai Regional Congress Committee chief Sanjay Nirupam, too, demanded that Tawde and Waikar should resign for the "inordinate delay" in the declaration of results.

After Deshmukh was sent on leave, Aditya took to Twitter to hail Yuva Sena of its efforts.

Lack of staff

Deshmukh did not take into consideration the staff crunch in the university. Since 1985, the number of colleges affiliated to the university has gone up to 748. The staff, even the non-teaching staff, is inadequate to handle the increasing workload.

Besides, examiners were still waiting for their remuneration for assessing papers of the previous year.

Amid the situation of crisis, university professor Neeraj Hatekar declared his exit in a Facebook post.

He called the issue "deeply distressing", adding that the "time had come, for those who feel for the university, to come together and act. The time for silence is over."

In the entire blame-game, the worst affected are the students. The question is, how will the stepping down of Deshmukh help declare the results of scores of them?

With inputs from PTI


Published Date: Aug 10, 2017 04:08 pm | Updated Date: Aug 10, 2017 04:15 pm


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