From over a hundred candidates who were in the fray for the top job at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), the race is down to three. They are Prof D P Singh, former vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, Prof K K Agarwal, former V-C Indraprastha University, Delhi, and Prof Manoj Mishra, V-C, Lucknow University.
New Delhi-based IGNOU is the largest distance learning university of the country that caters to the educational needs of over four million students.
A search-cum-selection committee chaired by eminent space scientist Dr K Kasturirangan — with UPSC Chairperson D P Agarwal and former Barkatullah University V-C Prof I S Chauhan on board — has submitted the panel of three candidates to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), which is likely to finalise on one name very soon, according to sources.
Prof D P Singh and Prof K K Agarwal are said to be frontrunners.
Prof Ved Prakash, acting chairman of the University Grants Commission, and Prof Surbhi Banerjee, the V-C of Koraput University, were also being considered for the job, but were dropped as the selection committee felt that while Ved Prakash’s area of expertise was largely in school education, the latter had to still make a mark in the academic world.
The post of IGNOU V-C has been vacant since late last year after Rajasekharan Pillai completed his term in October 2011. The search for his successor has had its share of controversy. Well known agriculture scientist and Rajya Sabha MP M S Swaminathan and NIIT chairman Rajendra Pawar were originally on the search-cum-selection panel, but had to step down following allegations of a conflict of interest by the university staff. The IGNOU Board of Management headed by Pillai had nominated the two to the selection panel formed to search his successor.
As per norms, the two persons nominated by board of management should not be employed in any way by IGNOU. While this committee had already held two meetings, complaints to the HRD Ministry revealed that Prof Swaminathan served as the honorary Chair for Sustainable Development at IGNOU and also resided in the accommodation allotted to him by the university.
In case of Pawar, he had signed an MoU with IGNOU on behalf on NIIT for skill building in the higher education sector.
Having been criticised every now and then for political interference in the selection of V-Cs, the HRD ministry was quick to take cognizance of complaints and had suggested to the two candidates that they should recuse themselves from the committee.
A new committee was accordingly constituted bringing in the UPSC chairman and the former Barkatullah University V-C on board.
(source: Indian Express)