Sweeping the campus dirt

Seram Neken *

Centenary Hall  at  Manipur University (MU), Canchipur
Centenary Hall at Manipur University (MU), Canchipur :: Pix - Bunti Phurailatpam

"Rationale behind revival of Manipur University Students' Union for a healthy and transparent academic atmosphere in Manipur"
Absence of an elected students' body in Manipur University has obviously dampened the performance of the institution in academic, cultural and sporting aspects, besides hampering maintenance of administrative transparency. Earlier, other apex bodies of students drew strength from the representation of intellectuals belonging to the highest academic institution.

The abolition of Manipur University Students Union by the authority appears to be a great lapse on the overall students' movement in Manipur. There is strong need to revive the Manipur University Students' Union for a healthy and transparent academic institution. With ample rationale behind, the University authority can issue an ordinance for its revival in just a day for the future of students' community.

Historically, Students' force has played a big role in effecting policy formulation and execution on various aspects of governance. Right from foreigners' issue to demanding inclusion of Manipuri language in 8th schedule of the constitution, from striving for quality education in Manipur and introducing new academic disciplines in Manipur University to up-gradation of Regional Medical College to a regional institute and establishment of Central Agricultural University, the students' bodies of the state took enormous roles. Not only in the academic arena, have student bodies of the state hastened the establishment of a Human Rights Commission of the state and also unearthed scams and frauds in administration.

The erstwhile Manipur University Student's Union (MUSU) which took the leading role in steering students' movements of the state on many occasions is no more now. The absence of an elected students' body in Manipur University at present is a great lapse on the overall students' movement in Manipur. Besides, the dirty administration in Manipur University, a number of state issues such as the Tipaimukh Dam, Immigration, Look East Policy & indigenous peoples, establishment of Manipur State Legislative Council or State Ethnic Council, improving Information Technology Institutions up-to competitive standard and state boundary issues/ Manipur-Myanmar border controversies call for an academically healthy democratic students pressure group.

Manipur University established on 5th June, 1980 as a teaching-cum-affiliating University at Imphal was converted into a Central University with effect from 13th October 2005. Since being a Central University, a lot of progress has been witnessed in the university right from infrastructural development to widening scope of academic studies.

It is however lamentable that contract works rather than academic matters apparently receive more attention of the administration in Manipur University. In other Indian universities, construction works are usually entrusted to qualified agencies by depositing money to them while the university engineering cells remain as a mere cell for maintenance of the infrastructure and facilities. However, in Manipur, the university engineering cell acts as a work agency which awards construction works to contractors.

Moreover, there is free access of some high profile contractors into the campus, while many guardians and parents visiting their wards are not allowed to freely commute inside the campus. A number of home guard personnel in the university are also seen utilized at personal whims of some bureaucratic officials. Unnecessary expenditure is incurred for purchases of water, which may otherwise be arranged from nearby water supply schemes. Many unauthorized persons are allowed to rear fish and establish shops and stationeries inside the campus. Even some staff quarters are seen turning into shops. The Manipur University is incurring undue expenses for engaging security personnel for its officials who are not really in need of it.

A number of works not reflected in the plans of the university are executed in the name of emergency works, either on the requests of contractors or as desired by the authority from time to time. Notwithstanding the requirement of the institution, some contractors allegedly develop projects for the university and seek financial assistance from outside agencies in connivance with the university officials. There is also the case of Part-time lecturer working as Director/Coordinator of a certain department.

The Manipur University Authority lives on powerful ordinances in respect of appointments of contractual staff, promotions and even in increasing number of post for Deans from the earlier 3 to the present 4. It is also likely to increase to 5. Taking advantage of its huge manpower expansion during convergence into central university, the administration recruited hundreds of contractual staff even without any advertisement and due appointment process. SC/ST community has reportedly been neglected of their reservations in the process of such contractual appointments. There were also allegations of appointments of near and dear ones of the administrators as contractual staffs of the university without considering their experiences and qualifications.

Unnecessary and costly decorations such as pasting of Granites up-to plinth level of newly constructed buildings are seen, when some other centres or departments reportedly are in dire need of necessary rooms and infrastructure. It is embarrassing that water supply has totally failed in the common toilet meant for students and faculties in old social science block and also in students' home in the campus.

A number of Journals reflecting the academic and research activities can not be published due to one or the other reasons, after conversion to central university. The salaries of part time lecturers are in big disparity from 10,000 to 15,000 rupees, when it should be 25,000 rupees per month as per UGC norms. The Internet facility in MU campus is not up-to-date and there is frequent failure of the network. The MU website is not regularly updated, except in case of specific advertisements. The Heritage Park inside the campus are far from reflecting the tradition and culture of Manipuris.

On some occasions, even the highest authority of the university allegedly acted as chairman in the promotion interview of its nearest relative against the convention in other Indian Universities. One-man-one-post principle is not implemented in Manipur University. Personal relations with the authority have a lot to do in occupying multi-positions in university administration. The required post of Pro-vice Chancellor has been kept vacant for the last one year or so, may be for centralizing the authority.

Enquiries on emergent scams and mark tempering have remained delayed with no student body to put pressure. Recently, an alleged mark tempering in the Commerce department of the university came up in newspapers. But, no follow-up enquiry is seen till today. Complaints of students seem to be generally neglected by the administration in the absence of an elected students' body. In the absence of active students' body, performances in Sports & culture in All India Inter-University events have considerably deteriorated. Earlier, Manipur University got team champions on many national events.

The dirty scenario in the campus administration can well be checked by students' force, had there been the elected students union in Manipur University. As a convention, almost all universities in India have their democratically elected students' bodies to work for the welfare and development of the university. These student bodies also act as watchdogs of the university administration. Students' bodies are basically democratic in structure, academic in nature and pressure groups from time to time. With ample rationality behind, the University authority can very well implement an ordinance to revive the students union in the interests of students' community.

* Seram Neken wrote this for Hueiyen Lanpao English Edition) as part of "The voiceless speaks"
This article was webcasted on September 28 2012.

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