Bill passed for formal powers to Presidency mentor group

Kolkata, March 21 (IANS) The West Bengal assembly Thursday passed The Presidency University (Amendment) Bill, 2013, arming the university’s mentor group with recommendatory powers for attaining academic excellence and monitoring its implementation.

The new law substitutes bodies such as the Court and Executive Council by the governing board in the university besides carving out posts of distinguished professors and heritage professors and specifying their qualifications.
A search committee comprising of a nominee each from the chancellor, state government and governing board of the university will appoint the vice chancellor.
Taking part in the debate, Communist Party of India-Marxist lawmaker Amjad Hossain criticised the decision to provide more powers to the university mentor group.
He opined that it would curb the university’s autonomy and lead to dispute between the vice chancellor and the mentor group.
“The mentor group is only trying to achieve excellence by bringing in teachers from foreign universities,” Hossain said, adding institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technologies have achieved excellence with teachers from within the country.
Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu said the initiatives regarding Presidency University underscored a new approach at achieving excellence, and if successful, the model would be replicated in other universities.
The Presidency University mentor group, with Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen as advisor and Harvard University history professor Sugato Bose as chairman, was formed by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government to restore the lost glory of the institution.
Presidency University has its roots in the Hindu College — established in 1817 — the institution that cradled the 19th century Bengal Renaissance and was christened Presidency College in 1855.
The erstwhile Left Front government upgraded it into an university in 2010. The college’s alumni include Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda, freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, fimmaker Satyajit Ray, Marxist leader Jyoti Basu and scientist Satyendranath Bose.
India’s first president Rajendra Prasad and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also studied at the college.