A day after Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit appointed M.K Surappa, a native of Karnataka as the new Anna University Vice Chancellor, opposition parties have questioned the move. DMK Working President MK Stalin has warned the Governor against saffronising TN university campuses while PMK founder S Ramadoss has said that students will be mobilised to protest against the appointment.
According to reports, Surappa has been teaching for about three decades, after pursuing his doctorate in metallurgical engineering. He is also a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering. He spent over two decades at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru and has 150 research publications and four patents to his credit.
He was selected by the Governor after he personally interviewed three shortlisted candidates. The appointment has put an end to the two year long wait for a vice chancellor.
The other two candidates who were shortlisted included UGC vice-chairman H. Devaraj and S. Ponnusamy, a retired professor of Mathematics in IIT Madras. Surappa was selected after three rounds of scrutiny, where the selection committee eliminated 140 applications and ranked remaining candidates based on their qualification.
However, opposition parties have questioned the selection process. DMK working President MK Stalin took to multiple social media platforms to make his displeasure be heard. He began with saying that appointing a Vice Chancellor from Karnataka was not advisable during the ongoing tensions over the Cauvery dispute.
"We ask the Governor to not belittle the scholars and academicians from Tamil nadu by bringing people in a row from outside for various positions. There should also be no attempt made to saffronise the educational premises in Tamil Nadu," said MK Stalin in tweet, late on Thursday night.
PMK founder S. Ramadoss on Friday said the appointment does not respect the feelings of the Tamil people and was condemnable.
Ramadoss said his party would mobilise the varsity's students and protest against Surappa's appointment.
The PMK leader said when there were good educationists in Tamil Nadu, "importing" a person from another state was not acceptable.
He said no Tamilian was appointed as Vice Chancellor for Central University of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvarur, Pondicherry University and The Indian Maritime University for a long time.
DK leader K Veeramani meanwhile has reportedly termed the appointment of a Kannadiga V-C as a shame.
Educationists welcome move
Activists in the field of education meanwhile have welcomed the appointment.
"Surappa is known for his excellent work at IIT Ropar which catapulted the institute into one of the most sought after educational destinations amongst the IITs. There have been no complaints against him and he has a large body of work to prove his eligibility," says educationist Jayaprakash Gandhi. "At this point of time Anna University needs a vice Chancellor who will work for its development and welfare of students. The last few appointees to the post have been accused of corruption. So, there is nothing wrong in appointing a man who has a clean image and has proven his capability already," he adds.
The educationist dismisses allegations of political parties and says there is no room for politics over state, caste or religion when it comes to education. "Just because he is from Karnataka does not mean he will show favouritism to students from that state. It would have been welcome if someone from Tamil Nadu got the post but he was selected after a long process," says Jayaprakash.
He however does admit that the process could have been more transparent to avoid controversy.
"When former Anna university VC Anandakrishnan was made the chairman of IIT Kanpur nobody questioned the move. So what is the fuss now?" he asks.
CHANGEIndia an NGO which has actively been questioning deep rooted corruption in the state's university congratulated Surappa on bagging the post.
"Hope he will undo all the damage to the probity, integrity and technological and scientific environment that had been seriously compromised in the last few years in the esteemed university," the organisation has said.
(With inputs from IANS)