[box type=”quote” color=”blue”]Contract works rather than academic matters apparently receive more attention of the administration in Manipur University. It seems that the university has been reduced to a mere work agency just like the engineering departments of the state government. It has become the highest earning avenue for contractors. 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. This being an unhealthy trend surely harms the academic environment.[/box]
Manipur University was established on 5th June, 1980 as a teaching-cum-affiliating University at Imphal with territorial jurisdiction over the whole of the state of Manipur and it was converted into a Central University with effect from 13th October 2005. The Manipur University Act no. 54 of 2005 received the assent of the President of India on 28th December 2005. The University campus spreading over an area of 287 acres in the historic Canchipur Palace, has been modified and beautified to suit the required academic environment. The University has at present 76 affiliated colleges and one constituent institution i.e. Manipur Institute of Technology (MIT).
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. The newly established Departments of the university, since then, are Department of Biotechnology, Department of Mass Communication and Department of Dance (Manipuri). The Centre for Manipur Studies, Centre for Gandhian Studies, Centre for Myanmar Studies, Centre for Human Rights and Duties Education and Center for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy have also been opened in the university to enable studies in diverse fields. Centre for South East Asian Studies is also under process for induction.
The university campus has been protected with pucca fencing on all sides so as to maintain a safe academic atmosphere. Trespassers have been vigilantly checked for safeguarding sanctity of the institution and preventing untoward incidents in the campus.
It is however lamentable that contract works rather than academic matters apparently receive more attention of the administration in Manipur University. It seems that the university has been reduced to a mere work agency just like the engineering departments of the state government. It has become the highest earning avenue for contractors with two engineering cells (- Manipur University Engineering Cell and Manipur Institute of Technology Engineering cell whose activities and scopes are not well defined). 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. This being an unhealthy trend surely harms the academic environment. It is rumored that some contractors even participate in informal consultations for academic development with the highest authority. Moreover, there is free access of some high profile contractors into the campus, while many guardians and parents coming to meet their wards are not allowed to freely commute inside the campus. The security on duty can hardly obstruct those contractors and suppliers who are intimately favoured by the authority.
Many 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 development projects for the university and seek financial assistance from outside agencies in connivance with the university officials. The trend is unexpected of an academic institution.
Recent Reports of fraud cases in this highest institution of learning have amply proved existent irregularities and misdeeds in financial dealings. Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) charge-sheets on the university officials are a matter of shame which tarnish the sacred image of the institution.
Taking advantage of its huge manpower expansion during convergence into central university, the administration recruited hundreds of contractual staff without any advertisement and due appointment process. It is doubtful that favouritism and bribery ruled the process. Around 200 contract appointments were arbitrarily done at various levels on the whims of the authority. There were also reports of appointments of near and dear ones of the administrators as contractual staffs of the university without considering their experiences and qualifications. Such staff are paid salaries out of the contingency funds of the university, which can not be sustained in the long run.
The erstwhile students union of Manipur University set up under an ordinance is now no more, as the ordinance could not be converted into an Act. 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. However, unfortunately the Manipur University Students’ Union was abolished a few years back. Although there is room for an Academic Council for students under the University Act., it can not be made operational due to lack of reasonable criteria for selection of competent students. Simply speaking, there is no body worth the purpose to safeguard the academic interests of students’ community in Manipur University.
The Manipur University is incurring undue expenditures for engaging security personnel of its officials who are not really in need of it. Practically, those officers who are disturbed with threats of underground elements require security. Undue expenditure on security forces needs to be reduced reasonably.
No doubt, a lot of developments and refinements have surfaced in the Manipur University administration for its being a central university. The salaries for the teaching and non-teaching staff have become regular, as it was never under the state government. Planned and unplanned financial flows into the University for maintenance, constructions and repair have become bigger and smoother. The Institution can ably open new centres and departments to suit the local needs as there is no state financial share. In the course of modernization and beautification to suit the changing academic environment, the Manipur University has apparently taken the role of a work agency where contractors of all hues gradually dominating the administrative machinery from top to bottom. It is afraid that the sanctity of this temple of learning may be lost with non-academic forces overpowering the governance of the university. As usually seen in the state government departments particularly the engineering departments, nepotism and fa
vouritism are raising their ugly heads in the highest academic institution of the state. Corruption, favouritism, nepotism and bribery in matters of appointments, promotions etc. have allegedly increased in the university, as never seen before.
It is time the university authority takes up certain measures to reduce favouritism and bribery in the university so as to uphold the sanctity of an academic institution. The erstwhile students’ body is highly needed to be restored to work for academic welfare of the students. If possible, contract and supply business may be entrusted to outside agencies, so that the ugly affaires of connivance between contractors and authority at various levels are reduced to the maximum. Appointments and recruitments of staff may be done with complete transparency and by following the due process. Only then, the Manipur University will become a sacred temple of learning.