Thursday, August 1, 2013

Will Shipping Secretary’s visit save IMU’s dubious distinction?


With the continuing trend of top-level resignations in the Indian Maritime University (IMU) giving worrisome time for thousands of students studying in the institution, the Ministry of Shipping, which runs the affairs of the country’s only maritime university, has deputed its Secretary to visit the campus, look into the facility and report the ground reality.

While replying to a specific query on the developments in IMU recently, Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan said that the Ministry is aware of the developments and announced that Mr. Vishwapati Trivedi, who took over as the new Shipping Secretary succeeding Mr. Pradeep Kumar Sinha, would visit the Chennai-based headquarters of IMU in a fortnight and suggest steps to be taken by the Ministry to revive the institute.

According to sources, Mr. Vishwapati’s trip to IMU headquarters, possibly by Aug. 15, could clear the air on the Shipping Ministry’s intentions to rebuild the sullied reputation of the country’s only maritime university.

It all began in March this year, when the then Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Raghuram, suddenly resigned from the post citing differences of opinion with the Shipping Ministry on recruitment of teaching faculties for the institution.

During his short tenure as V-C, Prof Raghuram prioritized his main task as recruitment of more faculties to the under-staffed maritime institution. However, his vigorous mode of interviewing (given the huge shortage of trained faculties in the facility) and the method of appointments (on permanent basis) of staff for IMU created a flutter in the Shipping Ministry circles, as the recruitment were deemed by the top officials in the Shipping Ministry as inconsistent with the financial status of the institute.

As the difference with the Ministry started to grow every passing day, Prof. Raghuram put in his paper to record his discontent in the process.

Within a few days, Commander M. Anand (retd), who had joined IMU as Registrar (after 26 years of Commissioned Service in the Education Branch of Indian Navy), resigned after Prof. Raghuram’s exit.

When the controversy over irregularities in faculty recruitment and other issues at IMU were raging, in April last, the then Shipping Secretary, Mr. Pradeep Kumar Sinha, visited IMU headquarters and clarified to the Media that all the faculty recruitment done during Prof. Raghuram’s tenure were as per norms.

Mr. Sinha also went on to say that the faculties’ jobs are safe in the university.

Meanwhile, the issue was lingering on for some time and during last week, two members of the IMU Executive Council, had resigned suddenly citing difference of opinions with the Ministry over the recruitment of faculties.

It remains to be seen that whether the Shipping Secretary’s visit to IMU headquarters would bring the much needed relief to those existing faculties (recruited by Prof. Raghuram) who are in a confused state due to discrepancies in the prevailing IMU statute.

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