Amartya Sen
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen at the launch of `The Pratichi Child Report` at the Press Club in Kolkata, on Feb 9, 2015.IANS

Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen has decided to discontinue as the Chancellor of Bihar's Nalanda University after July this year claiming that the government does not want him to continue his second term.

"I have decided that I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as Chancellor of Nalanda University beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the Governing Board for me to continue," his letter dated 19 February published by The Hindu said.

Stating the reason for his decision, Sen said the delay in approval of his name for his second term as the University Chancellor proves that the "Government wants me to cease being the Chancellor of Nalanda University after this July..."

Sen wrote in the letter addressed to the 'Fellow members of Nalanda Governing Board' that it was the board members who took the decision to reappoint him as the Chancellor for the second term and he had excluded himself from the decision-making process.

"As you know, at its last meeting on January 13-14, 2015, the Board decided unanimously (in my absence -- I had recused myself – leaving George Yeo to chair the Board meeting) that I should be asked to serve as Chancellor of Nalanda University for a second term..." the letter said.

The Nalanda University Act of Parliament states that it is the Visitor of the University, the President, who then approves the decision taken by the governing body of the university. Here it is President Pranab Mukherjee who had to give his nod to the decision.

Sen claimed that Mukherjee has not yet approved the board members' decision because he is under political pressure from the ruling government. "...the Visitor has been unable to provide his assent to the Governing Board's unanimous choice, in the absence of the Government's approval," the letter said.

In support of his claims, Sen said in the letter that Mukherjee "has always taken a deep personal interest in the speedy progress of the work of Nalanda University, and given that, we have to assume that something makes it difficult – or impossible – for him to act with speed in this matter".

In the letter, he further claimed that "Non-action is a time-wasting way of reversing a Board decision, when the Government has, in principle, the power to act or not act".

At this he expressed his disappointment at how the "academic governance in India remains so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling Government, when it chooses to make political use of the special provisions".

"Even though the Nalanda University Act, passed by the Parliament, did not, I believe, envisage political interference in academic matters, it is formally the case – given the legal provisions (some of them surviving from colonial days) - that the Government can turn an academic issue into a matter of political dispensation, if it feels unrestrained about interfering," he added further.

He concluded his letter to the University's governing body on a sentimental note, saying "I end by thanking you for the help, advice and support I have been receiving from all of you, which I will continue to treasure even when I move away from Nalanda University this July".