Fight for Prof. PPC as Director of IIT-KGP (2nd term) : A tale of fighting injustice

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DISCLAIMER: The following article and petition is a humble attempt by the Students of IIT Kharagpur to show their support for our present director and to stand by him in this crucial point. We are not being paid, not forced to do this. We are condemning this act of injustice in a true democratic spirit. The support for PPC comes from many students, research scholars faculty members, alumni and other well-wishers of IIT Kharagpur. This petition is also against the bad culture of unnecessary political interventions in IIT by various political parties in general for petty political gains, whose latest victim is our beloved Prof. PPC. We neither support nor oppose any political party or ideology. But we condemn these acts of corruption and malpractices done by a few people associated with political power. In Short, we are patriotic students of IIT, who only want good for the Institute and the Nation.

Hello Everyone,

As you all might know, that the reappointment of our Director Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti( popularly known as PPC) has been stopped and a fresh advertisement has been issued for the post of Director, IIT Kharagpur

Last year, in September 2018, MHRD had released a notification inviting applications for the post of directors for IIT Bombay, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kharagpur and an eminent panel was set up to shortlist and interview. The selection process happened and the President of India appointed new directors for IIT Guwahati and IIT Bombay, and Prof. PPC was found capable by the eminent panel. But his name was not forwarded to the President for the final approval due to sudden intervention by MHRD. The eminent panel had no objection in reappointing PPC, but there was an intervention from PMO. It was learnt from the source that a note from the HRD ministry which roughly said that: suitable candidate was not found, resulted in the halt of re-appointment.

This was immediately followed by the Lok Sabha elections, and so no news about it came till 14th June, when MHRD once again released a notification for the post of Director, IIT Kharagpur. This is a big insult for the Director, who has worked hard for more than 5 years, produced numerous initiatives, and has put in a lot of efforts for the improvement of Institute as well as the Nation. Despite that, he has to face such an insult. We all must think and ponder, should he deserve this? Why is this happening?

All the information presented below has been taken from trusted sources and are authentic. There is no doubt about the quality and authenticity of the information.

“The answer lies in the recruitment of labourers and other contractual workers for mess, maintenance, sanitary and other construction works in IIT Kharagpur, a process which unfortunately has always marred by interference from various political parties.”

Whenever any vacancies or any new project comes up in IIT KGP, various political parties will start getting to the grounds, pulling up their socks, groom their candidates and take money from them (say around Rs. 60,000-70,000) on the pretext of giving them jobs. And then they start creating pressure on the administration to fill the vacancies by their party candidates. Every party pressurizes the administration, and sometimes the pressure is so much that the Institute ends up hiring more candidates than required. This is one of the biggest problems IITKGP faces being in West Bengal (Problems like this are common in WB for decades).

After becoming the Director, Prof. PPC has been very strict about this corruption in hiring workers and staff. He has introduced many reforms to curb this corruption. He initiated the biometric attendance for all staff and workers in every department and every Hall of residence, which immediately solved the menace of ghost workers( workers who never came to work, but other people and contractors draw pseudo-salaries in their name). It also ensured that workers don’t get salaries if they were absent (earlier somebody else used to just sign in their place!). Also, now their salaries and other benefits are directly transferred to their bank accounts via verified Direct Benefit Transfer (through contractors).

These reforms have made it difficult for the local political leaders to push their party volunteers, as the former corrupt system is now gone and they can’t take any undue advantage.

The plight of labour employment in the Infrastructure projects in IIT KGP can be seen in the following recent examples which highlight the need for less external intervention and more transparency, which Prof. PPC want to do:-

(i) Hiring workers for making the new athletic track in the Jnan Ghosh Stadium: The construction work was nearly stopped for over a month because no settlement was reached between the contractors and the political parties over the proportion of workers to be hired from different political parties.

(ii) Strike near the Girls’ Hall: Workers went on strike in front of Sister Nivedita Hall because PPC had said that only people with skills in cutting vegetables in mess would be hired and in other related works. But the local political parties didn’t agree to it and they sat in front of the Girls’ Hall and stopped the mess for a day. ( Yes, they wanted the cooking and cutting jobs in mess without the skills of cooking and cutting vegetables).

We must remember that if the activities of these political parties are allowed to push unskilled party volunteers on campus, then unnecessarily there will be labour surplus but with no effective work. This, in turn, would lead to a rise in expenditure, and that would mean more waste of taxpayers money as well as of students’ fees.

This is how various political parties try to influence and disturb normal campus life just for their own selfish goals. This is what Prof. PPC want to stop and thus have taken many necessary measures over the years. If he continues as the director, more reforms in labour employment, in hospital upgradation etc. would take place and the external political influence would be done away for good.

Now here comes the role of a new party which now also wants to join this league of political parties controlling workers employment on campus and to push their party people in the campus in large numbers. Just like others, they have also promised their volunteers jobs in IIT, and since this political influence is not working in the presence of Prof. PPC, who is in principle against any sort of political influence in the campus. The local party leaders are using their sources and filling the ears of their central leaders in Delhi.  Few local leaders have passed this scaled-up info to their central command that the Director is not entertaining their designs of unjust political influence, and is not allowing their party workers to get into IITKGP by any sort of means.

This is the main reason why Prof. PPC is not being reappointed as Director as the top leadership of a political party doesn’t want him due to his honesty and his principles.

There are also other reasons at play. Some of our sources have claimed that some of the Professors here in the IIT have a rift with PPC. This is because these professors have some past history due to which PPC is not allowing them to get any administrative positions, and otherwise also have some issues with him. These Professors along with a handful of students had visited a prominent figure of a political party and lied to him that IIT Kharagpur doesn’t offer any courses on Indian Culture or on Indian Languages and doesn’t do any research on Indian Heritage, and he forwarded this message to the central command. [ This is a complete lie: One of the well-wishers of PPC had intervened and told that  IIT KGP has active projects on Indian Heritage like SANDHI which actively works on ancient Indian Civilizations, conducts research project on cultures in collaboration with MIT, and the institute also offers courses on Indian Culture and ancient languages like Sanskrit, also there is a course on Technology in Indian Culture, which Prof. PPC himself teaches along with other faculties] . This misinformation might have also played a role in making a negative impression of Prof. PPC in the eyes of a political party.

So, now that the actual hidden and bitter reasons are clear, the following questions Arise:

  • Should Prof. PPC bend his head before these local political workers? Should he allow the wastage of taxpayer’s money and allow unnecessary and destructive political influence on campus?
  • After receiving this massive insult, what would a person of the talent of Prof. PPC might feel? Prof. PPC has been in IITKGP for many years. He completed this entire here, he was a President of India Gold Medallist( aka topper of the batch). And even after that rather than going to the US to earn crores, he chose to stay in IITKGP and to serve this Institute and the Nation. During his last 30 years in IITKGP, he has contributed a lot by his research work, served the institute in various administrative positions and as a Director has given many Nation-serving projects and initiatives like NDL, GIAN etc. After contributing so much to the Nation and to the Institute, what he finally gets is an insult. Why should he reapply after facing such a massive insult?
  • Also, why in order to challenge this insult he should go to court? As MHRD will simply reply that the candidate is not found worthy, adding to the Insult.

IIT Kharagpur needs a Director like none other than PPC, and Prof. PPC must be respected for his work, not insulted like this. At present, IIT KGP is going through a massive structural change which will benefit the campus community in many ways. A new director will take time to settle in, and might even derail the present reforms which are underway. If you also agree that we need PPC and this injustice must be addressed, then please Sign this petition, appealing to reappoint Prof. PPC as IIT Kharagpur Director.