People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 15

April 15, 2007



Inertia In Academic Organisations Owing To Govt Interference


THE Indian History Congress notes with great regret the continuing tendency of the government of India to place the administration of organisations like the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the National Archives of India (NAI) in the hands of government officials, by failing to appoint professional persons to head them. Despite protests from the Indian History Congress it is now well over a decade that the Archaeological Survey has had no professional archaeologist to head it as Director-General; and the National Archives has similarly been placed in the hands of a government official with no professional credentials. The Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Museum and Library too was for a long time deprived of an academic Director on mere technicalities, and maintained as a bureaucratic fief. A similar situation often occurs in what are recognised to be “autonomous” organisations. The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) which under its Rules should have an “eminent historian” as its chairman, has during long periods of interregnum been saddled with officials of the ministry of human resource development assigned to it as chairmen. This Congress is happy that such a recent interregnum was brought to an end by the appointment of an eminent historian, Professor Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, as chairman, ICHR and a serious disorientation in the work of the ICHR was thereby prevented.


Not only are government officials placed at the heads of purely professional or academic organisations by the government failing to appoint independent professional experts, but an attempt is now being made to control the “autonomous” organisations by the ministries concerned through taking over the entire process of selection and appointment of the organisations’ ‘chief executives’. Thus the Department of Personnel and Training has identified the member secretary, and not the chairman, as the “chief executive” of the ICHR, and the ministry of human resource development has therefore on this basis put forward claim to having the sole power to control selection and appointment of the member secretary of the ICHR, contrary to the process prescribed by the charter of the ICHR. The member secretary is thereby sought to be made into a creature of ministry officials, and thereafter given all control over the ICHR, as its “chief executive”. Such measures make a mockery of the autonomy of academic institutions and ought immediately to be rescinded.


The Indian History Congress hopes that serious attention will be given to these matters by parliament and the ministers responsible to it; and that the professional control of the Archaeological Survey and National Archives will be restored, and the attempt to ride roughshod over the prescribed process of selection of officers of autonomous organisations will be abandoned.