My Babooji (father) is 102. He did his MA from the Patna University way back in 1942. He still recalls with pride those glorious days of the PU. How Sachchidanand Sinha twirled his moustache when he introduced himself as the Vice Chancellor of the PU! And the Nobel Laureate Sir CV. Raman addressed PU students at the Wheeler Senate Hall on the Ashoka Rajpath.
Since times immemorial, Bihar has been the seat of learning. Thousands of years back, the great mathematician Aryabhatt discovered zero in Patna. When India launched its first satellite in 1975, it was named Aryabhatt. And two greatest universities of the ancient and medieval worlds, Nalanda and Vikramshila were in Bihar. The Nalanda University ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage. I recently visited those ruins with my American sister. I was bowled over to see how magnificent the University was during its heydays. Scholars from distant lands, China, Japan and Korea vied with one another to get themselves admitted. And few of them succeeded given the toughness of the entrance test. It is said that when Bakhtiar Khilji set fire to the Nalanda University library, its books keep burning for months!
And the Vikramshila University in the present day Bhagalpur. Another centre of the Buddhist learning. Scholars from all over the world thronged this university. Then came the downfall. Bihar was taken over by the education mafia. Colleges and Universities mushroomed. Capitation fees ruled the roost. The much-hyped Sushasan of Nitish Kumar saw the education at its lowest point. Rubi Rai became the political science state topper. When TV channels asked her what was taught in political science, the Bihar topper cheerfully replied that political science was all about cooking food! Bihar became a butt of joke but Nitish Kumar didn’t bat an eyelid.
But we thought that all was not lost. Something will be done to revive the higher education in Bihar. Promises were made to make Patna University a central university. But it was not to be. Narendra Modi, the tea seller-turned Prime Minister appointed a small-town politician Fagu Chauhan as the Governor of Bihar. Governor is the ex officio Chancellor of the state. And this gentleman is a 10th pass guy. A 10TH PASS CHAP WILL HEAD UNIVERSITIES OF BIHAR! Modi hai to mumkin hai. We are told that the Ghosi MLA Fagu Chauhan is a big backward caste leader in his homestate UP. I have nothing against backward castes. But a 10th pass as the Chancellor. As they say in Hindi: Chhachhunder ke sar pe, chameli ka tel! It is the vote-bank politics at its worst.
But what could we expect from Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi? He claims that he graduated from the Delhi University in 1978 but his marksheet is traceless. When his Bhakts made a forged certificate, the subject was Entire Political Science! The RSS and BJP attacked the JNU merely because the Left parties are powerful there. And Modi made Smriti Irani the HRD Minister whose claim to fame is her role as Tulsi in a TV soap opera.
With Fagu Chauhan as the Chancellor, all VCs of Bihar should resign en masse in protest. But none will. In the culture of sycophancy, chamchagiri is the most prized quality. All VCs will make a beeline to the Raj Bhawan. Some will touch Fagu Chauhan’s charan-kamal (feet). Others will listen to him with folded hands. Ultimately, Bihar will suffer and state toppers will learn cooking in political science classes!
(Mr. Amitabh Kumar Das is a 1994 batch IPS Officer. His views are personal.)