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Reforms panel pushes for major BHU overhaul, new posts, closures

NewsReforms panel pushes for major BHU overhaul, new posts, closures

Panel also suggests a proper system in which internal monitoring can be done weekly and external once a month.

A three-member administrative reforms committee constituted to suggest ways to reform the more than 100-year-old Banaras Hindu University (BHU), that lies in the historic city of Varanasi, the parliamentary seat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in its 64 point recommendations has advocated creation of three new positions of Deans of Academic Affairs, Research and Development, and Technology & Digital Learning and other significant reforms, including and shutting down “legacy” units such as dairy, printing press, and aerodrome that do not serve any meaningful purpose and are not contributing to the University’s core activities.
The committee has also suggested a proper monitoring system be established in the university in which the internal monitoring could be done on a weekly basis and external once a month.
The three-member committee that submitted the report titled “Reshaping the Future: BHU’s Path to Efficiency and Accountability” include Pawan Agrawal, Ratna Deva Sahay and Parag Prakash, all retired government officials with extensive experience in the field of higher education. Agrawal has held key responsibilities in the Government of India (Ministry of Education, University Grants Commission, Planning Commission), Sahay has served as Joint Secretary (Central Universities) in the Ministry of Education, while Prakash has been Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General and a Finance Advisor in the Ministry of Education.
In September 2019, the Union government awarded the Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to Delhi University, Banaras Hindu University, University of Hyderabad, IIT-Madras and IIT-Kharagpur. The decision to grant the IoE status to the five public institutes was taken following a recommendation by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
Other universities that were in fray for this recognition but did not get it included Aligarh Muslim University, Ashoka University, Azim Premji University, Tezpur University, Punjab University, Andhra University and the Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar.
An “Institution of Eminence (IoE)” gets greater administrative autonomy and access to more financial resources. Following this achievement, an Administrative Reforms Committee was set up in July 2022 in BHU to bring the much needed reforms in the university that was setup in 1916 by Madan Mohan Malaviya.
The committee held detailed and wide-ranging discussions with all the stakeholders of the university and met 294 individuals encompassing all the departments, units, centres and other bodies and took their inputs regarding operational challenges and difficulties, suggestions and possible solutions.
After going through the suggestions and multiple field visits it released the 75-page report. It has recommended establishing and strengthening specialized units to carry out specialized functions such as protocol, guest house, public relations, external communications, engineering, and other unconventional areas. These units, the report states, need to be manned by specialists other than teaching faculty or administrative staff, and the university should find ways of hiring them and provide opportunities for their professional growth.
As per the report, the committee observed several problem areas or issues with the working of the University. These included the issue of trust, integrity issues, lack of student focus, accountability issues, procedural issues, capacity issues, and legacy issues.
The committee was given a nine-point task and asked to review the structure and functioning of the administrative machinery of the Banaras Hindu, suggest measures for improving its responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness, revisit and redefine the roles of different departments of the University in administrative and financial matters, assess the delivery of key public services and suggest measures for increasing their efficiency and suggest measures for coordinated functioning of University departments for expeditious decision making.
It was further asked to suggest measures to reduce delays and dispose matters within stipulated time line by different offices and departments, suggest delegation of powers to increase efficiency and accountability at lower level of functioning, suggest better use of modern management methods and Information Technology system and tools in order to enhance efficiency, assess the-capacity building system in the University and suggest measures to make manpower more efficient and motivated and suggest measures to bring fiscal prudence, discipline and transparency in expenditure.

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