The newly formed Bengaluru Central University, carved out of Bangalore University, was launched last week on a wrong note, with Governor Vajubhai Vala, who is the chancellor of the university, being kept out of the inaugural function. The storied Central College, which was the word for education in Karnataka and shaped some of its best minds, was the venue. The inaugural function was grand and was designed to create the best impression at a time when there is an electoral premium on pomp and perception. A galaxy of ministers led by the chief minister, MPs, MLAs, corporators and bureaucrats graced the stage. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah inaugurated the new university. But there was grave impropriety in leaving out the governor from the event to launch a university where he has a more than nominal and formal role. In the hierarchy of the university's positions, the chancellor's place is on top and yet he was not invited for its first event.
Vice-chancellor Professor S Japhet gave some flimsy reasons for the omission. He said the event was "quasi-political and quasi-academic," whatever that means, and so the governor could not be invited for that. The explanation did not convey much, except that the vice-chancellor could use these cracking rare, quasi-profound and quasi-silly words. There were other reasons too. The governor's high position demanded more than one reason to exclude him. He was not approached, because he would have given a date different from the one confirmed by the chief minister. Managing an event where the governor is present would be problematic, with protocol and other issues getting into the way. Shouldn't the ministers, who have promised land, be accommodated on the stage? But when the governor is there, all the politicians cannot be made to sit on the stage. The last reason is the best and takes the cake. The governor has in the past failed to turn up at events to which he was invited. So why invite him?
None of these reasons appeals to common sense. The real reason for the exclusion of the governor was political and it has come clearly through the poor excuses of the vice-chancellor. But the place of learning, which should have a future as great as its past, has made a bad beginning in its new life. A university should be an inclusive place, but those who are in charge of the new university only made a partisan point by failing to observe propriety and protocol. The university is for the young, and what values and lessons do they learn from their leaders, both in politics and in academics?