The news of a former vice chancellor of the prestigious Delhi University Deepak Pental being sent to jail on the charges of plagiarism must have come as a rude shock to several teachers and students of the hoary university. The former V-C was arrested for allowing a researcher under another professor to pilferage data from latter’s lab and bring to Pental’s lab. He allowed the researcher to use the genetically modified plant in the research lab without signing any MoU under bio-safety guidelines, which is must, Once considered the cradle of academic excellence, both at the under-graduate and post-graduate levels, this internationally renowned centre of learning is increasingly courting controversy.
The situation has become alarming in the past decade, first under Deepak Pental and now under Dinesh Singh. Unfortunately both Pental and Singh were part of the team of Dr Deepak Nayyar, who provided leadership to the university at the turn of the century and giving it a direction for the new millennium. Pental had to spend a few hours behind bars in the police lock-up at Tis Hazari court and later at the Tihar Jail before he was bailed out by a high court order.
It’s not important how many hours the former vice-chancellor spent behind bars or how quickly he was bailed out. What is of greater consequence is that Pental’s involvement in case of theft of research data and plagiarism has besmirched the name of the university, which has seen eminent academicians, scientists and teachers at the helm of affairs in older days. The spirit of the Delhi University ordinances demands that Pental, who is currently a professor in the department of genetics, should be immediately suspended and process should be started for the termination of his contract with the university.
However, Delhi University under the dispensation of present vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh is not really known to uphold the spirit of the ordinances, or how else does it continue to provide patronage to principal-s who have police cases registered against them on the directions of the court for an embezzlement to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore. In his celebrated essay, Pluralism in the Indian University, noted social scientist Ramchandra Guha writes, ‘India’s economic and social development depends as crucially on a renewal of its higher education system. As we enter our 7th decade of freedom, what we make of ourselves will depend, far more than we presently seem to realise, on what we make of our universities.’