Amid speculation of restructuring the University Grants Commission (UGC) as Higher Education Commission, the government has started looking for a replacement to UGC chairman Ved Prakash, who continues to be in the office even after his retirement at 62.
According to sources, Prakash may be asked to demit office soon after the government gets a person of its choice for the post as he doesn’t have any major achievement to strengthen his case.
According to sources in the government, the incumbent UGC chairman was recently summoned to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to make a presentation on the performance during his tenure. “Prakash was asked to spell out some key achievements of his tenure that could be showcased before the nation.
Though, the UGC chairman faced the questions ‘comfortably’, he was asked to explain the different controversies that erupted during his tenure as head of the commission,” the sources said.
However, the continuation of Prakash as UGC chairman despite being a superannuated official has irked the government. “When there is no dearth of intellectuals in the country, why should a person who is not in active service continue to helm a body that regulates funding mechanism of higher education institutions,” the sources pointed out.
Prakash was appointed on January 18, 2013, as UGC chairman for five years or 65 years whichever is earlier. He retired as a UGC staffer at 62, but since he has not yet reached 65, he is continuing as chairman of the apex education regulator. As per UGC rules, Prakash would continue to be at the helm of affairs until April 3, 2017.
In reply to a question related to Prakash, the HRD ministry said that it was clueless on the development. “We do not have any particular detail about him except that he was originally an NCERT employee, but in 2012 he got absorbed in UGC. The present status is that he has retired at the age of 62,” an HRD Ministry official said.
Notably, President Pranab Mukherjee had recently expressed his displeasure over the poor standard of higher education.
“There are more than 753 universities in India, more than 36,000 colleges and a number of other institutions. But the quality of many of these institutions in higher education is not up to the mark. I am not merely referring to their absences of world rankings by important rating agencies, but I am also talking from the view point of their competitiveness in getting jobs in the world market,” the President had lamented.