Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Vice Chancellor Remembers: J A K Tareen:Man Mission and Autobiography

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Prof Tareen's Autobiography
Professor J A K Tareen is a remarkable man: a great educator, a gifted scientist and a committed builder of Institutions. I have had the honour of serving with him and I can say that he has risen to eminence in his chosen field by dint of determination, hard work and his ability to lead and persevere. In Kashmir University where he served as Vice Chancellor for a full term of three years, he braved the threat of militants and others and by the time he left a non functioning University was transformed into one with "A" Grade accreditation by NAAC.  That in itself is no mean achievement. In Pondicherry University, he is still remembered as a visionary Vice Chancellor whose commitment to the institution is visible in the form of the Silver Jubilee Campus which he envisaged and developed. During his stewardship of the University, the NAAC accorded it the "A" Grade. Institution building, Infrastructure development, building up student enrollment are all the main policy directions that Prof Tareen is known for. Apart from his qualities as a gifted and dynamic administrator he is a warm hearted person and I can say that during his reign in Pondicherry University, and it was a reign in the true sense of the word, he knew each and every employee from a gardening staff to the senior teachers, HoDs and Deans by name. Hard work and a driving energy was behind his success. I enjoyed reading the book and true to his generous nature, he has complimented my contribution to the University during his tenure. Now I move on to his life.

Professor Tareen calls himself a "barefoot" boy. A reference to the fact that he was brought up by his Mother and other well wishers. There are frequent references to the extended network of relatives who flit in and out of Tareen's life. He studies in Mysore University and in the 1960s he, and it is a remarkable admission on the part of Professor J A K Tareen that his entry into the world of High Academia was facilitated by the role played by the non brahmin leader, Professor Naidu who was an "acclaimed non brahmin" leader. A larger question remains to be answered. Does a talented dedicated and undoubtedly motivated scientist like Prof Tareen require the patronage of a non brahmin leader. Similarly he says that his promotion to the rank of a full Professor was cleared by a dalit Vice Chancellor. Unfortunately identity politics has become part of the very fabric of Indian political and institutional life and Tareen quite clearly recognizes that.

In Pondicherry University, Professor Tareen transformed a defeated and demoralized University into a first rate one and it got the "A" grade in the accreditation. One controversy erupted after he left and was probably instigated by a disgruntled member who fancied that such targeting of Tareen would get him kudos from the current dispensation. He was accused of Islamization of the university. The ministry wanted a factual report and I was the Chairman of the Committee along with 2 other members. We studies the issue and presented a Report and there was no further problem after that. Sab ke saat sab ka Vikas is not a mere slogan and is a reality. While it is fashionable to blame the Central Giovernment, I must say that people are often victims of false perception purveyed by the media. We showed quite clearly on the basis of facts and figures that there was no disproportionate appointment of poersons belonging to the identity group of Tareen. And we also proved that no place had been set aside for collective rituals of identity assertion as alleged in the complaint.

One issue rankles Professor Tareen. He says I think with some regret that he is not a member of any of the # Scientific bodies of India, INSA and the other two. One of Tareen's predecessor was a member of all 3 and I can say with certainty that he was a thoroughbred criminal and Tareen spent much of his time cleaning up after that terrible man left the University. I am happy that Professor Tareen is not in the company of contemptible rascals like the one I alluding to.

The book is an interesting read and anyone interested in the challenges faced by higher education in India must read it. I for one for tonnes of respect for Tareen and enjoyed his book. As he enters the twilight of his years I wish him Health and Fortune.

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