ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Maharashtra: Threat to Autonomy of Universities

The proposed amendment to the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994, will give the state additional - and unjustified - power over universities. Political interference can only damage educational institutions, as experience has shown.

The government of Maharashtra decided to amend Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994 to accommodate the demands of private education institutes controlled by politicians in Maharashtra, and to discipline vice-chancellors who followed the law in its letter and spirit and did not allow these managements to plunder the students. The minister of higher education Dilip Valase Patil gave the promise of amending the act in the legislative assembly of the state. In fact the government wanted to move these amendments in the budget session of the assembly in the last week of April, but due to political uncertainty, it could not move it. The draft bill was opposed by various student organisations, teachers’ unions, educationists and academicians. But, ignoring their protests, the government decided to issue an ordinance to amend the act. The ordinance was issued on May 12, 2000, providing greater representation to management and tightening the government’s grip over the universities.

It seems that the ordinance is issued in haste and without going into the merits of the issues concerned. The statement of the ordinance maintains that it is issued for smooth functioning of the universities and to provide adequate representation to backward classes and women. But close reading reveals that it is aimed at eroding the autonomy of the universities which has been considered sacrosanct all over the world and in all democratic societies.

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