George Yeo quits as Nalanda University Chancellor

Patna, Nov 25 (IANS) Nalanda University Chancellor George Yeo on Friday resigned to express his unhappiness over the Indian government’s decision to dissolve the Nalanda Mentors Group (NMG) and form a new governing body without his knowledge.

University officials described his exit as a major setback to the Nalanda University.

“It is a major setback as Yeo was doing hard work for the university,” an official said on the condition that he should not be named.

Yeo said in a statement that the order dissolving the governing board and creating a new one came as a complete surprise to him and to most others.

He said he was neither involved nor consulted before the decision was taken.

A former Foreign Minister of Singapore, Yeo replaced Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as the Chancellor of the University last year.

“When I was appointed Chancellor in July 2015, I was told that a new Governing Board would be formed under an amended Act, core aspects of which the Ministry of External Affairs sought my views on,” he said.

“The amended Act would have removed a major flaw in the current Act which in essence offers Governing Board seats to East Asian Summit countries making the highest financial contributions in the last three years.

“This provision, which was never recommended by the NMG, would not have been a good way to constitute the Governing Board and was the reason the (Indian) government requested the NMG to continue functioning as the Governing Board for a number of years until the Act could be amended.”

Yeo said it was a sudden decision that was disturbing and harmful to the Nalanda University’s development.

“When I was invited to take over the responsibility from Amartya Sen last year, I was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now.

“Accordingly, and with deep sadness, I have submitted my letter of resignation as Chancellor to the Visitor,” President Pranab Mukherjee, he said.

Yeo said it had been an honour to be associated with the revival of Nalanda over the last decade, to serve as a member of the NMG and the Governing Board under the leadership of Amartya Sen.

Mukherjee on Monday dissolved the NMG, the de-facto Governing Board of Nalanda University.

He also overruled the NMG’s decision to extend the term of Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal.

Located in the Buddhist pilgrim town of Rajgir in Nalanda district, the university began its first academic session in September 2014 on a makeshift campus.