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Eminence by grease?
Eminence grise is a term of respectability. But for an ‘eminent’, non-existent institution, eminence by greased palms may be more appropriate
The predictable furore over the grant of “Institution of Eminence” status to the non-existent Jio University was bound to happen. The country is baffled by the mischievous, backdoor method by which a university — which has neither land nor building, faculty nor students, in fact, not even a website — has been bestowed this status. It is now also known that UGC rules were tweaked only last year to allow green-field projects to apply for this tag. Obviously, the semi-literates in charge of the apex body of universities, namely, UGC, did not bother even to consult the dictionary to comprehend the meaning of the term eminence. They do not know you cannot acquire eminence even before you exist. For example, can an unborn child be declared an “eminent person”? Eminence is acquired, it cannot be arbitrarily thrust on a person or institution on the whims and fancies of the Government. And nobody in his senses would believe that the Committee which chose to bestow this status to the non-existent institution did so without the political establishment's prodding. That only this particular “institution” and no other qualified on all four parameters of the recently tweaked framework of “eminence” is highly suspicious since the business house sponsoring Jio University is widely known to enjoy “Most Favoured Company” status with successive Governments.
Quite simply, the Empowered Expert Committee, comprising retired babus, was directed to do this so that the business house could rake in more moolah. Although the company is the richest among Indian corporates, they are known to be on the perpetual lookout for avenues to expand their fortunes. The “eminent” tag will enable them to attract affluent students, ready to pay hefty fees and add to the already overfull coffers of the business house. There is nothing wrong with a corporate setting up a university with lofty aims of producing a talented and highly qualified alumnus. They can also charge suitably enhanced fees and run a profitable institution which re-invests the money earned to improve the quality of research and faculty. But should a proposed educational institution be favoured by Government with special privileges even before it is set up? Judging by the reports that have appeared, there seems to be no special ground to promote Jio University in this manner. They may have submitted detailed and grandiose plans for the future. But any project planner and CA can prepare a glittering blueprint. Would the Government have leaned on experts to grant such largesse for any other applicant? Successive rulers have been accused of extending support to various crony capitalists who repay such favours to the political party concerned at election time. The BJP should not be surprised if its critics latch on to the extraordinary benefit given to a non-existent university and accuse the Government of wanting to extract its pound of flesh in time for the next polls. The charge of palms being greased to acquire “eminence” for this proposed university will be difficult to counter. Instead of eminence grise, a new term — eminence grease — may well become common in the context of this university.
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