JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar in race for IIT Delhi director’s post

After his five-year term as JNU VC ended on January 26 this year, Jagadesh Kumar, who was a professor of electrical engineering at IIT Delhi before being made JNU VC, was allowed by the Education Ministry to continue till his successor is picked.

JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar is among the frontrunners for the post of the next IIT Delhi director, for which six names have been shortlisted by a search-cum-selection committee which met on Monday.

It is learnt that the other names include IIT Bombay’s Professor Rangan Banerjee and IIT Delhi’s Professor Santosh Kapuria.

A separate meeting to pick the directors of IIT Indore and IIT Mandi was also held during the day. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was among those present in the meetings.

After his five-year term as JNU VC ended on January 26 this year, Jagadesh Kumar, who was a professor of electrical engineering at IIT Delhi before being made JNU VC, was allowed by the Education Ministry to continue till his successor is picked.

Jagadesh Kumar did not respond to requests for a comment on his name being shortlisted by the panel for the IIT Delhi post.

While he is widely regarded for his knowledge in electronic engineering and associated areas, Kumar’s tenure in JNU has been marked by constant campus unrest over issues ranging from the 2016 sedition controversy to the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, an MSc student.

The Ministry of Education had sought applications for the post of IIT Delhi director, which has a tenure of five years. Professor V Ramgopal Rao, who is currently Director of IIT Delhi, had taken charge in April 2016.

Apart from names received through applications, the search-cum-selection panel also considered names nominated by eminent persons.

IIT Bombay’s Banerjee holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the same institute. He is a Forbes Marshall Chair Professor in the Department of Energy Science and Engineering. Kanuria is a Professor at the Department of Applied Mechanics at IIT Delhi. He was Director of CSIR-CLRI from April 2019 to November 2019.

In the case of IIT Indore and IIT Mandi, the Ministry, under former Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, had carried out one round of selection before scrapping the process and starting afresh with a call for applications before December 31, 2020.

While Professor Neelesh Kumar Jain has been officiating as Director of IIT Indore since the term of its full-time director ended in December last year, IIT Roorkee Director Ajay Kumar Chaturvedi has been serving as the acting in-charge of IIT Mandi.

The government has been slow in appointing the heads of several universities and IITs. The posts of chairpersons of many IITs, including IIT Roorkee, which had a full-time chairperson three years ago, also continue to be vacant. On September 22, Delhi University got a full-time VC in Professor Yogesh Singh, nearly a year after the suspension of Yogesh Tyagi from the post by President Ram Nath Kovind on grounds of “dereliction of duty”.

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