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TISS director Parasuraman didn’t resign, just said so in a huff


  • I’m still the director: Prof S Parasuraman

MUMBAI: A day after Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) director S Parasuraman sent text messages to TOI to say he was resigning from the post after this paper wrote of the alleged suppression of a report on the institute, his office called to clarify that he did not actually resign, but had just said so “in a huff” to TOI.In three SMSes on Monday, Parasuraman stated emphatically that he was resigning. When TOI called him later the same day, he said he didn’t want to talk. But, on Tuesday, his office called to say he had been “disturbed” the previous day and promised to send TOI his “quote” via the TISS public relations agency. Till late evening, they were yet to sent the reason for the turnaround.

Meanwhile, the day TOI published the story, a member of the institute’s governing board wrote to the director saying he wished to visit the Tuljapur, Hyderabad and Guwahati campuses “to see the state of progress on these campuses.”

TOI had reported that an academic review committee report, believed to be critical of the institution, was yet to see the light of day nearly a year after the members last met. “We were paid Rs 5,000 a day to work on the report, which works out to around Rs 60,000 per person over the course of the review. We were put up in five-star hotels while on outstation campuses. Why did TISS spend so much on us if they don’t want to publish our report?” asked a leading Indian academician and review committee member.

He says the institute undertook phenomenal expansion in the last decade without adequate infrastructure. “On some campuses, the library is overcrowded and students have no place to study. Often four students are crammed in a hostel room for two. In one instance, a student fell off the top of a bunk bed in the absence of railings,” said a review committee member.

TISS connected TOI with committee member, Dr Nimesh Desai of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences. When TOI asked him why the report had been delayed, he felt it was “inappropriate to discuss it in public”. “We prepared our first draft in April 2014. But we felt the report needed an alumni perspective; we felt it was too slanted in favour of what students were saying and we wanted to be made privy to the processes the institute undertook during expansion,” he said.

While TOI reported on alleged fears that the institute may have attempted to suppress the report, an email from TISS registrar C P Mohan said, “The committee is yet to submit its report. Therefore, to allege suppression of the review committee report is completely baseless and untrue.”

While TOI quoted a committee member saying that the committee had come up with a 35-page draft report in July last year, Mohan’s email said no such draft had been submitted. However, at no point did TOI say that the draft report had been submitted to the institute. It had been submitted to the committee members.

Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, Mrinal Miri, the committee chairman, said, “I resigned from the committee two days earlier. I submitted my inputs almost a year ago but haven’t heard about the progress of the report from the drafting committee for several months.“

According to sources, another committee member, Samuel Paul, former director of IIM Bangalore, also resigned recently due to similar reasons. Paul could not be reached for comment.

The TISS review committee was initially proposed to have 20 members, of which 14 finally joined. The report pertains to the functioning of TISS, for which the committee drafting the report studied all four campuses of the institution –Mumbai, Tuljapur, Hyderabad and Guwhati.

Nearly a year after the committee met for the last time, its report has yet to see the light of day.According to committee members, the status of the report is still unknown.

Following news of the report allegedly being suppressed as it is believed to be critical of the institution, director S Parsuraman wrote an email to the students’ body and members of the review panel on Monday, stating that he repeatedly followed up on the status of the report and also wrote to the chairman and other key members.

He added that from time to time panel members assured him the report would come soon.The mail stated: “It is an unfortunate situation that when the institute is requesting the review committee members to submit the report for the past 18 months, it has not been able to do so (all are eminent scholars and too busy to get together and do the final report)“.

In spite of this clarification, governing body members are yet unsure of the progress. One member who requested anonymity told Mirror that the last correspondence the body received was around eight months ago. “We met with the committee who took feedback from us about their work so far, but since then there’s no word about the report being submitted from their side,“ the member said.

Speaking in support of the director, the member said that Parsuraman has been following up on the issue.

“The delay is from the committee members who haven’t turned in inputs. The committee has a lot of high profile members who have not honoured the agreement and completed the job they committed to.“

DN Dhanavade, a committee member, said that the members haven’t met since July 2014 to discuss drafting of the report. “The drafting committee was busy and there was no update about this whatsoever. Going by the director’s statements mentioned in media reports, I hope the report is in by the end of the month,“ he said.

Members of the governing body also said that ideally the review committee members should have submitted their report to the threemember drafting committee, who would then compile the inputs and submit a comprehensive report to the TISS governing body. Panel members, however, expressed doubt over the submission of the review committee’s report by the month end.

Despite several calls and messages, Parsuraman could not be reached for comment.

Accroding to DNA report ,

However, many dissenting voices emerged from the campus as the news of his resignation spread. A senior professor said, “He has been running the institute like an authoritarian and there has been no scope for democratic voices.”

Mariette Correa, a former professor of the Guwahati campus, and her husband Vidyadhar Gadgil, who worked as an associate professor on contractual basis, were sacked allegedly after they had voiced opinion against the functioning of TISS. Mairtae, who now lives in Goa, said, “Our services were terminated as we opposed the way the standard of teaching was compromised. Our emails were blocked to prevent us from contacting teachers at Mumbai campus and raise the issue.”

When asked for his version, Prof Parasuraman replied through an SMS, “I don’t understand what you mean. I am still the director of the TISS. Faculty members are free to speak if need to speak.” He, however, didn’t respond to an SMS regarding allegations of a dictatorial style of functioning.


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