Academic fraternity expresses anger for not considering the body of work of experts
A move to recover “dues” from two elderly Sanskrit scholars of international repute has drawn ire from the academic fraternity. Many have expressed anger for not considering their body of work before notices were served by officials of the Registrar of Societies.
Ninety-eight-year-old K.S. Varadacharya, a renowned scholar of Vedanta, Pracheena Nyaya, and Naveena Nyaya, and octogenarian H.V. Nagaraja Rao, an authority in Sanskrit grammar, Yoga Sutras, and poetics, are among the 11 scholars, earlier associated with the Academy of Sanskrit Research at Melkote, to have received notices to recover the honorarium that was drawn during their tenure with the academy. Sources said that five of 11 persons are already dead.
The notice, a copy which is with The Hindu, has been served from the office of the Mandya District Registrar of Societies, seeking dues of ₹5.16 lakh from Mr. Varadacharya, who was the project leader, and ₹55,654 from Mr. Rao, who was an editor at the academy. Both are recipients of the President’s award for their academic contribution. Another senior scholar, A. Varadachar, has received notice for recovery of ₹2.82 lakh.
The 11 persons worked in the academy between 1996 and 2004 when they received honorarium in the range of ₹5,000 to ₹8,000 for research work. They worked in projects that were Centrally sponsored in the fifth and sixth five-year plans. In all, the total recovery from these academicians will amount to ₹13.97 lakh.
The District Registrar in his report has said that it was illegal for retired government employees from being re-appointed on contract basis to institutions linked to the government. While two earlier notices served in March 2009 and March 2013 had been stayed by the High Court, the latest notice comes following the final order of the court. It allowed the District Registrar to issue notice before taking adverse action against the petitioner under Section 26 of the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960.
Mr. Varadacharya and Mr. Rao have retired as senior researchers from the Oriental Research Institute in Mysuru.
Now students of Mr. Varadacharya have shot off a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Karnataka Samskrit University that administers the academy, which was earlier registered under the Societies Act. They have described the notices as “great injustice and deep insult to these scholars” disregarding their body of work.
During his tenure, the nonagenarian scholar translated Sribhashya into Kannada and brought out Vishisthadvaitha Kosha, a 10-volume encyclopedia. “The academy is earning from the sale of these books,” the students pointed out. In his time at the academy, Mr. Rao contributed in the development of Sanskrit software, giving outputs from the Mahabhashya of Patanjali.
“The appointments were made with the permission of the managing committee that comprised four serving IAS officers. These were men of eminence, and we wanted to do serious research,” rued Prof. Lakshmi Tatachar, former director of the academy, against whom also a recovery notice for dues of ₹45.2 lakh has been served. “These appointments were made when youngsters were either not interested or skilled for research. There were financial constraints to give a huge salary. When you are involved in research, raw talent alone will not bring results. Of about 40 persons working, about 15 retired persons were hired on contract,” he said.
University Vice-Chancellor K.E. Devanathan acknowledged the development. “This is sheer ignorance and we did not know the notice was being issued. I will take up the issue with the government authorities to treat these cases sympathetically,” he said.