By Nageshwar Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, December 13, 2016 : The sacking of two eminent professors, Banikanta Mishra and D. V. Ramana by the XIMB authority on December 6 has drawn flak from students, former students and professors.
There is already an online campaign calling the XIMB decision a move to muffle voices of people on campus — especially those who choose to have an opinion.
Current and past students of two professors said what they were really objecting to was the way there were simply sent a letter saying their services were terminated, access to their official email id and telephone were abruptly blocked, and one month notice given to vacate their quarters in the campus.
The XIMB director, Paul Fernandez told this correspondent that he simply carried the governing body’s orders. “This is no news material. Please do not publish anything about it. I have simply carried the decision of the governing body. I cannot say more than this”.
Repeated attempts to get in touch with Prof Mishra and Prof Ramana, elicited a text message response which said, “What has happened is between the institute and us, and we do not wish to go public with it. Please respect this.”
Their services were terminated without assigning any reasons. This unexpected action by Paul has shocked students, faculty members, former students and even Jesuits as both Professors have an impeccable reputation as sincere and highly professional academicians.
“Prof. Mishra and Prof. Ramana have been the bedrock and pillars of XIM’s reputation and academic rigor. The institute, its academics, and its professors have played a pivotal role in shaping our careers. In fact, a very large number of alumni owe their professional success to Prof. Mishra and Prof. Ramana”, says Srikanth Balasubramanian, an alumnus of XIMB.
Many faculty members with request to remain anonymous felt that impeccable faculties who have made XIMB a great institution by giving it 27 years of dedicated service are being shamelessly terminated which displays the level to which the management board has stooped down. “Whosoever tries to raise a voice against the management’s illegitimate processes gets KICKED out from the institution”, an irate professor said.
An alumnus commented on the Change.org petition page, “Two decades of contribution can’t be wiped off without an explanation. These are faculty that are respected and helped shape lives of their students! This is clearly a case of personal vendetta and whimsical decision making. Clearly, the Board of Governors should reverse this decision, and take corrective action”.
Many apprehend that the brand name of XIMB, the premier B-school will take a beating with unceremonious termination of services of both the professors without issuing any show cause notice and following procedures under the law.
Nevertheless, this unilateral action of the Director has opened the Pandora’s Box on the functioning of the premier B-School in the country and role of the Director, who happens to be the nephew of the Jesuit Society of Eastern India’s supreme leader the Provincial.
Debabrat Mishra, an alumnus has started a petition campaign demanding transparency and accountability in the governance of XIMB. By now, the petition to be delivered to chief minister Naveen Patnaik and other has 1,180 supporters.
“The Governing Board of a Management Institute should have only credible individuals and for a defined period. Currently the Vice Chancellor of Xavier University of Bhubaneswar and Director XIMB don’t seem to carry relevant credentials to head the institutions. To head one of Eastern India’s premier educational institutions is this the best and most meritocratic choice?” the petition asks.
Some of the board members (including the Chairman) have been around for more than five years. “Good governance requires independence through rotation. Shouldn’t the regulation of rotation of board members every 5 years be applicable here as well? What justifies independent directors having such long tenures on the board of XIMB? How is it beneficial?” the petition says.
Besides, more than 300 individual emails have been sent to XIMB, Director and Chairman, Union and state ministers and others with contents like, “Recent developments with regards to the Brand XIMB have caused great pain to me and I would like to highlight a few out as a concerned Alumnus. I hope you would take into account these concerns and take the right actions that are needed”.
Their concerns revolved round transparency in processes and accounts, use of campus infrastructure for non-academic purposes, unplanned expansion, student friendliness, and lack of right mix of mentors/professors.
A distressed student has commented on the petition that money looting has become the major objective. “Final placements and summer internships are pending for two third of the batch. It has been informed that 40-45 students in HR stream might not even get their final placements and yet the number of seats is being increased in BM, HR streams”.
“The institute has over the years collected upwards of Rs 6 crores as Alumni Funds (@ Rs 10,000 / student as alumni fees). The XIMB Director and Dean have managed this fund and the bank account with over Rs 6 crores without presenting any book of accounts”, Debarbat Mishra alleges.
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This adage seems to have swept the director and his cronies leading to unrest in XIMB. Director Paul by virtue of his connection with the head of Jesuit Society of Jamshedpur is riding rough shod over other Jesuits and behaving like a dictator. Even the other Jesuits are scared to complain about him and not surprisingly, poor professors are victimised for no fault of theirs.