Published On: Tue, Jan 17th, 2012

Bangalore School of Economics dies prematurely as Jindals withdraw 100 Crore funding

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N Prabhu Dev

N Prabhu Dev, VC, Bangalore University

The prestigious Bangalore School of Economics has died a premature death as the Jindals have withdrawn their offer of a whopping Rs 100-crore grant. In a statement released to the media, B.D. Garg, executive director of Jindal Aluminium Limited (JAL), said the firm was hurt and shocked by the accusations made by some about the 100 crore, which the firm had agreed to in good faith, to donate to establish a Bangalore School of Economics.

BSE which was being modeled after the famed London School of Economics was Bangalore University’s vice-chancellor N Prabhu Dev’s most ambitious project.

“We are shocked and hurt by the accusations made by a few members against our company for the donation of Rs 100 crore which we agreed in good faith to establish a Bangalore School of Economics. One member has called it an investment of the company, yet another suspected it as a land sale, without, of course, identifying the piece of land under sale,” Mr Garg stated referring to the remarks made at the academic council meeting on January 13.

“It is for all concerned and also for all Bengalureans to finally understand that Jindal Aluminium Limited had made an offer of a donation of Rs 100 crore to the management of Bangalore University through its VC towards establishment of a Bangalore School of Economics, preferably in the model of London School of Economics, without any pre-condition from the company about the ownership of land or interfering in day to day administration of Bangalore School of Economics,” he added.

He added that the  company wished no role whatsoever in its operation or management of BSE, and the ownership of the land and day-to-day management of the proposed school were going to be solely with the university. According to him, the company was only fulfilling its social responsibility in creating a societal asset for all students of the country. “Now that our company’s name has been rudely sullied, subjected to such low politics, and buy controversy at a cost of Rs 100 crore any further and with deep anguish and hurt, we hereby withdraw our offer of the said donation of Rs 100 crores for a project which was conceived and cherished by a few well meaning people,” he stated.

Earlier at the academic council meeting on 13th January several objections were raised against the proposed school. The issues raised were that the VC was not ‘transparent’ about the setting up of school, university’s authority over the school, upgrading of existing economics department into a centre of excellence, control of land and management and even the admission process.  Taking a dig at the Jindals, one academic council member had said, “The important aspect missing here is whether protocol has been followed or not. We could have also looked at others who may have been interested in investing and then picked the best deal. Why only Jindals?”

Lamenting on the lost opportunity, the Jindal Foundation has put the ball back into the courts of the council members.

“But no doubt, it will remain on record as a classic case of stifling a good cause by unfounded suspicion of a few. Let all those wise men in the council answer the posterity for their act of killing a project which would have been otherwise unique and wonderful and would have gone a long way to further enhance the prestige and stature of the university. Our best wishes for them,” the Jindal letter signed off.

Registrar Prof B C Mylarappa, who was once accused by the Foundation for ‘selfish motives’ called it a ‘disappointment’.

“The University would have got a good name with this project. It only makes me think where we went wrong,” he said. He added that there was no opposition to the project whatsoever.

Vice-Chancellor N Prabhu Dev was unavailable for reactions. However, a senior official said it was not the end. “This is a shocking news, but we have not accepted the defeat. Jindal is only planning to withdraw, and we will try to convince them to reconsider. This is a result of wrong propaganda,” the official said.