Her appointment was considered a certainty even before the search committee was set up. So much so that in December last year, it was alleged that she had visited Nalanda ‘unofficially’ to take stock of the place. The President of India ended all speculation this week by appointing Prof Sunaina Singh as the next Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University.
Her appointment has raised eyebrows due to a variety of reasons, prominent among them being the following:
However, Singh is said to have had the backing of Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Ram Madhav ‘Varanasi’ (yes, he has added the suffix to his name) who inducted her as a board member of New Delhi-based India Foundation, a right-wing think-tank with Ram Madhav, Shaurya Doval, son of the National Security Adviser Ajit K Doval, and MoS in the External Affairs Ministry MJ Akbar among the other board members.
Indeed the website of the India Foundation introduces her as follows: “As the head of a National University, Professor Sunaina Singh is among the most prominent women Vice Chancellors in the South Asian region. She is also the Vice President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi. She was the first Indian woman to function as the President of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, a Bi-National Research Organization (MHRD & Ministry of Foreign Affairs Canada) with headquarters in New Delhi and Calgary.”
She had also courted controversy by delivering an Independence Day speech at EFLU in English, by suspending a Deputy Registrar (Finance) for allegedly cooperating with the mandatory audit and rusticated students protesting against her.
Some of the audit observations held against her were as follows:
In addition, there were complaints of irregular and ad-hoc appointments.
Besides the ICCR chairman Lokesh Chandra, other members of the search committee were Arvind Sharma, Professor at McGill University, Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) at the Ministry of External affairs and NK Singh, former bureaucrat and Rajya Sabha member.