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Bimal Patel gets wrist-slap on last day as GNLU director for apparent poaching of staff to new gig • Successor to focus on int’l + research

Bimal Patel reign at GNLU ends (though not without controversy)
Bimal Patel reign at GNLU ends (though not without controversy)

One day before stepping down as director of GNLU Gandhinagar, Dr Bimal Patel was chastised in an official letter for apparently poaching three staffers of GNLU to Gujarat Maritime University (GMU), which operates on GNLU’s campus and is currently being run by Patel.

According to the Indian Express and Times of India, GMU registrar Sharad Daran sent the following email to Patel on 14 July:

The emails dated 13th July 2019 sent by you has been brought to the notice of Shri Mukesh Kumar, IAS, Provost, Gujarat Maritime University.

With respect to your rapid, unusual and untimely acceptance of resignation of certain employees of GNLU assigned charge at Gujarat Maritime University, I am directed to instruct you that, as the outgoing in-charge director of Gujarat Maritime University, you may refrain from taking any decision pertaining to Gujarat Maritime University without consulting the President/Provost of Gujarat Maritime University.

Reportedly, three staffers of GNLU who had been on deputation to GMU, where Patel is director in charge, had sent letters of resignation at GNLU 13 July and quickly accepted by Patel - in one reportedly within just over half-an-hour of having been sent.

Patel’s tenure as GNLU director ended on Monday 15 July, and he handed over to the new director Prof Sanjeevi Shanthakumar by Tuesday, 16 July.

Patel also has a new gig as officer on special duty at Raksha Shakti University at Lavad, Gandhinagar, expected to be director general soon, according to the Express report.

Prof Shanthakumar’s plans for GNLU

Patel successor sets out plans in Indian Express interview
Patel successor sets out plans in Indian Express interview

Patel’s GNLU successor Shanthakumar told the Express in a separate interview that he wanted to internationalise GNLU.

He said he would by next year attract the very first foreign students to the university, as well as activate the strong alumni network and use his contacts to attract foreign guest faculty and create international opportunities for GNLU teachers.

In-part, he said, he was keen to put in a bid to get GNLU a spot in unnamed “world rankings”.

“I know it would be difficult to get students from European countries or the United States but I have a good connect with law schools in southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Cambodia. So from next year, you will see foreign students at GNLU,” he told the Express.

The latter, is probably a reference to the similar ambitions of NLSIU Bangalore and the recent success of JGLS Sonepat to crack the QS global university rankings.

However, as we had reported above, getting into the QS rankings appears possible purely on two criteria, such as faculty student ratio and international faculty, rather than necessarily being a signifier of university quality.

That said, being on the ranking probably does attract more foreign students, so it could create a virtuous circle and also fill universities’ coffers with the fees paid by foreign students.

Finally, Shanthakumar also told the Express that he wanted to address the poor research at Indian universities: “In the field of law, we can create knowledge because content is indigenous and we don’t need to look to the West for content.

“So I am going to motivate each and every teacher to write a lot and publish articles so that we are known outside as a great research institute.”

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