LIST OF NEWSPAPERS COVERED
CIVIL SERVICE 3-6
CULTURAL INNOVATIONS 7
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT 9
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS 30-32
POLITICAL PARTIES 36-37
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT 38-42
PRESSURE GROUPS 43
PUBLIC FINANCE 44-49
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAR 15, 2016
DANICS officer writes to CM over delayedposting
Kuldeep Singh reminded Kejriwal about his promise, right after he came to power, that the government would encourage and promote honest officers.
A senior DANICS officer, who has been waiting for nearly four months for his posting, has written to Chief MinisterArvind Kejriwal, urging him to develop a system under which the salary of officials like him are released without any harassment.
The letter was written by Kuldeep Singh Gangar, former special secretary, transport. The letter was also marked to the President, the Prime Ministers Office, the Home Ministry and the LGs office. Singh also reminded Kejriwal about his promise, right after he came to power, that the government would encourage and promote honest officers.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAR 9, 2016
Leave Travel Concession: Centre allows nonentitled government employees to
NEW DELHI: All nonentitled central government employees have been allowed to travel by air while availing Leave Travel Concession (LTC) with a condition that reimbursement in such cases shall be restricted to the fare of their entitled class of train or actual expense. The Ministry of Personnel had recently eased norms for processing claims of LTC which allows grant of leave and ticket reimbursement to eligible central government employees to travel to their home towns and other places. "Government employees not entitled to travel by air may travel by any airline. However, reimbursement in such cases shall be restricted to the fare of their entitled class of train, transport or actual expense, whichever is less," an order issued by the Ministry said. The move comes after the government received a number of queries in this regard. In many cases, employees did not have railway station or good road network to their home towns and they had requested for permission to travel by air to save time, which was being denied, officials said. Now, they will be allowed to travel by air and by any airline, they said. At present, those entitled to travel by air have to mandatorily travel by Air India. A government servant may also apply for advance for himself or his family members 65 days before the proposed date of the outward journey and he or she would be required to produce the tickets within ten days of the withdrawal of advance, irrespective of the date of commencement of the journey, as per the new norms. There are about 50 lakh central government employees. All central government employees have been asked to share photos and interesting details of their holidays. The DoPT has decided to put a limit of one month for verification of LTC claim after the LTC bill is submitted by government employee for settlement and final payment. "Efforts should be made to reduce the duration of processing of LTC applications or claims at the earliest. The maximum time limit should be strictly adhered to and noncompliance of time limit should be adequately explained," its directive said.
PIONEER, MAR 8, 2016
3 DOZEN BABUS TRANSFERRED
In a major bureaucratic reshuffle, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs ordered transferring of three dozen officials of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre at a Joint Cadre Authority (JCA) meeting held in Goa on Saturday.
Most of the officials are those who were at loggerheads with the Arvind Kejriwal Government in the past.
Principal Secretary (Power) Shakuntala Gamlin on child care leave from six months who is 1984 batch IAS officer, would be chief secretary of Arunachal Pradesh.
Gamlin would replace Ramesh Negi a 1984 batch officer who has been transferred to Delhi.
Anindo Majumdar, 1985 batch IAS officer would be new chief secretary to Andaman Nicobar Islands while Anand Prakash 1979 batch IAS officer has been transferred to Delhi.
Secretary (Environment) Ashwini Kumar, 1992 batch officer, has been transferred to Goa. Jitendra Narain, 90 batch IAS officer, has been transferred from Delhi to Arunachal Pradesh. He was not given any departments for the past six months.
Principal Secretary (GAD) Arvind Ray, 84 batch IAS officer, has been transferred to Mizoram.
A 1996 batch officer Geetanjali Kundra, who is holding the charge of director in Women and Child Welfare department, has been transferred to Mizoram.
Principal Secretary (Finance) Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, 1986 batch IAS officer, has been transferred to Goa. Food and Supplies Commissioner Sanjiv Khirwar, 94 batch, got transferred to Anadaman Nicobars.
Dharmendra Sharma, 88 batch IAS officer, has been transferred from Arunchal Pradesh to Delhi.
A 1994 batch officer Ashish Chandra Verma has been transferred to Arunchal Pradesh. Besides, Madhu K Garg, 1982 batch has been transferred to Arunachal Pradesh.
The other IAS officers include Gobind Jaiswal (2007) transferred to Goa while Blaklunga (2003) and Harleen Kaur (2012) transferred to Mizoram.
Himanshu Gupta (2012), Sonal Swaroop (2012), Kashish Mittal (2011) Danish Ashraf (2011), Prince Dewan (2012) and Satyendra Singh Dursawat have been also been transferred to Arunachal Pradesh
Besides, JCA has ordered transferring of over two dozen officers of AGMUT.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAR 9, 2016
IPSIAS couple posting blues may end with Gujarat transfer
NEW DELHI: Government has come up with a solution for the unique case of the IASIPS couple who cannot be transferred to each other's home state given the existing rules to send them to the Prime Minister's home state, Gujarat.
A Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) committee on March 3 has sent the file to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister, recommending that IAS officer P Parthiban and his wife and IPS officer Nisha Parthiban be sent to the Gujarat cadre. The committee has cited that Gujarat was among the 'next preference' cadres cited by the officers while applying for the civil services examination and Gujarat is also among the most deficit cadres regarding the number of civil servants. As per a last count, Gujarat had 32% shortage of IAS officers and 19% shortage of IPS officers. Out of sanctioned strength of 297 IAS officers, Gujarat has only 204 in place. Out of 195 IPS officers sanctioned strength, only 158 officers are in place in Gujarat.
ET was the first to report on February 6 about this unique case which is heralding a change in rules regarding intercadre transfers. Nisha, an IPS officer of 2011 batch who hails from Delhi, married her batchmate and IAS officer P Parthiban in 2012. She got allotted Tamil Nadu cadre and is posted in Coimbatore. Parthiban, who is from Tamil Nadu, got allotted AGMUT cadre (which includes Delhi and UTs) and is posted in Puducherry. Their intercadre transfer request met a roadblock as either of the officers can't opt for the cadre of the spouse being their respective home cadres.
The government had then asked both officers to suggest their preference for a third cadre based on the immediate next option of cadre suggested by them in their UPSC forms but the couple has not conveyed their preference to the government till March 3. "In case of non receipt of preference within the stipulated time from the concerned officers, they can be assigned the most deficit cadre between the two subject to receipt of No objection Certificate from the parent cadre as well as recipient cadre," the DoPT committee has proposed to ACC as a new policy, hence recommending the Parthiban couple to be shifted to the Gujarat cadre.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAR 8, 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks secretaries to attend to 10 grievances a week
NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister's Office is cracking the whip on unwarranted delays of ministries in attending to public grievances as also for bypassing the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) while deciding on disciplinary action against central officials. PMO has asked secretaries of all the departments which have substantial public dealing to personally examine at least 10 grievances every week and upload the report on the Cabinet Secretariat's eSamiksha portal which the PM monitors. The PM in his monthly Pragati meeting in January had asked all secretaries whose departments have extensive public dealing to set up a system for toplevel monitoring of grievances. The Centre received 8.81 lakh public grievances last year an over threefold jump from the 2.7 lakh complaints in 2014. DoPT, which reports to the PM, has also written to secretaries expressing displeasure at the highest levels of government over some ministries passing final orders in disciplinary cases of officials without referring the case to it, when the UPSC had advised a different course of action. "This has been viewed very seriously. Such deviation from procedure may have farreaching implications that may manifest in the form of unnecessary litigation and embarrassment to the government," the DoPT letter has said. Ministries are mandated to refer a matter to DoPT if they choose to proceed with a disciplinary matter while overruling the advice of the UPSC. An note has to be submitted to PMO on all such disagreement, the letter adds. DoPT's advice has to be taken into consideration before a final order is passed by the ministry.
ECONOMIC TIMES, MAR 8, 2016
Rashtrapati Bhavan to host 'Festival of Innovations'
NEW DELHI: The Rashtrapati Bhavan is going to host the 'Festival of Innovations' in collaboration with the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in a weeklong event, officials said on Monday. The festival (March 12 to March 19) will open with the inauguration of an exhibition of innovations by President Pranab Mukherjee. It would remain open for the public, including visitors to the Mughal Gardens, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., officials said. The festival will also have three exhibitions, two workshops, four group discussions, two award presentation ceremonies and a roundtable on various topics such as inclusive innovation innovation and skill development and incentives for innovation in public policy and programmes, among others. The key recommendations of the roundtable discussions will be presented to the president.
STATESMAN, MAR 14, 2016
Uniform IDs for Persons with Disabilities soon: Minister
The government has begun the process of implementing a uniform ID for Persons with Disabilities and steps are being taken to complete the process within one year, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot has said.
Gehlot made the announcement in Bolangir, Odisha, during the inauguration of a Modular Operation Theatre at the Swami Vivekananda National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research (SVNIRTAR) Centre.
He laid the foundation stone for a Satellite Centre in SVNIRTAR in Bolangir. Krishan Pal Gurjar, minister of state for social justice and empowerment and Kulamani Samal, MP Jagatsinghpur, were present on the occasion, said an official statement on Monday.
Gehlot visited a mega surgical camp organised at the Vivekananda Institute at which around 150 patients from different parts of Odisha were operated free of cost. Self-employment kits were also distributed by the ministers and guests to the SC/ST beneficiaries who have undergone vocational training in different employable trades imparted by the institute. Besides that aids and appliances were also distributed to 56 persons with disabilities at the camp, said the statement.
Gehlot announced that financial assistance will be provided for upgradation of the institute from a 100-bedded hospital to a 200-bed one in view of the long queues of patients. He also said the vacant staff positions would be filled up soon.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
STATESMAN, MAR 14, 2016
Reform in China
Although Chinese growth numbers are sliding in comparison to India, this may be temporary and based on curves in the business cycle; Chinas economic fundamentals are stronger than any other emerging economy. The vice-governor of Chinas Central Bank, Yi Gang, was not far from the truth when he said, Chinese foreign exchange reserves are ample and reasonable. Thus according to him, expectations are high on the yuan; therefore it should remain steady and cross-border capital flows should be manageable. Last week, credit rating agency Moody downgraded Chinas performance on sovereign debt from stable to negative, citing the Chinese governments lackadaisical performance vis--vis implementation of economic reforms, rising public debt and lowering reserves. However President Xi Jinping has reiterated Chinas long-standing position that it must stick to its socialist principles. Chinas economic agenda is a part of its global strategy, what it calls the peaceful rise. China aims to grow at between 6.5 and 7 per cent over the next five years; but Moodys feels that Chinas fiscal strength has weakened due to increase in borrowing across diverse sectors of the economy, and has led to stress in the financial system and state-owned enterprises.
The performance of state-owned enterprises has been the backbone of the Chinese economy and a much-extolled facet of its socialist system. Although weak economic growth has begun to increase pressure on policy banks -- state-owned enterprises that fund projects based on government advisories -- the Chinese government is trying to push more investment across sectors for the required economic expansion.
The downgrade of Chinese bonds will increase borrowing risks for China in the international financial markets. Chinas public debt to GDP ratio in 2012 was 32 per cent and in 2015 stands at a gargantuan 40.6 per cent. There is a possibility that Chinas target of 6.5 per cent growth may slow down structural reforms; with change in demographics and decreasing pace of investment, China must balance its policy objective of higher economic growth and reform measures that will eventually pave the way for a higher economic trajectory. The countrys foreign exchange reserves have fallen to their lowest in three years, to $ 3.2 trillion. Its banking system should not become the burden many expect it to be. With a closed and inefficient financial system, China will fail in overcoming its public debt. Reforms are a must for Chinas peaceful rise; growth can wait. China has consistently grown at over 10 per cent in the past three decades. Blindly seeking growth now will increase inequality, weaken its dilapidated banking system and in the long run prove disastrous for economic development. Reform is the way forward.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, MAR 15, 2016
JNU panel recommends rustication of 5 students including Kanhaiya
An inquiry panel set up by Jawaharlal Nehru University recommended on Monday the rustication of five students including Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya over a February 9 event on the campus where anti-national slogans were allegedly shouted.
Based on the panels inputs, the university issued showcause notices to 21 students for indiscipline on the day. The panel recommended punishment ranging from a fine to rustication for up to two semesters, sources said.
The high-level committee has recommended rustication of five students after its investigation over a months time. However, the final call in this regard will be taken by the vice-chancellor and proctors office, a senior official told news agency PTI.
March 16 was set as the deadline for the students to submit their replies, sources said. The panel was constituted on February 10, a day after the event to mark the death anniversary of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
The university did not reveal the names of students sent notices. But they included the eight students debarred earlier in connection with the case and students about whom police sought information from the university, sources said.
Khalid and Bhattacharyas notices will be sent to jail, said a source on the duo in custody over alleged sedition.
Officials said the decision was taken after vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar convened a meeting to discuss the five-member panels findings with the deans of schools and special centres.
There are standard provisions in the university rules to take action in such cases. The high-level inquiry committee recommendations are based on the rules of discipline and proper conduct of JNU, an official said.
The university on March 11 revoked the academic suspension of eight students, including students union president Kanhaiya, after the committee submitted its findings.
It was revoked because suspension was till the completion of inquiry. Now, the final punishment will be awarded, another official said.
ASIAN AGE, MAR 11, 2016
Yogesh Tyagi takes over as 22nd DU Vice-Chancellor
Yogesh Kumar Tyagi, former dean and professor, Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University, assumed charge as 22nd vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi on Thursday, over four months after his predecessor Dinesh Singh demitted office.
Prof. Tyagi was welcomed by varsity officials, led by pro vice-chancellor Sudhish Pachauri, who had been the acting vice-chancellor since October.
Addressing the gathering, Prof. Tyagi said he wished to work for the university by taking all the stakeholders on board and said everybodys views would be taken before arriving at any decision. I am not saying there will be no mistakes, but rest assured there will be no dishonesty.
Prof. Tyagi said he was very positive and would invite ideas in making the university better. I completed all my pending courses with students at the SAU and did everything possible to satisfy their expectations from me, everyone is very mature there. Some work is still left, but that would be managed. Former vice-chancellors of various universities, including former DU V-Cs Upendra Baxi and Deepak Pental, Jamia vice-chancellor Talat Ahmed, Gujarat Central University vice-chancellor H.C. Patel, Lucknow Law University vice-chancellor Gurdip Singh and former Jammu University vice-chancellor Amitabh Mattoo welcomed Prof. Tyagi to the Delhi University.
Prof. Tyagi was sent a communication by Union ministry of human resources development on his appointment nearly a month ago, but he had asked for some time in order to settle his responsibilities at SAU. He has been appointed as the Delhi University vice-chancellor for a term of five years after his name was chosen from a panel of four persons by President Pranab Mukherjee, who is the Visitor of all Central universities. Apart from Prof. Tyagi, others shortlisted for the post were JNU professor Rameshwar Nath Kaul Bamezai, former IIT professor and UPSC member Hemchand Gupta and Bidyut Chakraborty, a professor in DUs political science department.
Prof. Tyagi has a Ph.D. in legal studies from JNU and LL.M. in legal studies from Columbia University, will have to clear the confusion over the grading mechanism under choice-based credit system. Various issues, including promotion and appointment of teachers, decision on the reservation policy and the CBCS took a backseat with the vice-chancellors post lying vacant for over four months.
TRIBUNE, MAR 11, 2016
Parivars wish: Education for Hinduisation
Indian universities are at a crossroads because the Hindutva project of education, as defined and interpreted by the ideologues of the Sangh Parivar, cannot be pursued under the present system. For the Government, education is an instrument of Hinduisation of society & polity.
A common thread which connects the campus disturbances at the Film and Television Institute of Pune, Central Hyderabad University and Jawaharlal Nehru University of Delhi is that all these three educational institutions, along with other 40 Central Universities of India, are managed, controlled and administered directly by heads of institutions and their executive councils appointed by the Central Government. Another special feature of conflicts which have arisen in these institutions is that many important leaders of the BJP have condemned these student conflicts as anti-national activity. This labelling has spread like wild fire, especially in case of JNU, Delhi. Beginning with February 9, 2016 when the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, asked the Delhi Police to arrest a "fringe" element of JNU demonstrators who were alleged to be raising anti-national slogans and slap the charge of "sedition" under the Indian Penal Code against those few who had raised slogans in support of terrorist Afzal Guru.
The story does not end here. The various affiliates of the Hindu RSS like the ABVP, BJP-affiliated lawyers, the BJP sympathisers such as ex-servicemen and widows of soldiers who had sacrificed their lives while defending the attack on Parliament in which Afzal Guru was found guilty were all mobilised against JNU, which had been projected in the public eye by the ministers of the Government and other BJP affiliates as "a centre of anti-nationals." A demand was even made by some BJP activists that the "anti-national" JNU should be shut down.
Civil society was made to believe by BJP activists that JNU is a dangerous anti-national institution and not a single responsible leader of the BJP or the upper echelons of the RSS leadership thought it fit to make a sharp distinction between "fringe elements of demonstrators" and the larger institutions of higher learning. Unfortunately, JNU has been asked to defend its "nationalist" credentials before the RSS-led Sangh Parivar and its affiliates who claim to be the champions of Hindu Rashtravad and patriotism. The role of autonomous academic institutions of higher learning have to be examined because the BJP-led Government at the Centre, along with the RSS, has demanded that educational institutions which at present are "under the influence of foreign or external western philosophies of education" should show the "impact" of nationalist education to the Indian youth and instill values of patriotism in students.
A few facts would enable a clear understanding of the ideological belief system of the RSS because universities and the whole educational system in the country is being prepared to act as instruments for spreading the ideological message of the Hindu Sangh Parivar. Firstly, RK Sinha, the biographer of Dr KB Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, in 1925 has noted that the "RSS is an essence of his life" and "Hedgewar's vision was focused on resurrecting the cultural identity of the nation". Second, the RSS supremo, beginning with Hedgewar to Mohan Bhagwat, is the commander-in-chief of all affiliates of the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP in Government. This is the reason that Mohan Bhagwat's observation of August 17, 2014, on Hindu nationalism needs to be referred to. He observed, "Hindutva is the identity of India and it has the capacity to swallow other identities". Hence comes the role of "education" as an extension of the nation's interest. In June 21, 2013, he said that, "True education is to develop feeling and dedication for the country". While addressing an eminent group of educationists, including VCs and the UGC Chairperson at Delhi on November 25, 2014, Bhagwat emphasised the need for nationalist education.
Not only this, the RSS asked the HRD Minister Smriti Irani to "correct" the history taught in schools to "highlight Indian heroes and the role played by Hindu culture in shaping the country" and not the version that the West wanted India to learn. The RSS felt "that Indian children were not familiar with real Indian heroes". Since the Central Government controls all educational institutions publicly funded by the public exchequer, hence all appointments of VCs, executive councils of the universities and other academic bodies are made on the basis of an affiliation or deep commitment to the RSS ideology, for education for Hindutva.
This explains the efforts made by all RSS affiliates and its BJP governments at the Centre and the states, where the BJP is in power, to control every educational institution so that Hindu Rasthravad could be promoted through education. The language policy is another tool of control and hence the emphasis on teaching of Hindi and Sanskrit in recent times, so that Hindu scriptures could be taught in these languages. The story does not end here. The whole educational system has to be controlled by the vigilant group of the Sangh Parivar, under the patronage of the BJP in Government.
Sunil Ambedkar of the RSS is in-charge of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which has a direct link with the RSS and reports to the BJP ministers about the activities at the campuses. Mahendra Kapoor of the Bhartiya Shikshak Mahasangh, Shiv Kumar of Vidya Bharti are some more examples. All these functionaries of the RSS organisations, dealing with education at various levels, have carried weight with functionaries of educational institutions because the BJP is in power. The Sangh Parivar's definition of Hindu nationalism is just one of the definitions of modern nationalism and that too it is socially exclusive and it wants to use universities to propagate this "exclusivism", which is at variance with the true essence of Hinduism that promotes and supports plurality.
Plurality and not homogeneity as the essence of Hindu belief system gets substantiated if one recalls that in 2012, the Delhi University Academic Council was compelled to delete A.K.Ramanujan's, "Three Hundred Ramayans: Five examples and three thoughts on translations". The RSS has a definitive model of education that wants to wash out all historical memories of cultural diversity of India. It is trying to impose its own model by using Government machinery. Autonomy of education leads to an academic atmosphere of dissent and non-conformism among students and the teaching faculty. The Modi Government wants universities as centres of "conformism.
The Hindutva project of education as defined and interpreted by the ideologues of the Sangh Parivar cannot be pursued under the present university system which has been nurtured on the basis of values enshrined in the Constitution of democratic, liberal, secular, Republic of India. Conflicts on the campuses are nothing new. The United States of America witnessed serious polarisation and "anti-Vietnam" war protets in the 1960s and 1970s. The Paris campus in 1968 was in a state of revolt, making philosopher Jean Paul Sartre to observe that campuses will play a transformative role. Neither the US nor the French government declared the students, "anti-national". Democracies grow only in a free atmosphere of debate and dissent but the BJP Government in power does not consider universities as centres of ideas, where a hundred different flowers bloom.
The writer is Professor Emeritus, Centre for Political Studies, JNU.
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAR 14, 2016
Teachers in state-run schools now demand paternityleaveTeachers have decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike from March 14 to press for their demands
Written byDipti Singh
Teachers in government schools across Maharashtra have demanded a provision of paternity leave for them.
In a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad Union has demanded that male teachers be granted 17 days paternity leave. They have submitted a charter of other demands too, and decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike starting from March 14 to press for the demands.
Among the demands put forth by the union, women teachers in the state have said they be given child care leave for 730 days. This facility is provided to Central government teachers. As per Central government rules, child care leave can be taken until the child is 18 years old.
The teachers union wants this child care leave to be over and above the maternity leave that is available to all female employees.
Anil Bornare, president of the Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad Unions Mumbai region, said, There are more than 3 lakh teachers in the state who are deprived of child care leave, which is given to Central government teachers. Last year too, we submitted our demand to the CM to start these facilities for state teachers too. We have demanded that women teachers be allowed leaves during the childs exams or when the child is unwell, until the child attains the age of 18 years. We also wrote that male teachers should get paternity leave.
Other demands of the union include non-salary grants to aided schools, permanent posts and better wages to shikshan sevaks, implementation of Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, and teachers of night schools and schools for disabled be treated on par with regular school teachers, among others.
These teachers have highlighted their problems on several occasions. They have even met the school education minister a number of times and have apprised him of the plight of teachers and non-teaching staff. However, the state government has turned a blind eye to the problems. We were left with no other option but to organise a protest to get our voices heard, said Shivnath Darade, a teacher and member of the BMCs education committee.
The schools claim that they have to face a lot of problems in the absence of non-salary grants. Government schools have not been paid non-salary grants by the state government since 2008. The grants cover only expenses such as electricity bills, water charges, property taxes and other establishment expenses.
MRSP has already submitted a memorandum to the state education department highlighting their demands.
The association, along with other teachers unions, has organised an indefinite chain hunger strike from Monday at Azad Maidan. Unaided schools associations and junior college teachers associations will also join the protest on Monday.
DECCAN HERALD, MAR 14, 2016
Govt plans common entrance test for MBBS
Receives backing from MPs and Medical Council of India
With many MBBS doctors lacking in their skills, the Health Ministry plans to introduce a nation-wide common entrance test for undergraduate medical education.
The move would level the playing field for meritorious students, instead of allowing seats to go to the moneyed class through the capitation fee route.
The ministry received the support of a panel of lawmakers, who asked the government to remove roadblocks to start the common medical entrance test so that merit alone and not the ability to pay becomes the criterion for admission to medical colleges.
We are working on it, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said. Last month, the Medical Council of India recommended an amendment to the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act to empower the body to conduct a nationwide common medical entrance test.
The majority of seats in private medical colleges is allotted for a capitation fee going up to Rs 50 lakh and even more in some colleges despite the fact that the capitation is not legal. This system keeps out the most meritorious but underprivileged students who can pay neither for the seats, nor the high annual fee in private medical colleges, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health said in its report tabled last week.
With poor-quality students entering the medical colleges relying on money power, many fail to acquire the skills that an MBBS graduate should possess.
Even basic skills like conducting a normal delivery, providing early care for a fracture or suturing a wound are not within the competency of a graduate doctor, said the panel. The MBBS doctors seek post-graduate training to develop the clinical expertise.
But since India has just about 25,000 PG seats in medicine, compared to 55,000 seats at the UG level, almost 50% students cannot go to the post-graduation. Among them, a large number of MBBS pass-outs either do not have skills or confidence to practise medicine.
The health ministry previously attempted to conduct common entrance test for the UG and PG medical education, but the effort was negated by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, which cancelled two Health Ministry notifications after private medical colleges filed petitions against the move.
The ministry filed a review petition relying on the dissent ruling given by Justice Anil Dave, who differed from Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramjit Sen, who rejected the notifications. The review is still pending.
If only one examination is conducted and admissions are given on the basis of the result of that examination, in my opinion, unscrupulous and money-minded businessmen operating in the field of education would be constrained to stop their corrupt practices and it would help the deserving students a lot, Justice Dave wrote in his dissent ruling.
TELEGRAPH, MAR, 14, 2016
Sacred contract: - It is important to view recent debates from a wider perspective
Brijesh D. Jayal
Judging by the high-decibel debates and over-the-top coverage of some recent controversies, it has appeared for some months now that the Indian nation is at war with itself. When high-profile television anchors choose to start a prime-time debate with the words, "I am very angry today", or suave anchors choose to remind viewers that the entire international media are looking at India with considerable concern, clearly the stage is being set for a one-sided debate. The latest in this series is the recent happening in the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus that has morphed into a debate on what constitutes nationalism.
As one with little pretence of knowledge of university campus life or indeed of the intellectual world beyond, one was not really qualified to enter this debate. It is, however, the adverse reactions to the observations of the Delhi High Court when granting conditional bail to the president of the JNU students' union - where Justice Pratibha Rani has invoked the sacrifice of the armed forces - that have prompted this piece.
To begin with, so consumed did we get with the issue of intolerance that many a distinguished intellectual chose to return their national awards and a delegation representing writers, artists, scientists and academics called on the president, submitted a memorandum and thereafter issued the statement saying that President Pranab Mukherjee has said that the return of awards by writers and intellectuals was "evidently spontaneous" and a way of protest that has triggered a nation-wide debate on the issue of intolerance. Strangely, not many objected to the slight to national honour with national awards being summarily returned in a pique of spontaneity.
Whether or not this storm in a tea cup resulted in any change in the national tolerance index is difficult to say, but soon the issue appears to have receded into the background, presumably because another one had presented itself in the form of the suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar who had been expelled by the University of Hyderabad, where trouble had been brewing amongst political student factions for the past year. His suicide sparked outrage as an example of caste-based discrimination in elite educational institutions. Politicians, not wanting to miss the photo opportunity, descended in hordes, shedding crocodile tears. What they pretended not to know was the information given out by members of the Ambedkar Students' Association of the university that the phenomenon was not new and as many as 12 students belonging to the scheduled castes had taken a similar tragic step since the university came into existence in the early 1970s. But statistics like this, or the one by the blog,Aasra: Helping People in Despair,that quotes health ministry statistics of 16,000 student suicides across the country in the three years before 2013, are of little interest to those who grieve not for the tragedy of Vemula losing his life or of Dalit discrimination, but delight at the political opportunities it affords. The issue finally reached Parliament and was the subject of a debate following which one can predict that nothing is expected to materially change, and, statistically, every 90 minutes a teenager will continue to attempt suicide in the country.
Even before Vemula could fade from national conscience came another golden opportunity in the form of some students in the prestigious JNU choosing to commemorate the hanging of Afzal Guru - during which patently anti-India slogans were raised. One is consciously avoiding the term, 'anti-national', although as a military veteran of 40-years' standing one sees no difference between the two! As it happened, around the same time, a story of another kind was also unfolding and vying for media space. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, who, along with nine other colleagues, had been buried under an avalanche at a Siachen post and presumed dead, was found alive after six days and rushed to the Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi - a stone's throw from the prestigious JNU campus - where he battled for life. The sharp contrast between these two stories playing out in the capital, one of selfless courage, sacrifice and human endurance at the alter of national security and the other of an anti-India rant of "Bharat ki barbadi tak jang rahegi" and "Bharat tere tukde honge: Inshah Allah, Inshah Allah" under the umbrella of constitutional freedom of free speech, was hard to miss.
Whether the law-enforcement agencies over-reacted in booking the JNUSU president and others for sedition or whether the anti-India slogans were seditious or not is for the judiciary to decide. The concurrent news of these two happenings, one involving a prestigious and highly treasured institute of higher learning where free thought and speech flow and another of the institution of the armed forces where, under impossible human conditions, individuals are ready to lay down their lives mostly unsung, made comparisons inevitable. Sensibilities of those who genuinely care for the safety, honour and welfare of the country (a military man's uncluttered understanding of what is national interest) could not but have been hurt on learning of the anti-India slogans. But to those starved of a cause after the intolerance and anti-Dalit student issues had been milked dry, the very meaning of nationalism became the next rallying point.
It is perhaps with this sensitivity at the back of her mind that Justice Rani, whilst delivering the Delhi High Court judgment granting interim bail to the JNUSU president, went at some length to delve into the larger national security issues at stake. She mentioned that "it has to be kept in mind by all concerned that they are enjoying this freedom only because our borders are guarded by our armed and paramilitary forces". She also noted that such persons enjoy the freedom to raise such slogans in the comfort of university campus without realizing that they are in this safe environment because our forces are there at the battlefield situated at the highest altitude of the world where even oxygen is so scarce that those who are shouting anti-national slogans holding posters of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat close to their chest honouring their martyrdom, may not even be able to withstand those conditions for an hour. Finally, she cautioned that the "kind of slogans raised may have demoralising effect on the family of those martyrs who returned home in a coffin draped in the Tricolor," and concluded that "thoughts reflected in the slogans raised by some of the students of JNU, who organised and participated in that programme, cannot be claimed to be protected as fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression".
Yet, in keeping with the trend of idolizing the JNUSU president and others under the constitutional umbrella of freedom of speech, these remarks have been roundly criticized by many a distinguished commentator, with some eminent lawyers nitpicking on legal niceties and even terming such comments as bad judgment.
One stakeholder conspicuous by its absence in this entire debate is the institution of the armed forces, not because its members are not seeing, hearing and thinking, but because their conditions of service put limitations on their freedom to speak in public. On their behalf, one can say with some confidence that this one observation by the learned justice has given them solace that at least one vital pillar of our democracy understands their value and cares for their sacrifice.
It is also a safe bet that most of those exercising their freedom to chant about the breaking-up of India are not aware that a majority of military officers are graduates from the National Defence Academy or other military institutes that are constituent institutes of JNU and hold degrees recognized by their own revered university. Although in hindsight, one can venture to say that mercifully this is not through the luxury of living in their campus, but in a more rigorous, frugal and real-world environment.
Since national security rests on the morale and professionalism of our men and women in uniform, and since the above and other associated observations of Justice Rani have drawn widespread criticism, a perspective of this unfortunate episode from their viewpoint merits mention.
Armed forces draw heavily on the trust and support of the civil society that maintains them. They repay this trust through their voluntary commitment to a sacred contract of unlimited liability, the foundations of which are based neither on the laws of the land nor on rules of service, but on mutual trust and moral and ethical conduct on the part of both parties. Lance Naik Koppad and his dead colleagues were merely honouring their part of this sacred contract. Those indulging in anti-India slogans in the campus and their many cheerleaders outside were clearly breaching the moral and ethical part of theirs.
The day the armed forces begin to believe that the society is tolerant of those who idolize convicted terrorists and call for the nation to be broken up, there is every danger of the mutual trust between the society and the armed forces coming under stress or even breaking down to the detriment of this sacred contract. Where does that leave the nation and its security? Justice Rani seems to have cast her vision beyond legal technicalities and seen this issue within the larger canvas of national security at a time of ever worsening international security dynamics where non-State actors are becoming a predominant threat to nations and their people from within. Many others have chosen to miss the point.
The author is a retired air marshal of the Indian Air Forc
TELEGRAPH, MAR 13, 2016
Political non-English: - Kanhaiya Kumar hit his opponents where it hurts most
The Thin Edge - Ruchir Joshi
Watching his speech post his release on bail, you could take issue with Kanhaiya Kumar from many different angles. From a pro-business position you could say, "India doesn't needazadifrom capitalism but rather a lot more of it." From a pro-separatist stance you could argue that "Kumar is now shying away from supporting the legitimate cause of Kashmiri independence." As a cynic you could point out that "the moment Kapil Sibal stepped in to ensure bail for Kumar, all mention of Congress atrocities disappeared from the student leader's rhetoric". What you'd be hard put to contest, however, is that in those electric 45 minutes young Comrade KK blew two of India's most powerful orators, Smriti Irani and a certain Narendra Modi, right out of the water. With his seemingly impromptu exhibition of public oratory Kumar not only made those two worthies look stupid and stodgy, he buried them. He decimated them in the arena where it hurts them most - on social media, where the hits on KK's speech inundated Narendra Modi's earlier effort in Parliament as well as Ms Irani's dodgy, melodramatic performance a couple of days preceding. Most importantly, Kumar directly challenged Modi's most potent rhetorical weapon head-on, his unspoken claim of being a man of the people who neither thinks nor speaks in English: in both the widely circulated speeches, the one preceding his arrest and the one after his release, Kumar showed India how political non-English can and should really be spoken, and by a real son of the soil.
If you were to boil down the differences between Modi and Kumar they would be these: Modi mimics accents, managing to mostly hide his own, thick Gujarati-flavoured Hindi, whereas Kumar's Bihari Hindi-Hindustani is genuine and properly salted and cured; Modi has no sense of humour at all, he makes jokes, sure, but they are invariably about being nasty to someone else; when Modi smiles, the smile is that of a shopkeeper forced to give you back change in a bargain he has lost; Kumar's sense of humour is wicked but his demeanour is not devoid of love and warmth; Kumar can make you guffaw at his opponents but he can also genuinely laugh at himself and his own political ilk; Modi stiffly repeats his gestures and tropes - even his pauses are rehearsed - and his whole presentation is that of someone being run on remote-control; in case you didn't see this earlier, the natural flair with which Kanhaiya Kumar challenges Narendra Modi makes you see it now.
What is also interesting is how KK (and also Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid) has managed to inspire other opponents of Moditva and forced them to raise their game to challenge the Emperor of Race Course Road. Suddenly you see Jyotiraditya Scindia stepping out of the crease and unfurling his full repertoire of attacking Hindi strokes. As Scindia is laying the cacophonous Treasury benches to waste, you see Rahul Gandhi sidle in behind him and sit very, very close indeed, in order not to be missed by the cameras trained on his lieutenant. Later, Rahul himself lets fly with an abandon many Congress supporters might wish he had shown in early 2014; here we have Rahul-G smiling, laughing, being self-deprecating, producing audacious reverse-sweeps never before seen from his timid bat - "I'm human, I'm not from the RSS, I can make mistakes!" and "Are you now abandoning Savarkar's philosophy? Good! About time!" and "Your Prime Minister is a powerful man, I know you're scared of him, but still you should tell him what you feel!" The smiles on the faces of the Congress princelings, their new-found panache and confidently unfurled Hindi vocabulary all owe a huge debt to the counter-princelings so spectacularly yet lightly holding their ground at Fortress JNU.
Not to leave out recent public addressing in English, the speeches by Sugata Bose in the Rajya Sabha were, rhetorically, possibly a model of everything for which both the Moditva lot and possibly the JNU crew have no time. The accent was thefaux-Queen's English held in deep suspicion by both the Hindutva Right and the various Left movements. However, the arguments laid out by the learned Dr. Bose were reasoned, eloquent, perfectly legitimate: the country cannot be allowed to sink into anarchy and violence; police cannot put their duties in abeyance under instructions from ministers and politicians from the ruling party; freedom of speech is sacrosanct; our universities, their free functioning and their international reputations are a national resource more precious than plutonium; we should be scientific, rational and democratic in the deepest sense of the word. The only carping one could possibly have, especially if one happens to live in Bengal, is that the political party in which Dr. Bose is so deeply immersed has attempted to run a steamroller over each and everything the honourable MP said. In fact, one could argue that the mismanagement of Bengal's universities, the brazen police-cum-goondaled attacks on freedom of speech and on students demanding that right, the equally shameless attacks by 'lawyers' in high court on under-trial prisoners seen to be against the powers that be, in this case the state government, are all prototypes put in place by Mamata Banerjee's regime for the delectation of, and development by, the Rajnath Singhs at the Centre. In the case of the scandals of political-thuggery interventions that have wracked the university spaces in Calcutta and Bengal it certainly is a tragic case of 'what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow'.
There have been rumours that Kanhaiya Kumar might be coming to Bengal to campaign for the Left-Congress non-quite-combine. Hearing this prompted more than one of us, that is, people who think like me, to shout out in the privacy of our homes: "Comrade KK! Don't do it, pal! Just don't do it!" Thankfully, the reports are that Com KK has no intention of spreading himself thin, or, if you like, abandoning the national arena of the struggle for the university spaces to contribute to a regional election battle. This fills many dozens of us with relief: Kumar, Rashid and Khalid may be brilliant young student leaders, but they have their battleground laid out before them - at the moment of writing, Khalid and Anirban are still in jail on the absurd trumped-up charges the Delhi Police have seen fit to slap on them; on the other hand, the thugvocates who beat up Kumar in the Delhi High Court are still out on bail; the people who have put up posters offering a bounty for Kumar's tongue are being charged only with the crime of defacing property, with no mention of incitement to grievous assault or attempted murder; the current Central government is a creature that will not let go of its vicious agendas that quickly, nor concede the huge, ongoing loss of face without some attempted retaliation. This is one moment where, perhaps, the absurd theatre of what is happening in Delhi and across the rest of the country should be kept separate (as far as possible) from the absurd theatre of West Bengal election politics.
Sitting here in Calcutta, however, once can't help but fantasize. Mamata Banerjee is, if anything, a more effective demagogue in her mother tongue than Narendra Modi is in any of the Indian languages he speaks. Unlike Modi, Banerjee conveys a sense of being 'real', of being rooted in her particular brand of non-English oratory. It would be great if this city or this state found a few young people- whether students of universities or not - who could take the rhetorical fight to the chief minister. It would be a wonderful thing if these youngsters could give Ms Banerjee a few sleepless nights of the sort Kumar & Co have given our prime minister and his cabinet of pomposities.
PIONEER, MAR 14, 2016
INDIAN SCHOLAR APPOINTED VC OF CANBERRA UNIVERSITY
Noted Indian scholar and plant physiologist H Deep Saini has been appointed the next Vice Chancellor of the prestigious University of Canberra.
Saini, 60, currently the Vice-President of the University of Toronto and Principal of the University of Toronto Mississauga campus in Canada, will succeed Vice Chancellor Stephen Parker in September who steps down from the post in July after over nine years in the service.
Chancellor and Chair of University Council Tom Calma AO said the University's governing body was delighted that the internationally experienced university leader and academic has agreed to become the University of Canberra's fifth Vice- Chancellor, the university said in a statement.
"Saini's outstanding academic pedigree and vast international experience will be key to delivering on our vision to be recognised as one of Australia's most innovative tertiary institutions; world-ranked, with regional, national and international reach," Calma said.
"Saini comes from a very senior position in a truly world- leading university and will be great for the University of Canberra," Parker said.
Saini, a notable plant physiologist, said he was thrilled to be appointed the University's Vice-Chancellor at such a fantastic time for the institution.
"I am both humbled and honoured to have the opportunity to lead an institution with so much grit and promise at such a critical juncture in its evolution.
"I look forward to the next phase of the University of Canberra's transformation as a global leader in mission- oriented education and problem-solving research with a solid intellectual core," Saini said.
"Much of what I am today was shaped during my doctoral studies in Australia. My wife and I started our shared journey here. It is a privilege to now return to serve the country where it all began and to which I owe the crucial formative steps of an exceptionally rewarding career," Saini said.
Saini completed his undergraduate and master's degrees at the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, and doctorate in plant physiology from the University of Adelaide.
Saini has received a number of honours including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAR 11, 2016
IIM Bill: PMO leans in favour of autonomy, HRD not sokeenThe Prime Ministers Office and the HRD Ministry dont seem to agree on the degree of autonomy that should be granted to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
THE PRIME Ministers Office (PMO) and the HRD Ministry dont seem to agree on the degree of autonomy that should be granted to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).
The PMO had recently recommended six changes to the revised IIM Bill which aims to empower the premier B-schools to award degrees instead of diplomas to dilute the scope of government control over the institutes. The HRD Ministry is willing to adopt only three.
The changes suggested by the PMO are:
* The Bill states the President, in his capacity as the Visitor of all the IIMs, can review the work of any IIM. PMO thinks this should only be done on the recommendation of the Board of Governors (BoG) of the institute.
* The Bill provides for three alumni members on the BoG of each IIM. PMO has suggested five.
*The Bill says the BoG will have two nominees of the central government. PMO has recommended one nominee.
*The draft law provides for BoG to have four eminent persons, of which at least one shall be a woman. PMO wants at least three women members on the BoG.
*The proposed law says the member-secretary of the coordination forum (coordinating body) of the IIMs should be an officer not below the rank of joint secretary. PMO has suggested an IIM director should be the member-secretary.
*According to the Bill, the IIMs will have to intimate the government about any changes in the tuition fee. PMO has said the institute does not need to inform the government.
The HRD Ministry, sources said, has agreed to incorporate the last three suggestions. It is not in favour of altering the provision on an inquiry by the President into the working of an IIM on the ground that the IITs are also governed by a similar clause under the IIT Act.
The HRD Ministry, sources added, was also not convinced about changing the number of government nominees and alumni members on the BoG. The PMO has been informed of the ministrys reservations about these changes.
The government listed the IIM Bill for introduction in the Budget Session of Parliament after it redrafted the law to modify clauses that the IIMs alleged would curtail their autonomy. The ministry, for instance, modified Section 3 (k) of the Bill, which stated that any regulation made by the BoG would have to be approved by the government. The changed provision now gives the BoG the final say.
The re-drafted Bill was circulated among different ministries for comments in December last year. But with the PMO requesting further changes in the revised draft and the HRD Ministry disagreeing with some of the suggestions, the Bills introduction in the Budget Session seems unlikely. Sources said PMO and HRD officials could hold a meeting to arrive at a consensus.
HRD Ministry spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel declined to comment on the matter.
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAR 10, 2016
JNU registrar completes 62, teachers body derecogniseshimThe JNUTA said according to the statutes of the university, which prohibit anyone from continuing after the age of 62, Zutshi could no longer continue on his post.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) Wednesday unanimously passed a motion derecognising Registrar Bupinder Zutshi, has completed 62 years. The JNUTA said according to the statutes of the university, which prohibit anyone from continuing after the age of 62, Zutshi could no longer continue on his post.
The JNUTA also passed a motion expressing no confidence in a high-level inquiry committee set up by the university to look into the controversy following the February 9 event on the campus, where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
JNUTA has decided to de-recognise the officiating Registrar from today as he completed 62 years today, which is the actual age of retirement for any regular Registrar in the university as per the statutes, said JNUTA secretary Bikramaditya Choudhary. He also read the letter which the JNUTA wrote to the vice chancellor.
To the surprise of everyone, he (Zutshi) purposefully leaked his deposition to the inquiry committee before media. The official, who is supposed to be the repository of the records of the university, violates the basic requirement and acts against the university. His act is not only morally untenable but also legally questionable, read Choudhary.
Professor Ranjani Mazumdar read the motion, which was passed unanimously This house declares that it ceases to recognise the acting registrar as an officer of the JNU. The house demands that the VC do the same and remove Professor Zutshi from that position and also withdraw the order appointing him as nodal officer of the university.
Associate Professor Jaivir Singh also read a motion on the inquiry committee. What has gone on since February 11 in the name of the inquiry committee is nothing less than a travesty is beyond doubt. Neither an honest uncovering of the truth, nor the upholding of the principles of justice can be outcomes of that process
JNUTA president Ajay Patnaik also informed students about students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, who were arrested onseditioncharges following the February 9 event.
Umar and Anirban are fine. They send you their thanks for the support the teachers and students have demonstrated. They are in fine health and fine frame of mind. Theyve gone through, not physical torture, but a lot of verbal abuse by the Special Cell, he said.
Meanwhile, the JNUSU has decided to take out a march to Parliament on March 15 demanding the release of Umar and Anirban. They will also hold a protest on March 11 when the committee submits its report.
Another nationalism class in JNU
Economist and professor emeritus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Prabhat Patnaik on Wednesday said that treating nationalism as a homogenous category was wrong. The nationalism adopted by third world countries like India was inclusive nationalism, he said.
He was delivering the 16th nationalism lecture on What it means to be national at the universitys administrative block.
Patnaik also talked about how the discourse of nationalism could be shifted. Any thinking must be associated with raising questions in any society, in any given time, there will be people holding different kinds of views. If those views are suppressed on grounds of being anti-national, then youre ipso facto suppressing thinking, he said.
Complaint against Kanhaiya, JNU prof
A complaint has been filed in Vasant Vihar police station against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar over remarks allegedly made by him during an event on Tuesday. The complaint, lodged by Shivam Chhabra of Maurya Enclave and Pareekshit Dagar of South Ex Part II, alleged that Kumar and JNU professor Nivedita Menon had made anti-national statements. We have received the complaint no FIR has been registered yet. We are looking into the matter, said a police official.
STATESMAN, MAR 9, 2016
Government sets off to bring quality education
A group of secretaries constituted by the government has recommended launching an initiative to be jointly undertaken by the Centre and states for delivering afresh standards for assessment of schools and improving quality of teachers.
Senior officials of the HRD Ministry gave a presentation regarding Unique National Initiative for Quality Universal Education (UNIQUE) to HRD minister Smriti Irani and briefed her about its aspects which aim to ensure that Centre and states work in sync to produce better outcomes, Sources said.
It is learnt that it has been proposed that the Centre would provide outcome based funding to states for this umbrella scheme.It has suggested creating a digital database of schools.
States can conduct regular Learning Achievement Surveys and work on schemes to rate schools while ensuring bio-metric attendance of teachers and teachers, under the scheme.
"The Government had constituted groups of secretaries to look into various sectors and suggest innovations. The HRD minister went through the presentations among which the UNIQUE initiative was also discussed. Further deliberations will take place at the highest levels," an official source said.
STATESMAN, MAR 9, 2016
WB to soon get 5 new medical colleges
The state will soon have five new medical colleges. This would lead to an increase in 500 MBBS seats with each medical college having an intake capacity of 100 MBBS seats.
The colleges would come up in Rampurhat in Birbhum, Cooch behar, Diamond harbour in South 24-Parganas, Purulia and Raiganj in North Dinajpur. An approval in this regard was given under a Centrally sponsored scheme - Establishment of new medical colleges attached with existing district or referral hospitals.
The Centre has given approval for a total of 58 new medical colleges across the country, of which five are in Bengal. The districts that have been selected for this do not possess any medical college. The responsibility of setting up the colleges has been left to the respective state governments and the fund sharing between the Centre and state government is in the ratio of 60:40. The total cost of establishment of a medical college is Rs.189 crore.
The new medical colleges would be attached to the existing district or referral hospitals with the distance between the district or referral hospital and the medical college being within 10 km. At present, there are nine medical colleges with a total seat capacity of 1,900.
STATESMAN, MAR 8, 2016
Our bleeding banks cry out for a fix
Our nationalized banks are bleeding. The condition is so critical that metaphorically they can be said to be in the ICU. If urgent steps are not taken they will soon be on ventilators fighting their last battle. The vision that led to bank nationalization so that banks became accessible to the poor and helped transform the nations economy is fast falling apart. But if these banks fall sick and gasp for breath what will happen to the aspirations of a billion plus nation where a vast majority is mired in poverty but rich in aspirations?
It is a reverse Robin Hood syndrome at work today: the money of the poor is looted and the rich have become filthy rich.
Why this sorry state of affairs and who is behind it? What can be done to save the banks and who can do it? These are some of the questions that provoke any thinking mind. Lets take a look at the shocking story that threatens to break the nations back and lets understand where the real fault lies.
Bank nationalization was highlighted as an epoch-making event in the history of the nation. It would expedite a progressive revolution to ensure equitable growth and raise the living standards of billions in one of the worlds most diversified nations. Visionaries, protagonists, experts and others rightly thought the new banking system would be more caring to the poor. Farmers would get e loans to improve their lives. Monopolies would be checked; financial accessibility, financial awareness and improved regulations would follow.
It was a great dream that the nation saw in 1969. But now in 2016, the dream is all but shattered. On a fine winter February morning, a chill went down the spine of the nation when one newspaper carried a bold, front page report about the huge losses of public sector banks and their critical condition.
Twenty-nine state owned banks wrote off a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debt between financial years 2013 and 2015. Bad loans of PSU banks grew at 4 per cent per annum between 2004 and 2012. But in the financial years 2013 to 2015 they rose at almost 60 per cent. Which means taking loans and not paying back has increasingly become the rule.
After the nationalization of banks in 1969, but mostly after globalization and liberalization of economy the khas admis, the well connected, the unethical and the dishonest steadily appeared from all corners and played their roles. The first big bad loan was written off and then that became the trend. More bad loans and more writing off. So much so that it reached this unbearable state.
In the last 10 years a staggering Rs 2.5 lakh crore of public money has been lost by India's public sector banks. The extent of these "bad loans" is greater than the loss to the exchequer from the 2G scam (Rs 1.76 lakh crore) or Coalgate (Rs 1.86 lakh crore). Worse, the bad loans scam is continuing to unfold and a conservative estimate shows that by the end of 2018 Non-Performing Assets may cross Rs.6.5 lakh crore. Add to that the Rs 8,734 crore that PSU banks have lost on account of loans disbursed on fake documents. Many are of the view that the RBIs own laxness in tamping down on bad lending practices also allowed the problem to swell.
A careful inquiry would reveal that bad loans were not just the result of bad business decisions but of bad intent because businessmen in cahoots with politicians, bankers and bureaucrats have been looting public sector banks merrily. After all, the rate of bad debts in government-owned banks is about 5-10 times higher than in private banks. It is undeniable that poor management and corruption are also major reasons for public sector banks to be bleeding.
There are many dubious experts who can manufacture anything except of course what they are supposed to manufacture. Say for example company X prepares a report to be presented to the bank for a big loan for the purpose of buying high-end machines for infrastructure or mining of coal. It quotes a cost almost three times the actual and avails loan of hundreds of crore rupees. It finds that the machines are cheapest in China, and buys them through a bogus company based say in Dubai, paying twice or thrice the actual cost.
This is how even before manufacturing commences the company makes a few hundred crore rupees. The difference comes through hawala operators and its party time for the promoters, directors and all those stakeholders of the ring of lies and deceit that includes politicians, bureaucrats, bankers, CAs, and other cronies and criminals.
Part of the hawala money comes through FDI route in the same company as equity investment. Mind you, this is money that belongs to a public sector bank. This sudden bounty is also used to boost the image and lifestyle of the promoter. Its time to celebrate with a new Mercedes, a BMW, a lavish house, or in a Maharaja-style marriage of ones daughter or son. All this happens with the knowledge of the banker, the government, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies.
Malpractices are rife today. Financial statements of enterprises are manipulated just to draw unwary investors in. Unethical chartered accountants and financial experts assist the process.
Our Prime Minister today is known for bold vision and action. Its time he became the real Robin Hood and punished looters and unethical accumulators be they politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, chartered accountants, or bankers who have conspired to loot our banks. These people must be arrested and booked.
It was also shocking that the Finance Minister while presenting his budget in Lok Sabha talked of infusing Rs. 25,000 crore in ailing banks but did not once mention the steps that the government plans to take against those who are wilfully making the banks sick.
Sometimes lower-level bank officials are targeted and made scapegoats while the bigger fish get away. Why just a bank manager, why cant a chairman be punished? No economic offender should be allowed to get off scot free and the government must be sensitive to such abuse. If we dont arrest this trend of Fake in India can we ever achieve our aim to Make in India?
It is time urgent and remedial measures were taken. Perhaps all banks other than the State Bank of India should be denationalised. A majority of the shares of these banks must be disinvested in a phased manner and the money so collected used for infrastructure so as to boost growth in steel, cement and other industries while creating employment.
Fearing attachment and disgrace, a poor, unfortunate farmer ends his life for not paying being able to repay a few thousand rupees to the bank. A small entrepreneurs property is attached. Every day, small people are bullied by banks recovery agents.
In contrast, there are the favourites who have taken thousands of crore rupees of bank money. Without fearing attachment or punitive measures, they flaunt this money, and siphon it off. That is Indias grimmest irony. It is their property that must be attached. It is they who must be punished.
The writer is Chairman, Paras Foundation. He can be reached at [email protected]
HINDUSTAN TIMES, MAR 15, 2016
An all-India judicial service will ensure transparency
After striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) as unconstitutional in 2015, the five-judge constitution bench of Justices JS Khehar, Jasti Chelameswar, MB Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel explored alternatives to make the Supreme Courts collegium system, which appoints judges to the nations constitutional courts, transparent. The court sought suggestions from the public and the response was overwhelming. There are many who have questioned the SCs decision to ask for suggestions, but what is significant is that the issue of transparency in judicial appointments is finally being debated across the country.
While it is no longer possible for nepotism and favouritism to sneak into judicial appointments, vested interests are still trying their best to promote their own since there are vacancies in the Supreme Court and high courts (nearly 40%). They are trying to push the agenda of the old non-transparent appointment process through the collegium system. This should be stopped by the Supreme Court. Vacancies might be affecting the criminal justice system but pendency and vacancies cannot justify non-transparent appointments.
Even when there were fewer number of vacancies, the performance of the judiciary in clearing outstanding and pending cases was not extraordinary. While it is important to ensure that we have a mechanism for speedy disposal of cases, the most important thing is to ensure a transparent appointment mechanism of the higher judiciary. This mechanism must be thoroughly examined and a proper procedure should be first put in place before any appointments are made.
To avoid wrong appointments, the government in consultation with the chief justice of must introduce an all-India judicial service. This will go a long way towards attracting the brightest and the best talent available in the country. This is a five-decade-old demand but it has not been implemented on account of vested interests both in the political and judicial systems. Their intention is to perpetuate nepotism and favouritism in judicial appointments. This goes against objectivity, fairness, sensitivity and professional approach to the judiciarys working. Several people have asked the Centre and Supreme Court for such a service but it appears that the judiciary is taking advantage of a divided Parliament to push its agenda of perpetuating judicially-sponsored appointments.
Dammu Ramakrishnaiah is former vice-chancellor of Osmania University
The views expressed are personal
INDIAN EXPRESS, MAR 14, 2016
Judiciary yet to meet aspirations for speedy justice: PranabMukherjeeWith courts across the country burdened with a backlog of more than three crore cases, President Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said that judiciary was yet to fully meet peoples aspirations for speedy and affordable justice.
With courts across the country burdened with a backlog of more than three crore cases, President Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said that judiciary was yet to fully meet peoples aspirations for speedy and affordable justice.
Though the Indian judiciary has many strengths, it is yet to fully meet the aspirations of our people for speedy and affordable justice, said the President, while inaugurating the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Allahabad High Court.
President Mukherjee pointed out that there were over three crore cases pending in various courts, adding that about 38.5 lakh cases were pending before 24 high courts. He said that while the pendency of cases in the high courts had slightly declined from 41.5 lakh in 2014 to 38.5 lakh in 2015, we still have a long way to go.
Overall, out of a sanctioned strength of 1056 judges in all the high courts, the working strength of high court judges throughout the country as on March 1, 2016 was only 591. Similarly, the sanctioned strength of judicial officers in district and subordinate courts in the country is about 20,500, out of which the working strength is only about 16,000 at present, said the President.
Stressing on the need to always maintain peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary, Mukherjee said that for justice to have a meaning for the people, it must be accessible, affordable and quick. He said that increasing the number of courts, judges and judicial officers at all levels was the first step towards achieving the objective of timely delivery of justice.
Justice delayed is justice denied.The governments, judges and lawyers must work hand in hand to make justice a living reality, he said.
The President also pointed out that the high court at Allahabad had only 71 judges, including the Chief Justice, against the sanctioned strength of 160 judges.
As many as 9,11,908 cases are pending in this court as on February 2016, a decline from 10.1 lakh cases in 2014. The pendency in subordinate courts of Uttar Pradesh is 57,06,103 as on February 29. More than 42,17,089 of them are criminal cases, the President said.
Mukherjee said that another way to reduce the number of pending cases before courts was through widespread adoption of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms that allowed for quick and effective settlement of disputes.
He called for greater efforts to spread legal literacy across the nation and to improve the quality of legal education.
STATESMAN, MAR 9, 2016
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) should readily concede its failure to build up a second line of leadership after the electoral debacle of 2011. A month before the West Bengal Assembly elections, it is too late to attempt a diagnosis. Yet Mondays list of nominees is particularly significant not least because of the shift in the partys matrix. The list does suggest that the Bengal lobby isintent on emitting a critical signal to Gopalan Bhavan, more specifically in the context of the party positions of the contestants. It thuscomes about that no fewer than five members of the state secretariat, indeed the partys apex policy-making entity in Bengal, will throw their hat into the ring come April. Implicit therefore must be the profound change in policy.
This must rank as a signal deviation from the conventional paradigm that had enabledthe brass to keep their distance from the hurlyburly of the hustings... and since the split inthe Communist Party in 1964. Of course, a notable exception was Jyoti Basu who in the 1950s was both state secretary and MLA, till Promode Das Gupta took over. This aloofness vis-a-vis electoral politics has on occasion provoked the in-house barb that the dominant section of ombudsmen have only contested the JNU students union elections, if at all.
It might sound uncharitable but nonetheless is true that the denouement of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, to cite one example, has never been shared by equally influential comrades, pre-eminently Biman Bose, Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechuri.
Chief among those who will deviate from tradition is the partys state secretary, Suryakanta Mishra. Nay more, he will be ableto contest from his constituency of Narayangarh in West Midnapore and will, in effect, lead the charge of the Left brigade. Besides,Rabin Deb, state secretariat member, will be fielded in Singur and Asok Bhattacharya from Siliguri.
The fineprint of the candidatures that have been announced makes it more than obvious that the CPI-M is intent on closing the gap between parliamentary politics and the party apparatus. Having ratified the shift effected by the partys state secretariat, the state committee at Alimuddin Street has made an assertion independent of Gopalan Bhavan. Specifically, there need be no conflict between whole-time party work and contesting elections.
The essay to field leaders engaged exclusively in party work is a message addressed as much to the electorate as to the central leadership in Delhi. More than 50 years after its formation, the CPI-M has blurred the contrived distinction between acceptance of parliamentary democracy and a certain avoidance - on the part of its leaders - to contest elections. Blurred no less is the distinction between two sets of leaders - of the organisation and the legislative/parliamentary party.
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
STATESMAN, MAR 10, 2016
'PM, CMs stand on same footing in federal polity'
The central government on Wednesday opposed restricting use of the prime minister's photographs in government advertisements, while telling the Supreme Court that in a federal polity, the position of chief ministers or union ministers was in no way less than that of the prime ,inister.
"If the prime minister can be shown in the government advertisements, there is no reasons why photos of the chief minister can't be shown. If there has to be the prime minister's photo, then chief minister is equally important," it maintained.
Contending that the right to give information and the right to receive information under constitution's article 19(1)(a) could only restricted by a law framed under article 19(2), Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose that the rights under article 19(1)(a) could not be restricted by a judicial order.
Seeking the recall of its May 13, 20215, verdict, he also sought that the entire matter be referred to a larger bench for fresh consideration, which Assam and Karnataka have also sought.
The court was told this as it reserved order on a batch of petitions by the central government, Assam, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu seeking the recall of its May 13, 2015 verdict restricting the use of photographs to the president, prime minister, and chief justice of India in the government ads.
It also issued notice to Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi and Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu on a contempt plea for violating its verdict by issuing advertisement aimed to promote the two chief ministers and for political messaging.
The court also reserved its order on a review plea by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), seeking exclusion of the prime minister's photograph also as it was being "grossly misused".
Appearing for the CPIL, counsel Prashant Bhushan said "order permitting prime minister's photographs is being grossly misused and same should be dropped".
Earlier, Rohatgi contended that the chief ministers held the same position in the states as the prime minister in the national context and admitted that in the earlier hearing leading to May 13, 2015, verdict, the centre's counsel failed to highlight the issue in proper perspective.
Developing his case for permitting the use of the ministers' photographs in the government advertisements, he said though "prime minister is first among equals (but) prime minister is also a minister".
He also advocated permitting the use of bureaucrats' pictures in government advertisements which are department centric.
Pointing to the significance of the visuals in the advertisements, Rohatgi said that without visuals, an advertisement would be like notice inviting tenders which nobody reads.
Supporting the position taken by the Attorney General, senior counsel Kapil Sibal appearing for Assam cited the vast and uncontrolled reach of social media and decline in the reach of print media to buttress his point that court's order could not be complied with in its entirety.
Agreeing with the court's concern over the misuse of public money for political promotion and purposes, he however said: "Without interaction, the government can't function. Economic and social planning would require dissemination of information."
TELEGRAPH, MAR 9, 2016
In bad company: - A rude shock awaits many Indians if Trump comes to power
For a people as self-obsessed as Indians, Donald Trump's praise for Narendra Modi has not come as a surprise. Because the Modi government's parallel foreign policy machine in the prime minister's party has successfully fostered the illusion that India is the pivot on which the entire world now revolves on matters of diplomacy - with help from some television channels which have unquestioningly swallowed this line - it has not bothered Indians very much that judging by Trump's standards, their prime minister is in bad company.
For the Republican Party's front runner for the presidency of the United States of America, the few foreign leaders who meet his yardsticks for approval include North Korea's bloodthirsty dictator Kim Jong-un. That Vladimir Putin has been described by Trump as "highly respected" does not mitigate Modi's predicament because it was the Russian leader who first praised Trump as "bright" and "talented."
For an ultimately vain man like Trump, praise from someone of Putin's standing, although cleverly crafted, must have been like balm. Europeans, who are closest to the Americans in state-to-state relations, think of this US presidential aspirant as nothing short of crazy and far too erratic to be ever considered for occupancy of the White House. As an example of European disdain for Trump, recall the January debate in Britain's Parliament where members variously described the billionaire American real estate mogul as a "buffoon" and as "poisonous." He was even colourfully called a "wazzock," slang for stupid.
Trump's approval of Putin is, therefore, an instance of grateful reciprocity from someone craving for political acceptance overseas. All the same, Trump's praise for Modi is not a case of happenstance. It is the natural progression of an organic alliance which has been slowly but surely developing in the last two and a half decades between those who control the levers of power in both India and the US.
It is often overlooked in scholarly analysis of the history of Indo-US relations that one of the primary reasons for the diplomatic distance and ideological divergence between Washington and New Delhi in the first nearly half century of India's independence has been the contrasting ways in which power is exercised in the two capitals.
Since World War II, much more than at any time in America's history, big corporations have controlled power in Washington. Apart from the military-industrial complex, which became so powerful during this period that a president could ignore it only at his peril, fund-raisers, where only the wealthy matter, are integral to the US political process.
In January 2010, the US Supreme Court gave its final seal of approval to a system which allowed the wealthiest individuals to bid for political influence. Judgment in a case known as "Citizens Unitedvs Federal Election Commission" gave the green light to unlimited corporate spending on elections through political organizations funded by rich individuals. In April 2014, the Supreme Court expanded on its 2010 decision in another case -McCutcheonvs FEC - this time by striking down limits by individual donors to political action committees, that is, groups that mainly campaign for candidates of a certain ideological persuasion.
These decisions legalized what has been the factual situation in US elections for a long time: American politicians are beholden to big bucks in order to survive.
In India,realpolitikhad entirely different mooring in the first five decades since Independence. Unlike in America, political power in India flowed out of the strength of the dispossessed. During the long years of Jawaharlal Nehru's and Indira Gandhi's socialism, leaders gained electoral acceptability riding on the backs of trade unions, farmer's organizations and the landless poor. On a parallel track, the minorities, backward castes, Dalits and tribals became sources of political power. They were all indescribably less privileged than the classes which influenced America's political fate.
Until P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh initiated economic liberalization and gave political respectability to the wealthy and the owners of capital, the idea that India and the US shared values such as democracy barely found its place in any public discourse. If at all, such declarations were nothing more than lip service. There was little in common between the political class in India and the one in the US. Even the Indian political elite of that period looked to the United Kingdom for inspiration, not across the Atlantic.
It was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who declared, two years into his prime ministership, that India and the US were "natural allies." It took another three years and a president who is often ridiculed for his lack of intellectual prowess - George W. Bush - to grasp the significance of the first Bharatiya Janata Party prime minister's profound declaration and accept it. In New Delhi, Vajpayee's idea of a natural alliance with Washington was dismissed as a mere slogan.
However, the profile of the 13th Lok Sabha of which Vajpayee was the House leader, told another story. It had an unprecedented number of members of parliament who had graduated from American