+ All Categories
Home > Documents > LIST OF NEWSPAPERS COVERED - iipa.org.iniipa.org.in/www/iipalibrary/iipa/news/AUG 1-7,...

LIST OF NEWSPAPERS COVERED - iipa.org.iniipa.org.in/www/iipalibrary/iipa/news/AUG 1-7,...

Date post: 10-Oct-2019
Author: others
View: 1 times
Download: 0 times
Share this document with a friend
Embed Size (px)
of 86 /86







Getting to know villagers- Farmers' woes may not originate in the expected sources

Ashok V. Desai


Though extremely unstable, agricultural growth has far outpaced population growth in recent years; the supply of agricultural goods per head has risen. The proportion of population dependent on agriculture has been falling; so goods produced per agricultural family have been rising even faster. Yet there is news every so often of farmers killing themselves or burning buses. Are they too demanding? Are their expectations outrunning their fortunes?

According to the National Sample Survey, there were 156 million families in villages in 2013; 90 million were doing farming. In other words, less than three rural families out of five were actually farming. The proportion was just 27 per cent in Kerala, 35 per cent in Tamil Nadu, and 41 per cent in Andhra Pradesh; over a half of the villagers in these southern states were doing something else. In Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, over 70 per cent of villagers were farmers.

Almost 32 per cent had less than an acre of land; another 35 per cent had one to 2.5 acres. Only a third had a landholding exceeding 2.5 acres. Not surprisingly, only 48 per cent of rural income came from farming. Another 12 per cent came from business, and 12 per cent came from farm animals - mainly selling milk, meat or animals. Almost a third - 32 per cent - was wages. Only those families with more than 2.5 acres got more than a half of their income from farming. Those who had virtually no land earned 60 per cent of their income from wages, and got a quarter of their income from their animals. It is not common for farmers to engage in non-agricultural business; only about 10 per cent do it. But their proportion goes up to 15 per cent in Odisha, 18 per cent in West Bengal and 25 per cent in Kerala. Farmers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu who indulge in business earn over Rs 10,000 a month - almost twice what the average farmer earns. Bigger farms earn more from business, but smaller farmers' profit margins are higher.


The richer states have fewer cardholders under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: the proportion was three per cent in Haryana, 13 per cent in Punjab and 29 per cent in Gujarat. But it was 22 per cent in Bihar and 25 per cent in UP, which are hardly rich, and over 70 per cent in Tamil Nadu and Telangana, which are hardly poor. It was 38 per cent for the landless, 29 per cent for those with more than 10 acres, and over 40 per cent for the classes in the middle. The two bottom consumption deciles had more than a half of the farmers with MGNREGA cards, the highest decile had 31 per cent; all the classes in the middle had 40-50 per cent cardholders. The cards are poorly correlated with poverty.

The size of the family was seven in the poorest decile, and went down to 3.8 in the richest decile; the poor lived in joint families, no doubt to save on accommodation costs. The sex ratio went down from 1,044 to 936 per thousand: the correlation was not perfect, but female infanticide was clearly positively related to income, maybe because the rich could afford it or knew how to get it.

All farmers who could, invested to increase their earnings, but what they invested in varied. Landless farmers spent two-thirds of their investment on livestock and poultry; those with an acre or less spent 48 per cent. Those with five acres or more spent roughly a half on machinery and implements. Investment in non-farm business was close to 20 per cent amongst those with an acre or less, and less than 10 per cent amongst those with more than an acre. Farmers leave business to traders and other non-farmers; few combine farming and business.

Seeds cost 10-15 per cent of output - more in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra because land yields are lower. Almost a half of farm expenses in Kerala are wages; landowners find it profitable to work in towns or in Dubai and hire workers to look after plantations or farms. In West Bengal, wages are 35 per cent of costs; there too, it is common for landowners to work in Calcutta and hire workers to do the farming. Leasing land is common in Punjab, where it accounts for 26 per cent of the costs. In neighbouring Haryana it is 12 per cent. Surprisingly, it is 20 per cent in Andhra; it apparently has many absentee farmers. Elsewhere it is negligible.

Milk is the major commercial product, accounting for 68 per cent of animal wallahs' income, going up to 92 per cent in Punjab and 95 per cent in Haryana and Gujarat. But in Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, breeding animals for sale is their main use; it is also important in Kerala and Maharashtra.

The notion that indebtedness is a curse of small farmers is mistaken; the larger the farm, the more likely is the farmer to be indebted. Less than a half of farmers with under 2.5 acres are indebted, against over three-quarters of farmers with over five acres. Borrowing is more common in the south. The proportion of indebted farmers is 93 per cent in Andhra, 89 per cent in Telangana, 83 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 77 per cent in Karnataka and Kerala; it is low in 'backward' states like Assam (17 per cent), Jharkhand (29 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (37 per cent).

Where agriculture is commercialized, farmers borrow for their businesses. The average debt was high in Kerala (Rs 2,136), Andhra (Rs 1,234), Punjab (Rs 1,195) and Tamil Nadu (Rs 1,159). Surprisingly, three-fifths of the money came from banks, cooperative societies and governments; only a quarter came from moneylenders, and another 3 per cent from traders or shopkeepers. A tenth came from friends and relatives. Big farmers are more likely to borrow from banks and cooperatives; small and landless farmers are more likely to borrow from moneylenders and 'informal' lenders such as friends and relatives. Successive governments have made banks go into villages and lend to farmers. But banks are least willing to lend to bad risks such as poor farmers, who still have to go to moneylenders. Interestingly, banks give loans more easily against agricultural or non-agricultural business or a pension; a moneylender is more likely to lend against a prospective remittance, or a job or livestock.

Farmers spend a lot - 15-20 per cent of their costs - on manure and fertilizer, and close to 10 per cent on pesticides, weedicides and so on. Irrigation costs very little - usually 2-4 per cent. The landless pay out more than 10 per cent of their income on leasing land. Renting animals is uncommon. The biggest cost is of human labour: it can come to 20 per cent of income or more. Even the landless employ workers to get the most out of the land they lease.

So my impression is that farmers are managing. But farming is a risky business with wildly fluctuating sale and purchase prices. The right finance for risk-taking is equity; but farmers cannot - or do not - incorporate themselves. So they often get into trouble. Some burn buses; others burn themselves.


Moneylenders still rule India's rural economy

Moin Qazi

While the government is set to forgive billions of dollars of loans of Indian farmers, the truly distressed among them will have no respite from misery. They owe money to moneylenders whereas the government waiver applies only to formal credit.

Almost every farmer in India’s massive rural swathes is tethered, in one way or another, to the sahukar, the Indian variety of the moneylender, the ubiquitous, ravenous loan shark.

For centuries, moneylenders have monopolised rural Indian credit markets. Families have lost land and assets, farmers have been asked to forfeit jewellery of their wives or to prostitute them to pay off debts, and, when all else has failed, they have tied the noose to end their misery.

An inescapable cycle of debt continues to grip rural India, particularly its farming class. Yet the public image of menacing debt collectors does not reflect the actual plight of India’s three million farmers. The rapacious moneylender, who plugs the huge gaps in credit supply in a hassle-free process, is an inalienable part of a rural family.

He is the first port of call in a distress situation, and is also the man they can turn to in times of need. For most villagers there is no life without him. Moneylenders have been around for generations, but their business has boomed ever since India’s economic priorities shifted, with globalisation, from agriculture to industry. An ancient Indian proverb has it: a village can be formed wherever there come together “a river, a priest, and a moneylender”.

According to the All-India Debt and Investment Survey 2012, nearly 48 per cent farmers across the country took loans from informal sources such as moneylenders and landlords. The number had risen from 36 per cent in 1991 and 43 per cent in 2001. Moneylenders provided 69.7 per cent of total rural credit in 1951. This fell to 16.9 per cent in 1981 before climbing up again.

The latest survey shows that among farmers who owned land parcels smaller than 0.1 hectares, 85 per cent had pending loans from such informal finance sources. While these small farmers pay exorbitant interest, affluent farmers get subsidised credit. The government’s interest subvention (subsidy) scheme for farmers provides credit at subsidised interest rate of seven per cent and for prompt repayers at four per cent.

With institutional credit drying up for farmers, local sharks have taken the place of banks. They charge an arm and a leg and are creating a debt-trap for farmers who rely on crop success — and prayers — for loan repayments. But a suicide does not absolve the rest of the family from paying back a loan. Unlike a bank loan, which is squared by the government’s waiver package, the moneylender’s loan has to be atoned by the distraught family. Farmers borrow from moneylenders at insane rates of interest.

The peasants hope for a better yield in times to come but this never happens, and they find themselves in a debt trap. Unable to pay the interest, let alone the principal, they borrow more to get onto a treadmill recklessly driven by the cruel moneylenders who are no better than sharks.

Shylock demanded only a pound of flesh. But the moneylenders bay for blood. Crushing debts are pushing farmers into the darkest of pits. A current of dread runs through the country’s suicide-ravaged farmlands as their debts pass from husband to widow, from father to children. Most villages are locked into a bond with village moneylenders — an intimate bond, and sometimes a menacing one.

Popular cinema and classic literature tell many pathos-filled narratives of India’s poor caught in that karmic cycle of poverty. Those stories inevitably end in tragedy. Farmers who fall into the moneylending trap find themselves locked in a white-knuckle gamble, juggling everlarger loans at usurious interest rates, in the hope that someday a bumper harvest will allow them to clear their debts — so they can take out new ones.

This pattern has left a trail of human wreckage. The authors of a landmark study of the system of credit and household indebtedness published by the Reserve Bank of India in the early 1950s, the All-India Rural Credit Survey, scrutinised the role and operations of the moneylender, who then enjoyed a dominant position as a source of finance. They did so on the premise that, in India, agricultural credit presented a “two-fold problem of inadequacy and unsuitability”.

They envisaged only a minor place for him in their proposed solution, which took the form of a system of cooperatives covering all villages: “The moneylender can be allotted no part in the scheme (of cooperatives)… It would be a complete reversal of the policies we have been advocating… when the whole object of… that structure is to provide a positive institutional alternative to the moneylender himself, something which will compete with him, remove him from the forefront and put him in his place.”

The authors of the survey did not, of course, lay out a formal model of India’s rural credit system as it then existed, nor did they provide a formal analysis of the effects of introducing a system of cooperatives upon its workings. Despite legions of committees and reports that have outlined ways of replacing moneylenders through stepping up institutional credit, the moneylender still remains the backbone of the rural financial system. It is a bitter truth, which we have to swallow.

The picture, which Nobel laureate Gunnar Myrdal presented in his Asian Drama, almost five decades ago remains unchanged despite gigantic efforts from both the private and public sector in bringing large swathes of people into the folds of formal finance.

“When the moneylender sees that he can benefit from the default of a debtor he becomes an enemy of the village economy,” Myrdal wrote. “By charging exorbitant interest rates or by inducing the peasant to accept larger credits than he can manage the moneylender can hasten the process by which the peasant is dispossessed.”

(The writer is a Nagpur-based scholar. He can be reached at [email protected])



Down with the Nobel Prize- Suppressing free speech is ultimately dangerous for the State

Sukanta Chaudhuri

As a loyal Indian citizen, I propose that the government should ban our countrymen from accepting the Nobel Prize. The decree would not raise a furore, as hardly anyone would be affected. Those impressed by the award try every means to jack up the minute number of recipients in this land of 1.3 billion people. They include persons of Indian extraction but located abroad, starting with Har Gobind Khorana, as well as those of foreign extraction relocated here, like Mother Teresa. But since Rabindranath Tagore and C.V. Raman, only one-and-a-half Indians qualify on both counts. Kailash Satyarthi lives and works in India. Amartya Sen teaches in the United States of America, but holds an Indian passport and spends much time here.

Some might say Satyarthi's award was a disgrace. He was honoured for his service to the cause of dispossessed childhood. By drawing international attention to the millions of Indian children illegally employed, often in conditions of virtual slavery, he gravely tarnished India's image abroad. Worse still, he harmed the business interests that every government must protect to advance the economy. A piece of metal from Sweden is poor compensation for such disservice to our growth and reputation. It says much for our tolerance that the man lives unharmed in Delhi. That's another problem with the Nobel Prize: it grants the awardees an unwarranted immunity.

Amartya Sen had a better press to start with. He has held high positions at Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, names held in awe by educated Indians, his fellow Bengalis in particular. His brand of welfare economics, stressing social justice and human well-being, matched the principles which earlier Indian governments professed to uphold. All this naturally puts him out of accord with the current dispensation. For the first time in his life, Sen is being drawn into direct political controversies. It says much for his tolerance that instead of following the NRI escape route, he still spends so much time in India and involves himself in Indian matters.

But there is a limit to what the State can take. It is bad enough that Sen should voice criticism on his visits and be reported in the local press. But if he says anything less than adulatory in a documentary film to be touted round the world, the censor board (I call it that because that's what it is) must intervene. This newspaper has printed the offensive utterances in question, presumably without breaking the law. Wildly stronger words are bandied daily and abundantly in the media. One is thus genuinely puzzled by the censors' stand. I would exhort the director, Suman Ghosh, to reconsider his decision not to release the film with cuts and beeps. Let him rather do so, with a message that he is obeying the censors. As a prominent actor observed in this connection, words resonate the louder if they are silenced.


To seek a rational explanation for the censors' diktat is to grant it an intellectual respectability it does not merit. It does not even smack of honest-to-god high-handedness; rather, the overkill of insecure flunkies handling a tricky brief they scarcely understand. It is possible, though unlikely, that by the time this article appears, their astuter overlords might reverse the decision. That cannot lessen our concern about the latter's deeper design which underlay that decision in the first place.

Over this incident at least, Sen may not quite suffer the verbal lynching inflicted on another eminent academic, Partha Chatterjee, for an article on military action in Kashmir. Chatterjee expressed himself strongly, and some might soberly contest his views. The fact remains that he is one of India's foremost political scientists, with an international reputation - just the kind of expert whose views on the nation's gravest political crisis should most be sought. We ignore his words at our peril.

That is the peril into which we are rushing headlong. Scholars and thinkers are easily dismissed or vilified: they have neither power nor mass appeal, nor even much nuisance value. The common man, grappling with starkly basic issues and uncomplicated values, hardly registers their presence. He is untouched by debates on free speech and credible opposition: if you take away his rights in this respect, he might never find out, for he has no hope of being heard on things that matter to him. The removal of four words from a film script is as remote to him as a sunstorm on Mars. If he hears of it, he might well opine that these frivolous drones deserve no better, and pledge support to the government that puts them on notice. He would be joined by the less foresighted section (that is, the majority) of the privileged classes.

It is this overt irrelevance and widespread suspicion of the intellectual that fascistic governments exploit to win popular support. So do most governments everywhere, but then most governments have something of the fascistic in their composition. It is so much easier to bend the nation to your will if you can muffle those tiresome voices carping when you go wrong, or muttering how things could be done better. (They are often wrong themselves, as the naïver ones will tell you.) If you actually go wrong, no one then need find out. But once in a while - almost inevitably, sooner or later - things go quite horribly wrong. When that happens, the public that cheered you for driving out those eggheads might come to curse you, and you might repent having placed your trust in woollyheads instead. If - heaven forbid - India suffers a nuclear attack, our leaders would not wish to entrust their safety to bunkers lined with cowdung, as Rajasthan's education minister would have recommended. I wish I were as certain they would not consign common citizens to such facilities.

That is the most frightening result of suppressing the freedom of speech. It harms human dignity and self-respect; it impedes the growth of new ideas; but most basically, it prevents any ideas at all from guiding the conduct of the State. A mindlessly administered State is unlikely to be well administered. As the outcome starts to show, the rulers' only recourse is to keep their subjects in the dark: not to let them know what is happening, let alone think about it. The signs are all too evident. Censorship of the Amartya Sen documentary is a high-profile but trivial example, almost a piece of comic relief. The tragedy surrounding it is being played out on many stages.

Above all, it is occupying centre-stage where the mind should most be without fear and the head held high - in the sphere of education. Driven by a narrow agenda of economically rewarding skills, increasingly cut off from the productive research to sustain it, it is now suffering a last, possibly fatal blow, the suppression and surveillance of thought. I would not have judged the fabric of our nation so weak, so vulnerable to every stray idea, if our neo-patriotic rulers had not asserted it so doggedly.

The resilient Indian intellect, nurtured by millennia of thought and inquiry, is fighting hard for survival, but fighting heavy odds. But it's all to the good. We are removing the risk of producing another Nobel laureate in the next hundred years.

The author is Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University


HINDU, AUG 7, 2017

IFS body writes to Haryana CM against senior IAS officer

Ashok Kumar

Seeks disciplinary action for ‘abusing, pressurising’ juniors

Days after two Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers in Haryana government wrote to their seniors accusing the Additional Chief Secretary, Forest and Wildlife, of abusing them and putting pressure on them in the Bharti land case, the IFS Association has come out in support of the duo and sought action against the senior IAS officer.

In a letter to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the association’s secretary general S.P. Yadav has sought “appropriate legal and disciplinary action against ACS, Forest and Wildlife, S.K. Gulati”.

The letter, dated August 3, has also referred to the allegations made by Deputy Conservator of Forests, Faridabad, Renjitha and Conservator of Forests, Wildlife, Panchkula, M.L. Rajvanshi against Mr. Gulati.

“The officers have represented against the misbehaviour and use of unparliamentary/ abusive language by Mr. Gulati, which is highly deplorable and having adverse effect on the morale of IFS officers while discharging their official duties and responsibilities,” the letter read.

Continuous pressure

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Yadav said that the case in question was brazen and blatant violation of Forest Acts and the honest officers who did not fall in line were being pressurised. He said that he had sent the letter to the Chief Minister by speed post, but so far there was no response, not even an acknowledgement.

Ms. Renjitha, in her letter addressed to the CM, as well as the association, had accused Mr. Gulati of putting “continuous pressure” in the discharge of her statutory functions in power vested in her under Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900. “I was abused with words like ‘bloody fool’, being ‘crooked’ etc. by Mr. Gulati over the phone. I was also told that I would not be ‘spared’ and ‘would be made to pay’,” read the letter written by Ms. Renjitha, dated July 5.

Mr. Rajvanshi had written to the IFS Association on July 23 accusing Mr. Gulati of abusing him on several occasions and claimed that he was being targeted because he belonged to an underprivileged social group.

More allegations

Another officer, Conservator of Forests (Wildlife, Gurugram) Vinod Kumar, accused him of putting pressure on him to consider areas marked as open/dense scrub or scattered wooded trees in the Survey of India map as non-forest and allegedly threatening him with suspension and serious consequences if he did not comply with his directions on the Bharti land case.


No need for govt employees to visit bank to start pension: Government

NEW DELHI: There is no need for central government employees to visit banks to start pension as their copy of the Pension Payment Order (PPO) will be handed over to them at the time of retirement, the Personnel Ministry has said. Citing existing rules in this regard, the ministry, in a recent order issued to all central government departments, has said, "The pensioner is no longer required to visit the bank to activate the first payment of pension." The rules also provide for an undertaking to be submitted by the retiring government servants or pensioners to the disbursing banks before the commencement of their pensions. After ascertaining that the bank's copy (of PPO) has been dispatched by the Central Pension Accounting Office, the pensioner's copy is to be handed over to him at the time of retirement along with other retirement dues, the order said. An employee posted at a location away from the head of office, or who for any other reasons feels that it would be more convenient to him to obtain his copy of the PPO from the bank, may inform the head of office of his option in writing while submitting his pension papers, it said. In the recent past, many instances have come to the notice wherein the pensioner's copy of the PPO had not been handed over to him/her and instead had been sent to the bank and was lost in transit sometimes, thereby causing hardship to the pensioner, the order issued on August 1, said. In view of these, all ministries/departments are once again requested to strictly follow the procedure henceforth and hand over the copy of the PPO to the pensioner at the time of retirement along with other retirement dues, except if the pensioner specifically requests for delivering his/her copy of the PPO through the bank, it said. There are about 48 lakh central government employees and about 53 lakh pensioners. The pension gets delayed either due to the delay in receipt of intimation by the pensioner that relevant papers have reached the bank or because of delay on the part of the pensioner in approaching the bank for submission of undertaking, the personnel ministry had said in one of its earlier orders.


Mismatch lens on civil service subjects

Basant Kumar Mohanty

New Delhi, Aug. 3: Engineering and geography may have something in common, after all. A potential civil servant, for example.

Civil servants must be graduates but over half of those who crack the exam for the country's most sought-after job appear for the gruelling test in subjects they did not study while doing their graduation, the government revealed today.

Minister of state for personnel and Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh today said the Union Public Service Commission, which holds the three-tier test, allowed 48 optional subjects in the main exam. "But the statistics point out that none or only in a very few (subjects the) number of candidates actually take up the subject of their graduation as an optional subject," Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

He cited this year's results, saying among the 175 candidates who made it, 96 were engineers. "(But) more than 50 per cent of them have opted for subjects like public administration; (and) subjects like geography and... sociology."

Singh was replying to a question from BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who wanted to know if the government was planning to allow students to take ayurveda as an optional subject.

Singh said the ministry of ayurveda,yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (AYUSH) and the department of personnel and training had received proposals for inclusion of ayurveda as a subject. The matter was under consideration, he said, adding that students graduating in ayurveda were not barred from taking the test in other subjects.

The civil service exams comprise a preliminary test, which candidates have to clear to sit for the main examination, and a final selection interview for those who crack the main exam.

For the main exam, candidates have to choose one subject apart from appearing for common papers like general studies and essays.

A candidate who cleared the test last year told The Telegraph that subjects like engineering, science or medicine were vast while those like public administration or sociology allowed a student to prepare by following four to five books. "The curriculum is limited for humanities subjects. It is graduation curriculum. There is a lot of material available on these subjects. Preparation in these subjects also helps in general studies," the candidate said.

Singh said that in the 1970s and 1980s, there had been a hue and cry about not having medicine as an optional subject. Medical science was later introduced. Today, not even 10 per cent of doctors who appear for the exam opt for medical science as an optional subject.

"Again, they go in for general subjects, maybe because they are habitual crackers, they are skilled in cracking the exam and they feel that they could do more scoring whereas medical science is a vast subject," Singh said.

"It is not absolutely correct to draw a co-relation between the subject of option which a candidate has selected and the subject in which a candidate has actually graduated," the minister added.

Singh hinted at possible changes in the upper age limit for appearing for the test. The cut-offs now are 47 for persons with disabilities, 32 for the general category with a ceiling of six attempts, 37 for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with unlimited attempts and 35 for the other backward classes who get nine chances.

"When you have the entry happening at such a point, the superannuation also happens earlier. Certainly, this requires consideration," Singh said.

A government-appointed committee has submitted its report on overall reforms, including the age limit.

HINDU, AUG 4, 2017

Maharashtra IAS officer removed from post

Alok Deshpande

He faces allegations of corruption and kidnapping

A day after The Hindu reported that the State government knew about allegations of corruption — and even kidnapping — against IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar since December 2016, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced his removal from the post of vice-chairman and managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), until the inquiry against him is completed.

The Opposition, however, said Mr. Mopalwar should be suspended or sacked.

On Thursday, Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil mentioned The Hindu report in the Assembly, which listed the communications sent by different agencies to the government seeking a report on allegations of corruption and amassing assets disproportionate to his income against Mr. Mopalwar.

Mr. Vikhe-Patil said, “The letters show that a number of investigative agencies are seeking a probe against Mr. Mopalwar. The government is shielding the officer despite having known this fact since December 2016. We demand his immediate ouster and will not let the House function until our demands are met.”

The Assembly had to be adjourned four times in a span of one-and-a-half hours after the Opposition continued making the demand. This resulted in an altercation between Opposition and ruling party members, who had raised the issue of child trafficking in Latur district.

With the deadlock continuing, Mr. Fadnavis announced Mr. Mopalwar’s removal. “We had announced that an inquiry would be conducted against him within one month. We are committed to transparency. The government has decided to remove Mr. Mopalwar from his post until the inquiry is over,” the CM said.

‘Judicial probe needed’

Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, while speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, demanded a judicial probe into the matter.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar said the Home Ministry under Mr. Fadnavis had asked the police to conduct a Crime Branch inquiry against Mr. Mopalwar in a case of alleged kidnapping and robbing of one Satish Mangle. “The government was aware about the allegations against Mr. Mopalwar. The CM should explain the reasons for awarding him such an important post at the MSRDC,” Mr. Pawar said.

The Hindu had reported on Thursday that despite communications from as high up as the Prime Minister’s Office, and including Central ministries, the Income Tax Department and the CBI; the government has seemingly ignored requests and reminders to probe the allegations against Mr. Mopalwar.


Reforming the civil services is one of the last vestiges of our colonial legacyReforming the civil services—one of the last vestiges of our colonial legacy

By: guest and Hardayal Singh

The Department of Personnel has been tasked with the responsibility of designing a scheme for lateral entry into the government at the level of deputy secretary, director and joint secretary.

By: Hardayal Singh & Shareen Joshi

India’s higher civil service faces a conundrum: youthful job-seekers, especially those coming from coming from smaller towns and cities and rural areas, revere it. Last year’s preliminary exam screened more than a million aspirants for 980 vacancies. Yet, the system is also frequently blamed for being inefficient, corrupt, inward-looking and out of touch. In a Planning Commission paper, Arvind Panagariya regrets that the reforms of 1992 left this “mother of all monopolies” untouched. A 2012 study ranks the Indian bureaucracy as the worst in Asia. A World Bank assessment similarly shows a deteriorating rank from 35th in 1996, to 46th in 2014.

The reform of this institution has now become necessary. The Department of Personnel has been tasked with the responsibility of designing a scheme for lateral entry into the government at the level of deputy secretary, director and joint secretary. The rationale is simple. Outside experts with fresh ideas, specialised skills and better work practices could generate internal competition and improve organisational performance. Though the idea is very much in the national interest, it is unpopular within certain sections of the civil service. The current system is after all, largely a colonial legacy, based on the Northcote–Trevelyan Report of 1854, built on the premise that a well-educated liberal arts graduate, recruited on merit, is capable of occupying any position in the government. The British founded their home civil service on this principle; and later, created the Indian Civil Service on identical lines.

British accounts of colonial history seem to support this idea. Philip Woodruff’s “Men who Ruled India” for example, provides many examples of outstanding civil servants of the days of the Raj. When it came to the maintenance of law and order and the collection of land revenue for the empire, the system worked well. After World War II, however, administrative systems world over came under pressure, as public management became increasingly complex. Administrators now had to implement economic development programmes, and expand services in health, education, agriculture and other areas. In India, they are also required to lead multi-disciplinary teams that supervise functioning of banks, regulate the environment, advise on macro-economic policies, represent the country at the WTO, negotiate tax treaties, coordinate centre-state financial relations, etc. The establishment of new development and poverty alleviation programs, and the emergence of the bottom-up system of Panchayati Raj have further complicated the administrator’s role.

In the UK, some of the tension between bureaucrats and technocrats was captured well by Sir CP Snow in a celebrated essay entitled “Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution”. The besieged role of the generalist administrator was also at the heart of the Fulton Committee Report (1967), which proposed reforms that led to the abolition of the superior status of the general administrator and the creation of a unified civil service. At present, lateral entry to civil service is common in the UK and many other countries like the US, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand and Netherlands

In India, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Sixth Pay Commission suggested bringing in outside experts from the academia, private sector and NGOs.

The civil service, however, has remained unreformed. Entrenched vested interests have prevailed. Critics point out that guaranteed promotions and protection from penal action have made its members increasingly unaccountable, unresponsive, and walled off from the society they pledged to serve. This is a far cry from the model which Max Weber, one of the first modern sociologists to study bureaucracy, eulogised. None of this is surprising, of course. Bureaucracies, according to William Niskanen, an American economist, are hierarchies that are not subject to market discipline. Internal competition through practices such as lateral hiring could perhaps help to surmount this innate problem. Recent experience provides some reassurance. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Vijay Kelkar, Arvind Subramanian, Arun Maira, Prakash Tandon, Lovraj Kumar and V Krishnamuthy and others entered the civil service laterally and have contributed handsomely. The experience of other countries also confirms that easy movement in and out of the civil service has many benefits.

The path forward is clear. Joint secretary and above, every position should have a detailed job description with clearly defined responsibilities, goals and accountabilities. It should as far as possible be open to both insiders as well as outsiders who possess the requisite domain knowledge and experience. Transparent systems of performance review should also be implemented. The proposed reform should be good news for civil servants. This is a chance to improve and become more relevant in modern India. It may be even better news for stressed students of the next preliminary exam. The message to them is clear: if you aren’t one of the fortunate 0.1% who are selected this time, go and build your skills elsewhere, for you may have your chance later.

Singh was chief commissioner, I-T and ombudsman to the I-T department, Mumbai. Joshi  is assistant professor, international development, Georgetown University


IAS and IPS grapple with officer shortage

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

New Delhi, Aug. 1: Indian Administrative Service posts lying vacant in Bengal: 99 Indian Police Service vacancies in the state: 87

Bengal ranks second to Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, on IPS vacancies and third to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on IAS vacancies, according to figures available with the Union home ministry.

According to the data, there are 938 vacancies across the country in the IPS cadre and 1,470 in the IAS category.

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju today informed Parliament that there are 3,905 IPS officers in the country against the sanctioned strength of 4,843. Data compiled by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) show there are 4,926 IAS officers in India against the authorised strength of 6,396.

The Union home ministry is the cadre-controlling authority of the IPS while the DoPT, which reports to the Prime Minister's Office, is in charge of the IAS flock.

A Bengal-cadre IPS officer on central deputation termed the shortages in the elite services a "major national issue".

"Bengal is grappling with a severe shortage of IAS and IPS officers and that could cripple or slow down the state's development," the officer told The Telegraph.

At 113, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of vacancies in the IPS cadre, followed by Bengal (87), Odisha (79), Karnataka (72) and Bihar (43). In the IAS category, Bihar tops the list with 128 vacancies, followed by Uttar Pradesh (115) and Bengal (99).

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Rijiju today said the number of sanctioned posts in the IPS category depends on the functional requirement of a particular cadre.

"As per rule 4 (2) of IPS cadre rules 1954, the Centre at the interval of every five years reviews the strength and composition of each such cadre in consultation with the state governments concerned and reviews the authorised strength of the IPS for each cadre," the reply said.

Rijiju said that to fill up the vacancies in the IPS cadre, the batch size of direct recruits had been increased from 88 to 103 in 2005, to 130 in 2008, and to 150 in 2009.

"Efforts are also being made to expedite the process of appointments to the Indian Police Service by promotion from state police service," the minister's reply stated.

DoPT sources said the Centre had increased the annual intake of IAS officers to 182 over the past four years.

"Besides promoting officers from the state police service, the Centre is planning to induct 70-80 IPS officers annually from the paramilitary forces through a competitive examination," a senior home ministry official said.

The cadre strength review is done by the Centre every five years.

"However, a state can always write to the Centre seeking a mid-term review to increase its IAS and IPS cadre strength," the official said.

He pointed out that litigations were also contributing to the increasing vacancies, with disgruntled state services officers challenging the elevation of their colleagues to all-India services.

"There are so many cases and litigations relating to the seniority of state civil services officers, halting the process of filling up vacancies," the official said.

Sources said a committee set up by the Centre had recommended several measures to arrest the growing shortage of IPS officers in its report.

The panel had also highlighted low intake of direct recruits over several years, resulting in staggering shortage of officers, unscientific process of fixing cadre strength and low frequency of cadre reviews.

"The committee has suggested a revamp of the cadre-review process to make it more realistic, scientific and expeditious. It said the reviews should be done every two years instead of five," another official said.

Recently, a parliamentary standing committee expressed concern over the perpetual shortage of IAS officers and said all efforts should be made to fill up the vacancies. It said the vacancies were affecting governance.

"Persistent shortage of IAS officers ultimately affects governance in the country," the committee had said in the report submitted before Parliament.

Sources in the Bengal government said that apart from the shortage of IAS and IPS officers in Bengal, another problem was the administration's reluctance to release officers for central deputation.

Having officers on central deputation gives a state additional leverage in getting projects sanctioned and development funds released.

Bengal has 195 IAS officers in the rank of additional district magistrates and above, of which it should have released 40 per cent for central deputation according to convention.

However, the government released seven instead of 78, sources said.

"Initially, when Mamata Banerjee took over as chief minister, she wanted more officers to work for the state because of the shortage.... Now, she is reluctant to release IAS officers because she does not want them to work for BJP-ruled Centre," an official said.

In the IPS category, the Bengal government should have released 30 per cent of its officers, but freed less than half of that, the sources said.


State tops IAS vacancy list

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

New Delhi, Aug. 1: Bihar has the most number of vacancies in the elite Indian Administrative Service cadre and also has a substantial shortage of Indian Police Service officers.

According to figures available with the department of personnel and training (DoPT), a total of 1,470 posts of IAS officers are lying vacant across the country. Bihar tops the list with 128 vacancies followed by Uttar Pradesh (115) and West Bengal (99).

Likewise, a total of 938 posts of IPS officers are vacant countrywide. Bihar is placed fifth after Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka.

Junior home minister Kiren Rijiju today informed Parliament that there are 3,905 IPS officers in the country as against their total sanctioned strength of 4,843. Similarly, a data compiled by DoPT show there are 4,926 IAS officers in the country against their total authorised strength of 6,396.

The highest number of vacancies of IPS officers are in Uttar Pradesh (113) followed by Bengal (87), Odisha (79), Karnataka (72) and Bihar (43).

The Union home ministry is the cadre controlling authority of the IPS. DoPT, which reports to the Prime Minister's Office, is in charge of the IAS cadre.

Terming the shortage as a big "national issue", a senior home ministry official said: "Bihar is grappling with a severe shortage of IAS and IPS officers and that could cripple or slow down the state's development."

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha today, Rijiju said the number of sanctioned posts of IPS depends on functional requirement of a particular cadre. "As per rule 4 (2) of IPS cadre rules 1954, the Centre at the interval of every five years reviews the strength and composition of each such cadre in consultation with the state governments concerned and reviews the authorized strength of the IPS for each cadre," he said.

Rijiju said that to fill up the vacancies of IPS officers, the batch size (direct recruit) was increased from 88 to 103 in 2005, then to 130 in 2008 and to 150 in 2009.

"Efforts are also being made to expedite the process of appointments to the Indian Police Service by promotion from the state police service," the junior home minister said.

Sources in the DoPT said the Centre had also increased the annual intake of IAS officers to 182 during the last four years.

"Besides promotion from the state police service, the Centre is also planning to induct 70-80 IPS officers annually from paramilitary forces through a competitive examination to fill up the growing number of vacancies," said a senior home ministry official.

"However, a state can always write to the Centre seeking a mid-term review to increase its cadre strength both in IAS and IPS categories," the official added.

Sources said a committee set up by the Centre in its report had recommended several measures to arrest the growing shortage of IPS officers, among them lessening the period of cadre review from five years to two.


NITI Aayog to create flexi pool of 100 officers, advisors to share work load of PMO

NEW DELHI: NITI Aayog is firming up recruitment rules that will help the government's think tank to create a flexi pool of advisors, research officers and economic officers to tackle the rising workload from the Prime Minister's Office. The think tank, conceived by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as replacement for the Planning Commission of Nehruvian era, proposes to hire staff on deputation as well as contract at attractive pay packages, officials said. The Sindhushree Khullar-led task force on restructuring NITI Aayog secretariat had in 2015 suggested three divisions under the Aayog's chief executive. These include the Team India hub (TIH), a flexi pool and a Knowledge and Innovation Hub (KIH). While the Aayog constituted the TIH and the KIH through an order dated August 14, 2015, there has been no progress in constituting the flexi pool since then because the recruitment rules have not been finalised, thus limiting the institution's capacity to take on new assignments owing to the paucity of workforce. The Aayog will now create a flexi pool of nearly 100 experts at the rank of advisors, deputy advisors, joint advisors, senior advisors, senior research officers and economic officers, who can be either hired on deputation or can be a direct recruitment on contract. These include 19 posts for joint or deputy advisors, seven posts for advisors and senior advisors, four economic officers and 44 senior research officers. The salary of economic advisors will vary from Rs 44,900 to Rs 1.42 lakh a month for experts on deputation and would be a consolidated amount of Rs 85,000 for officers on contract. The salary for senior research officers would range from Rs 67,700 to Rs 2.08 lakh (deputation) and Rs 1.25 lakh for professionals hired on contract. The joint or deputy advisors would be paid in the range of Rs 1.23 lakh to Rs 2.15 lakh (deputation) and Rs 2.2 lakh on contract while the advisors could be paid between Rs 1.44 lakh to Rs 2.18 lakh (deputation) and Rs 2.65 lakh (contract), and the senior advisors could fetch between Rs 1.82 lakh and Rs 2.24 lakh (deputation), and Rs 3.30 lakh if hired on contract. "Officers appointed on contract basis would not be entitled to residential accommodation, official transport, leave encashment or any other allowances as admissible to a regular government employee," the recruitment rules, 2017 said. The Aayog has sought comments from all stakeholders on Flexi Pool Recruitment Rules, 2017 within 30 days, following which it will notify the rules and begin hiring experts to strengthen its workforce.



Cyber security is now mainstream business


The world is still largely unaware of the steps it should take to build optimal defence systems against ransomware attacks

End it With proper security in place SWEvil/shutterstock.com

The past three months were a watershed period for cyber security. Wanna Cry and then Petya hit the world like cyber tsunamis and left behind significant business impact and business loss. Could these attacks have been prevented? First, let’s understand some aspects of these attacks.

In almost two decades in the field of cyber security, I have never witnessed the widespread electronic and mainstream media coverage that was received by the recent ransomware attacks. It almost became national news. This is one of the positive outcomes of any major cyber attack. It reminds us of how exposed we are to these risks and underlines the need for building a robust cyber defence for individuals as well as corporations.

Painful experience

Unfortunately, those caught in the middle of the storm are able to understand it more profoundly than the observers. While there was unprecedented large-scale impact due to the recent ransomware, it was minuscule compared to the computer infrastructure of the world. Which means that the majority of individuals and organisations would continue to remain unaware of the need for steps they should take to build an optimal cyber defence against cyber threats. That is the biggest bane of the cyber security industry and profession.

The second observation is that the organisations that were impacted are building and strengthening controls around the risks of the recent ransomware attacks. That is important, but when you build cyber defence, you should consider all the possible risks to your business and build a security programme that works on mitigating these risks comprehensively. The one thing that these recent attacks have taught us is that cyber security is now a mainstream business activity. How many more attacks and devastating impacts does the world have to suffer before we realise this and start integrating cyber security into business strategy? Crypto algorithms and encryption has always been the foundation of the cyber security world. There have been progressive advancements in these algorithms so as to protect the confidentiality of information. The threat actors have flipped this notion on its head by encrypting information either to demand ransom or just cause devastation. So what was meant to protect confidential information is being used to deny availability of the same information. This is a dangerous trend, especially in a climate of technology innovation.

So far, the thumb rule has been that you innovate and when your mission or project is successful, you fix the risks. The notion of ‘secure by design’ was loosely implemented. However, given what we are witnessing now, ‘secure by design’ is a fundamental requirement. For example, the IT fraternity has never been able to address the issue of complete visibility of the IT landscape and ensuring that it is patched on a real-time basis. This has now become a basic hygiene and zero tolerance aspect of IT management. Organisations that have not yet invested in comprehensive cyber defence expose their businesses to risk.

While cyber threat materialises only through contact, the openness and connectedness of the internet makes contact more likely. Hence, although a large number of organisations were exposed to the ransomware, they were not impacted. Industries that are heavily regulated for cyber security controls have been far less impacted than those without strong and mature regulations. Organisations with comprehensive and robust implementation of security have been able to claim a victory, but resting on those laurels would be a mistake. They were not impacted because they have a strong patch management process, have invested in threat intelligence platforms, have built a strong cyber defence centre, have real-time query capability to review status and vulnerabilities in their IT landscape, have built advance threat/malware management capabilities to identify zero day attacks, constantly review their entry points to that network, have built some level of network segmentation and have a strong and tested incident management system.

Cyber security calls for a focused and fresh look at how to secure your business from cyber attacks.

The writer is the chief information security officer at Infosys



Panagariya quits Niti Aayog

Annapurna Singh


Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya Tuesday resigned from his post citing expiry of his leave from the New York's Columbia University as the reason.

A top economic adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Panagariya headed the Centre's policy think tank since January 2015 and his tenure was co-terminus with the term of the NDA government.

The 64-year-old, who has been credited with working towards bringing in competitive and cooperative federalism in the country, will continue to be at Niti Aayog tll August 31.

“I didn't get leave extension from the Columbia University and that is why requested the Prime Minister to relieve me at the end of this months,” Panagariya told reporters after his resignation.

Sources in the government said the Prime Minister has accepted his resignation. Niti Aayog, or the National Institution for Transforming India, replaced the Nehruvian era Planning Commission in 2014 and Panagariya was its first vice-chairman. 

The Aayog was set up by an executive order with the Prime Minister as chairman, a full-time vice president and four permanent members but the fourth member could not be appointed as yet.

Governing Council, a key body of Niti Aayog comprising all chief ministers of states as its members met only three times in the past over three years. The first two meetings were held in 2015.

But the last Governing Council meeting which was held in April was an important one as in that the Niti Aayog gave a 15-year Vision Document to the Prime Minister to accelerate country's economic development and also presented 300 specific action points to achieve the goal.

In a short period of around two-an-a-half years, the Niti Aayog came under attack from within the BJP for its alleged pro-corporate approach to development. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, an RSS body recently went on record saying "Niti Aayog is committed to a powerful corporate lobby functioning in the country and not to the weaker sections of the society”. It also suggested that the government re-think whether or not to keep such a “defective institution” in the name of a 'think tank. The BMS had also levelled charges of the Aayog being an anti-labour face to the government in its national conference recently.

Speculation was about a reshuffle in the Niti Aayog after continuous attacks of job-less economic growth marred the end of government's three-year tenure in May this year. Panagariya's successor will be announced in due course.



HRD-Finance tussle stalls pay hike for college, varsity faculty

The proposed pay hike for teachers is estimated to cost the Union government Rs 1,400 crore annually. On the other hand, the collective additional expenditure of state governments will come to Rs 16,800 crore.

The Union government’s much-awaited announcement on pay hike for university and college teachers is caught in a disagreement between two ministries, sources have said. The Finance Ministry, it is learnt, is not in favour of sharing the additional financial burden of the state governments, as reflected in HRD Ministry’s cabinet note which proposes a salary increase of about 20 per cent for nearly eight lakh teachers working in all Centre- and state-run educational institutions.

The proposed pay hike for teachers is estimated to cost the Union government Rs 1,400 crore annually. On the other hand, the collective additional expenditure of state governments will come to Rs 16,800 crore. The HRD Ministry has suggested that the Union government bear half of the states’ additional financial burden for the first three years. This works out to an additional expenditure of about Rs 25,000 crore for the Centre over three years.

The Finance Ministry feels that state governments, and not the Centre, should foot the entire salary bill for teachers in state-run institutions and its unhappiness over HRD’s proposed sharing ratio seems to have stalled the Cabinet’s approval which was expected last month. Meetings between representatives of HRD and Finance Ministries on this issue have been inconclusive, said sources.

The pay hike was decided upon by the HRD Ministry based on recommendations of University Grants Commission’s Pay Review Committee, which submitted its report to the ministry in February. The ministry accepted the panel’s suggestion to revise a teacher’s starting salary package by a multiplier of 2.72 for professor and above and a multiplier of 2.67 for assistant professor and above.

The last salary hike for university and college teachers was implemented in 2006 based on suggestions of the Sixth Pay Commission. At that time, the Union government had funded almost 80 per cent of the states’ additional expenditure, on account of increased salaries, for the first five years.


Dyal Singh (Evening) becomes day college: Building where classes are being held illegal, claims day college head

On July 3, he wrote to the DU Pro Vice Chancellor saying that the set back area was “crucial for access of the college by emergency services”, and that “construction is being carried out in violation of approved layout and building plans”.

Written by Aranya Shankar 

With the Delhi University Executive Council giving its nod to the conversion of Dyal Singh (Evening) College into a morning one, the college has been holding classes for first-year students from an under-construction building. However, DSC (Morning) has alleged that the construction was illegal and raised safety concerns. Both the evening and morning colleges function from the same campus.

The DSC (Morning) principal, I S Bakshi, had written to the evening college principal saying the construction was in violation of building plans. However, the DSC (Evening) Principal, Pawan K Sharma, said all approvals were in place. On June 9, Bakshi wrote to Sharma saying, “With reference to your mention of few temporary rooms at the earmarked site, it is to apprise that the site in question is part of mandatory 12-metre wide rear set back, and land earmarked for playground by Land & Development Office, Urban Development Ministry, and the college layout and building plans have been approved by SDMC… accordingly.”

On July 3, he wrote to the DU Pro Vice Chancellor saying that the set back area was “crucial for access of the college by emergency services”, and that “construction is being carried out in violation of approved layout and building plans”. P K Parihar, a geography teacher of DSC (Morning), said, “It is an illegal structure. Even if it was legal, till the time you get a fitness certificate you cannot open it to public. They’re calling it a semi-permanent structure, but pucca material is being used for the same.”

Students and teachers of DSC (Evening), however, seemed more perturbed with the noise than safety. On Thursday, students struggled to listen in class due to noise from construction activity taking place above. Shifa, a first-year student, said, “We can’t sit in the last row because we can’t hear the teacher. On days when we come late and have to sit at the back, it is difficult to hear anything.”

Alka Tyagi, an English teacher, said, “The part where construction is taking place is separate from where classes are being held, so it’s not unsafe. But the noise is definitely a problem.” Sharma, however, said construction was complete and “only finishing work like painting is going on”. “… This is a semi-permanent structure, there is nothing illegal about it. Once the permanent structure is complete, we’ll demolish it. Semi-permanent structures don’t need approval from MCD and other bodies. Then, porta cabins and bamboo rooms which exist in the college should also be called illegal,” he said.

He added, “…The area has been properly cordoned off, and guards are there to ensure students don’t stray into the nearby area where construction is happening. Such rumours are being spread to stop the conversion of DSC into a morning college.” DSC (Evening) had first floated the idea to function as a day college in August 2015. DU then set up a five-member inspection committee which gave its approval in its meeting on February 14 this year. However, the staff council of DSC (Morning) opposed the move and alleged that Bakshi didn’t grant approval to the conversion. The first cut-off at Dyal Singh College (evening) was between 87 and 95 per cent for different courses.

TRIBUNE, AUG 4, 2017

Of private varsities and public good

GS Bedi

Leaving higher education at the mercy of market forces has far-reaching implications. As per the recent National Employability Report, 75 per cent of our graduates are unemployable. This is a far more serious situation than not being “in the top 200”.

EDUCATION is the alchemy that can take India to its next golden age”, said the outgoing President, Pranab Mukherjee during his farewell address to the nation. True. After all, it was the universities where the great ideas of liberty, tolerance and constitutional governments took root along with the scientific research and development which ultimately led to the enlightenment and prosperity of Europe.

 Yet, the way we are experimenting with our higher education system, it can happen otherwise.  In our quest to improve the Gross Enrolment in the country, we let the private universities and institutes mushroom indiscriminately. Today, these account for over 60 per cent of total institutes in the country.    

The quality of higher education has taken a severe hit with the advent of private universities.  Barring a few, they are struggling for survival. To survive, they have adopted a simple modus operandi: lure the students with the promise of degrees without going through the rigour of attendance and passing the examinations.

A typical case study of the journey of a student through the portals of a private university may be instructive for policy makers framing the new education policy. A private university runs a B.Tech programme that has not been approved by the  All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).  But it does not matter. The university has the convenient alibi that it has been constituted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and it has nothing to do with the AICTE.  Analysing it, one finds the university may not even have been inspected by the UGC even after five years of its operation even though it has been conferring  degrees year after year.  It is hoped that Ministry of Human Resource Development and Niti Aayog's proposal to merge the UGC and the AICTE into a single authority, the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) will end such fraudulent practices. 

Another example: A student seeks admission to a  B.Tech programme.  The criteria as laid down by the Regulatory Commission for admission to B.Tech programmes is a valid score in the JEE (mains) examination. It does not specify the cut-off score. Since it does not do so, the private university admits the student even if he has a “zero” score in the JEE examination — a mockery  of the admission criteria. The particular  program me in which the student has taken admission may have only “one” student, that is he himself.  Optimal size, be it of a class or the university, is an important attribute of higher education as the students learn from each other. Their personality and leadership qualities develop only in groups.       The Yash Pal Committee had specially laid emphasis on the optimal size of the university in its report on “Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education”. Whereas autonomy is a blessing for a public university like that of the Panjab University, it is a license  for  unethical practices for a private university.     Most states do not have regulatory authorities for private educational institutes. Even the states where there is one like Himachal Pradesh, it is without a chairman/chairperson for the last more than one-and-a-half year making it ineffective. 

 The result of this license is that  the teacher in a private university who teaches the subject sets the question paper and evaluates the answer script.  In the absence of an “external university audit system”, there is a conspiracy of silence between the student, teacher and the Vice-Chancellor as to how much of syllabus has been covered or how many right answers the students have given.  

The two pillars of quality of education are good faculty and infrastructure. Both are missing in case of the private universities.  Private universities exploit faculty members by paying them low salaries and overloading them with a large number of courses. Some of them pay a salary even lower than that of a peon in a government high school. As regards infrastructure, some of them do not have sports grounds and hostel facilities. 

To make the provision of a hostel, they have converted cabins of the faculty into hostel rooms. With two beds in a small 8ft x 8 ft cabin, it is more like a jail cell than a hostel. Curriculum of the various programmes is not upgraded in accordance with the skill sets required for industry. This is a double whammy. In the first place, it produces unemployable youth. Second, irrelevant research is of no use to the manufacturing sector which generates jobs. 

The root cause of the poor quality of education at private universities is absence of leadership at the Vice Chancellors' level. Old retired and re-retired persons are employed as Vice Chancellors. They neither have any ability nor independence to run the university effectively. Only the owners call the shots. It is from one such private university that the student gets his degree certificate at the end of the programme but he remains unemployable. As per the recent National Employability Report, 75 per cent of our graduates are unemployable.  

This is a far more serious situation than “not being in top 200”. Setting up elite institutions like IIT will not solve our problems. Radical reforms are required at the bottom of pyramids.on war footing.  Education is far too serious a business to be left to the vagaries of market forces.  The government must step in fast and announce a much-needed new education policy. Unfortunately, our squeaks about educational reforms are lost in the din of “Make-in India, Stand -up India, Start-up India, Skill-India” and so on. Ironically, the success of all these depends upon the quality of higher education. 

There is a need for the government to operate in a public-private partnership mode with the viable private universities.  For this, the government will have to increase its budgetary provision for education to at least more than 5 per cent of the GDP.  As an interim measure, the private universities which have not been able to gain traction with respect the optimal size for the last five years must be wound up or merged to form a bigger university which is financially viable both in the short and the long term.

The UGC scheme of Credit Transfer must be used effectively to co-opt the experienced professional and administrators from the industry to function as Vice Chancellors or Registrars by considering their experience for certain number of years  in the industry as  equivalent to Ph.D. The state government must order an academic audit of all the private universities immediately and close down the ones not up to the mark. At the same time, each state must have a functional private education regulatory authority which should oversee all the aspects of teaching, examination and certification. 

Implementing the educational reforms as recommended by the Prof Yash Pal Committee in letter and spirit will be a fitting tribute to an eminent educationist.

The writer is a freelance writer on educational matters


Cabinet nod to scrapping of no-detention policy till Class VIII

It also gave its nod to the Human Resource Development ministry's plan of creating 20 world-class institutions in the country. DH file image for representation.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the scrapping of the no-detention policy in schools till Class VIII.

It also gave its nod to the Human Resource Development ministry’s plan of creating 20 world-class institutions in the country.

An enabling provision will be made in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Amendment Bill which will allow states to detain students in Class V and Class VIII if they fail in the year-end exam.

However, the students will have to be given a second chance to improve via an examination before they are detained. The bill will now be placed in Parliament for approval.

Under the present provision of RTE Act, students are promoted automatically to higher classes till class 8. This is one of the key components of the RTE Act which came into force on April 1, 2010.

The Union Cabinet, which had deferred its decision in June, about the creation of 20 world-class institutions in the country, also approved it on Wednesday.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) had in February passed a new set of regulations to set up 10 world-class institutions in the public sector and as many in the private sector.

Of the 20 universities, first proposed in this year’s budget, the 10 state-supported institutions are expected to receive public funding of up to Rs 500 crore each.

An Expenditure Finance Committee note seeking Rs 5,000 crore for these institutions was moved. The institutes can be existing or greenfield (the latter for private institutions).

HRD’s separate rules — UGC (Declaration of Government Educational Institutions as World Class Institutions) Guidelines — allow these institutes to fix their own fees for foreign students and decide salaries for foreign faculty, as well as the freedom to choose admission procedures. Existing universities don’t have such freedom and are guided by the detailed UGC rules.



Manish Sisodia asks CAG to audit 28 DU colleges

A day after scrapping funds to the 28 Delhi University colleges, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday wrote to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) asking for an audit of these colleges after receiving complaints of corruption against them.

Sisodia in a series of tweets alleged that with no governing bodies, the 28 colleges need a CAG audit, as there are complaints of corruption.

"Have written to CAG asking for comprehensive audit of 28 Delhi government funded colleges, as I h've received many complaints of corruption," Sisodia tweeted.

"28 colleges need CAG audit as there are complaints of corruption; with no Governing bodies for 10 months, there's been no oversight," he said.

On 31July, Sisodia ordered to freeze funds of 28 Delhi University colleges ~ who are wholly or partially funded by the Delhi government~ following the varsity's failure to appoint governing bodies for over 10 months.

Sisodia, who holds education and finance portfolios, also posted a letter from BJP MP Udit Raj on his Twitter handle, complaining of alleged irregularities in appointments to government funded colleges.

"Hv also got a complaint from @Dr_Uditraj on irregularities in appointments in a govt funded college. This is proof of what's going on in DU," Sisodia said.

"What BJP leaders and its devotees have to say about the corruption issue raised by Udit ji in DU colleges," he added.

On 14 February 2017, Delhi University had sent a panel of names to Delhi government following which the Directorate of Higher Education, had sent the governing body list in 6 March, for approval by Executive Council (EC). However, it was sent back by the Vice Chancellor's office after two months on the pretext of, that the list is in tabular form.  On 11 May, the Delhi government returned the list in the correct format. However, since then, the Delhi University is yet to take any decision to finalise the governing bodies.


Title of thesis

Jawaharlal Nehru University, which was set up in the early 1970s as a front-ranking institution of liberal education, has announced a decision that is disingenuous in the extreme, one that verges on linguistic chauvinism. Students who have crafted their dissertations ~ M Phil and Ph D ~ have been stumped with the directive that makes it mandatory to write the title of their thesis in Hindi.

This is preposterous to say the least. No reason has been proffered either by the university authorities or the HRD ministry, which under the BJP has been keen on transforming JNU from a "red bastion" to a saffronite turf. Small wonder that the move, which takes a bow in the direction of the cow belt, has been binned by the students as a form of "severe harassment" that reinforces the intolerance of a different point of view.

Considerably inconvenienced are those research scholars who can neither speak Hindi nor write the language. After years of scholarly rigour, they are now said to be desperately looking for people, both on campus and beyond, to write the titles.

If indeed the benchmark of a university's standing is the quality of research, the absurdity inherent in the decision is bound to deter students from pursuing their doctoral studies at JNU. The net result, therefore, could be deeply unfortunate. A central university draws students from all over the country, the striking feature being the regional representation on the campus.

Hence the weightage to all provincial languages. Yet the new embroidery in Hindi is mandatory. For a thesis written in English and capped with a Hindi title, the contrived incongruity can be breathless and not least when the dissertation is sent abroad for another round of evaluation by external examiners. A more startling instance of academic vacuity, indeed a bizarre expression of the two-language formula, will be hard to imagine.

On closer reflection, the imposition of Hindi at JNU is a double whammy for the rarefied academic circuit as well as students. It reinforces a recent circular that envisaged the Hindi translation of titles in the library, prior to the indexing of books. It is no disrespect to the national language to aver that teachers and the taught will have to grapple with a stark disconnect between the book and the title, as mentioned in the index card.

Whether it is the title of a thesis or the name of a book on science, it can be almost impossible to devise a Hindi equivalent. The impact can even be hilarious were it not for the profound implications for the raison d'etre of any university ~ the advancement of learning. JNU ought not to be reduced to a laughing stock.


Delhi govt stops funding of 28 DU colleges, Sisodia says can’t allow corruption

Delhi University colleges funded by Arvind Kejriwal-led government get the money in four instalments. Colleges say they will start feeling an impact by November if the stand-off continues

Heena Kausar 

The Delhi government has stopped grants to 28 Delhi University colleges funded by it on account of the university not forming governing bodies for the last 10 months.

Twelve out of the 28 colleges are fully funded by the government and 16 are partially funded. The government had asked Delhi University to form governing bodies before making any appointments.

The university is currently in the process of hiring permanent faculty.

“I can not allow unchecked corruption and irregularities to be sustained on Delhi govt funds in the name of Education. The sequence of events from Sept 2016 seems to indicate a deliberate and malafied attempt to delay formation of gov bodies by DU,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said in a series of tweets on Monday.

Colleges dependent entirely on funding from the government will find it hard to function after being cut off.

“Everything from payment of salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff to payment of electricity bill is done through Delhi government’s funds. If we don’t get the funds the college will have to stop,” said SK Garg, principal Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, which is fully funded by the government.

Twitter Ads info and privacy

However, DU officials said there won’t be any immediate impact on any of these colleges.

“We receive funds of about Rs24-25 crores in four instalments — July, November, January, and March. We have already received the first instalment, so there won’t be any immediate impact and the matter will hopefully be resolved in a few weeks,” Garg said.

Dean of Colleges Devesh K Sinha said they have written a letter to the government on Monday assuring them that the governing bodies will be formed within a week or two.

“The executive council had raised certain objections to the nominations. We are supposed to have a variety of experts in the body but the government, for instance, had recommended five educationists to one college. However, we are in the process and soon the bodies will be formed,” Sinha said.

He said that the government’s main concern is that the governing bodies should be formed before the appointments. “Anyway the appointments are not happening before September so there is time,” he said.

Twelve DU colleges are fully funded by the Delhi government, including Shaheed Raj Guru College, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, Maharaja Agarsen College, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies.

Sixteen DU colleges are partially funded by the Delhi government, including Gargi College, Kamla Nehru College, Shivaji College and Delhi College of Arts & Commerce.

In June, the government had asked colleges to not go ahead with faculty appointments till college governing bodies are formed and had also threatened to withhold funds to college in case of non-compliance.

The government has asked the University to “duly constitute” the governing bodies, which will include five members nominated by the government, before making any appointments.

DU colleges have been advertising vacant faculty positions following a High Court order.



SBI cuts interest rate on savings deposit, 90% of customers to be hit hard

Accounts with a balance of Rs 1 crore or less will earn 3.5% per annum effective July 31, while those above Rs 1 crore will continue to earn 4% per annum.

State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, on Monday introduced a two-tier interest rate structure for its savings bank accounts, reducing interest rates for most of its depositors.

Accounts with a balance of Rs 1 crore or less will earn 3.5% per annum effective July 31, while those above Rs 1 crore will continue to earn 4% per annum, the bank said in a statement.

About 90% of SBI’s savings accounts have balances under Rs 1 crore.

“The decline in rate of inflation and high real interest rates are the primary considerations warranting a revision,” SBI said.

The revision would enable the bank to maintain its Marginal Cost of funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR) at existing rates, the lender added.

The bank’s overnight MCLR rate, effective July 1, currently stands at 7.75%.

Shares of the bank spiked after the announcement, climbing as much as 4.75%.

The Reserve Bank of India is expected to cut interest rates when it meets on Wednesday, a Reuters poll showed, responding to an inflation rate running well below target, which had eased to its slowest pace in over five years in June.

“We expect the policy committee to lower its natural bias to be cautious and lower policy rates by 25 bps this week,” said DBS Group Research in a note.

“Investors are always interested in rate cuts and have been expecting a rate cut for quite some time now,” said Sunil Sharma, chief investment officer at Sanctum Wealth Management.


PIONEER, AUG 3, 2017



Muskan Ahirwar, a fifth class student will now have a pucca library of her own. She was running a library in her kachha house in Durganagar slum in the capital. She has started her library with 25 educational books in 2016 which has gradually grown and now accommodates about 1000 books.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan honoured Muskan at his residence and granted Rs2 lakh assistance fund. He assured her that very soon she will own a one-room pucca library. An overwhelmed Muskan said that now nothing can stop her and the other slum children from moving ahead. Mamaji and his Government is with them and now they have to work hard.

Muskan is a student of Glorious Higher Secondary School, Jehangirabad and her elder sister Neha is a 9th standard student of Tatya Tope Higher Secondary School. Her younger brother, studies in Muskan’s school in 4th standard. Akash is in first standard. Her uncle Rakesh Kumar helps in the house. He is engaged in centering work. Muskan’s father Manohar Ahirwar was also engaged in the same work but he passed away on July 7.

Says Muskan, “Papa used to say do something big, Study hard. She herself wants to be a doctor.”

Muskan told that the library is open from 5 pm -7 pm. Nearly 20-25 children come to the library. They have to sit on a mat. A few children take the books home and return it later. “I ask questions related to the books and if the children give proper answer, I know they have read them. I have a register to maintain all accounts,” says Muskan.

 The Chief Minister said that if girls like Muskan are extended support by the whole society, it won’t be long before the conditions change. Government will extend all possible support.


HINDU, AUG 4, 2017

Restoring Parliament’s primacy

Vinod Bhanu

A Parliamentary Budget Office would help MPs provide effective oversight

In India, establishing a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) is a due concern. A PBO is an independent and impartial body linked directly to Parliament that provides technical and objective analysis of Budgets and public finance to the House and its committees. As ‘the guardian of the public purse’, Parliament must play a greater role in budgetary governance. Its core functions include Budget approval, scrutiny of its implementation, and holding the government to account. However, Parliament lacks the capability to perform such functions effectively. The result is often an arbitrary taxation policy, burgeoning fiscal deficit, and an inequitable allocation of public resources.

Greater budgetary oversight

Multiple indicators suggest that executive-led budgetary governance has not been successful in India. The unequal distribution of public resources is a prevalent issue. Despite high economic growth, India suffers from inexcusable income inequality, poverty, unemployment, malnourished children, preventable diseases, systemic corruption, and underinvestment in key social services such as health and education.

Budgets can be seen as ‘contracts between citizens and the state’ or as ‘treaties among citizens negotiated through politics’. Indian political economy literature fails to adequately address the role of Parliament and State legislatures in public finance management. The role of Parliament and State legislatures in budgetary decision-making and oversight is far from satisfactory; it is meaningful to have a well thought-out legislative-executive balance of power in budgetary governance.

The Indian Parliament is a Budget-approving body contributing to budgetary matters in the following notable ways: presentation of the Budget; scrutiny of the demands for grants of various ministries; debate; consideration and approval of the Budget. To carry out these functions effectively, Parliament requires institutional, analytical and technical competence. Some have argued that a ‘Budget-approving’ Parliament does not require a functioning PBO. This argument, although common, is unsound. When Parliament is a Budget-approving body, its members must be well-informed for a legitimate approving process. Establishing a PBO within Parliament is undoubtedly necessary. It is an instrument for addressing bias towards spending and deficits and, more significantly, for enhancing fiscal discipline and promoting accountability. Further, it can generate quality public debate on Budget policy and public finance, enabling parliamentarians to engage meaningfully in the Budget process.

There is a growing trend among legislatures, particularly within the OECD countries to establish specialised Budget research units. Traditionally, independent budgetary units are more common in developed countries, but many developing countries are now establishing such entities; for example: Benin, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, the Philippines, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. The other functioning PBOs are in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, Austria, South Korea, Italy, and Mexico. There are PBOs established in subnational legislatures, such as California, Ontario, Scotland, and New South Wales. Additionally, New York City has a well-functioning Independent Budget Office (IBO).

Role of a PBO

The majority of PBOs have four core functions: independent and objective economic forecasts; baseline estimate survey; analysing the executive’s Budget proposal; and providing medium- to long-term analysis. Costing is standard practice for many PBOs. Budgets generally start with an economic forecast. A PBO can present either its own independent forecast or it can validate the government’s, providing an objective analysis on the official forecast.

A PBO can perform other tasks depending on its mandate, resources and requirements of parliamentarians or committees. These may include gen