BPUT HELPS EXAM SCAM: WHITHER IS GOING TECHNO EDUCATION?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Whither is techno education going in Orissa? Members of the Academic Council (AC) of Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) that met at the conference hall of Government College of Engineering and Technology (CET ) on March 10 at 3.30 PM to give “special” consideration to students’ demand for unhindered acquisition of degree, never put this question to themselves as they danced to the tune of private college owners, who fetch huge profit by assuring students of sure success in bagging B.Tech and other degrees of similar face.

The students, who were demanding for obliteration of the stipulation that clearing the backlog subjects of 1st and 2nd semesters would be prerequisite to invoke advantage of “special Examination” to pass in all the failed subjects to fetch their desired degrees have withdrawn their strike, though the resolution of the AC in this matter is yet under cover. Might be, they have succeeded.

In fact, there was no meaning in not allowing students with backlog of the first two semesters to pass the final exam, when the University has already paved the way for students unable to pass in subjects from the 3rd semester onwards to avail advantage of the machination of manipulation it has, since March 28, 2009, provided for under the cover of “special Examinations after the 8th semester” to help failing students purchase their degrees.

How this provision for manipulation is working is discernible in results last published by BPUT and is horrific.

A student has passed in 10 subjects in one slot of “special examinations” whereas another student has passed in 20 subjects and yet another in 21 subjects at a time though they had not been able to pass in those subjects in so many exams during the entire period of four years of their study in the colleges.

But the monstrosity of the scam cannot be fully realized unless one knows how a student who failed to pass in 37 subjects as against 45 prescribed in the B.Tech course, during the period of four years comprising eight semesters, has passed in all those subjects in a single slot using the “Special Examinations after the 8th Semester”, the results of which are declared by the BPUT in December 2009 and viewable to any in its website.

Named after Biju, BPUT is perhaps true to his true color. The Khanna Commission Report has details of scams he executed cleanly in the guise of industrial development in Orissa. Even he had neatly steered the State to have a junk storehouse styled as IDC for using it to get rid of his heavily loosing industries at tremendous profit for his own pockets while branding this treachery as his sacrifice for the State. In these pages there are elaborations on this and many other scams he was involved with when his every scam was preceded with such projection of his noble motives that the victims of the scams were unable to understand as to how their future was being doomed thereby. BPUT seems to be following his footprints in spangling the system with scam scopes under the cover of “Special Examinations” in “home centers” while painting the trick as rays of Orissa’s rise in the sky of the techno educational world.

Showing how the BPUT works to appease the students, in the “background” to its “clarification to students’ demand” revealed in Notice No 4129/09 it has noted:

In order to ease out extremely weak students from the BPUT system ( who would not have the capacity to complete a degree with a prescribed minimum of a final Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 6.0, the committee had recommended that a student would have to quit if he has less than 4.50 Semester Grade Point Average( SGPA) in three consecutive semesters ( this was to apply for exams. held w.e.f Odd Semester 2007 ).

Recently on the 28th. of March, 2009 the Academic Council met and decided to withdraw the 4.50 SGPA rule from the 5th. semester onwards; that means no student would be asked to quit once he / she has crossed the 4th. semester .

Further, in the Special Exams. after the 8th. semester, all papers for 3rd. and 4th. semesters were also included. That means, all back papers of 2nd.; 3rd. and 4th. years can now be cleared in the Special Exams if a student has not been able to clear them already in the various previous regular exams. ( he carries unlimited number of back papers to higher semesters today.)

This system of sure success has been further strengthened by providing for such exams to be held in “Home centers”, which are created specifically in the respective colleges of the failed students.

Such ingenuity of helping the colleges help their failed students to pass was steered through the AC by the former Vice Chancellor, Omkar Mohanty, in connivance with the operators whose sole aim is to fish out mints of money.

It is a wild business of black money. The more deficient is the student, the more is the flow of black money into the coffers of the operators of these joints. Money is collected against pledge of success and the owners of the breeding houses of such success were successful in creating the method legalized in BPUT AC as cited supra.

What the Chancellor of BPUT is doing in this matter? Planners knew that Vice-Chancellors of Universities of a State, coming on recommendations of committees created through official tricks, may stay susceptible to political pressure. Therefore they had vested the supreme authority of University management in the Chancellor who none but the Governor of the State could be and the law was so consciously made that the Governor would have never to act according to advice of the Ministry while acting as the Chancellor. Therefore, it is clear that a Governor may be a mute white elephant in management of a State; but he is not supposed to be so in management of any University within the State. So, should he not wake up to his responsibilities as Chancellor of BPUT to save techno education from the machinations of scams?

Should he not review as to how could students, who failed to pass in regular examinations in regular semesters during the entire period of their regular studentship, pass in all the failed subjects in single slots by appearing in the so-called ‘Special Examinations after the 8th semester” so easily?

Whither techno education is really going in Orissa, should he not say?

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KGI TEACHERS ALLEGEDLY ON ANVIL FOR METAMORPHOSIS INTO BONDED LABOURS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A senior faculty of Krupajal Engineering College, Bhubaneswar has confided in me that he and his colleagues holding faculty positions in the techno-educational institutes under the employer called KGI, are on the anvil for metamorphosis into bonded labours. They had been given draft copies of a Bond they were to sign and submit after authentication executed in Bond Papers, supplied to each of them (totaling 300) by the management of KGI on 29th August 2009, which they have complied with.

The Bond is so cunningly drafted that it shows the concerned teacher as having voluntarily offered to work as a Bonded labour in search of sustenance.

When in the first paragraph the teacher indicates his position, in the second he states, “I lawfully bond myself to serve the Institute /College at least for a period of 12 (twelve) calendar months / one academic session which is called as the bond period which in the present context i.e. for the academic session 2009-10 starts from 1st August 2009 to 31st July 2010”.

When the above statement makes it clear that the concerned teacher’s job is coterminous with the Bond after twelve months, oblivious of the fact that some of them have rendered continuous service for several years till date, every teacher is made to declare in the next paragraph that during the “bonded period” he/she cannot leave the Institute without completing the year’s course in its entirety. “I will ensure that my absence is not affecting the academics,” notes the vow under para.3.

In case the faculty leaves the Institution during the bonded period, he or she shall have to return the entire amount of money received as salary during the entire period of his /her tenure!

And, in the next paragraph the teacher makes the “employer i.e. KEC / KES / OCA / KBS / AMS / KITC” “empowered” “to recover the amount through due process of law” by stating therein that he or she shall be personally “liable for all incidental costs”.

bondI put here the copy of the draft of the bond for perusal by every faculty member of the above-mentioned employer as well as the employer, beseeching counter, if any, from one and all of them so that I would publish the same with a sense of relief that the teachers that are in a profession to build up technological man power in my State are not being compelled by private managements to distress-sell themselves as bonded labours.

In these pages on 24 July 2009, under the caption High Tech Teachers Treated Like Helots In Orissa, we had discussed how the teachers in these private Institutes / Colleges are perishing under unfair labour practice as the State has not yet framed and enforced Service Rules and Conditions of Services for them, even though massive growth of High Tech Institutes/ Colleges in the private sector has even encouraged mafia to explore the field.

Prof. Dr. Damodar Acharya, presently the Director of IIT, Kharagpur, who, as founder Vice Chancellor of BPUT, Orissa, was in the position of directly knowing the scenario of technical education in private sector here, has admitted in a TV interview on Friday that didactics in such Institutes in Orissa is in a mess. A former Chairman of AICTE, Dr. Acharya has expressed apprehensions that the private High Tech Institutes in Orissa are cultivating AICTE approval through manipulation inasmuch as the names and qualification of faculty members shown to AICTE are seldom the same as on their acquaintance rolls. Dr. Acharya’s observations are corroborative of our observations in these pages.

When a few of Orissa ministers are owners of some of these Institutes and in that capacity are the members of Orissa Private Engineering Colleges Associations and their activities are already extended to Medical education too, it is possible that if the KGI experimentation of acquiring Bonds this way would succeed, the others may adopt the technique with full immunity taking advantage of the power they enjoy. That would injure technical education beyond repair.

It is time, therefore, that the State as well as the AICTE / UGC should intervene and ensure that high tech teachers in the State are not reduced to bonded labours as such.

HIGH-TECH TEACHERS TREATED LIKE HELOTS IN ORISSA

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

At Sijua of Bhubaneswar stands NM Institute of Engineering & Technology. It is one of the 87 privately run high-tech educational institutes in Orissa, where teachers and staff members are being treated as helots in absence of any codified condition of service.

By an order on July 15 it has reminded the teachers and staff that there is no lunch break and hence they are debarred from going out for lunch. The order bears number NMIET/Academic/2009/139.

Under its stipulations, teachers and lab-staff are to stay on duty for 7 hours 30 minutes on all the working days that usually span from 9.30 AM to 5.00 PM. They are also required to attend duty as and when necessary at 7.30 or 8.30 AM, in which case their duty hours would end at 3.00 or 4.00 PM. So one is to work without lunch till 4.00 or 5.00 PM in a sub-human condition.

Behind this sub-human provision there seems to be a game plan of the owner of the institute. It almost compels the teachers and staff to cough up money as dictated by the owner in captive canteens where any food taken happens to be Hobson’s choice.

This is just a sample.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), suspected since long but currently in headlines for corruption, seldom inspects any private technical institute to find out if its norms are honored.

AICTE was set-up in November 1945 as a national level Apex Advisory Body to conduct survey on the facilities on technical education and to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner. And to ensure the same, as stipulated in, the National Policy of Education (1986), AICTE be vested with statutory authority for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and standards, quality assurance through accreditation, funding in priority areas, monitoring and evaluation, maintaining parity of certification and awards and ensuring coordinated and integrated development and management of technical education in the country, says its pivoting document.

The document goes on to inform that the Government of India (Ministry of Human Resource Development) constituted a National Working Group to look into the role of AICTE in the context of proliferation of technical institutions, maintenance of standards and other related matters. The Working Group recommended that it be vested with the necessary statutory authority for making it more effective, which would consequently require restructuring and strengthening with necessary infrastructure and operating mechanisms; pursuant to which, the AICTE Act, framed in1987, came into force with effect from March 28, 1988 that equipped AICTE with statutory status on May 12, 1988 with power to formulate and implement proper planning and coordinated development of technical education system throughout the country, to promote qualitative improvement of such education in relation to planned quantitative growth and to regulate and ensure proper maintenance of norms and standards in the technical education system and to control, interpret and instruct in the matters connected therewith.

All these formulations are discarded in respect to Orissa. Instead of promoting qualitative improvement of technical education in relation to planned quantitative growth, Orissa has been allowed to become the hunting house of the mafia in this field. On 20 July 2006 we had shown in these pages how scam engulfs high-tech education in Orissa and how the mafia running the private institutions sale seats for several lakhs of Rupees to absolutely ineligible children of black money hoarders or fund-raisers. The report was captioned, Scam Engulfs High-Tech Education In Orissa: Merit Markers Silent! It took two years for the Government of Orissa to act. For the first time, the controlling department of Industry has only today banned admissions in Purusottam Institute of Engineering & Technology (PIET), Rourkela this year onwards while simultaneously clamping a cash fine of 5.4 lakhs of Rupees on situational spotting of high-priced sale of seats. But the AICTE is conspicuous by its absence in promoting qualitative education.

In almost all private technical education institutes there are teachers who could never have qualified for such posts in Government institutes. I was astonished to see a man whom I knew as an assistant electrical engineer with a checkered career in the chair of the Professor of Electrical Engineering last year.

The AICTE norm on faculty stipulates that Lectures should be recruited on merit basis through open competitions and higher posts up to the rank of Professors, on promotion from amongst the faculty members on merit and seniority basis. But Orissa’s private TE institutes recruit teachers on private preference of the owners and mostly nepotism plays the tricks. There is no recruitment yardstick, no Recruitment Board, no emphasis on competence. In such a situation, deficient hands get faculty positions within the pleasure of the owners of the institutes. And, work sans any demand for fair pay. And, this position encourages the owners of the institutes they serve to treat them as bondservants.

This year most of these private institutes have got a shock as a new institute, one of the 25 to get AICTE approval for admission, Shibani Institute of technical Education (SITE) has announced to pay its faculty and staff at the rate recommended by the 6th Pay Commission and seemingly under its impact, three other institutes such as KIIT, STI and SoA have declared to implement the same while GITA is reportedly contemplating to adopt the line. It is clear from this scenario that till this year none of the private TE institutes in Orissa has paid its faculty and staff at the rate adopted by AICTE or recommended by the Pay Commission.

On the other hand, a look at any of these institutes reveals that there are no permanent faculties in any of them. The primitive method of hire and fire keeps the faculty position ever so rolling that students are never assured of a regular course-guide. You will never find a single teacher or member of the staff in any of these institutes that does not suffer from sense of job-insecurity.

With students having “just the pass mark” in Plus-Two Exams in the classes of these institutes under the auspices of OPECA (Orissa Private Engineering Colleges Association) taken up by teachers that are too deficient of requisite qualification and competence to harp on fair and proper salary, the scenario of high tech education in Orissa is so alluring for the mafia that whosoever has earned and accumulated black money is in a position to become a baron of academic business in the field of TE.

Orissa has now 30, 000 seats approved by AICTE for admission under 4 governmental and 87 private TE institutes. They are to be taught by 2000 teachers. If the present pedagogic scenario does not change, there should be no doubt that the ultimate outcome would be most disastrous to the society.

Arrest of some AICTE officials on chance discovery of corrupt practices or penalty on a private TE institute on violation of admission norms will not solve the problem that has engulfed technical education in Orissa. The State Government must have to rise to the occasion and drag the owners of the private TE institutes that are being increasingly marked for their avarice than for academic service into discipline. To ensure that pedagogy in these private institutes runs on AICTE formulated norms, immediate steps should be taken to assize justiciable Service Code and Condition of Service for the teachers and staff in the TE sector including private universities with unambiguous stipulations to screen out deficient teachers with retrospective effect and with clear provisions to build up a select list of teachers through a Selection Board from which alone the private institutes may pick up their faculties.

The present treating of high tech teachers as helots by their masters in private TE institutes must have to be stopped by the State if at all it is run by a Government worth the salt, purely in interest of our future generations.

SCAM ENGULFS HIGH TECH EDUCATION IN ORISSA: MERIT MARKERS SILENT!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A casual calculation leads to a scam exceeding Rs. 200 crore per annum in Orissa�s High-Tech education sector. But the merit markers are silent!

Only a few weeks ago, we have seen, in the name of merit, how a horrifying protest was raised against proposed reservation of seats for the socially disadvantaged in institutions of technical education.

The medicos, most of whom have been able to get admission into institutes of medical education simply because their parents have amassed enough money to meet the charges of coaching schools, were the ones, who whipped up an agitation that paralyzed the heath care sector of the nation for around a month, till at least the Supreme Court intervened.

Reservation was / is designed to do away with merit, they had argued.

But, we see, they refuse to see how merit is butchered by operators of high-tech education. We will concentrate only on the Orissa scenario as a matter of principle.

Let us start with the admission notice of Orissa Private Engineering College Association (OPECA) advertised in the media on 04 June 06.

It says, �Students who have just acquired a pass mark in 10+2 Science� are eligible to seek admission into B.Tech, MCA and Hotel management courses under its member institutions.

How many such seats are available to the third class students whose merit manifests at the high point of �just�.a pass mark� in 10+2 Science in Orissa?

Out of 12806 seats in Engineering in Orissa, 11916 seats belong to private Engineering Colleges and out of 816 seats in MCA and Hotel management, 664 belong to them. This means out of a total 13622 seats in B.Tech. MCA and HMCT in Orissa, 12580 seats belong to the members of OPECA. According to the notice noted supra, the private colleges �have decided to share 50% of the seats with the Government�. This means, 6290 seats in Colleges clubbed under OPECA are available to students having �acquired just a pass mark in 10+2 Science�.

And, who are these students, who, having �acquired just a pass mark in 10+2 Science, aspire to acquire degrees from high-tech institutions? They are they, whose parents have enough black money to pay.

So whosoever has sources of black money is considered meritorious enough to have a seat in high-tech institutions in Orissa with �just a pass mark� in 10+2 Science.

How much these institutes take to hold these fellows with �just a pass mark� as meritorious enough for high-tech education? Bargain begins from five lakhs of rupees.

In the Admission Rules it is stipulated that no college can demand extra money over and above the approved fees as per Industry Department Resolution No. 10823-I-TT-I-2005 Dated 03 June 2005. The approved fees are: Rs. 30,000/- for Engineering/Arch; Rs.36,000/- for MCA; Rs.40,000/- for Marine Engineering and Rs.45,000/- for MBA/ HMCT/ Pharmacy. But this resolution is a shield to cover up the black deal done clandestinely.

There is no punishment specified under the Rules against any contravention thereof. Rule 19 only says that if any of the instructions provided under the Rules is violated by any College a complain should be lodged to either the Vice-Chancellor of BPUT or Director of TE&T or the Joint Secretary of Industry Department. And the matter ends there. Neither any of these functionaries has any power or authority to take up any proceeding against any manager of any un-aided private college that violates the Rule nor any of them has any power to inspect any institute to spot any violation of the Rules.

The Rules begin with the declaration that �There shall be no State Quota or Management Quota and the Private un-aided Technical/ Professional Institutions are free to fill up their approved intake as per options exercised by them for 2006-2007�.

This is as per the Supreme Court decision in P.A. Inamdar Vrs State of Maharastra case.

So when the un-aided private techno colleges are admittedly free from Government control as per the Case Law made by the Apex Court judgment, entertainment of any complain against them by any of the above officials is bound to push the issue into the labyrinth of Laws. Action against the errant is therefore, far from reality.

But on the matrix of reality, when the Supreme Court has given them a carte blanche to �fill up their approved intakes as per option exercised by them�, why have they decided to share 50% of their seats with the Government? It is they who can give the answer. But in public perception it is a mutual sharing of the booty.

Though the Private un-aided Technical/ Professional Institutions are, according to the Supreme Court, free to fill up their �approved intake� as they like, none of them can afford a confrontation with the Government officials. They know they are safe as long as Government stands with them. Beginning from approval to affiliation, there are umpteen opportunities for official authorities to harass private college operators. So they, notwithstanding whatever the Supreme Court says, cannot say no to what the officials suggest. They know that they have not invested money in private un-aided colleges for social service. This is a business they operate for profit and the rate of fees as fixed by the Government noted supra cannot give them any profit matching their investment. So collection of extra money from students is the only way to fetch a profit. Unless officials cooperate, this cannot be possible. And for officials, allocating seats to aspirant students, who are not meritorious enough to get admission to Government Colleges, is a sure source of un-noticed income. Saswat Pattanayak, presently in USA, while reporting for the Asian age and later for the Hindustan Times, had exposed the scam resorted to by government officials in blocking seats in private colleges for such students. Corruption has crippled the State so much that notwithstanding the in-depth exposure, this evil game has never been looked into by officials with the terseness it warrants. Hence the game relentlessly goes on. The officials� eagerness to see that 50% of private seats rest under their control is a pointer to this. Had they not succumbed to officials� pressure, the private, that too un-aided, college operators would never have �decided to share� 50% of their seats with the Government, when the Supreme court has given them the clearance to freely fill up all the seats of their respective colleges as per their own option.

It is common knowledge that mafia excels in coining words to transmit an intension, which is in fact opposite to his own, so that under a cover of public praise he can proceed towards his prey. Such a cover has been provided for in the guise of 15% reservation for the NRI children. Outwardly it looks very nice. One sees in it our Government�s benevolent concern for our own people staying away from the motherland. But in reality, it is a gift given by government to private colleges. Indians residing in foreign countries normally do not send their children to study in private colleges in a place like Orissa. So the seats reserved for the NRIs remain vacant. These vacant seats are usually, off the records, auctioned away to undeserving aspirants, thereby, generating unnoticeable income of about seventy crore of Rupees.

So it is a massive mechanism of scam that has engulfed technical education in Orissa. And in this scam, beginning from private college operators to BPUT to the Directorate of Technical Education & Training to the Administrative Department to the Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister, all are involved. Otherwise how �just a pass mark in 10+2 science� has been declared as the high-point of merit for entry into engineering and other professional courses?

Grease the palms and get anything done in Orissa.

You know this, I also know.

But I would like to know, how the fellows, who shanghaied our medicals into anarchy a few weeks ago under the claim of protecting �merit� from the shadow of reservation of seats for the socially disadvantaged, react to this open butchering of merit.

Will any of them react?