The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 05:45 am
Voter registration cards will now be among mandatory documents a candidate above 18 years of age will have to produce while seeking admission to universities in Maharashtra. Aimed at improving awareness regarding voting, this is expected to help dismal voter registration among college-going youth.State Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil announced this during a meeting with of vice-chancellors (V-Cs) of all public universities, called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in his capacity of Chancellor to all state universities. The meeting was also attended by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.Among the other decisions announced are that from next academic year, degree courses will be of four-year tenure – prescribed by the National Education Policy (NEP) – opposed to the traditional three years.A committee of former V-Cs will be formed to resolve issues in the implementation of NEP.Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra, Shrikant Deshpande, who attended the meeting, appealed touniversities to create electoral literacy clubs to involve students in the democratic process, as currently, 90 per cent of university and college students are out of the voter registration list.
MUMBAI: Observing that the predicate offence relates to cheating of various innocent students and their parents, many of whom have lost their hard-earned life savings, a special PMLA court has rejected the bail and discharge pleas of six accused in a money laundering case linked to MBBS admission fraud. "The applications are premature, if entertained and allowed will cause horrific consequences," special judge MG Deshpande said. The accused had sought release from jail and discharge on the grounds that since the predicate offence had been withdrawn during a Lok Adalat held earlier this month, the money laundering case could not proceed. They cited a recent Supreme Court ruling that held when there is no predicate or scheduled offence, the PMLA case cannot continue. The predicate or original offence is one based on which, the Enforcement Directorate registers its money laundering cases. However, special judge MG Deshpande said, "If the application is allowed in a hasty manner, as proposed by the accused...it will cause horrific consequences of disposal of special case relating to money laundering. At the cost of repetition, it has to be noted that accused are not prevented from filing any application as such, but at the same time the court is under obligation to wait till the period of limitation for filing appeal against the acquittal in LokAdalat.." Among those who moved the plea were Mahadev Ramchandra Deshmukh (64). In a chargesheet submitted in July this year, the ED had said that Deshmukh, a former president of a Satara-based medical college, in collusion with other accused cheated around "350 gullible students" and collected Rs 65.70 core. The admission was to be given in Institute of Medical Science and Research (IMSR) run by Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society, Satara, But neither admission nor refund was given, the ED said. In Friday's order, the special judge said that it had to be noted that, though the FIR was lodged by one person, there was list of 41 witnesses mentioned in the chargesheet who are basically the affected students or their parents, whose kids could not get admissions and had also lost huge money. "Admittedly none of the 41 witnesses was present at the time of withdrawal or compounding of the complaint in Lok Adalat dated November 12," the judge said. The judge also said that the period to challenge the acquittal has not lapsed till date. "Any victim can prefer appeal against acquittal and the Court has to wait till the period of appeal ends. Judicial discipline warrants the same," the judge said. In a separate order the special judge had allowed Arun Gore, the present director of Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society to intervene and oppose the pleas. Gore told the court the withdrawal or compounding of the case in the Lok Adalat on November 12, was fraudulent as many students who had lost their money on account of MBBS admissions have got affected by the withdrawal.
MUMBAI: Less than 10% of the youth in the 18 to 19 age bracket are registered as voters in the state, revealed a recent report presented to the government by the chief electoral officer of Maharashtra. The percentage of voters in this age group from Mumbai city and its suburbs figure at the bottom of all the 36 districts; urban areas also generally record lower voter turnout in polls. Regions such as Parbhani, Hingoli and Nanded fare better than the rest (see box), but the numbers are dismal there too. Two years ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha polls, the big question before the electoral body now is-how to catch them young? In a recent meeting with the state's governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, higher education minister Chandrakant Patil announced that voter registration may be made mandatory for college admissions for students aged above 18. While it received flak from a section of opposition leaders and legal watchers, what is doable, officials said, is to get them registered at the time of admission. Some mechanism can be worked out to actively involve colleges and universities in the process, they say. Data from the Maharashtra chief electoral office shows that only around 5-16% of youth from each of the 36 districts in the 18-19 age group are on electoral rolls. This age group comprises around 0.34% of the total registered voters in the state. When compared with other age groups, including 20-29, 30-39 and 40-49, for instance, where the percentage of registered voters is 68.8%, 92.7%, 111.4%, respectively, the young group only makes up for about 9.5% of its projected population of 46 lakh. The state's chief electoral officer Shrikant Deshpande said they have been conducting awareness programmes across campuses. "Though our target is to get youth involved in the electoral process, urban apathy is the main concern. Cities such as Mumbai and Pune have a large number of student population, yet only a few thousand voters are registered. We want to address the new voters and get them on electoral rolls," said Deshpande, adding urban areas generally also see low turnout of voters. In the last three assembly elections, the rural voter turnout was 14-17% higher than the urban voter turnout. Universities and colleges can set up electoral literacy clubs (ELCs), appoint nodal officers, college ambassadors and support voters' awareness activities, mentions the electoral office's report. Assessment of ELCs could be part of college assessment by local inspection committees. Deshpande said, "With the thrust on credit-based multi-disciplinary learning, universities can also start credit courses to familiarise students with the electoral system, ethical voting, etc. These courses can also be activity based to give hands-on experience to students. Universities can act as think tanks and help address... urban apathy through research." Political science professor from Mumbai University, Mrudul Nile, said politicians need to first tackle apathy towards the electoral process, make the system more transparent, and allow younger legislators on political platforms. "Institutions can probably get students' databases during admissions and get them registered as voters, then persistently follow it up with them. The government also needs to look beyond institutions for youth participation, as less than 20% are enrolled for education," said Nile. Universities can ensure voter registration counters at college level and create awareness, said vice-chancellor, SNDT Women's University, Ujwala Chakradeo. Amol Matele, NCP spokesperson, said the state first needs to re-introduce campus elections. "Many of the current politicians have been youth leaders in their younger days. It is important to get the educated lot to participate in the political process and the onus to fight this political apathy is on the government. It should address problems such as inflation, unemployment," said Matele.
The Bombay High Court on Thursday questioned the Maharashtra government as to how a Government Resolution (GR) providing 1% reservation to minor orphans under 18 years of age in educational institutions could be extended for jobs in public employment“An orphan is a child and they are under 18 years of age. They may get reservation in the education field but how about jobs? How can they be employed before the age of 18? That is illegal. Reservation is sought for a particular class of children who are orphans…,” the bench orally remarked.The bench requested Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to appear in the matter on the next date of hearing. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a PIL by Pune-based social worker Amruta Karwande, an orphan herself, and Solapur resident Rahul Kamble, challenging the Government Resolution of August 23, 2021, which categorised the orphans into sub-categories and said the same was not in accordance with the definition of orphans as per the 2015 law and earlier GRs passed by Department of Women and Child DevelopmentOn August 23, 2021, the state department had issued a GR providing 1% reservation for orphans in education and public employment as they have to face several difficulties in life because of lack of parental support.The PIL pointed out that while the orphan reservation scheme was to provide benefit to the needy orphans, the impugned GR categorised the orphans into three categories. The first category consisted of children having no parents, siblings or close relatives and being taken care by the orphanage. The second category was of orphans who have lost their parents but information about their caste and relatives is available and whose responsibility of foster care is with the orphanage. The third category included those children who have lost their parents, but the responsibility of their care is on the relatives who are alive and their caste is known.The PIL, argued through advocate Metanshu Purandare, sought to rectify the impugned GR by which the state government issued clarifications for its orphans reservation scheme. As per a 2018 Cabinet resolution, the government provided 1% reservation to orphans in the open category in the field of education and public employment and the same was given on the ground that orphans could not avail caste benefits or other benefits after they leave children’s homes.The plea claimed the reservation was initially only for those orphans with orphan certificates and whose documents did not mention caste, and there was no information on their parents or relatives.However, the petitioners said the replies they availed on their applications seeking information under the Right to Information Act revealed that the children belonging to the third category availed maximum benefit in most districts of the state, while the scheme was crucial and mainly formulated for children belonging to the first category.Therefore, the PIL sought that the impugned GR be quashed and set aside, the state government asked to come up with a fresh GR to ensure the scheme would benefit the most needy orphans.
BJP national general secretary CT Ravi on Thursday said that there was no border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra. During an ET Roundtable, Ravi said that recently, the age-old border issue regarding villages in Karnataka and Maharashtra came up and Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai and Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis made some comments on this. Both the states have BJP-led governments. There are certain Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka such as Belagavi which Maharashtra always claims to belong to them. Similarly, there are some Kannada-speaking areas like Jat which Karnataka claims to belong to their state, he said.Ravi is an MLA from Karnataka and is currently party in-charge of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Goa."We are thinking about PoK. Both Jat and Belagavi are inside the country and are in safe hands. Our thought is how to bring PoK back," he said.On hijab, he said: "We never oppose hijab. But schools have a dress code and it is common for everyone. Is it right to defy that dress code?" He gave an example of the recent anti-hijab movement in Iran and said that people are protesting hijab in a country which follows Sharia Law. "Here, in India, which has a uniform law, some people are protesting for Sharia."Regarding the education policy, he said: "After NEP implementation, there is no dispute. NEP gives everyone the opportunity to get education in their mother tongue." "If someone in Belagavi wants to get an education in Marathi, they can do it. Similarly, Kannada-speaking people in Maharashtra can get education in their language. If you look at the history of India, several wars took place over different regions. But no war happened over language. There is an interrelation between all Indian languages. We are here to strengthen that relationship," he said.
As per a report, there are less than 20 students in 6106 government schools in Himachal Pradesh. These include 5113 primary and 993 middle schools.The number ranges between 21-60 in 4478 primary and 895 middle schools and 61 to 100 in 681 primary and 47 middle schools, a recent report by Unified District Information System for Education stated.There are 18,028 schools in the state of which 15,313 are government-run.According to the report, there are 65,973 teachers in government schools including 39,906 male and 26,257 female.However, 12 primary government schools are running without a teacher while 2,969 have one teacher, 5,533 have two teachers and 1,779 have three teachers, it stated.Similarly, 51 middle schools are being run by a single teacher, 416 by two teachers, 773 by three teachers and 701 by four to six teachers, it said.The report also stated that one secondary school with minimum of ten classes is being run by two teachers, ten schools by three teachers, 212 by four to six teachers and 710 by seven to ten teachers.Even the senior secondary schools are facing a shortage of teachers and 22 schools are running with four to six teachers, 189 with seven to ten teachers, 684 with 11 to 15 teachers and 981 schools have more than 15 teachers.Further, the report pointed out that despite 63,690 rooms in government schools, seven primary schools are without a room, 338 are running in one room, 2,495 in two rooms, 4,111 in three rooms and 3,402 in seven to ten rooms. Meanwhile, three middle schools are without a room, 216 have only one room, 241 are running in two rooms,1,111 in three rooms and 352 in four to six rooms.The situation is no better in secondary and senior secondary schools with a minimum of ten and 12 classes respectively. As many as six secondary schools are being run in one room, 25 in two rooms, 117 in three rooms, 697 in four to six rooms and 74 in seven to ten rooms.Similarly, one senior secondary school in the state is functioning in a single room, seven in two rooms, 17 in three rooms, 245 in four to six rooms, 947 in seven to ten rooms, 454 in 11 to 15 rooms and only 205 schools have more than 15 rooms.Schools have been opened to comply with the guidelines of the Right to Education Act. As per the act, there has to be a primary school within 1.5 km for school-going children but due to tough demography and topography in the hill state, the strength of students is low but still they have to be taught. However, the rationalism of teachers is an issue, officials in the education department said.The student-teacher ratio is 14.68 in primary section, 12.09 in middle schools, 10.38 in secondary and 12.31 in senior secondary schools, they said.The general enrollment is 100 per cent or above in primary, middle and secondary level and 90 per cent in the senior secondary level while the dropout rate is zero per cent at primary and elementary level and 1.47 per cent at secondary level, they said.The sustained efforts of the state government to shift students from the government to private schools have yielded results as enrollment in government schools has increased by 37,952 during 2021-2022, the report said.However, enrollment in all schools in the state registered an insignificant decrease of 1,067 as compared to a drop of 26,154 in 2020-21. The total enrollment in all schools dropped from 13,33,315 to 13, 32,148 but the enrollment in 15,313 government schools stood at 8,31,310 in 2021-22 compared to 7.93,358 in the previous year.Director of higher education Amarjeet Sharma said, “Har Ghar Patshala” initiative introduced during the pandemic and the use of information and communication technology in government schools has brought them at par with the private sector and we are now focusing on academics, sports and co curricular activities for the overall development of the children.He said the high fee structure during the pandemic in private schools also compelled parents to shift to government schools.