The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 16-01-2023 | 11:45 am
For the past several months, the West Bengal government is facing a “central teams” problem. Investigative teams from the Centre have regularly been making forays into the state, following allegations of corruption made by the Centre against various departments of the state administration, often in tandem with the BJPs own “fact finding” teams, keeping the Mamata Banerjee-helmed TMC government on its toes.The TMC alleges the BJP has been using central investigators as political tools since 2019, when it won big in the Lok Sabha polls, and especially after the 2021 Assembly polls, in which it received a drubbing.In their latest foray, central teams have been inspecting allegations of “misappropriation of mid-day meal funds” in the run-up to the panchayat polls, a week after the BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the state, Suvendu Adhikari, wrote to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, urging him to audit the state’s utilisation of funds for the Centre’s PM Poshan scheme.In a communication to the state government last Friday, the Union Education Ministry conveyed that a team of nutrition specialists and central government officers would be visiting the state to take stock of the implementation of the PM Poshan scheme, across 16 parameters.Earlier, on January 6-7, two central teams arrived in the state to look into allegations of irregularities in allotment of houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Discontent over PMAY allotment has been growing across West Bengal for close to a year now. The Centre has initiated action by withholding its share of funds in the scheme. The Centre and the state bear the cost of the scheme at a 60:40 ratio. As the first two central teams surveyed in East Midnapore and Malda districts, more central teams arrived in West Bengal to survey the details of PMAY lists in other districts of the state.Before that in 2021, just a week after the Assembly elections, the Centre sent teams of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Commission for Women (NCW) to probe post-poll violence, including alleged atrocities on women.Even during the Covid outbreak in 2020-2021, central teams visited Bengal over the TMC government’s perceived mishandling of the pandemic. And last November, the state BJP had demanded that a team of medical experts visit Bengal over a dengue outbreak.According to TMC leaders, it is a common tactic to remain relevant by the BJP as it doesn’t have a grassroots organisation in West Bengal. A senior leader of the BJP said, “It is obvious that we will try to gain political mileage from this. But you can’t deny the corruption of the TMC government at all levels of administration.”This is not the first time the Centre has been alleged to be using government investigators as proxy to influence West Bengal politics. During the Left regime, Mamata Banerjee, then the Rail Minister in the UPA 2 government, had forced the Centre to send a team to probe the violence in Nandigram and elsewhere.Expectedly, the TMC is now sharply criticising this “sending central team culture” of the BJP-led central government. TMC MP Sougata Roy said, “The idea is to irritate and vex the government and disturb its activities as much as possible. They won’t succeed in their attempt.”Another TMC leader, Kunal Ghosh, said, “The Centre can send as many teams as they want and try and spread as much disinformation they wish, but the people of Bengal would see through their motives. Their leaders, who have no connection with people and are trying to stay politically relevant by resorting to letter politics, will also be rejected.”BJP leader Rahul Sinha said, “If there was no corruption the central teams would not have come here.”Echoing his sentiments, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said, “TMC leaders at the helm of panchayats actually run the show on the ground. They are responsible for this corruption. What has TMC leadership done to stop it?”Senior CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “It is unfortunate that the Chief Minister is trying to hide the fact that there has been a huge corruption in the implementation of the scheme.”
PUNE: Involvement of parents in teaching their wards, providing uniforms and study material on time and to every student and mock tests were among suggestions from experts and educators in the draft policy to improve academic excellence in government schools prepared jointly by Samagra Shiksha Abhiyaan project and the Maharashtra State Council of Education Research and Training. The draft has been submitted to the state government for approval and once it gets a nod the policy will be implemented from next year onwards.Project director of SSA Kailas Pagare and other education department officials conducted a meeting recently to take suggestions and discuss ways to improve the quality of education in schools. Pagare said, "We took the opinions of ideal teachers, education experts, SCERT officials, and researchers among others."The campaign 'Nipun Maharashtra' is being implemented in the state for the past few months in order to improve the quality of school education."Against the same background, the quality of school education in the state should be enhanced more rapidly in the next academic year," added Pagare.Zilla parishad teacher Somnath Valke said, "We need to understand how to become self-sufficient in an effort to improve the quality in classrooms. One of my suggestions was that it was necessary to add classes from V to VIII to zilla parishad schools. This will help in increasing participation in scholarships and other examinations."Ashwini Sonawane, block development officer of Bhor taluka, said that the experiment of 'Mothers' Club' they had conducted in government schools has been effective. Parental involvement and environment are very important for the development of schools. "Innovation and experimentation lead to an increase in the quality of students," Sonawane added.
MUMBAI: Polling for five MLC seats for the teachers (Nagpur, Aurangabad and Konkan) and graduates (Nashik and Amravati) constituencies, marked by a controversy over the suspension of a father-son duo from the Congress for anti-party activities and utter confusion over selection of official nominees by political parties, took place on Monday.Though there are several candidates in the fray, it appears that there will be a straight contest between the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the BJP candidates. Counting will be held on February 2.The polling percentage in Nashik was 49.3; in Amravati it was 49.7, in Aurangabad 86, in Nagpur 86.2 and in Konkan it was 91 (figures rounded off).Such elections are barely controversial. But high drama was witnessed over the Nashik division graduates seat after Congress nominee Sudhir Tambe failed to submit his nomination form before the deadline and his son Satyajeet filed his instead as an independent canddiate.Sudhir Tambe is the brother-in-law of Congress legislature party leader and former revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat. The Congress high command had approved Sudhir Tambe's nomination, while he was keen on his son Satyajeet, a former state youth Congress president, getting nominated.According to former chief minister Ashok Chavan, the AICC had given Sudhir Tambe a blank authorization form so that either he or his son could file the nomination. On the last day of filing nominations, both the father and son reached the election office, but Satyajeet Tambe filed papers. MPCC president Nana Patole reacted sharply, alleging the Tambe family had ditched the Congress. According to reports, Satyajeet Tambe was vying for the BJP's support, but it did not take any decision.On the other hand, BJP activist Shubhangi Patil too was vying for the BJP's nomination, and when she failed to get it, she approached Uddhav Thackeray for the MVA's support. After several rounds of talks, the MVA alliance supported the candidature of Patil. As a result, Nashik will witness a straight between the BJP and the Congress rebel.Satyajeet' Tambe's presence in the fray is being viewed as a major embarrassment for Thorat. Patole claimed that the MVA nominees will win all five seats. "Teachers and graduates in these constituencies are with the MVA," he said. Leader of opposition Ajit Pawar and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had toured extensively to campaign for the MVA and BJP nominees respectively for these five council constituencies.
MUMBAI: With increasing focus on research, enrolment in PhD courses in Maharashtra has more than doubled (109%)in the last five years. Nationally, the number has grown by 50% in the same period, shows data from the All-India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 report, released in New Delhi on Monday.Enrolment in postgraduate courses in the state has seen a decent growth of 30%, with girls outnumbering boys significantly. More than half the students pursuing their master's programmes are girls in Maharashtra. In undergraduate courses, which involve the maximum number of students, enrolment has gone up by less than 10% in five years.The figures contradict the general perception that enrolment across courses dropped in the first pandemic year of 2020-21. Both national and state data from the report paint a completely different picture.‘Better results followed online exams, boosted enrolment’Even as the All-India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 report showed more enrolment in the first year of the pandemic in 2020-21, S Mali, former vicechancellor of North Maharashtra University, said the pandemic impacted the assessment process across universities and more students may have cleared exams. “There was no significant impact on enrolments,” he said. A state government official said as more students cleared the class XII exams, enrolment may have gone up in the undergraduate courses. Online exams could have boosted scores at undergraduate level as well, leading to an increase in postgraduate enrolment at some places, said a principal. Maharashtra has the second highest enrolment numbers in higher education, after Uttar Pradesh. Compared to 2016-17, students pursuing PhD went up by 109% in the state in 2020-21. The official said PhD has become important in recruitment of faculty members, for career advancement schemes and other incentives. “Many teachers have realised it and are completing their degrees. The state government is also emphasising on having qualified teachers in colleges for sponsored schemes,” said the official. PhD enrolment went up by 31% in the pandemic year (from 2019-20 to 2020-21), showed the AISHE report; nationally, it was up less than 5%. In Maharashtra, research centres in autonomous colleges would have largely contributed to the drastic increase in numbers, said a vice-chancellor. Mumbai University has the highest numbers of autonomous colleges in the state. Over the last few years, an increasing number of girls in the state are pursuing postgraduate courses. In 2016-17, a thousand more boys were in PG courses compared to girls. Then the numbers started tilting, with over 75,000 more girls enrolled in PG programmes in 2020-21. “This increase is possible because of the rural regions in the state,” said Mali, who was also on the state’s committee to draft the statutes of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act of 2016. “In rural regions, we have seen an increase in the number of colleges, better transportation and more hostel facilities. All these could have boosted the numbers of girl students pursuing higher studies. It is a big plus for them,” he said. In Shivaji University, Kolhapur, Mali said, he has seen girls comprising 70-80% of the total admissions in some departments. More coverage of institutions under AISHE could be another reason for the rise in numbers, he added. Though the state has done better in both postgraduate and PhD education, the numbers in undergraduate education has not seen a significant growth. Nationally, enrolment rose by 15% in undergraduate programmes, as opposed to the state’s 9%. Speaking about the increase in enrolment numbers in 2020-21, an official from the Centre’s higher education department said it showed students continued with their education online despite the uncertainty. “There is a possibility the vulnerable sections of society in some states may have taken a hit, but better enrolment in other regions may have compensated. Positive initiatives in some states for better coverage of AISHE may have helped in the increase in enrolment. Government scholarships also largely covered the vulnerable section, who were financially hit in the pandemic,” said the official.
The minister's comment had stirred up a controversy, resulting in an ink attack on him. (File)Pune: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Chitra Wagh has compared Maharashtra cabinet minister and her senior party colleague Chandrakant Patil with social reformer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.Wagh, who heads the state BJP women's wing, made the comments on Sunday at a programme organised here by local party leader Hemant Rasne which was also attended by Patil."We can see Savitribai (wife of Phule and pioneer of women's education in Maharashtra in the 19th century) in households, but a search is on for a Jyotiba (Phule) like Chandrakant Patil and BJP leader Hemant Rasne," she said.Notably, state Higher and Technical Education Minister Patil, who is an MLA from Pune, had kicked up a row by commenting that B R Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule did not seek government grants for running educational institutions, but they “begged” people to gather funds for starting schools and colleges.The use of the word “begged” had stirred up a controversy, resulting in an ink attack on Patil.Meanwhile, Wagh, who had filed a complaint against social media influencer Uorfi Javed for dressing "improperly" in public, said the latter should be praised as she has started wearing full clothes.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"I never had any problem with that woman or with any religion. I had a problem with abnormality but now I think we should praise her because she is seen in full clothes now. I have received multiple photographs of her and I can see she's wearing good clothes," Wagh said responding to a query from reporters.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayShah Rukh Khan's Signature Pose And A Pathaan-Special Dance
MUMBAI: To acquire de-novo status for the proposed Sir JJ University of Art, Architecture and Design, the state government is likely to take the route of registering it as a company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. Deemed institutions focussed on innovations and research in unique and emerging areas fall under the de-novo category, as per University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations. While a section 8 company primarily operates for charitable and non-profit objectives, the state government will now have to resolve the names for its board of directors. The Department of Higher Education of the Union Ministry of Education in its letter of intent granted on October 27, 2021, has asked the state to fulfil around nine conditions for the de-novo status. The most important one was to set up the cluster of three institutions - Sir JJ School of Art, Applied Art and Architecture - as a separate and dedicated society/trust/company that needs to be registered under the new name as per UGC regulations of 2019. Sources from the state government said that the taskforce set up to work on the conditions have decided to register the new university as a Section 8 company, which will be sponsored by the state government. The taskforce led by state project director for Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan, Nipun Vinayak, has resolved many conditions laid down in the letter of intent and will soon submit the final report to the government. Speaking to TOI, the officer said that it is a visionary move for Sir JJ Institutions to become a world-class university with a 'de-novo' status, one of its kind in the country. "For this, like other de-novo universities, the institution will have a sponsoring body in the form of a trust or a Section 8 company upon which the taskforce is deliberating," he said. Only a handful of institutions in the country have been granted de-novo status. Another official said, "Once the state finalises the decision to register as a company, the institutions can recommend some names for the board of directors. The final decision, however, will lay with the government. Ideally, the institutions will prefer to have the deans and some of their illustrious alumni on the board." The state has time till October 2024 to fulfil the conditions laid down in the letter of intent. While the letter of intent came in 2021, the state's higher education department, under MVA then, decided to convert the Sir JJ Group of Institutions into a state university. The decision did not find many takers. Now the de-novo plan is back on track. But students have apprehensions about fee hikes, though officials said this won't be the case.