Random Jottings by Someswar Bhagwat

WHEN THE INDUSIND BANK (reportedly) came out a few years ago  with a calendar that had 31 days in February, instead of the normal 28 days, it made news. My efforts to get a copy failed as the calender had become a collector’s item with copies hoarded by whoever could get it.  

Someone wanted to do better than that. Where else could that be except in the scandal-ridden field of education?

No wonder that in this country of thousands of uneducated graduates and fake marks sheets, someone  outclassed the Indusind Bank by giving  a marks card to a boy born on February 31, who attended classeson 376 days in a school that was open on 446 days in a year! 

No holidaysA photo of the marksheet went virat on social media. It may have been a joke inspired by Indusind Bank’s calendar, but the prevalence of so many irregularities in the field of education makes people believe it could be real.

It is significant that it was circulated on a day when the University Grants Commission released a list of 24 fake universities in the country, eight of them in the national capital itself.The UGC said they were not only unrecognised but also started in violation of the Universities Act. And yet no FIR was filed.

The list included United Nations University, Adhyatmik Vishvavidyalaya and Raja Arabic University. Big cities in the country  have autonomous colleges which are “deemed universities”, besides private universities, some of which, like Amity, are considered better than the state-run ones. They are all legal.

We live in a country where education attracts racketeers because degrees, more than learning, has always been valued. Question-paper leakages are common, parents join large crowds to help unfair means in exams, dummies write examinations while the actual candidates enjoy elsewhere, class rooms are empty with all the students busy in tuitions or coaching institutes, while they all (perhaps for some bribe) get the mandatory 75 per cent attendance.  In some States mass copying is arranged by the school administration itself.

Semi-literate ‘leaders’ with political clout start technical institutions and mint money by collecting ‘capitration fees’. Fake degree manufacture is a cottage industry. We proudly boast of Nalanda being the world’s oldest university and are a country which, besides the Greeks, has a goddess of Education – Saraswati.

In a central Indian city, in 1999, a University which was once considered one of the best and attracted thousands of students from the South, was “hit by a tsunami called fake mark-sheet and revaluation scam”.  The kingpin was a former Vice Chancellor’s driver who rose to be an Assistant Registrar.  Even today it is remembered  by the name of its perpetrator, as  ‘Yadav Kohchade scandal’. Kohchade, arrested in 2006 died in 2017 in jail, after conviction in ONLY one case and acquittal in 99.

The fall of Indian universities began with government interference in their policies and administration, “leaders”  try to “capture” the administrative bodies like the executive council, senate or university court through elections, and they become the refuge of failed politicians.

Many universities have ‘acting’ Vice-Chancellors  who have nothing to do with education – sometimes IPS officers on deputation. Most of the official, statutory universities – not just the fake ones – have outdated syllabi and are ill-equipped. Fake teachers appear only when inspection or accreditation committees come. Many have few teachers and are hotbeds of politics.

All of them have mass communication (journalism) courses but no regulatory body (like AICTE for engineering) overseeing the infrastructure and syllabi. There were no takers for my proposal to use the centenary  in 2029 of a great journalist, Sheobullah Khan, to set things right. No one wants them right. 

Where education has reached such great ‘heights’, can journalism be far behind in this era of fake news?

Degrees are valued in India, not education. 

(First published in 2018)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here