Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
24 January 2021

Banks repeatedly violate RBI’s circular, deny student loans citing parents’ credit score

By Aathira Konikkara

Despite the mandate of an education-loan policy to benefit poor students that has been in place since 2001, India's public-sector banks continue to deny student loans citing poor credit ratings.

Nearly twenty years after the National Democratic Alliance government introduced an education loan scheme to benefit students from poor families, India’s public banks continue to deny loans to students whose parents have poor credit ratings. The Indian Banks’ Association, a representative body of all banks with offices in the country, had prepared this proposal as a model education loan scheme in 2000. The next year, the NDA government announced the scheme in the union budget, promising concessions to students wishing to pursue higher education, and the Reserve Bank of India notified it in April that year. But the experience of students and the continuing need for judicial intervention indicates that the scheme’s implementation is not steered by the benefit to aspiring students, but by the caution of banks.

The RBI’s circular stated that the loan scheme “aims at providing financial support from the banking system to deserving/meritorious students for pursuing higher education in India and abroad.” To be eligible under the scheme, students should have scored 60 percent in the qualifying examinations for graduation courses; for Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe applicants, the requirement was 50 percent. The scheme permitted all commercial banks to provide loans “subject to repaying capacity of parents/students,” with a ceiling of Rs 7.50 lakh for courses in India and Rs 15 lakh for courses abroad. Further, it offered a moratorium on the repayment of the loan for the period of the course and one year afterwards, or six months of getting a job, whichever came earlier.

“The main emphasis is that every meritorious student though poor is provided with an opportunity to pursue education with the financial support from the banking system with affordable terms and conditions,” the RBI’s circular stated. “No deserving student is denied an opportunity to pursue higher education for want of financial support.” Yet, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who apply for an education loan are commonly rejected by public-sector banks, citing their parents’ low CIBIL score. A CIBIL score refers to a three-digit number issued by the Mumbai-based credit-information company TransUnion CIBIL, which was formerly known as the Credit Information Bureau India Limited.

Banks refer to this score while assessing the creditworthiness of a potential borrower. However, the RBI’s circular does indicate that the students, and not their parents, are considered the principal borrowers. In fact, in August 2015, the Indian Banks’ Association released “Revised Guidance Notes” on the education loan scheme. “The student borrower has no credit history and as such he is assumed to be creditworthy as this is a futuristic loan,” the Guidance Notes state. It even addresses circumstances where an applicant-student’s parents have a poor credit rating. “It is likely that the joint borrower for the loan has a credit history and any adverse features could have a bearing on the assessment of credit risk … To overcome this, the bank may, as a prudent measure insists on a joint borrower acceptable to the bank, in case of adverse credit history of the parent/guardian of the student.”

But none of these appear to be implemented in practice. Vani Rajeev, a student pursuing her bachelor of science in radiology, was one such student whose education-loan application was declined by the State Bank of India citing her single mother’s poor credit history. “We had applied for the loan in February,” Anju Jayan, Vani’s mother, told me on the phone. “My daughter does not have her father. She only has me. I had a CIBIL record since I had applied for a housing loan before. The loan was rejected because of my CIBIL record.” In February 2020, Jayan applied for a loan of Rs 4 lakh for her daughter’s education, but SBI’s Kulasekharamangalam branch, in Kottayam, rejected the application soon after.

In July 2020, the Kerala High Court ruled in a similar case against a decision by a branch of the same bank in Kerala’s Kollam district, where a student’s loan application was rejected by the bank because of his parents’ low CIBIL score. “I am of the opinion that unsatisfactory credit scores of the parents of the petitioner cannot be a ground to reject an educational loan in view of the fact that the repayment capacity of the petitioner after his education should be the deciding factor as per clause 10 of Ext R1 (a) scheme,” the verdict stated. The exhibit cited by the court referred to a 2016 circular issued by the IBA, which revised the original model education loan scheme to “enlarge the coverage” and “address some of the weaknesses noticed.” The clause 10 mentioned in the judgment stated, “In the normal course, while appraising the loan, the future income prospect of the student only will be looked into.”

The petitioner in the case was a 20-year-old student, Pranav SR, who had applied for an education loan of Rs 5,70,000 in order to pursue a bachelor of technology course in Tamil Nadu. The loan application was rejected on the grounds that Shaji R, Pranav’s father, had defaulted on a commercial vehicle loan, according to his CIBIL report. “I paid the money that was due this month in the following month,” Shaji explained to me. “I paid the dues this way for two months. They informed me that my CIBIL score is low because I had a month’s arrears pending.” Shaji then closed the vehicle loan so that Pranav could apply again, but the bank rejected his application again stating that his parents had poor credit histories. 

Shaji said he felt dismayed by the treatment of bank officials towards borrowers, noting that his wife and Pranav had approached SBI’s Kadakkal branch to apply for the loan. “The manager there told my wife that if you have children, you should educate them only if you have money,” Shaji said. “It really upset me to hear that. What is even more upsetting is that they never bother to even accept the application by hand. They just ask you to drop the application on the table and leave.” The application was declined again, in May 2020.

The family then moved the high court and received a favourable order in two months. But even after the order, Shaji said, the bank tried to delay the sanction of the loan “as much as possible,” before eventually processing it. Their advocate, B Mohan Lal, said the bank officials were “reluctant to comply” with the order. “We had to intimidate them with the prospect of a contempt notice,” he said.

The previous year, Lal had appeared for another student, Noorjahan NS, who had filed a writ petition in the high court against SBI’s Kottarakara branch in Kollam after her application for an education loan had been rejected on similar grounds. Noorjahan had applied for a loan of Rs 7,40,000 to cover the expenses of her course at a dental college. As in Pranav’s case, her loan was also rejected because of arrears on a vehicle loan availed by her father. “I had bought a four-wheeler in 2010 on a long-term loan that could be repaid until 2017,” Najeeb Khan, Noorjahan’s father, said. “I missed paying three instalments of the loan on time. It affected my CIBIL score.”

The SBI’s counsel argued in the case that the court cannot interfere “in a commercial decision of the present nature.” However, the court observed that the loan scheme was introduced as a “socially and economically relevant scheme” to support the pursuit of higher education of students who may be in want of financial assistance. The court finally ruled in Noorjahan’s favour, noting that SBI’s rejection of the loan application based on her parent’s credit score was arbitrary. The court stated that repayments under this scheme “were contemplated to be made not on the financial position of the parents but solely on the projected future earnings of the students on employment after education.”

Lal pointed to the similarities in the two cases. “In both the cases, the parties had paid off their dues through a one-time settlement or otherwise,” he said. “But when you apply for a loan and you have to deposit a particular amount by say, 15th every month and you pay the amount on 16th, you are treated as a defaulter. Even if you pay dues of two or five months in a single instalment, you will still be a defaulting person. Then they will always perceive you as a thief.”

The advocate also pointed out that both students belong to Other Backward Classes, a fact mentioned in both court orders. “In the case of Noorjahan, she had obtained admission in the management quota in a self-financing college,” Lal told me. A management quota refers to seats for admission that are filled by a university based on its discretion, and not strictly by the general eligibility criteria. “So they argued that she is not a meritorious candidate. They raised the same point in the second case as well.” But the IBA’s guidelines, as revised in 2015, stated that “a student getting admission offer under merit quota may choose to take up a course under management quota as a personal preference. Such students may be sanctioned loans under this Model Scheme.”

Despite the recent court orders, Lal said that rejection of education loans based on parents’ CIBIL records continues to be commonplace, as reflected by the case of Vani Rajeev. In July, soon after Pranav’s case was reported in the papers, Rajeev approached SBI’s Kulasekharamangalam branch again, and tried to argue her case using the high court’s ruling. “But they said that they have received no such directive,” her mother Jayan told me. She was working as an accountant in UAE until 2014, when she lost her job and returned to Kerala. In desperation, Rajeev even wrote to the prime minister Narendra Modi and the union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, informing them of her situation, in October last year. “I am requesting you with great agony and advice me to continue my studies to support my family,” she wrote. “My only hope of survival is the education loan.”

On 30 December, Rajeev received a letter from SBI referring to her letter to the prime minister. It simply repeated that Jayan was denied the loan because of her CIBIL score. The family was unsure about challenging the bank’s decision in court because the legal fees would be expensive. “I am educating her by borrowing money,” Jayan told me. “Denying her an education is not an option.”

As early as 2011, the Madras High Court had ruled that students are the principal borrowers of education loans, and not their parents. In its judgment that year in the case of Hannah Dotris versus Assistant General Manager, State Bank of Mysore, the court held, “The bank should adopt a more reasonable and pragmatic approach to the entire issue bearing in mind that the repayment shall be made by the student concerned, who avails loan and such repayment commences after completion of her course of study.” Yet, public-sector banks have continually denied the loans, leading the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court to take note of it in 2018. Citing the 2011 judgment, the bench observed, “It is rather unfortunate that the aforesaid order came to be passed in the year 2011 and various subsequent orders of this court had also passed, even then the financial institutions have been continuing to reject applications of this nature on similar grounds.”

K Srinivasan, the convener of Education Loan Task Force—a Chennai-based voluntary body that offers guidance to students in the application process—said that housing and vehicle loans, unlike education loans, are sanctioned after assessing the present financial status of the borrower. “IBA has clarified that educational loans have to be dealt with in an independent manner and not to be linked to the CIBIL rating of your parents,” he said. In case a bank is concerned about the credibility of a borrower because of their parent’s poor CIBIL rating, Srinivasan suggested that a family member or anyone who does not have a low CIBIL score can stand in as a third-party guarantor on the repayment of the loan.

In 2015, the union ministry of finance collaborated with the department of higher education—under the ministry of human resources development—and the IBA to launch Vidya Lakshmi, a web portal to ease the process of securing education loans. According to Srinivasan, while the portal created a single window for students to apply to multiple leading banks across the country, its implementation has been poor. “You apply to three banks but none of the banks will take it seriously and the students don’t know where to complain. Nobody takes a decision because they think the other person will,” he told me. He suggested that instead of a simultaneous submission of loan requests to three banks, there should be a hierarchical process where the student has to consult a second or a third bank only after her first choice of bank declines her application.

Emailed queries to the concerned SBI branches, the IBA and the MHRD went unanswered. This piece will be updated if and when a response is received.

Srinivasan pointed to one recurring factor that led to mistrust between banks and borrowers in Tamil Nadu—during election seasons in the state, political parties promise a waiver on education loans. “It unnecessarily misguides the students,” he told me, noting that he receives hundreds of queries from students who ask him when the loan waiver would be implemented. “Later, when a statement is given that it is not possible, no media will take it up. If DMK or AIADMK declare that education loans will be written off, that will come as a prominent news item. Then all students who borrowed will get misled. With the hope that the government will write it off, they will stop repayment.”

The data suggests a steady decline in education loans to less privileged students. In January 2020, the Business Standard reported that according to RBI data, there has been a steady drop in the growth of education loans since 2016, with outstanding loans contracting by 3.4 percent as of November 2019. The report further stated that high-value loans—of above Rs 10 lakh—were rising, and only smaller loans, which benefit the lesser privileged, were shrinking. According to RBI data, the report stated, the sum of outstanding education loans smaller than Rs 10 lakh declined from Rs 60,000 crore in March 2016 to Rs 53,000 crore by the end of November 2019. In December 2019, Sitharaman had said that there is no proposal under consideration for waiver of education loans, adding that banks have been instructed to adopt a “non-coercive strategy” to recover the loans.

Srinivasan said education loans were not a priority for the banks or for the government. “There are serious attempts at every level—at the banks’ level, at the government level—to discourage educational loans,” he said. “Nobody takes it seriously. Interest subsidy also is not properly disbursed.” Srinivasan added, “Education loan is an investment, it is not a loan at all. It is a national investment, investment on the future knowledge of society.”

Source: The Caravan

07 October 2020

Why is Byju & Whitehat Jr Silencing Dissent?

 Byju and Whitehat Jr have been silencing dissent. This news have cropped up in various social media.

Read it yourself

18 May 2015

Google and Arunachal Pradesh government in talks for Chromebooks in schools

Google and Arunachal Pradesh government in talks for Chromebooks in schools

Google is in discussions with the Arunachal Pradesh government to run a pilot for deploying Chromebook laptops for school students. Chromebook is a laptop running Google’s Chrome Operating System. The devices are designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet with most applications and data residing “in the cloud”.

The pilot is proposed to be run in schools in two cities  – Itanagar and Ziro.

“We are in discussions with Arunachal Pradesh for giving Chromebooks to students as part of our focus on the education sector. Chromebooks along with Google Apps for Education can play an important role in helping students create, collaborate and learn,” Google Global Product Manager Chrome OS Smita Hashim told PTI.

Also, with Chromebook Management Console, administrators can manage the Chromebooks from a computer or phone, and over a period of time, reduce school’s maintenance and software costs, she added.

The company is also in discussions with other states for similar partnerships. Hashim, however, declined to offer further details. Asked how the device will work in remote corners of the country where connectivity is a major hindrance, Hasim said since launching Chromebooks in India, Google has been working on the issue.

“We have been working to ensure that Chromebooks work in an environment where connectivity can be spotty and many people’s first experiences with technology are through a phone rather than a laptop,” she added.

Hashim said a lot of applications like Google’s Drive and Gmail as well as others like VLC player are being made available offline so that they can be used without being connected to the internet. Google announced the launch of a Chromebook range in the country targetted at the education sector. The XOLO Chromebook will be available in the next few days on Snapdeal at Rs 12,999 while the Nexian Air Chromebook is available on Amazon at the same price.

In the coming months, Chromebooks from ASUS (Chromebook Flip and C201) and Samsung will be available on local retailers. Google on Friday also launched Chromebooks for businesses and Chromebox for meetings.

Chromebox for Meetings brings together Hangouts, Google Apps and easy-to-manage Chromebox to allow companies conduct high?definition video conferences. The device from Asus will be priced at Rs 90,000.
24 September 2014

DU's Gyanodaya Express to Take students to Northeast

New Delhi, Sep 24 : Delhi University's Gyanodaya Express train will travel to Northeast this year to enrich students' understanding about the culture and heritage of the region.

As many as 900 students will be given the opportunity to travel on Dharodhar-Gyanodaya Express from December 20 to 30. They will be given basic working knowledge of eight different languages of the northeast under special certificate courses run by DU, Registrar Tarun Kumar Das said in a statement Tuesday.

The students accompanied by around 100 teachers will be selected from colleges on basis of project proposals and will be divided into group of 11-15 with a mentor each. Each group will have at least one member from the northeast.

The projects are to be based on ideas that shall give a deeper understanding of richness of the region and its contribution in diverse ways towards the well-being of the nation, he said.

During the trip, students will get to meet representatives of local universities as well as senior functionaries of northeastern states, Das said, adding, issues related to citizenship, national integration and ideals propounded by eminent leaders would be addressed in the study conducted by the students.

Started as the 'College on Wheels' project in 2012, this will be the fourth edition of Gyanodaya Express. 
30 June 2014

18 Candidates From Northeast India 17 Clear Civil Services Examination

New Delhi, Jun 30 : 30-year-old Shimray Asaiwo Bellrose, a Tangkhul Naga who hails from Lunghar village in Manipur, is proud to have cleared the civil services examination, 2013, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.

She has secured the 1106th position in the final list of the successful candidates.

Bellrose has been staying in New Delhi since 2011 after completing her Msc in Botany from Manipur University.

"As a civil servant if I am posted in my state I'll try to bring a good governance. As a civil servant whatever the policy or scheme given by the government for people should deliver it transparently and I would also want to work on environment issue," said Bellrose.

Bellrose is among the 18 candidates from the Northeast who have cleared the civil services examination.

Of the successful candidates, at least six are from Assam, four from Manipur, while two are from Meghalaya. Three candidates are from Mizoram and one each from Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland.

Asaiwo believes that continuous disturbance by militant outfits in the northeast prevent the talented youngsters from achieving their potential.

"In Manipur there are many young talented, educated students but they face lots of problem like frequent bandh, strike created by militants so as a result they cannot reach the level what they are expecting," Bellrose added.

Bellerose's family in Manipur feels proud of her success in the civil services. They believe that it has been possible only because of her hard work and determination.

"She has lots of patience. She can sit and study, read for the whole day so that contribute a lot to her success and she is very dedicated person," said Vareichan, Bellrose's elder sister.

Many talented people from the northeast are already working at various positions in foreign services, civil administration, police forces across the country.

The newcomers are enthusiastic to take up the task and contribute towards the development of the country.
24 June 2014

191 from Northeast Qualify in JEE (Advanced) 2014

Guwahati, Jun 24 : In the results of JEE (Advanced) 2014, a total of 1,582 candidates (1,457 boys and 125 girls), out of the 10,053 registered from the IIT Guwahati Zone, have qualified. They include 191 from the north-eastern States except Tripura; 1,338 from Bihar, 41 from Siliguri, and 12 from Dubai, UAE.

Prem Anand emerged as topper in the IIT Guwahati Zone, securing 260 out of 360, an IIT-G press release said.

The Joint Implementation Committee of JEE (Advanced)-2014 has decided to allow twice the number in each category to fill choices for various under-graduate courses in IITs and ISM. The choice-filling portal will be operative till June 24.

In the results of JEE (Advanced) 2013 for admissions in the 16 IITs, and ISM Dhanbad, Prince Vibek Baruah of Assam emerged as the topper in the Guwahati Zone with an all-India rank of 37. He scored 291 marks. Aditya Swarop and Nishant Gaurav occupied the second and third positions respectively.

In the Guwahati Zone, 9,649 candidates appeared in the examination and 1,113 candidates (1,027 boys and 86 girls) qualified in JEE (Advanced).

The break-up of successful candidates who qualified in the JEE (Advanced) is – 110 from Assam, 41 from other north-eastern States except Assam, 927 from Bihar, and 35 from Siliguri.

After qualifying the JEE (Main)-2013, 1,26,687 candidates registered for JEE (Advanced) and 1,15,971 candidates appeared. A total number of 21,110 candidates obtained the minimum required marks and qualified. A total of 14,336 candidates have been called for online counselling to seek admission for 9,885 seats, the release added.
05 June 2014

Delhi University Helpdesk in City Big Hit With Students

By Kangkan Kalita

Guwahati, Jun 5 : The Delhi University Students' Union (DUSU) helpdesk, which started functioning this week to entertain queries of aspirants seeking admission in colleges under Delhi University (DU), is receiving an overwhelming response.

Students from across the state are thronging the helpdesk at the district library here to get DU offline forms and to find out the names of colleges where they could do the honours course in their favourite subjects.

"Colleges under DU are attracting a large number of students from the northeast. Our volunteers have arrived here to guide students so that they can get admission under DU without any difficulty," said Satyam Saikia, DUSU northeast in charge.

Parents are also visiting the helpdesk, which will remain open till June 12 from 10 am to 5 pm. Rizwan Choudhury, a volunteer, said they are encouraging aspirants to submit online applications, which are less time consuming. Though some students submitted online forms, many preferred offline applications as these are more popular in colleges in the northeast.

"I visited the helpdesk to get an offline admission form because the process of submitting online forms is very slow. The volunteers helped me a lot and I got all relevant information about admission procedures. I am aspiring to get admission in one of the best colleges in Delhi with honours in economics," said Keerthana Borah, who passed the class 12 examination from the Assam Valley School in Sonitpur district this year.

Hiya Sahariah, a student of Delhi Public School, who cleared her class 12 examination this year, wants to get admission in one of the colleges in North Campus in Delhi. "I want to take honours in mathematics. I was very anxious to learn about the admission process under DU and the helpdesk was a great help," she said, adding that she will submit her form online as she is not in a mood to travel to Delhi to submit the offline application.
05 March 2014

First green campus college in Notheast India

In a first for the North East region, a city-based College was adjudged as having an eco-friendly 'green campus', officials said.

St Anthony's College, one of the leading colleges in the state, affiliated to the North Eastern Hill University here, received the distinction of being the only campus to have passed the ambient air quality testing conducted by the Meghalaya State Pollution ControlBoard, MPSCB chairman M Allya told PTI.

The findings revealed that the presence of Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide in the college premises was near negligible with their content (in microgram/cubic meters) well below the permissible limits, senior scientist at the board, B Nongbri, said.

The 80 year-old college founded by the Don Bosco Society was recently re-accredited "A" by NAAC with 3.6 out of 4 cumulative grade points, is the only colleges out 63 colleges affiliated to NEHU to have conducted the test.

Having also been recognised by the UGC as a College with Potential for Excellence, it was also identified as an Institutional Bio-Tech hub by the Centre's Department of Biotechnology.
05 September 2013

JNU To Have Separate Hostel For Northeast Students

By Pradeep Kumar

New Delhi, Sep 5 : Clearing numerous hurdles for construction of a 500-bed North East Students' hostel, the JNU authorities today identified land, courtesy the initiative of NE MPs Forum (NEMPF).

JNU Vice Chancellor Prof Sudhir Kumar Sopory, Rector Prof Sudha Pai, Deputy Registrar Kh Siile Anthony and Superintending Engineer Pradeep Kumar along with the forum's Secretary General Takam Sanjoy, Delhi Police Joint Commissioner Robin Hibu and a few officials visited the varsity campus here for demarcating the land for the ambitious project which would serve as a panacea for NE students pursuing higher education in New Delhi.

Union DoNER Ministry would provide Rs. 95 crore for the hostel, which would have 50 percent reservation for the NE girl students alone.

NEPMF chairman Mukut Mithi in a representation to the VC said the hostel should be named 'Subansiri Hostel' after the river in Arunachal Pradesh, and suggested co-opting JNU Deputy Registrar Anthony as liaison officer between JNU and the NEMPF.

However, Mithi could not visit the varsity today as he had been called by the PMO.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had consented to allot land for the hostel at a high-level meeting in All India Congress Committee (AICC) held under the chairmanship of Union Minister Oscar Fernandez on July 16 and attended by DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul Sangma, Mithi, a host of AICC leaders and MPs from NE, including Sanjoy.

Dikshit took up the matter with JNU Vice Chancellor after Sanjoy called on her with a written request on July 27 following which the VC had consented to identify land for the purpose within the university campus.

Sanjoy, who conveyed his gratitude to Dikshit and JNU authorities for identifying themselves with the cause of NE people, reiterated his plea to Delhi CM for implementing the Rent Control Act in the NCT region as "our students face a lot of problems as landlords arbitrarily increase rents by 40 to 50 per cent and use it as an instrument to remove the tenants."

With the formal letter of allocation of land, it would be the responsibility of the DoNER Ministry now to finalize the design, earmark fund to give the go ahead signal.

It may be mentioned here that this was one of the commitments given by the Congress Party during the 2009 Delhi University Students' Union election.

"Most of the NE Students' Unions had extended their support to DUSU with this demand," Sanjoy added.

The Delhi-Arunachal Forum (DelAru), a voluntary organization of Arunachalees living in Delhi, had also placed the same demand with the state's MPs.
01 September 2013

IIBM to Start One Year Post graduate diploma course in banking

Guwahati, Sep 1 : What is expected to bring large pool of students from Northeast to the banking industry, the Indian Institute of Bank Management (IIBM) will soon roll out a one year post graduate diploma course in Banking and finance to equip the students of the region for making inroads in the banking industry.

According to IIBM in next few years banking industry will have a whooping manpower requirement of 10 lakh.

This is due to the aggressive expansion plan of the banks and large number of employees due to retire.

RBI has set a target of opening open at least 200 branches in this fiscal year in Northeast India. Following which several banks are in massive expansion mode the region.

Malay Mukerjee, Executive director of Central Bank of India (CBI) who was in Guwahati recently told ET, "Managerial staff in Northeast generally comes from outside the region. They stay here for two or three and get posted elsewhere. This hampers the continuity."

So it is decided to train the people here. He said banks are on expansion spree in the region. "The Central bank is planning to add another 30 branches by end of this fiscal year. Presently we have 170 branches spread across the seven states of the region. By 2014, we will also have 200 onsite ATMs."

B. B. Sangma, Director, IIBM Guwahati added, "We are working on mechanism where pass out from this course could be directly recruited in the banks. The intake of students in the course would be around 40."

Sangma said, "We are also in talks so that students get loan facility form the bank for studying the course. The course will include two month internship in a bank. Presently the number of Northeasters in managerial level staff of the bank is very less."

Canara Bank is planning to add another 33 branches by end of this fiscal year. Executive director of the bank, P.S Rawat who was in Guwahati recently said, "From 67 branches we want to have 100. We are looking to participate in government sponsored programmes in a big way in Northeast India and aggressively looking for bankable schemes in big industry, MSME sectors. The bank is focused on expansion in the Northeast India."

United bank of Bank of India is planning to set up at least 500 outlets by November this year. This will include 200 ultra small branches, 200 ATMS and 100 branches. Together with its Regional rural banks, UBI's business mix in Northeast India is around Rs 15000 Crore. The bank is targeting business mix of Rs 20, 000 Crore by the end of this fiscal year.

Similarly Central Bank's business mix till July this year stands at Rs 6500 Crore. The year on year (y-o-y) for the same period in comparison to last fiscal year is 35 percent. The bank has added 21 branches in last five month.
29 July 2013

7,000 Thesis Seized From Controversial Meghalaya Varsity

Over 7,000 Ph.D theses were seized from Meghalaya's private controversial CMJ University, accused of fraud and selling fake degrees, police said Friday.

The Meghalaya governor's secretariat had lodged a first information report (FIR) with police against the CMJ University and its chancellor Chandra Mohan Jha for alleged lapses and fraud.

"We have seized over 7,000 PhD thesis from two different CMJ university campuses located in Shillong and Jorabat," a CID official told IANS.

The seizures were made a week after the Supreme Court had granted partial relief to Jha, who is still at large. The court said he will be given bail in the event of his arrest.

The university was established by an act passed by the state legislature in 2009 while it started functioning from Oct 17, 2010. It is alleged to have issued a large number of fake PhDs.

Each student desiring to pursue a Ph.D. programme from the university would have to pay Rs. 1.27 lakh.

"We suspect that the Ph.D. theses were printed in Calcutta as the print and design were identical," the CID official.

The CMJ varsity has created a record of sorts by awarding PhD degrees to 434 candidates in the 2012-13 academic year. It enrolled 490 students for the PhD programme during 2012-2013.

What was significant is that only 10 of its faculty members have doctorate degrees.

Former governor R.S. Mooshahary, in his capacity as visitor of the varsity, had exposed irregularities in its functioning and asked the state government to dissolve it

Deputy Chief Minister R.C. Laloo, who holds charge of education, said that the state education department had slapped a show cause notice to the university asking it why it should not be dissolved.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) had also constituted a nine-member expert committee headed by Tezpur University Vice Chancellor Mihir K. Chaudhury to look into alleged irregularities committed by the private university.

CMJ University had been running distance education centres outside the state, in other parts of the country, as well as in some centres abroad, in breach of University Grants Commission regulations and guidelines.
24 June 2013

Abdul Kalam To Teach At IIM-Shillong

Shillong, Jun 24 : Former president APJ Abdul Kalam will be lecturing students of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Shillong for three days on ways to make India an economically developed nation, the institute said.

"The students and faculty of IIM-Shillong are elated that Dr Kalam is coming to teach at the institute. I am sure his lectures would benefit not only our students but also faculty members," IIM-Shillong director Kaya Sengupta said.

The lecture 'Economically Developed Nation - How to Realise' will go on from Sunday to Tuesday.

"The institute has arranged all the materials required for the lecture. He (Kalam) will be lecturing second year students on 'Economically Developed Nation - How to Realise' from Sunday (June 23) to Tuesday (June 25)," Sengupta said.

While visiting the institute earlier on March 6, the former president had agreed to teach at the B-school.

"I am a teacher. As a professor, wherever knowledge takes me, I go. I like meeting young people and I would like to contribute to their knowledge," Kalam said.

Kalam, who is also a visiting faculty at IIM-Ahmedabad, will guide the students individually as well as in groups.

After the lecture, students will be required to submit project proposals for creating scenarios based on multiple options for specific policy or institutional changes.

The faculty would comment on these proposals, and project teams would be able to consult subject matter specialists through invited lectures and interactions. The students could even visit the experts.

The IIM in the Meghalaya capital is named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was started in 2008 and functions from a makeshift campus at the Mayurbhanj complex, the erstwhile summer palace of the kings of Mayurbhanj in Odisha.

The Meghalaya government has allotted a 120-acre plot on which work is under way for a state-of-the-art academic-cum-residential campus.
07 June 2013

Over-The-Counter Forms Still Popular at Delhi University

By Vijetha S. N.

Delhi University aspirants filling up forms on Day Two of admissions on Thursday. Photo: Monica Tiwari Delhi University aspirants filling up forms on Day Two of admissions on Thursday. Photo: Monica Tiwari

Thousands turn up for hard copy form on Day Two of admissions

Delhi University resembled a pickle-jar on Day Two of admissions on Thursday with thousands relentlessly trooping into its North Campus and hustling for an application form amid intensified humidity levels — belying the official estimates of the university, which pegged online sales as overtaking counter sales.
“We sold about 27,606 forms over-the-counter and 30,000 online,” declared Dean Students’ Welfare J.M. Khurana, adding that higher sales of 42,000 forms on Day One were an usual occurrence.
“We usually sell most forms on Day One and on the last day. I advise students not to wait till the last day to fill the form,” he added.
The crowds, however, belied online sales. So who really were all these people who hijacked the streets resulting in unbearable traffic jams, made rickshaw-wallahs and ice-cream vendors triple their prices and forced prospective students and parents to push their way around to find an application counter?
“We have already applied online. We just came to see how people apply here at the university and of course to see the North Campus,” said Poornima, a B. Com. aspirant from Rohini. Her gang of eight friends also had the same aim and were only a small speck in the crowd milling around the Arts Faculty.
“I have filled the form online, but decided to apply offline just in case,” said Sujatha, another B. Com aspirant from Dwarka. “I will only accept a seat in a North Campus colleges, so I thought I should come to see the place,” said Rohini resident Rajat Jain.
After the big fuss put up on Day One, the university finally set up white tents for “NSUI [National Students’ Union of India] and ABVP [Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad] volunteers,” “university volunteers”, “press” and of course tents with no names for the remaining.
Confused students got a lot of help from every quarter.
“We have decided to help students with admissions while also warning them about the horrid experience that the four-year programme is all about,” said All-India Students’ Association member Lakshya, who was wearing a t-shirt that read: “May I help you?” along with “ Reject FYUP.”
“The most common question we get is about the “OMG” forms. They usually think it is short for “Oh My God,” said a serious-faced Pragya, a student volunteer hired by Dean Students’ Welfare office.
Other centres were not as crowded and wore a deserted look by 12 noon. “The crowd management in the Arts Faculty is the toughest at about 10 a.m. We have to constantly supervise line discipline and break-up fights,” said NCC officer Ganga Prasad Sharma, adding the first day was always the toughest.
06 June 2013

University in Shillong Suspected in Fake PhDs Scam

Shillong, Jun 6 : Police are investigating an Indian university suspected of issuing fake PhDs after it awarded more than 400 doctorates in a single year, officers said Wednesday.

Police have arrested four senior officials from CMJ University in the northeastern state of Meghalaya on suspicion of fraud and forgery and are hunting for the chancellor, who has fled.

"We are not sure about his whereabouts, as he keeps changing his location frequently," senior state police official Sunil Kumar Jain told AFP.

The private university, established in 2009 in the state capital Shillong, handed out 434 PhDs during the 2012-13 academic year despite its small faculty, arousing suspicions a
mong local officials who filed a police complaint.

A PhD at CMJ University takes between two to five years and costs 127,000 rupees ($2,250), according to its website.

"In good faith, the universities were given permission to operate, but some seem to have taken this for a ride and this is distressing," said Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma.

Credentials fraud is a serious problem in India, fuelled by a huge demand for qualifications, endemic corruption and poor regulation of the ultra-competitive and fast-growing education sector.

In 2011 a racket in fake airline pilot licences was exposed, while in 2010 police arrested the head of the national body responsible for certifying medical qualifications for allegedly accepting a bribe.

The Times of India reported on Monday that PhDs from CMJ were on sale for between $4,000-10,000, with the amount paid determining how quickly the qualification would be granted.

SP Sharma, a lawyer for CMJ University chancellor Chandra Mohan Jha, accused the state administration of being "prejudiced" against the university.

Anguished CMJ students issued a deadline, set to expire Thursday, to the Meghalaya government to resolve the debacle and give them some clarity about their futures.
05 June 2013

Are Ph.D's An Academic Dead Zone?

Why grads with a doctorate are more likely to be unemployed than master’s degree holders

By Charlie Gillis
Are Ph.D.s an academic dead zone?
Dominic Chan/CP
Two decades ago, if you sat at a dinner party next to someone with a Ph.D., chances were, those letters made an impact. You’d try to sound your smartest, asking about the person’s field of study, nodding sagely at the Coles Notes version he saved for such occasions. By dessert, you might have run out of $5 words, but you’d have done your best to keep up—a show of respect due to someone with a decade of university education.

These days, a doctorate is as likely to inspire pity as veneration. Universities are cutting back on tenure-track jobs. The federal government is laying off scientists. The economy, meanwhile, is skewing ever harder toward resource extraction, where the demand for highly specialized knowledge is limited. This confluence of forces is starting to show in the numbers: At last count, Ph.D. grads were more likely to be unemployed than master’s degree holders, while those with jobs enjoyed a median income only eight per cent higher than their master’s counterparts, at $65,000 per year. A good many of those were working in less-than-promising circumstances. One in three doctorate holders have jobs that didn’t require a Ph.D., while a 2007 survey of Ph.D.s working at Canadian universities found that only 12 per cent of those under the age of 35 held tenure or tenure-track positions, compared to 35 per cent in 1981.

The result has devalued a once-estimable badge of academic achievement—to the point that some observers worry Canada is becoming a dead zone in the advancement of human knowledge. “We have an intellectual climate where there’s not much respect for research,” says economist Mahmood Iqbal, a visiting professor at Carleton University and author of a 2012 book called No PhDs Please: This is Canada. “In the short and medium term, I don’t see much prospect of most people with Ph.D.s having a good living.” While demand for doctorates remains high in a select few disciplines, primarily engineering and business, prospects are bleak for practically everyone else, Iqbal notes. Just four per cent of those with graduate science degrees, for example, wind up in permanent academic research posts; less than half of one per cent become professors.

For students like 28-year-old Matthew Mazowita, the headwinds have come as a nasty surprise. Five years ago, the University of Alberta wooed him to do his doctorate in theoretical math, flying him from Ottawa to view the campus in Edmonton. Even in such a narrow academic field, Mazowita’s prospects of getting a professorship, or at least a postgraduate grant, seemed decent. Now, as he prepares to hand in the first draft of his dissertation, the largesse has dried up, he says, and so have the jobs. After the Alberta government slashed U of A’s funding in its recent budget by $43 million, department administrators warned graduate students that the sessional teaching positions many use to support themselves may not be there next autumn. “The situation is grim,” says Mazowita. “I’ve taken to using the word ‘dire.’ ”

Alberta’s cuts represent an extreme example of spending restraint seen across the country. Quebec is cutting $124 million in university spending over the next seven years; Nova Scotia has slashed its by three per cent. B.C., New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have all frozen theirs until provincial finances improve, while Manitoba has sliced in half a planned five per cent increase. Yet the schools keep cranking out the doctorates—slightly fewer than 5,000 last year alone.

All of which would be less troubling if the private sector were putting the country’s best brains to work. Alas, Canadian businesses lag far behind other developed countries when it comes to funding research and development where people with highly specialized knowledge might seek jobs. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published last June showed that investment by Canadian businesses in R & D ranked 19th among the 34 OECD countries, at one per cent of national GDP, despite generous federal tax breaks. That sluggishness has a direct impact on Ph.D.s, says Iqbal, who quotes a Canadian friend with a doctorate who sought work in California: “Canada is cold—not just climatically, but also intellectually.”

Not everyone agrees. While tough economic times have been holding down university funding, Ph.D.s are doing relatively well compared to others in the labour market, says Herb O’Heron, director of research and policy analysis for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Their unemployment rate at last count was six per cent—more than one percentage point lower than the national average—and was even lower when only people who earned their doctorates in Canada were counted, he points out (though the most recent statistics date back to the 2006 census, before the economic downturn). “In the bigger picture, this is not a sea change from the past,” he says. “It’s always been extremely competitive to get a tenured position in academe. If it’s harder than it was before, it’s only a wee bit harder.” Ironically, universities need more Ph.D.s than ever: Enrolment reached a record 1.2 million students in 2011, while the institutions are actively recruiting foreign students able to pay a premium in tuition.

Sadly for many doctorate holders, that demand doesn’t translate to job security. To meet the growing demand for professors, universities increasingly rely on sessional lecturers—essentially, Ph.D.s on contract—who toil in hope of winning tenure-track jobs. Instead, many get stuck in a state of chronic underemployment that seems unworthy of the extra five or six years they spent striving for their academic brass ring. “I look back to when I first started my Ph.D., and I think I was incredibly naive,” says Jeffrey Bercuson, a political science Ph.D. who lectures at the University of Toronto. “As of this moment, I don’t know with any meaningful certainty whether I’ll have employment in September. I’m 30 years old and I’m anxious to become a respectable adult.” To that end, he scours job postings at institutions across North America, wondering whether his ticket to security will ever materialize—and whether the three letters that qualify him for it are all they’re cracked up to be.

11 May 2013

Meghalaya's Controversial Private Varsity Has Centres in UP

Shillong, May 11 : Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary Friday said the controversial CMJ University, involved in issuing fake Ph.D. degrees to students, had also established centres in almost all districts of Uttar Pradesh.

CMJ University, the first private varsity in this mountainous state capital of Meghalaya, hit media headlines following Mooshahary, who is also the 'visitor' of the university, exposing various irregularities in its functioning.

The university has created a record of sorts by awarding Ph.D. degrees to 434 candidates in the 2012-13 academic year, and enrolled 490 students for the Ph.D. programme during 2012-2013, even as only 10 of its faculty members have doctorates.

"The university had opened up centres even in Uttar Pradesh... People from places like Andhra Pradesh have ostensibly received degrees from the university," Mooshahary told IANS.

He added: "There is also a possibility that this university has also set up centres in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and other states across the country and might have also issued fake Ph.D. degrees to students."

He said he has written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) urging it to put on its website that action has been ordered into the functioning of CMJ University.

The state's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested the varsity's registrar, Mrinal Kanti Deb, and his deputy Premlal Rai on charges of fraud and cheating.

Chandra Mohan Jha, chancellor of CMJ University, has gone into hiding.

The university has on its website announced that it offers Ph.D. in 79 subjects, which include agriculture, horticulture, engineering, forestry, fashion technology, insurance management, microbiology, nursing, peace studies, pollution control, physics, nanotechnology, police administration, Sanskrit, spots science, Urdu and yoga.

Asked if the Meghalaya government should refer the case to the CBI, Mooshahary said: "The CID is investigating and it is up to them to take action. They should not wait for the CBI but should continue with the investigation seriously."

The university was established in 2009 following a bill passed by the Meghalaya assembly, which became the CMJ University Act, 2009, after receiving the governor's assent.
30 April 2013

28 New ITIs To Come Up in Northeast

New Delhi, Apr 30 : Seven northeastern states, including Assam, have proposed setting up 28 new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the region, parliament was informed Monday.

The northeast now has 71 ITIs, affiliated to the National Council of Vocational Training, Minister of State for Labour and Employment K. Suresh said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.

He added that no unemployment benefit programmes for educated tribal youths of the northeastern region had been taken up as the "government of India is not in favour of such unemployment doles.

"However, the government has been imparting them skills to make them employable."
07 March 2013

APJ Abdul Kalam to teach students of IIM-Shillong

Shillong, Mar 7 : Former president APJ Abdul Kalam will teach students of the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong a course titled "Societal transformation bio-technology and its application".
"I am a teacher. As a professor, wherever knowledge takes me, I go. I like meeting young people and I would like to contribute to their knowledge," Kalam told reporters here.

The "Missile Man", as Kalam is called for his background in aerospace engineering, was in Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya, and inaugurated the third international conference "SUSCON" organised by IIM-Shillong on Wednesday.

Kalam will start his lectures to a class of around 110 students from July.

APJ Abdul Kalam to teach students of IIM-Shillong

Kalam will start his lectures to a class of around 110 students from July, IIM-Shillong Director Kaya Sengupta told reporters.

"The students and faculty of IIM-Shillong are elated that Kalam has consented to our invitation to teach in the institute. I am sure his lectures would benefit not only our students, but even faculty members," Sengupta said. Kalam will guide the students individually as well as in groups. He had earlier taught at IIM-Ahmedabad.

After the initial lectures, students will be required to submit project proposals for creating scenarios based on multiple options for specific policy and institutional changes.

The faculty would comment on these proposals and project teams would be enabled to consult subject matter specialists through invited lectures and interactions - the students could even visit the experts.
IIM-Shillong follows a unique concept of winter internships, in which students undertake work in the months of January and February.

Not many outside India's northeast probably know that there is an IIM in the Meghalaya capital named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. This IIM started in 2008 from a makeshift campus and still functions out of an interim facility.

Surrounded by pine trees and lush green lawns with mountains in the backdrop, the institute functions from the Mayurbhanj Complex - the erstwhile summer palace of the kings of Mayurbhanj, Orissa. The Meghalaya government has allotted a 120-acre plot on which work is under way for a state-of-the-art academic-cum-residential campus.

"Our goal at IIM-Shillong is to constantly nurture and develop the personality of the young and dynamic leaders who could shape the future business landscape and achieve excellence by synergising complementary competencies within the team," Sengupta said.
01 August 2012

Northeast Students miss Out On Varsities' Admissions

Hyderabad, Aug 1 : The violence in Assam has affected admissions even in city universities as students from the troubled areas of Bodo-Muslim conflict have missed out on admissions in varsities, including English and Foreign Languages University (Eflu) and University of Hyderabad (UoH). As transportation for most northeastern states is being channelled through Guwahati, students from Manipur and Nagaland are also affected by the trouble in Assam, officials said.

In University of Hyderabad, the population of northeastern students is around 400 while in Eflu it is just about 40. Interviews and written tests for Eflu and UoH courses had started in the beginning of this month, but the admission process for the final list of confirmed and waitlisted candidates started only last week as violence in Assam escalated. Many candidates, who had made it to the merit list of Eflu, have not been able to claim their seat, officials said.

Officials at Eflu said that they have tried their best to accommodate students who were facing trouble due to the tension. "One of the students who applied for a PhD was granted an extension as she faxed a letter stating that she was affected by the crisis and would like to take admission in the university later. The university gave her an extension of one week to report and saved her seat," said a senior officer from Eflu's admission and examination wing.

Assamese students of UoH said that a student who got seat in integrated M Tech/PhD course could not come for the admissions as she missed her train. "Now, most of the students are coming by flight so that they do not miss their chance to take admissions," said Debabrot, an M Tech student from the UoH, who hails from Assam. In UoH, officials said that no student has written to them citing tension in the state as the reason for their absence. However, the student organisations said that several cases have come to their notice in the last one week.

With the admissions getting over by the second week of August in both the universities, students who have not made it to the city so far will be forced to forfeit their seats for this academic year. Students' organisations in Eflu have asked the administration to slow down the admission process for students from these states as they also fall under the reserved ST category. "Before the admissions close the students should communicate the same to us," an official from EFLU said.

The off-state campus of Eflu in Shillong had deferred their admissions citing requests from students who were affected in the conflict. "We request the university officials to look into the matter and take the necessary steps to restore the lost seats to students from these states, especially Assam," said S Harinath, a student leader from the University of Hyderabad.
13 July 2012

SFI JNU Expulsion: Disaster For CPM, Good For Campus Politics

By Pallavi Polanki

New Delhi: The unprecedented move by the CPM to disband SFI-JNU for not toeing the party line could well turn out to be the beleaguered student body’s best hope yet for political redemption on campus.
Increasingly isolated and electorally marginalized – a downslide set off by its decision to defend CPM’s positions on Singur and Nandigram – SFI-JNU seems to have been struggling for some years now to stay relevant in the JNU’s political landscape.
Will the stand on Pranab Mukherjee help the SFI regain its credibility? AFP
Once a formidable influence that launched the political careers of top Left leaders such as Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury – SFI JNU now stands dissolved on the watch of its best known former members.
Describing CPM’s decision as “one of the most bizarre things to happen,” Aditya Nigam, who spent two decades in the CPM and has served as secretary and president of SFI Delhi between 1982-85, said, “It is not understandable even in terms of their own logic. This goes against any possibility of a future SFI on campus. It is effectively driving a nail into their own coffin.”
“Going by SFI-JNU’s statements, something was obviously brewing. Many of them traced it back to Singur and Nandigram – the land acquisition there and Party’s stand on it. Obviously, it is a bigger issue. It is not just Pranab Mukherjee. The issue of the president’s election is probably only the last straw,” Nigam, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Study of Developing Societies, said.
That the rupture was only a matter of time is apparent from the statements from members of the disbanded student body.
Roshan Kishore, president of Delhi SFI and among the four state committee members from JNU who were expelled on Tuesday, said, “In the 2007 and 2012 elections held in JNU, SFI did not win any office bearer positions…our review of the election results showed the primacy of political factors starting with Singur-Nandigram, which have been major influencing factors in JNU politics, for our poor performance.
“We cannot defend the CPM’s support to Pranab Mukherjee – who has been at the helm of UPA’s anti-people neoliberal policies- nor can we remain silent on acts like the recent murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party leader TP Chandrasekharan in Kerala. Such political developments have continuously eroded our credibility among the Left and democratic-minded students on campus. JNU has its own interests to guard and we think we should take forthright political positions,” he said.
While Kishore insists that this is not the first time the SFI-JNU has taken an independent stand that opposes the party line, the development has surprised those who have been keenly watching Left politics.
“This is both significant and surprising. Considering that the SFI in JNU is seen as the fourth bastion of the CPM after West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura and that the top leadership comes from there, the SFI has never taken a position that has been a radical departure from the larger position of the CPM,” said
Amit Sengupta, former president of the JNU students union and currently Executive Editor, Hard News magazine.
“Even when ruptures like the Tiananmen Square massacre or later the human rights violations in Tibet or in recent times Lalgarh, Singur-Nandigram happened, SFI unit in JNU or SFI units elsewhere have just followed the party line,” he said.
“This, therefore, is a positive and significant development in the history of SFI. We should appreciate the fact that they have shown courage and defied the ossified leadership of Prakash Karat. That they are creating a new intellectual culture is very good sign,” Sengupta said.
The SFI-JNU’s venture into unchartered waters has even won it praise and an open invitation from its arch political rival, the ultra-left All India Students Association, which controls the JNU students union.
“We have been raising our voice against the policies of the CPM and how it is harming the Left movement. If now SFI-JNU is raising these issues, it is a welcome development. But the criticism so far has been partial. And partial criticism doesn’t lead anywhere. We hope that SFI-JNU will take its criticism of the CPM to its logical conclusion. And if there is space for a united battle with the radical left, we welcome them for a united battle,” said Sucheta De, president of the JNU students union.
But not everyone is as optimistic about SFI-JNU’s newfound status. Premjish Achari, a PhD student at JNU’s School of Art and Aesthetics, believes it is too little, too late.
“There was a general resentment on campus for Left organizations’ support for Pranab Mukherjee. SFI reflected on that and took this decision. But they raised the issue much after other left organizations took it up. It was a late comer… SFI’s blind defense of CPM’s politics, starting with Singur-Nandigram, has led to their isolation on campus. Now it is introspection time for them. But it is too late. It should have happened much earlier,” said Achari, who grew up in Kerala and has seen firsthand the violent politics of SFI.
What the impact of SFI-JNU’s dissolution will be on Left politics in JNU is a developing story.
For now, the disbanded unit has said that it will continue to function as SFI-JNU and has appealed to SFI members to build pressure on the central leadership to reverse its decision.
When asked if these developments had re-invigorated the student body and marked a new beginning, Kishore said, “Yes, we think so. The students of JNU have continued to vote on the Left plank and when we have taken a principled position we are hopeful that the students of JNU will stand by us and will give us strength. The SFI- JNU is going to go from strength to strength.”