Skip to main content

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Govt of India seeking to "centralise" all higher education powers: Proposed commission will be just an advisory body

By Gautam Thaker*
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India's draft enactment for forming Higher Education Commission (HEC) by scrapping the University Grants Commission (UGC) is meant to concentrate on educational matters in the hands of MHRD by placing all financial matters under the direct control of the Ministry. This means that MHRD will decide whether or not to give grant, or how much grant to give to an institution. This will result in direct intervention by MHRC.
Such a situation is dangerous for the autonomy and independence of higher educational institutes as well as overall independence in the field of education.
The Central government’s motto is “Together with all, Development for all” (sabka saath, sabka vikas). Yet, it gave just nine days’ time to react to the draft Act on the proposed Commission. When the government convenes so many official meetings for preparing the draft education policy, it is difficult to understand as to why is it in such haste to pass an Act for higher education.
It appears that the government is looking for obedient or yes-men as faculty in colleges and universities, and is desirous of passing the Act without necessary discussions on it. And by notifying the draft Act and calling for suggestions, the government is merely aiming to pretend that it follows high standards of transparency, participative involvement and good governance.
Highly dangerous provisions have been made in Articles 24 and 25 of the draft Act. An Advisory Committee is proposed to be constituted in accordance with Article 24, and its Chairman will be minister of Human Resource Development.
This committee is proposed to consist of Chairman/Vice-Chairman of this Commission, as also Chairmen/Vice-Chairmen and members of state-level Councils of Higher Education. In Gujarat, the Chairman of this Council is the chief minister.
The Advisory Committee will meet every six months and it will coordinate the working of State and Central governments for higher education. It will look into issues of coordination for the implementation of projected targets of higher education and will find solutions.
The Commission’s implementation will be based on the advice given to it by the Advisory Committee. Notably, as regards implementation, the word “shall” is used instead of the word “may”. This means that the Commission has to compulsorily implement whatever advice has been given to the Commission by the Advisory Committee. This poses the question: What is the need of the Commission? Clearly, the Commission, as proposed, has no autonomy.
Article 25 of the proposed Act also deals a severe blow to the autonomy and independence of the Commission as also institutions of higher education. Article 25(1) stipulates that the Commission will function only in the context of the directions given by the Central government on the national objective related to policy matter issues. Moreover, the Article 25 (2) provides that, in case the Commission is in disagreement on the decision of the Central government, the decision of the Central government will prevail.
The mention of policy matter is made and under Article 25(2) alongside ‘any matter’. Clearly, the Commission itself will not be able to act as an autonomous body but will have to act as if it is a sort of a department of the government. Further, in this Article, it has not been stated as to who the Central government is.
It can either be any secretary, any minister or Prime Minister, or even an employee, and his/her advice will be binding on the Commission. The Commission will have to abide by it, otherwise it can be viewed as denigration of duty, and the Central government, if it so wishes, can dissolve and nullify the Commission. This means that all the powers are vested in the Central government and the Commission would have no powers to exercise.
In a press statement, it has been stated that the proposed Act would apply to all institutions of higher education, but not on institutes which have been declared by the government as institutes of national importance.
This way, higher education institutes have been divided into two categories. There will be a handful of research and teaching institutes of national importance, but majority of institutes will be without any national importance, with whom the government will deal in a discriminative manner. Obviously, majority of colleges in villages, towns and major cities will be bereft of the “national importance” category.
Strangely, even a non-resident Indian can become a Chairman of the Commission. This means that, just as one American Indian was the first chairman of the Planning Commission, this can also become applicable in this case. The question arises is, how can one, who has stayed abroad for many years, be aware of the situation actually prevailing in the country?
The Article 42(2)(E) of the Act states that any member, even chairman or vice-chairman of the Commission, can be terminated from his/her post on charges of moral turpitude. If they have committed any crime and the court has found them guilty then, it may treat as a moral turpitude.
But if the government does not consider it so, then it may not sack them! Thus, the government has kept the window open to function in an arbitrary manner. As per its definition of moral turpitude, the government can do anything it pleases, to any person, and at any time.
Article 15(4)(J) stipulates that, in order to bring transparency in the decision process and management of institutions of higher education, and to bring about efficiency, the Commission can recommend to formulate faculty-centric administrative structure.
Here, the word ‘recommend’ has been used and not ‘direct’, which means that the Commission will be contented merely by offering recommendations to colleges and universities. Everyone knows how much is the participation of faculty members in the administration of institutions of higher education.
Further, the word ‘regime’ has been used in place of the word ‘administration’ or ‘management’. In the ordinary meaning of the word, ‘regimes’ include basic elements of transparency, accountability, decentralization, participation, rule of law and human rights. Concern of none of the elements, anywhere, has been taken care of in the draft Act.
With the use of this Act, it is claimed, control can be exercised on bogus institutes, which cheat guardians and students, or on colleges or universities which are neither functioning as per the norms of UGC, or those that do not have infrastructural facilities conforming to its norms.
There cannot be any objection against punishment or penalty imposed on those establishing and managing such institutes. This task can be done by the existing UGC Act, or by bringing in an amendment. But it is a common knowledge that it has not been done, because those establishing such institutes are having strong political clout.
It is a major question as to why UGC has given approval or registration to such institutes for awarding degree or diploma. In the guise of imposing punishment or penalty to such criminals in the higher education front, swooping on the autonomy of all higher education institutes and their faculty is a matter which contravenes the educational freedom and autonomy.
The proposed Act is being introduced to annihilate whatever educational freedom that is prevailing in colleges and universities. Pursuant to this Act, the Commission has been given powers to close down on-going colleges or universities; those which would be established hereafter can also be closed down at any time, which as a matter of fact shows the conspiracy on the part of the government to tighten its control on higher education.
It appears that, with the implementation of this Act, whatever little liberty is being experienced by all the institutes of higher education in the context of State governments and universities established by laws passed by State Legislature Assemblies, will come to an end.
Under the Section 7 of the Constitution higher education is also the task of the State governments. Hence, it is not at all reasonable if the Commission or the Central government take over almost all the powers of higher education vested with State governments. This should be a major reason why State governments should oppose the proposed Act.
The Central government believes that it can enslave universities, colleges and research institutes and it alone is the sole carrier of thinking power and intelligence, and all others should follow it. The only desire of the Central government is to reduce faculty members to the category of insects.
Such is the mindset of the present government that it always boasts of creating something new; it is such mindset alone, which is behind its effort to capture all powers of higher education through the proposed Act. Indeed, it resembles Rowlatt Act, a black law of colonial times, and it should never be enacted. The Gujarat Social Watch demands that the draft of this Act should be withdrawn.
---
*President, Indian Radical Human Association. Based on author's representation to Prakash Javdekar, minister, Human Resource Development, Government of India

Comments

Trending

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.