News Wrap


Between 2006 and 2011, Bihar recruited over 1.42 lac contract teachers, for classes I to XII in two phases under Shikshak Niyojan 2006 and Shikshak Niyojan 2008. A degree or marksheet was the only criteria. Bihar has since uncovered a teacher recruitment scandal in which over 20,000 applicants are suspected to have obtained jobs, using forged degrees. Evidence points to officials at five levels, who turned a blind eye, connived or accepted bribes to clear the appointments. ‘‘Group Appointments’’ were pursued with ‘‘Package Deals’’. Only 12 mukhiyas who headed committees which appointed teachers at the panchayat level, have been removed for allegedly accepting bribes. Amongst officials who made the appointments at other levels, no case has been registered against any block education officer, district education officer and officials who made the appointments at other levels, no case has been registered against any block education officer, district education officer and officials who made the appointments at other levels. Verification exercises suggest that forged degrees may have been submitted by over 20,000 candidates, who were appointed as teachers. 779 teachers have been dismissed, after verification of 7,000 degrees. 2734 teachers have been removed, after failing twice to clear a competency test. State government authorities received over 53,000 complaints of appointments, made on the basis of forged degrees. Committees to appoint teachers took bribes of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lac from each candidate.

In West Bengal, at least 32 students have complained to Bhaktabala B Ed College (Kalyani University) that they were given admission after each of them paid amounts ranging from Rs 1.25 lac to Rs 1.5 lac, to Shri Tanmay Acharya, General Secretary of the Trinamul Congress Chatra Parishad of Kalyani University. Students claim they also paid Rs 40,000 as course fee to the college, for which they were given receipts.

Sri Lanka’s Elephants
There are an estimated 3100 elephants in Sri Lanka. Wildlife protection laws require all Sri Lankan elephants to be registered by their owners. Enforcing the law is a problem, as the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department is legally barred from tracing elephants held on private property. The illegal trade in elephants, fuelled by tourism, is threatening to wipe out the species, in Sri Lanka. The sharp increase in illegal trade in animals and the destruction of their natural habitat has put the elephant population at an increasing risk. Many wild elephants are hauled to supply captive elephants for the booming tourist industry, and for a handful of wealthy individuals. The capture of wild elephants is followed by the public exhibition of elephants, having questionable legal origin. Trafficked elephants, some stolen from protected areas such as National Parks, are sold for 1.2 million Pound each, or rented for about 16,000 Pound a month. There are at least 172 illegally captured elephant babies across Sri Lanka, and the trend is a serious threat to the overall population. Around 60% of Sri Lanka’s elephants live outside protected areas. The clearance of large areas of forests, to make way for commercial plantations since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009, has compounded the threat to elephants. Theft of wild elephants is master-minded by poaching gangs, and assisted by corrupt officials.

Systemic Bribery
Through a programme of ‘‘massive and systemic bribery’’ Glaxo Smith Kline has been earning billions of renminbi in ‘illegal revenues’ in China. Following a 10-month long corruption investigation, China has raised the list of accusations, and the pressures on the pharmaceuticals group. Between 2009 and 2012, around fifty suspects at GSK’s Chinese subsidiary, had been identified as part of a ‘complete bribery chain’ that funnelled money to hospitals, doctors and government officials. Mark Reilley, a Briton who was head of the unit, ordered subordinates to offer the illegal payments. The company paid for the bribes by inflating the price of medicines in China, some of which were seven times more expensive, than in any other market.

Desert Labour Camps
About 1.4 million migrant workers make up a large majority of the population in Qatar, where Qataris number just over 2 million. The migrant workers are powering Qatar’s breakneck development, including preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They undergo long hours in punishing desert heat, and nights spent sqeezed into squalid accommodation. The contracts show how workers from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have been lured to work for companies, under false pretences, and cannot escape. Many have not been paid for months, and in some cases more than a year. They were promised for more than they got. The Qatari system of managing migrant labour, known as ‘Kafala’, denies the workers the rights to move job, or even leave the country. Passports are confiscated and workers can leave Qatar, only with permission from their sponsor. Workers continue to suffer in conditions that amount to forced labour. For a job in Qatar, most workers paid hundreds of pounds to agents in their home countries.

Vol. 47, No.7, Aug 24 - 30, 2014