News Wrap


The ‘‘world bank development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’’ cited the Vyapam scam in India, to illustrate how politics can intensify misalignment in education systems. The Vyapam scam (Madhya Pradesh) and mass copying (Bihar) underscores the overall learning crisis among children in India. In the Vyapam scam, senior politicians and government officials had allegedly set up a system, allowing unqualified candidates to pay bribes, for receiving high ranking in entrance tests, to gain entry for professional courses and jobs. Mass cheating is a curse in some states, where armed police are sometimes deployed in class rooms. Many parents make it difficult to implement learning focused policies. In Bihar and other states families hand over cheat sheets to students, taking exams.

In spite of India’s University Grants Commission taking initiatives and formulating regulations pertaining to norms, standards and quality of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the model of Netaji Subhas Open University, despicable aberrations have come to light in West Bengal. Enrolled students of Master of Social Work are required to appear for the viva, with two copies of the project report, duly certified by the supervisor. When 180 students of MSW programme in Cooch Behar (centre code 03), appeared for the term-end examination of 2017, at South Calcutta Girls’ College, room no 5 & 6, on 17 October 2017, the examiners instead of asking questions on their field report, asked the candidates : ‘‘How much money have you paid to the supervisors? The field report is trash’’. The candidates were asked to note down the phone numbers of the examiners, and contact them for preparing the field report next time. The students are forced to pay huge amounts to the supervisors, for clearing research examinations.

Doting Dad Clubs
In July 2017, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, backed his son, Tejashwi Yadav, the Former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, whose alleged corruption was the ostensible reason for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to break his alliance with the RJD, and align with the BJP. Tejashi Yadav along with his parents and siblings, is accused of acquiring prime land in Patna, via a confidant’s shell company, in lieu of leases given out to a private company for the maintenance of two hotels owned by the Indian Railways, in Ranchi and Puri. Dating back to 2006, the deal occurred when Lalu was Railway Minister, and Tejashwi was fifteen years old.

Former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram in May 2017, described as ‘‘baseless’’ the charge that his son, Karti, had influenced the working of the erstwhile Foreign Investment Promotion Board. Karti is accused of receiving kickbacks for having obtained a FIPB clearance for the media house INX Media in 2007, when his father was finance minister. His name has also figured in connection with the Aircel Maxix deal, with allegations that a company he secretly owned, got a share in Aircel, as a result of facilitating FIPB clearance for the deal.

Amit Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)) president has spoken out on the 08 October 2017, report in the news portal, ‘‘The Wire’’ outlining the sudden and steep rise in the turnover of son Jay Shah’s company, a year after his father took over the reins of the ruling BJP party and Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. The report in ‘‘The Wire’’ with facts from the Registrar of Companies, pointed out that Jay Shah’s company, Temple Enterprise Private Limited, did not own any fixed assets, and had no inventories or stock in 2013-14. It earned revenues worth Rs 50,000 in 2014-15, and then its revenues rose up 16,000 times to Rs 80.5 crore in 2015-16. The BJP in defence has observed that Rs 80.5 crore were not profits but revenues and the company actually posted a loss of Rs 1.4 crore in 2015-16. As a result of this loss and previous losses, Temple Enterprise stopped its activities in October 2016. Another enterprise called Kusum Finserve, in which Jay Shah owns a 60% stake, has now diversified into producing wind energy, and is setting up a 2.1 megawatt windmill plant with Rs 15 crore in Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh). Besides securing finance from a cooperative bank, Kusum Finserve also managed to get a Rs 10.35 crore loan from the public sector enterprise, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, for setting up the plant. ‘‘The Wire’’ report has other details of Jay Shah’s companies, and those who gave him some of the loans. Fathers, as politicians, are defending the wrong doings of their sons, who venture into private business.

China’s New Politburo
The new five-year leadership line up, unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping on 25 October 2016, is geared towards implementing a two-stage plan, that aims to make China a leading developed country, by the middle of the 21st century. China’s two centenary goals are a moderatily prosperous society by 2021, and an advanced socialist country by 2050. Mr Xi has started his second innings as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Mr Li Keqiang has already served his first term as Premier, and head of the state council, China’s cabinet. Xi Jinping is very familiar with Li Zhanshu and Zao Leji, who worked as a team in the past five years. The team of rivals shows the solidarity and unity of the leadership. Li Zhanshu is the head of China’s National People’s Congress (CNPC), the country’s top legislative body. Xi’s focus is cementing ‘‘rule of law’’ in China, requiring extensive interaction with the CNPC. Wang Yang, earlier worked in Shanghai, heads the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is China’s top advisory body, talked with generating fresh ideas. Wang Huning, the top party theorist, is director of the Central Policy Research Office, assuming charge of ideology, propaganda and party organisation. Zhao Leji is China’s anti-corruption head. All the members are above age 60. The new leadership is expected to advance socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Vol. 50, No.29, Jan 21 - 27, 2017