Non-NET fellowship: Former UGC member member hits out at Smriti Irani

Non-NET fellowship: Former UGC member member hits out at Smriti IraniNew Delhi: Former UGC member M M Ansari on Thursday hit out at HRD Minister Smriti Iraniaccusing her ministry of interfering in the affairs of the University Grants Commission by ordering to repeal the decision taken on non-NET fellowship issue.

Ansari, who has earlier been critical over the functioning of the Ministry, has once again questioned the working of the Minister, saying, “The attitude and behaviour of the Minister is unbecoming of an official of this stature.”

“The HRD Minister has snubbed the UGC for its decision on non-NET qualified research students, which tantamount to interference in the functionality of an autonomous body.

“UGC’s decisions are taken in the presence of Higher Education Secretary and other members who are also appointed by the MHRD. What is the fun of having an apex body like UGC if its decision are to ridiculed and discarded by the government,” he said.

His outburst against the Minister and her Ministry came at a time when PhD aspirants have mounted a strong protest against the UGC decision to discontinue the non-NET fellowship programme, with the agitation entering the tenth day today.

Appearing to support the non-NET candidates, Ansari also questioned the disparity in the fellowship amount given to NET and non-NET category students.

“When both the category students are getting the same degree, then why there should be a disparity in the fellowship amount?” he asked.

Coming out in support of the agitating students, another former UGC member Yogendra Yadav claimed that when he was a member of the Commission, a committee was formed to “expand the scope of the NET and Non-NET fellowships” but it never happened.

“On the contrary UGC decided to do away with the fellowship. What an expansion of the scope it was? I have been a member of the UGC, I know how things work there. The moment you raise a voice, you are removed. But untill there is noise from the streets, nothing happens in this building,” Yadav, who went on to join AAP and was later removed from the party, said while addressing the students.

“I realised it being its member that the UGC was not the highest academic body but a bureaucratic or clerical office working at whims and winks of MHRD,” he said.

UGC had resolved to discontinue the scheme of non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship, which is provided to those undertaking research in central universities across India, in a meeting held on October 7, contending that the fellowship programme was discriminatory in nature and lacked uniformity among universities in the selection process.

The Commission had also cited shortage of funds as the reason behind inability to provide fellowships, triggering protests last week by the students from universities across Delhi demanding that the decision be revoked.

Under the scheme, financial assistance was provided to students undertaking MPhil and PhD of Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 per month respectively.

PhD students got assistance for four years and MPhil students for 18 months. They also got a contingency amount per year to help them carry out their research.

The government had yesterday directed UGC to not discontinue any fellowships and also notified constituion of a five-member panel to review all existing fellowships.

Calling the government’s announcement an “eyewash”, the students have refused to call off their agitation demanding the fellowship amount be increased and the review committee’s recommendations not to consider economic and merit means for the grant.

Develop defence, health products

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and HRD Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi on Friday.(Source: PTI) President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and HRD Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi on Friday.(Source: PTI)

Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged Indian Institutes of Technology to take up the challenge of developing defence and health equipment and user-friendly innovations in railways so that India ceases to be dependent on imports. He was addressing a conference of chairmen of Boards of Governors and directors of IITs organised by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Modi in his speech sought technological support from IITs in realising the vision of “housing for all”. Citing examples of a range of defence and health sector equipments and sensitive and security-related items like currency ink and tear gas which are imported, he said,

“I refuse to believe that India does not have the talent to make these things.” IITs he said need to teach their students the “science of thinking and the art of living.”

The President also emphasised the need for research at these premiere institutes to be attuned to the technological needs of the nation.

Describing IITs as the “knowledge leaders” of the nation, he asked them to explore how quality of education can be improved and good governance brought in to help the institutes of higher learning compete with the best in the world. He called upon the Council of IITs to draw up a roadmap for governance in line with the best global practices and implement it without any delay.

He added that the structure of a good education system rests on four pillars — values, teachers, students and infrastructure. There is no dearth of talent in our faculty or students. Constraints such as huge shortage of faculty should be urgently addressed. Vacancy in IITs varies from 10 per cent to 52 per cent and the overall vacancy in the 16 IITs is over 37 per cent. He said the process of ranking institutes provides a reality check and is an opportunity to introspect the position on a global map.

The Prime Minister conceded that global rankings are important but we should also have our own parameters of rankings to serve as an “inbuilt mechanism for change and improvement.”

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IIT-Kharagpur plans to bring flexible credit-based system in 2016

iitThe new system will be introduced in phases from 2016.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur will soon introduce a new “credit-based system” which would allow students the flexibility to complete a four-year B. Tech course in three-and-a-half years.

“For each course there would be pre-specified credit which allows a student the flexibility to complete his course at his own pace. Fast-paced students can finish off six months earlier while those who want to go for year-long internship can go in between and come back to finish the course later on,” IIT-Kharagpur, Director, Partha Pratim Chakrabarti said.

The new system, which is part of an academic review to modernise the institute’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses, would be introduced in phases from 2016, he said.

Rajendra Singh, Dean of undergraduate studies, told PTI that if some B. Tech students need more time, they would be given upto eight years, while a five-year dual degree course can be completed in seven years.

Professors said the step was being taken as it has been noticed that many students were “bitten by the entrepreneurship bug” during their course and they needed time to launch their start-ups.

“They (students) can take a break from studies for their own venture. Others want time for long internships to get industry exposure which increases their employability and adds to their qualification. Again in some cases the learning process may just be little slow. The new system will have room for everyone,” Singh said.

A team of professors of the institute studied the best practices in the top 20 universities of the world, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and then devised the new credit-based system.

At present, every course in IITs is taught for a specified number of years and is divided into six-month-long semesters.

After the new system is put in place the rigidity of completing the course in the specified period in IIT Kharagpur will be diluted.

“There will be some core courses, specialisations, micro-specialisations and additional subjects from the humanities, management and ethics,” Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of the board of governors, said.

IIT-Kharagpur is also taking the lead in initiating mobility of students across all IITs.

“Each IIT has a centre of excellence which may not be the same in other IITs. So the idea is to allow IIT students to spend a part of his course period in his chosen IIT,” Chakrabarti said.

The institute has already spoken to IITs in Mumbai, Kanpur and Guwahati for such an exchange of students, he added.


UPSC puts up civil services exam marksheets online

The marksheets of civil services (preliminary) examination 2013 have also been made available online.The marksheets of civil services (preliminary) examination 2013 have also been made available online.

The marksheets of civil services examination, results of which were declared last month, have been put up on the website of Union Public Service Commission.

Candidates, who appeared in the 2013 civil services examination, can log on to the UPSC website —–to access their marksheets.

The marksheets of candidates who were recommended and not recommended for prestigious government jobs on the basis of the civil services exam, and detailed results of those who could not qualify the main examination have been made available on the UPSC portal.

The marksheets of civil services (preliminary) examination 2013 have also been made available online. “These marksheets will be available online till August 19,” said an official of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

The civil services examination is conducted annually by the UPSC in three stages–preliminary, main and interview– to choose candidates for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) among others.

As many as 1,122 candidates were declared successful in the 2013 civil services examinations, results of which were declared on June 12.

The civil services (preliminary) examination was held on May 26, 2013. A total of 7,76,565 candidates applied for the exam, out of which 3,23,949 candidates actually appeared and 14,959 candidates were declared qualified for appearance in the main examination.

The main exam was held in December, 2013 and based on their performance, 3,003 candidates were shortlisted for the personality test which was conducted in April-June, this year.

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Nitish Kumar flays Modi Govt for announcing rail hike before budget

Former Railway Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. (Source: PTI)Former Railway Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. (Source: PTI)

Former Railway Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Friday criticised Narendra Modi government for promoting a “bad tradition” of announcing hike in Railway fare and freight before presentation of Railway budget in Parliament.

“They are promising the country that ‘Achye deen aa gaye hain’ (good days have come) and promoting bad tradition,” Kumar told reporters.

His reaction came in the wake of Narendra Modi government increasing railway passenger fare by 14.2 per cent in all classes and freight by 6.5 per cent with effect from today.

Kumar, who served as Railway minister in the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said, “I presented five Railway budget and always followed tradition of announcing roadmap of railway including proposal for increasing fare and freight in Parliament through budget.”

“When UPA government in the recent past had announced increase in Railway fare and freight before presentation of Railway budget it was the same BJP which had made hue and cry….Now they are doing the same and promoting a bad tradition,” he said, taking a potshots at BJP-led government at the Centre.

Kumar described 14.2 per cent hike in fare and 6.5 per cent in freight as a “big increase” which he said would further lift prices of essential commodities.

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DU decision on marks deduction discriminatory

CBSE treats all the courses of computer stream such as Computer Science and Informatics Practices on par with elective subjects. ( Source: PTI )CBSE treats all the courses of computer stream such as Computer Science and Informatics Practices on par with elective subjects. ( Source: PTI )

CBSE has described as “unfair” and “discriminatory” Delhi University’s decision to deduct 2.5 per cent from the aggregate marks of those aspirants of the four-year under graduate course who had opted for Informatics Practices as an elective subject in their class XII exams.

Taking strong exception to the DU guidelines for admission into undergraduate programme, the Central Board of Secondary Education has sought review of the decision and accord same advantage to those who had opted for Informatics Practices.

In its admission guidelines, the DU has said the students who had chosen Informatics Practices in class XII tend to lose 2.5 per cent from the percentage aggregate marks for admission into FYUP.

In a letter to DU Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh, CBSE Chairman Vineet Joshi asked the university to review the decision saying a large number of students will be at
disadvantageous position in the admission process as they have become aware of the decision at a very “late stage”.

Joshi said CBSE treats all the courses of computer stream such as Computer Science and Informatics Practices on par with elective subjects.

“In this regard, CBSE would like to express its concern that it would be really unfair, unjustified and discriminatory for students who have studied Informatics Practices instead of
Computer Science to be put at a disadvantage by reducing 2.5 per cent marks from the percentage aggregate marks,” Joshi said.

Seeking review of the decision by the University, the CBSE chairman also suggested that a team of experts may be asked to examine contents of both the courses.

“In absence of any discrimination by the CBSE between these courses, it is imperative that the course contents may kindly be examined by a team of experts and both the courses may please be treated at par so that students who have studied Informatics Practices are not discriminated against at the time of admission,” he said.

Joshi mentioned that such a rule did not exist when the students chose the subject. “Academically and administratively, this seems like a gross injustice.”


IIIT to be set up in Manipur

IIT to be set up in Manipur soon. IIIT to be set up in Manipur soon.

An Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) will be set up in Senapati in Manipur under Public Private Partnership (PPP), Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has said.

A delegation of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Develpment has recently visited the state and discussed establishing of an IIIT in the state, Singh said at a function here yesterday. “The state government is doing its best to sign an agreement with the ministry before imposition of Code of Conduct for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

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Schools accepting donation to be fined 10 times

DelhiProhibiting all unaided private schools in the capital from charging capitation fees and screening aspirants for nursery admission, the Directorate of Education (DoE) has issued an order that makes schools liable to pay a fine “which may extend up to 10 times of the fee charged” in case they are found taking donations. The DoE order states,”All unaided private recognised schools of the capital are directed to comply with the provisions of Right to Education Act, 2009, in letter and spirit and not to indulge in the practice of demanding and accepting donation/capitation fee of any kind, directly or indirectly, while admitting a child, from parents.” Section 13(2) of the Right to Education Act says that no school or person, while admitting a child, can collect any capitation fee and subject the child or parents or guardian to any screening. Any school contravening the provision “shall be punishable with fine which may extend up to ten times of the capitation fee charged”. It further cites a Delhi High Court order which says, “It is common knowledge that though there is obligation on the state to provide free and compulsory education to children and the corresponding responsibility of the institution to afford the same, educational institutions cannot be allowed to run as ‘teaching shops’ as the same would be detrimental to equal opportunity to children”, warning of stern action in case of violation. – See more at:

Top Indian,Aus varsities to offer new scholarship programme

M_Id_438385_StudentTop Indian universities including IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras have now partnered with University of Melbourne in Australia to offer a new joint PhD scholarship programme from 2014.

The multimillion-dollar scholarship programme was launched in India on Monday to provide the next generation of researchers,innovators and entrepreneurs in Melbourne and India with world-leading academic supervision and support.

According to an official statement,the Melbourne-India Postgraduate Programme (MIPP) will link the University of Melbourne with some of the leading research institutes in India,the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (IISc),the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-K) and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M).

A joint initiative of the four institutions is an AUD 3 million programme which will provide 16 PhD scholarships and associated support for research exchanges over the next three years.

Speaking ahead of the launch,Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said the new programme was a valuable addition to Melbourne’s already extensive scholarship offerings.

“By enabling students from India and Australia to undertake jointly developed research of the highest quality,we’re confident the programme will address shared global challenges in areas of environmental,societal and technological need.”

“We’re excited that the program will give students the opportunity to contribute to the development of education,cultural and industry links between both countries,” Davis said.

The programme will officially commence in 2014 and will be open to PhD students enrolled at the University Of Melbourne,to be co-supervised by staff at IIT-K,IIT-M or IISC.

Alternatively,students enrolled in one of the three Indian institutions will have access to co-supervision with Melbourne academics.

IIT-K Director Professor Indranil Manna said the initiative would bring leading institutions together.

“Australian and Indian communities hold immense respect for each other and this is yet another opportunity that would contribute to the strengthening of cultural ties between the two great nations,” he said.

15 per cent fee hike in private schools worries parents

M_Id_437820_School_fee_HikePrivate schools in Kashmir,under the cover of a status quo order from the High Court,have hiked the tuition and other fees by a substantial 15 per cent,which has left many parents worried.

One of the leading private missionary schools has hiked the fees by Rs 350 per month,an increase of 18 per cent over the fees charged last year. In fact,the school has increased the tuition fees over the past three years by almost 100 per cent now.

“When my daughter got admission in this school in 2010,the monthly tuition fee was only Rs 1200. From this month onwards,I am supposed to pay Rs 2300 per month,” Mohammad Shafi,a parent,said.

He said the transportation charges have also nearly doubled in the past three years from Rs 600 per month to present Rs 1100. “There has been no hike in transportation charges this year so far,” Shafi added.

Fayaz Ahmad,whose two daughters are enrolled in a leading ‘Girls Only’ school of the valley,said the school management had thrown all government guidelines and the Supreme Court orders to wind.

“There is strict ban on capitation fees or donations imposed by the Supreme Court. However,the school charged Rs 25,000 as donation and even gave a receipt for the same,” he claimed.

Ahmad said the school management has affected an increase of 15 per cent in the tuition fees this year.

The schools are also imposing annual sundry charges like development fees,library fees and medical fees.

The schools are even putting the synonyms to good use. One of the schools has levied Rs 575 for ‘Excursion and Extracurricular’ activities and another Rs 575 per year as ‘Physical Training and Outings’ charge.

Many parents are complaining that despite availing so many benefits from the government,including land at nominal rent,these private schools were fleecing the people in the naming of imparting quality education.

The missionary schools in the valley have been given hundreds of acres of land in prime areas on a nominal rent as low as Rs 100 per acre for improving the education scenario. However,the schools are now seen as commercial enterprises which earn crores of rupees every year through donations,admission fees and exorbitant tuition fees.

Acting on orders of Jammu and Kashmir High Court in a public interest litigation filed last year,the state government in May this year formed a committee headed by Justice (retired) Bilal Nazki to look into the fee structure and facilities provided by these schools.

The mandate of the committee was to grade the schools according to infrastructure,quality of faculty and other services and suggest fees slabs for them.

The committee failed to take off immediately as the government could not provide an office for it to start work. In the meantime,an organisation of private schools approached the court with the plea to quash the government order that led to formation of the committee.

The High Court last month directed the state government to file objections to the plea within three weeks and ordered the parties to maintain status quo on the matter.

“We had started the proceedings but the High Court has now ordered status quo,” Justice Nazki said.

He said further proceedings will be carried out once the High Court issues some clear directions in the matter.

Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri said while there are no clear directions from the High Court in the case,maintaining the status quo should have meant that nothing,including the existing fees,should change till further orders.

“There is nothing in the orders that can stop the government appointed committee to continue the proceedings as the committee had started functioning before the petition was filed,” Qadri said.