Friday, October 30, 2020

VC appointee relieved of responsibility

VC appointee relieved of responsibility

Executive Council Of DU Approves Probe Against Tyagi

Shradha.Chettri@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:  30.10.2020

A day after the President, the visitor of Delhi University, ordered an inquiry against vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi, the Executive Council approved the probe on Thursday. It also constituted a fact-finding committee to ascertain the facts of the recent tussle over top posts. The EC also resolved that P C Jha, appointed interim registrar and director of South Campus by Tyagi, would not hold any administrative position till the completion of inquiry.

On Wednesday night, Jha reportedly responded to the memorandum issued to him on October 24 by the other contending registrar, Vikas Gupta. Jha said that he would abide by all the instructions and directions given by the appropriate authorities. Jha reply states, “I was under the impression that as per DU Act and statutes and ordinances, I have to obey instructions given to me verbally or written by the vice-chancellor. Therefore, I replied to all the letters communicated at the appropriate time and issued various notifications. I understand there were contradictory communications amongst the academic community which led to some scale of confusion.” This response was also placed before the EC.

The Union education ministry had also directed Gupta to ascertain if Jha was a DU employee and to act against him for replying to the ministry’s letter as the registrar. Jha was first asked to refrain from issuing notifications and working in contravention of the university’s statutes on October 24. He was given three days’ time to reply. After Jha continued to issue notifications, another notice was sent to him on October 27 giving him 24 hours to respond.

Rajesh Jha, elected EC member, said, “For the events since October 21, Dr Geeta Bhatt has also been issued a memo and the administration will decide on the action on the basis of her reply.” Bhatt was appointed pro-vice-chancellor by Tyagi in place of incumbent acting vicechancellor P C Joshi, the provice-chancellor.

The proposal of J L Gupta to have one university representative in the visitorial inquiry panel under Section 7A, Clause 3 of the DU Act was accepted. Ashwini Shankar, chairman of teachers’ group INTEC, said, “Natural justice warrants the constitution of a fact-finding committee to enquire into the entire episode of October 21, 22, and 23 which has been a blot on the prestige of the university.”

National Democratic Teachers Front described the probe against Tyagi as a “muchneeded step to prevent the nearly century-old university slipping into an existential crisis”. Its president AK Bhagi said, “The government gave professor Tyagi many chances to streamline functioning and end adhocism. It is obvious the VC’s main aim was to cause turmoil and disaffection against the central government and UGC through his negative actions.”


CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Viceregal Lodge

High cut-off for medical admissions expected as scores in NEET soar

High cut-off for medical admissions expected as scores in NEET soar

Manash.Gohain@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:  30.10.2020

The cut-off marks of NEET for admission to undergraduate medical courses are set to rise steeply this year with a huge increase in the number of top scorers.

Comparison of data on NEET-UG scores for the two years, accessed by TOI, revealed that 111 candidates scored 700 and above out of a total of 720 marks this year, compared to just three in 2019. The number of those in the 650-699 score range is 3,903 this year against 1,022 last year. This year, there are 16,167 candidates scoring in the range of 600-649 while the figure was 6,892 in 2019.

37,500 more aspirants scored 500+ marks in NEET this yr

Counselling for registration and choice-filling by candidates for 15% all-India quota seats, conducted by the directorate general of health services (DGHS), is on. Most states are likely to conduct their counselling for admission to MBBS/BDS courses by the second week of November.

Total number of MBBS seats under NEET 2020 has increased with AIIMS and JIPMER (Puducherry) also coming under it to admit students to undergraduate courses. In all, a little over 80,000 MBBS and 38,000 BDS seats will be available for the aspirants this year, including nearly 42,500 seats in government-run institutions, including AIIMS and JIPMER. There will be an additional 10% seats under quota for economically weaker sections (EWS).

Compared to 2019, there are 37,512 more candidates scoring 500 marks or more this year compared to 2019. A total of 87,093 aspirants scored 500 marks or more in NEET-UG 2020 compared to 49,581 in 2019. And 56,857 more candidates scored 400 marks and above this year.

Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana witness a significant increase in the number of top-scorers. Kerala leads the way with 643 candidates scoring 650 and above against 115 in 2019.

From Rajasthan, the number of candidates scoring 500 and above marks increased from 7,659 in 2019 to 11,698 in 2020. Maharashtra also saw a significant jump in the number of high scorers, with 220% increase in the number of candidates scoring 600 and above marks this year. Tamil Nadu witnessed the highest jump in number of candidates scoring 600 and above marks — 1,029 this year against 146 in 2019.

“These are surprising numbers and will impact the cut-offs for undergraduate admissions this year. The toppers used to be predominantly from Rajasthan as it has become the capital of coaching where students are treated like they are in military camps. I have personally visited Kota to see this regimental coaching. Kerala is also surprising,” said Dr S Kumar, chancellor, Sri Devaraj Urs University, Kolar.

Air travel has lower Covid risk than grocery shopping, eating out

Air travel has lower Covid risk than grocery shopping, eating out

Manju.V@timesgroup.com

Mumbai:  30.10.2020

The risk of getting infected by coronavirus is lower on board an aircraft than say during grocery shopping or eating out, according to a study published by Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health. There are caveats to this though. Passengers should wear face masks, aircraft air conditioning/filtration systems should function well, cabin surfaces should be disinfected and appropriate ventilation should be maintained from gate to gate at the departure and arrival airports.

The big takeaway was the importance of layered risk mitigation strategies. The recently released report has presented scientific evidence on the effectiveness of various non-pharmaceutical interventions—like wearing face masks—to control the transmission of the virus on board aircraft. The strategies included consistent operation of ventilation systems, disinfection of surfaces, consistent wearing of face masks, and procedures during boarding and deplaning to maximise social distancing among passengers and crew members. The study did not look at the effectiveness of any single strategy and proposed using layered risk mitigation strategies.

When the aircraft cabin conditioning system is fully operating, the mask-wearing passenger in the nearest seat to a masked infectious person will have a substantially reduced exposure, the study said. “The estimated dose inhaled by an adjacent passenger over a few hours of exposure is likely to be less than the amount necessary to cause a secondary infection,” it found.

In fact, aircraft ventilation offers enhanced protection for diluting and removing airborne contagions in comparison to other indoor spaces with conventional mechanical ventilation and is substantially better than residential situations, the study said.

With more NEET toppers, high cut-off likely for medical seats

With more NEET toppers, high cut-off likely for medical seats

37,500 More Aspirants Scored 500+ Marks In NEET This Year

Manash.Gohain@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:  30.10.2020

The cut-off marks of NEET for admission to undergraduate medical courses this year is set to be very high with a huge increase in the number of top scorers as compared to 2019.

Comparison of data on NEET-UG scores for the two years, accessed by TOI, revealed that 111 candidates scored 700 and above out of a total of 720 marks this year as compared to just 3 in 2019. The number of those in the 650-699 score range is 3,903 this year as compared with 1,022 last year.

This year, there are 16,167 candidates scoring in the range of 600-649 while in 2019, the figure was 6,892. Counselling for registration and choice-filling by candidates for the 15% all-India quota seats, conducted by the directorate general of health services (DGHS) is already under way.

Most states are likely to conduct their counselling for admission to MBBS/BDS courses by second week of November. Total number of MBBS seats under NEET 2020 has increased with AIIMS and JIPMER (Puducherry) also coming under it to admit students to undergraduate courses. In all, a little over 80,000 MBBS and 38,000 BDS seats will be available for the aspirants this year, including nearly 42,500 seats in government-run institutions, including AIIMS and JIPMER. There will be an additional 10% seats under quota for economically weaker sections (EWS).

Compared to 2019, there are 37,512 more candidates scoring 500 marks or more this year as compared to 2019. A total of 87,093 aspirants scored 500 marks or more in NEET-UG 2020 as compared to 49,581 in 2019. And 56,857 more candidates scored 400 marks and above this year.

Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana witnesses a significant increase in the number of top-scorers. Kerala leads the way with 643 candidates scoring 650 and above as compared to 115 in 2019.

From Rajasthan, the number of candidates scoring 500 and above marks increased from 7,659 in 2019 to 11,698 in 2020. Maharashtra also saw a significant jump in the number of high scorers, with 220% increase in the number of candidates scoring 600 and above marks this year. Tamil Nadu witnessed the highest jump in number of candidates scoring 600 and above marks—1029 this year as compared to 146 in 2019.

“These are surprising numbers and will impact the cut-offs for undergraduate admissions this year. The toppers used to be predominantly from Rajasthan as it has become the capital of coaching where students are treated like they are in military camps. I have personally visited Kota to see this regimental coaching. Kerala is also surprising,” said Dr S Kumar, chancellor, Sri Devaraj Urs University, Kolar.


Total number of MBBS seats under NEET 2020 has increased with AIIMS and JIPMER (Puducherry) also coming under it to admit students to undergraduate courses

Loot in the name of people of soil


SCAM CENTRAL

Loot in the name of people of soil

In This Fourth Part Of A Series On Scams In Tamil Nadu, TOI Takes A Look At PM Kisan Scheme Where Govt Officials, Contract Employees And Internet Owners Colluded To Divert Money To Fake Beneficiaries

Team TOI  30.10.2020 

On October 7, a division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice B Pugalendhi observed that though there were several schemes meant for farmers, the status of the farming community remains the same as the benefits of the schemes do not reach them.

The judges then sought from the state government details of Union and state government schemes for farmers welfare, particularly Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, the number of ineligible beneficiaries enrolled, cases registered, people arrested for malpractices and monitoring mechanism put in place.

The PM Kisan scam has not only turned out to be a telling example of how funds routed to the states for welfare work was being looted but also a reminder for putting in place checks and balances to prevent such misappropriation.

The scheme provides ₹6,000 per year in three instalments for small farmers to procure farm inputs like fertilizers to ensure that yield does not drop because of fund crunch midway through cultivation. A network of junior agriculture department officers, contract staff in agriculture offices and internet centre owners joined hands to siphon off the money by enrolling non-farmers, making multiple entries and enrolling family members of farmers.

More than 5.5 lakh ineligible beneficiaries, mostly non-farmers, swindled more than ₹110 crore from the exchequer. Middlemen, who facilitated the fraud, got at least ₹50 crore as their share from the beneficiaries, investigations reveal. There were multiple beneficiaries in many families and there were also instances of migrant workers being enrolled as TN farmers under the scheme. The CB-CID has arrested more than 100 people so far in the case.

The state government has claimed to have recovered more than ₹100 crore and is figuring out ways and means to plug the loopholes in implementation of the schemes. Of the 5.5 lakh ineligible beneficiaries, there were 70,000 in Cuddalore district of northern Tamil Nadu alone who received upto ₹13 crore under the scheme. The government has recovered ₹11.5 crore so far. In neighbouring Villupuram and Kallakurichi districts, epicentres of the scam, more than ₹30 crore was disbursed illegally to more than one lakh ineligible beneficiaries. The CB-CID sleuths have arrested close to 40 temporary staff members posted at agriculture department and at common service centres in the two districts.

Initially, the beneficiaries were identified by both revenue and agriculture departments and the details were uploaded in the PM-Kisan portal. The uploaded data were validated through their Aadhaar cards and their account numbers were verified using the public finance management system by the Centre. The procedure was followed from December 2018 to March 2019.

The Centre introduced a new provision in April 2019 authorising self-registration through the ‘farmers’ corner’ on the portal. The Centre again authorised common service centres to implement the scheme last November.

During the initial period, the joint directors of agriculture verified and approved the farmers’ registration by logging on to the district-level login page. The Centre subsequently gave provision to block-level users to approve the selfregistered farmers and CSC-registered farmers to reduce processing time. It was then that the ineligible people managed to upload their details on the portal and get their applications approved and started receiving the financial assistance of ₹2,000 every trimester.

The state government blamed the pandemic, which forced much of the government officials to focus on Covid battle giving room for touts and agri staff to exploit the gaps in the self-registration process. “But we have acted swiftly in detecting the irregularities, recovering the money and bringing to book the violators,’’ agriculture minister R Doraikannu said last month.

Agri officials are also upbeat that they could go behind perpetrators of the scam without any political influence. “The follow up action has been a role model,’’ said a senior agriculture officer. Soon after the irregularities were detected state agriculture secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi held video conferences with district collectors every week, while other top bureaucrats in the department tracked the follow up action on a daily basis.

But there are questions that still remain unanswered. Only contract staff of the agri department and internet centre owners have been arrested. There are no answers yet from the government to the question if a scam of this scale would happen without the knowledge if not connivance of agri officials.

Several north Indian guest workers were included as beneficiaries in districts like Salem and Dharmapuri. Though their accounts have been frozen, recovery of money from them has not happened since they have left for their hometowns due to lockdowns. Officials are yet to figure out a way to recover money from them. “We have informed the state officials about this situation. We don’t know how to proceed,’’ said an agri officer from Salem.

The next instalment is scheduled for December/January and almost 40 lakh eligible farmers are expected to get the money in their bank accounts. At the same time there are complaints from the farming community that in several places genuine farmers have been left out of the scheme. The onus is now on the government to ensure a flawless selfregistration process to enrol genuine beneficiaries and ensure they get the benefits before December.

Email your feedback to southpole.toi@timesgroup.com

7.5% quota: HC hopes not to question delay in governor’s decision

7.5% quota: HC hopes not to question delay in governor’s decision

K.Kaushik@timesgroup.com

Madurai:  30.10.2020

The Madras high court has expressed hope that an occasion would not arise for it to question the governor and seek an explanation for delay in taking decisions. The court was hearing the issue of the delay in governor’s assent to the bill ensuring 7.5% quota in MBBS seats for government school students in Tamil Nadu.

When Tamil Nadu advocategeneral Vijay Narayan told a division bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi that a governor is not answerable to any court for exercise of powers and duties, the judges said: “The protection under Article 361has been given by the framers of the Constitution with hope and trust in the appointees that they would perform their constitutional functioning promptly, and there would not be any situation, wherein they would be called for to give explanation or they will be questioned by the court of law.”

“When situation changes and a present kind of situation arises, a different approach has to be taken by the courts in the interest of the public. It is a well settled law that extraordinary situations require extraordinary remedies,” the judges said, adding that when public interest requires, the court has to do its constitutional duties. “However, this court is of the opinion that such a situation would not arise to pass any order in the matter.”

The judges pointed out that the Bill was passed by Tamil Nadu assembly unanimously on September 15 and sent to governor the same day for assent, and is pending since. Agreeing that Article 361 of the Constitution gives protection to the constitutional authority, they said, “However, in the given circumstances, a decision has to be taken as soon as possible as provided under Article 200 of the Constitution, by considering the future of the government school students, who are invariably from marginalized and poor sections.”

EPS, Stalin take same flight, Covid protocol keeps it incident-free

EPS, Stalin take same flight, Covid protocol keeps it incident-free

Chennai/Madurai:  30.10.2020

When chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and leader of opposition M K Stalin were scheduled to take the same Indigo flight from Chennai to Madurai on Thursday, there was an air of expectation on how things would pan out during the journey.

Though political rivals, Stalin had recently made it a point to personally call on Palaniswami at his residence to condole the passing away the latter’s mother. Hence, while no one expected any political turbulence during the flight, there was curiosity over at least exchanging pleasantries.

But Covid protocol in place put to rest all expectations. “Thalaivar (Stalin) completed all formalities and got himself seated, much before the CM, who arrived just in time for the flight. Both were seated afar. With everyone forced to wear masks and face shield, one could hardly recognize anyone on the flight to even share a smile, let alone exchanging pleasantries,” said a source in the DMK who was also on the flight.

On landing in Madurai, CM got off the aircraft first and Stalin a little later. “But we were the first to leave the airport and were taken out through a separate gate,” the DMK source said.

Palaniswami and Stalin will be visiting Pasumpon in Ramanathapuram district to garland Muthuramalinga Thevar statue on his Jayanthi on Friday.

Hundreds of AIADMK and DMK cadres were waiting outside the Madurai airport and physical distancing norms were thrown to the wind. TNN