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Fanning the fire

Communal politics at play in Malda and Delhi
The BJP is making much song and dance about the denial of permission to its team to visit the troubled Kaliachak town of West Bengal's Malda district due to the prohibitory orders imposed there. It is a battle for votes in a state going to the polls later this year. Malda shares the border with Bangladesh and has a 51 per cent Muslim population that has traditionally voted for the Left and the Congress. Since these two parties’ hold in the area is weakening, Trinamool Congress and the BJP are trying to win over the Muslim and minority Hindu votes respectively.

Malda hit national headlines after last week’s violence. A mob attending a rally organised by a Muslim organisation, Anjuman Ahle Sunnatul Jamaat (AJS), turned violent and attacked a police station to burn records of criminals facing action ahead of elections and torched two dozen vehicles. The Muslim protest was against Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari's blasphemous remarks about Prophet Muhammad. Tiwari reacted to a statement by UP Cabinet minister Azam Khan, who called RSS members homosexuals. It was a familiar communal exchange between hotheads which spiraled out of control. The Mamata Banerjee government erred by allowing the Muslim rally especially when it had denied permission to established political parties to hold similar rallies. Further it helped criminals with police inaction or bail. Communal politics is seeking to poison Malda, which had maintained peace even when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.

The BJP has a limited presence in the area but is trying to comfort Hindu voters in a communally charged environment. It is laying the entire blame on the Trinamool Congress without attempting to rein in its own bands of fanatics. In Delhi a familiar mischievous BJP agenda is being implemented by Subramanian Swamy with an eye on the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections. An organisation under his charge held a seminar on the Ram Temple in Delhi University which evoked protests from other student organisations. In this emerging bleak scenario, will the voters in West Bengal and UP do a Bihar or fall prey to communal politics?


BJP team to probe Malda communal violence

Ahead of Assembly elections in West Bengal, a three-member BJP fact-finding team will visit Malda district on Monday to submit a report on communal violence that had erupted last Sunday post alleged blasphemous comments by a right wing leader.

Even Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh may visit Malda on January 18 for on the spot enquiry, given reports that thousands of protesters went on the rampage in Kaliachak, setting ablaze a police station and damaging vehicles.

Set up by BJP president Amit Shah, the enquiry team does not have party office-bearers from the state or who are in-charge of West Bengal as its members. S S Ahluwalia, who is a member of the panel, is an MP from Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

 It will be headed by party national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupender Yadav and have former director general of police B D Ram as its third member.

The team will submit its report to Amit Shah after visiting the violence-hit area, a BJP press release stated.

The Vishwa Hindu Prarishad has also decided to jump into the communal cauldron with its mass agitations at the district levels as it alleged that it was not just a riot but a much dangerous attempt to divide the nation. VHP general secretary (international) Dr Surendra Jain accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of shielding minorities “for a few votes”.

“There are allegations that the TMC is protecting anti-India forces in the state,” Jain charged though Mamata Banerjee has denied communal tensions in the state. On the contrary, she recently said that the threat of Maoists has also disappeared.  

On Sunday, hardly-know local Muslim organization Idara-e-Shariya had hit the street, violently protesting against Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari’s alleged hate speech delivered in Uttar Pradesh. 

The minority group demanded action against Tiwari for his derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad.



Amitabh Kant appointed CEO of NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog officials to learn from China storyOdisha finance minister denied entry to Niti Aayog meetNITI Aayog calls for further easing of start-up normsA-grade economic report card: ModiOdisha seeks Rs 3,500 cr assistance via Niti Aayog

Amitabh Kant, secretary in the department of industrial policy and promotion, has been appointed the chief executive officer (CEO) of the NITI Aayog. He will take over the job after his retirement from service in February end.

"The competent authority has approved the appointment...after his (Kant's) superannuation. The terms and conditions of his appointment will be conveyed in due course," an order issued by the department of personnel and training said on Thursday.

Amitabh Kant is known to be the brain behind two key campaigns of Narendra Modi government - Make in India and the ease of doing business.

Kant has been appointed in place of former IAS officer Sindhushree Khullar, who was appointed as the first CEO of the National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog, a body that has replaced Planning Commission, for a fixed one-year term beginning January 1, last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is Chairman of Niti Aayog.



Government should think beyond IIMs

Hitesh Arora
Management education in India has traversed a long distance over the years and has established itself as a powerful force capable of bringing about the manufacturing revolution in India envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It provides the foundation to young managers to be a part of the desired paradigm shift in the Indian growth trajectory. At present, management education is imparted by universities, Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) and numerous private institutes. These train future managers and global leaders.
The Indian Institutes of Management Bill 2015 if enacted by Parliament would “declare certain institutes of management to be institutions of national importance with the view to empower these institutions to attain standards of global excellence in management, management research and allied areas of knowledge and to provide for certain other matters connected with such institutions or incidental thereto”.
Though this move could mark the beginning of a new golden era of Indian management education, concerns have been raised against the Bill by the established IIMs and the private players, the latter resenting the unfair treatment being meted out to them. The proposed Bill also contains provisions seeking to vest power in the government to take all decisions, thus diluting the autonomy of the IIMs.
The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has put up a draft bill seeking to form a ‘coordination forum’ for the 19 IIMs across the country; this has sparked a debate over the contents of the draft bill. The debate is being led by three major sets of players in management education in India, namely, old reputed IIMs (IIM-A, IIM-B and IIM-C), new IIMs and private institutes. The draft bill proposes to allow the IIMs to grant degrees instead of diplomas. As a result, programs offered by the IIMs would be called MBA (in place of PGDM) and Ph.D. (in place of fellowship). This proposal is being appreciated by the new IIMs as they feel that granting of degree would help in building their brand in the market and would make their courses more attractive to students. On the other hand, the reputed IIMs are opposing this move as they believe that they already have an excellent brand due to better quality and thus, granting of degree or diploma has no relevance for them.
In a bid to put to rest the concerns raised by the established IIMs, government has entered into a ‘discussion and consultation mode’ in order to arrive at a consensus. Unfortunately, no one is looking at the situation of the private B-schools that have been offering PGDM diplomas and have been creating a large pool of managers for many decades. Moreover, the proposal to allow IIMs to grant degrees instead of diplomas would drastically skew the scales against the private players. These institutes like FORE, IMI, MDI, SPJIMR, NMIMS, SIBM etc have been the forerunners in imparting management education in India. Such institutes are no less than many of the IIMs in terms of knowledge, skills, training and employability of their PGDM graduates. In view of the globalized markets, these private players have acquired additional significance and this ‘kill-bill’ would prove fatal to their existence.
At least two points stand out strongly in this entire debate revolving around the IIM Bill that needs some clarity. First, the need to ‘regulate’ through this Bill is not clear. Generally, the rationale for regulation is either economic or social. As far as the IIMs, especially the older and the renowned ones, are concerned, they are characterized by innovative faculty that is self-motivated, have superb state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities, extremely strong alumna, abundant funds and are accepted centres of knowledge. Autonomy has played a pivotal role in taking the IIMs to such commanding heights. Regulation would in no way improve the economic or social efficiency of these institutes. Then why is the government putting stress on regulation? In fact, regulation brings with it ‘political inefficiency’.
Second, connotation of ‘certain’ in “to declare certain institutes of management ….. incidental thereto” is ambiguous. Does it mean that only some IIMs would be falling under the ambit of the Act? The Bill seems to be a political agenda for some interested groups rather than being a demand of market forces.
The IIM Bill is undesirable in its current form and ambiguities and confusion needs to be addressed before such a ‘regulatory policy’ is put in place. A ‘Management Education Bill’ ought to be designed rather than an ‘IIM Bill’ to recognize all management institutes, be they government-run, autonomous or private on the basis of their excellence. The agenda of management education in the country should focus on re-orienting itself to meet the increasing demand for professional managers through a fresh framework with a realistic model to rejuvenate the Indian management education system, rather than only focusing on IIMs.

(The writer is Professor, Fore School of Management, New Delhi.)


Irresponsibility at JU
It is a facile argument to suggest that the duration of the gherao of Jadavpur University’s Vice-Chancellor was an hour less than what his predecessor had suffered. Suffice it to register that for 51 hours,  Prof  Suranjan Das and the Registrar  were targets of misplaced ire.  Not least because the decision to keep student union elections in suspended animation and not to conduct them in February - as demanded by the students - was essentially a political fatwa of minister Partha Chatterjee’s education department. There can be no dispute with the students’  clamour for elections.
That said, it must be underlined that they cannot set a month of their choice. As a general proposition, elections to the student body are better held at the start of a session (October, or even earlier) rather than towards its end (February) as in campuses across the country. There can be nothing exceptional about JU or any other university in Bengal. And yet by playing footsie on the issue, the government has made a travesty of the university’s autonomy.

The VC, whether of JU or any other university, has little or nothing to do with framing the campus election schedule. As it  turns  out  in  Bengal,  it  is  essentially  a  political  decision; obvious too is the fact that the government does not want the campus tryst with democracy on the eve of the Assembly elections.

The political class has made the waters murkier and Jadavpur’s VC has been reduced to cannon fodder. This centre of excellence bears witness to turmoil exactly six months after a semblance of normalcy was restored following a year’s turbulence.
The restive students at Jadavpur have betrayed the soul of irresponsibility. Not that they were unaware of the source of the decision to defer the polls; by betraying far greater indignation than they were entitled to, they have made it obvious that they were on the lookout for an easily accessible punching-bag in an effort to buttress their demand.
The ugly incident must beg the question whether the government can instruct a university to defer the elections, indeed making it obligatory on the part of the campus authorities to seek the education department’s concurrence. The short point must be that the statute of Jadavpur University accords it a free hand to run the administration and hold elections. The nub of the matter is that the government’s “advisory” is not mandatory... whether or not the campus is autonomous or under state control.

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