ISSUE OF IIT AND THE GROTESQUE FACE OF PRIVATIZATION

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A very grotesque phenomenon is taking shape in Orissa. Supporters of privatization have started demanding that the Central government establish a public sector IIT in the State.

The demand is just and genuine. But the stratagem is improper and baffling.

In a meeting to voice this demand held recently under banners of an organization projected as non-political, politicians belonging to ruling BJD were most vociferous against the Man Mohan Singh government, which they alleged, is denying Orissa her legitimate share in high-tech education. They have decided to lunch a protest campaign that seems resolved against Singh’s government. This means, it would be a shrewd campaign of pro-NDA factors against the UPA government under the guise of non-political activism. This is therefore more injurious to Orissa than blocking of an IIT.

Orissa’s immediate requirement is that it should be saved from the grip of Naveen Patnaik who, heading a syndicate of family sycophants, has been squandering away her mineral wealth for the benefit of non-Oriyas, even sans a mining policy.

Elected for a term of at best five years, and constitutionally bound to surrender or relinquish office on completion of five years if not dismissed earlier, he is playing havoc with our race by exhausting the stock of mineral ores that Mother Nature had taken millions of years to so kindly provide for use by Oriyas generations after generations.

Mineral ores are not made in a day. The ores taken away cannot be recreated. Navin Patnaik, with any number of sycophants under his command and any number of Goebbels in media projecting him as the best amongst the chief ministers and any amount of auras of Bijusonship he emanates by adopting the tactics of naming every state-run or state-owned project after his father Biju Patnaik , cannot create a grain of mineral ore that Orissa is getting denuded of day by day by mindless mining that he has precipitated.

His chief-minister-ship shall sure collapse one day; but with that our state shall not collapse. We of this generation shall pass away; but with us shall not end our race. So the mineral wealth Mother Nature has given to Orissa must be so managed that when our future generations grow up to manage our state, there should be no dearth of this wealth. Therefore framing and enforcement of a mining policy is essential. Navin never bothers about this. He is taking advantage of non-existence of a mining policy to hand over our mineral wealth to mine grabbers almost all of whom are non-Oriyas, without paying any attention to how it would disadvantage our future generations.

It is not that the people are tolerating this. It is happening, because the Naveen regime has reduced our people to such a state of inanition that they are unable to do anything other than tolerating.

Had the victims of Naveen’s Tata-love at Kalinga Nagar been financially able to seek in the Supreme Court a judicial evaluation of the Orissa High Court order that helped the official design, it could have been such that they might not have withdrawn their heroic road blockade against the inhumanly exploitation even till date.

This is enough to understand that our people are not tolerating this misrule but more impoverished in Naveen’s anti-people administration and in dire impecuniousness, they are acquiesced in to toleration. This is no rule of law. This is misrule.

Patriots who love Orissa must not provide any umbrella to this misrule.

Naveen’s meretricious manner has befooled even some high-qualified netizens to believe that he is doing well to our people.

But during his tenure poverty eradication programs are so menacingly sabotaged that the latest National Sample Survey report shows that when during the period from 1999-2000 to 2004-05 there was a 4.03 per cent reduction of poverty in the national level, it was only 0.06 per cent in Orissa. When the Country has an average of 21.08 percent of people below the poverty-line, in Orissa their number is 46.06 per cent. The biting reality is that Naveen’s misrule has kept as many as 1.75 crore of people out of Orissa’s total population of about 3.70 crore perishing below the poverty-line.

And every poor person is left at the mercy of money-lenders. Strengthened by schemers and scamsters, Navin’s government has ruined the cooperative organizations that could have, if managed by the members, saved the people from money-lenders in the state. It has denuded the forests; has subjected people to hooch-horrors repeatedly while infesting nooks and corners of the State by mindless supply of liquor through official counters; has eliminated importance of elementary schools in villages by neglecting their maintenance, has starved the high schools and colleges by slashing down faculties; has dragged the self-employed villagers to unemployment by handing over their lands to non-Oriya industrialists and amongst many other instances of mischief, has destroyed rural brotherhood by politicizing the Panchayats.

Supporters of privatization have never voiced their protests against this misrule. But by initiating a campaign for a public sector IIT in Orissa in a manner that conspicuously tries to make people believe that Congress led government under Man Mohan Singh has been creating obstacles in Orissa having her legitimate share in high-tech education, they are, perhaps intentionally, trying to divert public attention from all these failings.

By saying this I am not saying anything in support of Man Mohan Singh. I have exposed his mischief to the extent my patriotism has dictated. And perhaps, more emphatically than any.

I have shown how Man Mohan Singh had degraded the august position of Prime Minister to a level of lobby-collaborator of Bengalis in kidnapping the National Institute of Science originally conceived for Orissa to Kolkata. As sentinel of Orissa’s interest, orissamatters.com had lost no time in exposing Singh’s deplorable role in this anti-national-integration act. The foul play of Singh government against Orissa in the matter of IIT needs condemnation as strongly as possible and anybody should be welcomed to campaign for Orissa’s share in high-tech education.

But it is necessary for Orissa to know who really hinders; and to know who really are her people’s class enemies. Any attempt to attack one class-enemy to the advantage of the other class-enemy is an attempt to protect the real class enemy that poses the real threat to Orissa’s real interest. So I am apprehensive of a hidden agenda in the so called apolitical campaign for public sector IIT. The way NDA leaders are being provided with platforms to play political game against UPA government by some campaign formulators for IIT, Orissa’s real interest is bound to suffer the setback.

I recall, when senior citizens and netizens had started the campaign for NISc, some of the current campaign formulators for IIT had tried to buzz about that the BJP-led NDA government had given the Institute to Orissa, whereas the Congress-led UPA government, having failed to fetch electoral support in this State, has done away with it as a matter of political vendetta. This was absolutely misleading and deliberately so. This was meant only to project NDA as benevolent to Orissa.

But in reality, it is NDA, specifically Vajpayee’s office that had blocked the establishment of NISc in Bhubaneswar with support from Orissa government run by Navin Patnaik. Orissamatters.com, committed to tell the truth to the people of Orissa, had placed the truth on records as follows:

An international seminar on science education held in 1996 under auspices of UNESCO had stressed on building up of institutes of sciences of international standard with emphasis on their balance distribution within respective geographical limits of the participating countries. India being a signatory to this resolution, in normal course of administration, decided to establish four National Institutes of Sciences in four parts of the country including one at Bhubaneswar in Orissa. Records show that there was stiff objection to put one of the said NIScs at Bhubaneswar. The Bengali lobby, as is its wont, had whipped up this controversy. But the UGC had rejected the Bengali pressure and declared that when expansion of such institutes would be taken up in course of time, the demand for one at Kolkata might be considered. Thereafter, Vajpayee’s government slept over the proposal. Who does not know that Vajpayee’s inner court yard was murmuring under the feet of a Bengali known as his son-in-law? Who does not know how Mamata Banerjee, who leads a regional party of Bengal, was close to Vajpayee? Should one do a mistake by drawing an inference that the NISc proposed by the UGC for Bhubaneswar was willfully sloughed over by Vajpayee government as the UGC rejected the Bengali lobby for change of location of the eastern institute from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata?

Vajpayee government could not have blocked Orissa’s NISc, despite Bengali lobby, had Navin Patnaik government allocated the required land to the UGC and harped on its establishment. But the UGC’s request for land was ignored in Orissa Secretariat! And Navin Patnaik’s government did never show any speaking interest in implementation of the UGC proposal for NISc in Orissa.

When ultimately the Bengali lobby succeeded in hizacking the Institute to Kolkata by maneuvering Man Mohan Singh, Navin Patnaik government also refused to rise. That a private citizen challenged the illegality of Man Mohan Singh government in the Orissa High Court through a public interest litigation speaks volumes of how Navin Patnaik government was reluctant to express due interest for establishment of the NISc in Orissa.

Lackadaisical demonstrations of NDA MPs in protest against shifting of the NISc to Kolkata were led more by motive against UPA than urge for the Institute. Were it not been so, after senior citizens of illustrated career and diligent netizens through their consistent campaign and the fear from the PIL compelled the Prime Minister to correct his wrong which he did by lunching the NIESR in the campus of IOP at Bhubaneswar, the Institute would not have remained landless so far. The same NDA MPs of Orissa would have compelled the State government, which is their own, to have registered the required land in favor of the Institute by this time. But till date no land is located for and allotted to the NIESR as a result of which a fear of its sleeping away from Orissa to elsewhere has started restirring some alert netizens who had worked tirelessly for bringing the Institute to Orissa.

Against this backdrop, any combine, claiming to be apolitical, but providing a platform to NDA politicians to attack the UPA government for non-coming of a public sector IIT to Orissa, prompts one to look at it askance.

To me personally, most painful is association of some of very genuine watchdogs of Orissan interest in the proposed campaign, which, with its pro-NDA and anti-UPA stance, portends an exercise to divert public attention from the foul play that is going on in Orissa in the field of high-tech education.

A former Secretary of higher education in Orissa, Swapneswar Baya, retired from government service on superannuation, has been provided with a special chamber in the State Secretariat to work there on a special assignment to formulate a special law to ensure complete autonomy for Anil Agarwala’s Vedant University, in favor of which, Navin Patnaik, who had not alloted land to erstwhile NISc till shifting thereof to Kolkata and has not allotted any land to NISER so far, has allotted 8000 acres of land on the Puri-Konark marine drive. The declared aim of Anil Agarwal is to use this highly sensitive and immensely valuable eight thousand acres of land in an “economic hub” in the pattern of Stanford University where, according to his version, “more than 1200 companies are operating with a combined market capitalization of more than USD 300 Billion”.

Anil Agarwal needs sovereignty over this vast land near the sea and absolute freedom to manage his “economic hub” on this land.

And, the preening prince of Bijudom has, without any study on how it shall affect the state owned and private educational institutions of Orissa, besides its eco-system, has pledged the State to Agarwal’s hidden agendas by compelling the administration to authenticate the M.O.U. with the Vedanta boss, known to people of Orissa as the man against whose objectionable and aggressive assault on our natural assets and environment, they have been fighting.

The campaign formulators for the public sector IIT, who are encouraging Navin sycophants to use their podium as a platform for beating drums against the political opponents of NDA, are conspicuous by their silence over this, even as front-rankers amongst them are vociferous in their support for this private “economic hub” veiled as Vedanta University.

No nastier than this design has ever hit Orissa.

But our people are helpless. When the government they have elected conspires against them, the Opposition seems stoically silent!

The design is really devastative. March is the month of budget session of the Assembly. The session is unavoidable.

Without waiting for the Assembly, where a Bill could have been placed for adoption, which would have been a regular business of the legislature, on March 02, 2007, the State government promulgated an ordinance vide Notification No. No. 2699-Legis, captioning it as “The Orissa Professional Educational Institutions ( Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fee ) Ordinance, 2007” imposing thereby a lot of prohibitory provisions on private professional colleges of Orissa in matter of admission and course fees. The admission time is at least four months away. The Assembly was to commence its 10th session on March 21. A regular Bill for the same purpose could have been moved and adopted. Why the Ordinance was promulgated? Why this haste?

The haste is linked to Vedanta University. Eager to grab the land and start his empire, the Vedanta boss wants Navin to enact the Law as soon as possible to put him above all answerability over the said land. And Navin is eager to comply with his desire. As discussed supra, former secretary of higher education Swapneswar Baya has been reappointed to draw up the said special law in order to ensure that Anil Agarwal hits his target. The Law is designed to vest in him total autonomy; in fact to make him sovereign over the land he is given. The law is so designed that the Vedanta University will be above all questions. It will determine its own course, course fee, curriculum and control mechanism. In all practicality it will be vested with autocratic autonomy. Whatever the Vedanta boss wants Navin is eager to comply with.

But there is a problem. It starts with this website.

In these pages I had earlier exposed how unscrupulously private professional colleges are running their business. The owners/operators of these private colleges have invested huge black or white money, sure as they are of sumptuous profit. Profit comes from illegal collection of money from students. The black money hoarders get their ineligible children admitted to these colleges by grabbing seats through auctions clandestinely conducted. So sure is this method that they were openly advertising that just a pass mark in plus two science would suffice to get admission to engineering, medical and management courses in their colleges, the undefined norm being, the lesser the marks in plus-two the bigger the amount of secret fee. After I exposed this, the government, till then hand-in-glove with them, wanted to avoid the blame by asking the private professional college operators to declare the amount of fees they have collected through affidavits, just to pose that it was not in any connivance with them. But for the operators, it was not easy to file false affidavits. And therefore none of them complied with the government orders. But because of this website it was on net that Orissa is a place where 10,000 seats in 42 private professional colleges look like potential mints.

And then the mega-grabber looked at his acolytes. The minters must be subjugated or prohibited. Stratagem started. Prohibitions were formulated, stymies were ready.

And then it occurred that if Vedanta cannot be prohibited, no other professional educational institution can be prohibited. If all others are not prohibited, Vedanta cannot catch the mint.

In Navin-raj schemers never fail. A scheme was built up to block all the profit fetching paths of the owners of private professional colleges by a law ahead of the law that would give carte blanche to the Vedanta boss to collect, control and manage money as he likes. Otherwise question of discrimination would have arisen.

Therefore the Ordinance was promulgated on 2nd march giving it force with immediate effect.

Under this ordinance the government will, through a “fee structure committee” determine and declare for each of the institutions a quantity of fee that no private professional educational institution can contravene. If this ban is contravened, a cash punishment up to Rupees ten lakhs for each instance of contravention would be imposed.

So it is a deterrent step against profit fetching by private institutions. Outwardly it looks pro-people; but in reality its design is different.

It is designed only to subjugate the private professional educational institutions of Orissa (here in after Orissan institutions) to the non-Oriya Vedanta Empire. Let us go to the point.

Owners/operators of Orissan institutions have invested huge money – black or white – and running them as business ventures. If they do not fetch the profit, how can they get back their money? So they will either sale away their institutions to recover the money invested and close the business or explore other avenues to fetch whatever income comes regularly out of it by any means and run the business.

Such avenues are made available to them in the ordinance.

When the Ordinance is promulgated “to provide for the regulation of admission, fixation of fee, prohibition of capitation fee, reservation of admission and for other measures to ensure equity and excellence in professional educational institutions” with imposition of “fine not exceeding rupees ten lakhs on such institutions in case of each such contravention” of the provisions stipulated, Section 1 (4) of the Ordinance declares that “The provisions of this Ordinance shall not be applicable to a private professional educational institution which is established by a special enactment of the Legislature of the State of Orissa”.

And the only private institution that is slated to be “established by a special enactment of the Legislature of the State of Orissa” is the Vedanta University.

So the prohibitive provisions of the present Ordinance shall never be applicable to that institution. That means, ban on capitation fee shall not be applicable to Vedanta; so also the ban on profiteering.

Eventually what shall happen? All the Orissan Institutions will negotiate with Vedanta and get affiliated to it as a result of which the present prohibitions will become inconsequential. They will even agree to transfer major share of their institutions to the Vedanta boss in lieu of regular flow of whatever amount of income would be mutually fixed. Thereby Anil Agarwal will get a vast and developed infrastructure of 42 Orissan institutions over night as part of his “economic hub” and become the professional education emperor as he designs to be.

According to Vedanta Resources source, Anil’s decision to establish his educational empire in Orissa was preceded by a vast in-depth research. So perhaps ever since his obliging Navin has taken over the reign of Orissa, he has been planning to take over the State’s professional education field.

When this scenario attracts our attention, it become crystal clear as to why Navin Patnaik had not allotted the land sought for by the UGC to establish a world class NISc in Bhubaneswar till it was finally transferred to Kolkata. In fact, the world class NISc, if established in Bhubaneswar, would have been most disadvantageous to Anil Agarwal. This is perhaps the reason again behind Navin’s non-allocation of lands so far in favor of the NIESR. It also makes one look with suspicion at the State Government’s failure to take up the issue of IIT in right earnest. Circumstantial evidences suggest that more than Man Mohan Singh or UPA, it is Navin Patnaik and NDA factors that are responsible for hijacking of the NISc and non-coming of the IIT.

Before closing this topic, let me cite a report published by Basant Rath of Nabarangpur even in a right-winger paper like The Pioneer. I deliberately cite it because it is such a representative piece of misrule that even a supporter paper of Navin has not though it prudent to supress it. It is:

“Lack of infrastructure and shortage of staff continue to plague education in Kasturba Gandhi Residential Girls’ U.P.School in Maidalpur of Papadahandi block, the only institution of this kind in the district.

The school was established on October 31, 2005 under Central Government’s assistance to impart quality education to the tribal students, especially school dropouts (either for lack of proper environment or financial crunch) with 50 tribal girl students from Class VI onwards.

With one teacher deputed from education department, the school was inaugurated in the premises of Maidalpur ME School temporarily.

Till date excepting the only teacher deputed no other staff has been appointed. It is sad to note the class is functioning in outer verandah and 50 students are accommodated in a single room without basic facilities.

The students are forced to sleep on the floor of that room which needs immediate repair. Basic facilities like latrine, urinal and bathroom are not sufficient.

The only teacher deputed, imparts education to students in all subjects, including looking after the hostel, cooking, marketing and managing the school which speaks volumes about the type of education being imparted to the needy tribal students.

The parents as well as senior citizens of the locality demanded intervention of the concerned authority, for the betterment of the students and to check further dropout.

Though finance is not a problem for the project, the will power of the authority concerned is lacking resulting in suffering of students.

This is how Navin Patnaik has managed Orissa and its educational institutions. This is how he is sincere in spreading education in Orissa.

Therefore, when thinking minds get together to voice a demand for a public sector IIT, if their’s is not a cover to hoodwink the poor tax-payers of the state in a way that would divert public attention from the ongoing misrule, they must first say as to why they are not seen in demanding development of primary education; why they are not seen equally aggressively hammering on Navin to ensure that primary education be available to Oriya children in proper form instead of helping a single non-Oriya businessman usurp 8000 acres of our prime land on the rare beach of Mahodadhi to sale education inaccessible to our children to the children of the rich and the students from foreign lands.

If, however, they are sincere in their endeavor for the IIT, it would be better for them to keep their combine apolitical as they are wishing us to believe; and utmost care should be taken to ensure that Navinites do not misuse the platform to reprimand Singh or UPA with an ulterior motive to shield the saboteur. Otherwise it would be reaffirmed that elite fellows fail to see the grotesque face of privatization. Then the people will loss faith even in non-political organizations formed by the intelligentsia. And, then, that would be a irreparable loss to the people.

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