The Hindu Important Articles 17 April 2018
Internet services suspended in Punjab
In the wake of a violent clash between two communities in Phagwara, the Punjab government has extended the temporary suspension of mobile Internet services in four districts of Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and SBS Nagar.
Four people have been arrested in connection with a clash between members of a Dalit outfit and Hindu groups.
Minor raped and murdered in Surat
Post-mortem report indicates torture
In another shocking case of rape similar to the Kathua incident, the mutilated body of a girl aged about 11 with 86 marks of injuries was found in the Bhestan locality of Surat. A post-mortem examination confirmed repeated sexual assault. Considering the gruesome nature of the case, the Crime Branch of the Surat police has been asked to take over the investigation.
Not yet identified
Satish Sharma, Commissioner of Police, Surat, said the girl, who probably belonged to the Odiya or Bengali community, was killed and the body dumped outside the city.
The victim was yet to be identified.
Surat is a hub of migrants from across the country, and large numbers of them come from Odisha and West Bengal to work in textiles factories and construction sites.
“The girl is believed to have been murdered on April 5 and the body was recovered the next day,” another police official said.
The post-mortem examination revealed sexual assault, “strangulation and smothering”, with 86 signs of minor injuries, Mr. Sharma said.
Ganesh Govekar, a doctor at the Civil Hospital in the city, where the post-mortem was conducted, said, “Going by the nature of the injuries, they seem to have been caused over a period ranging from one week to one day prior to the recovery of the body, suggesting that the girl might have been held captive, tortured and possibly raped.”
The Police Commissioner appealed to people to come forward and help the police establish the identity of the girl. A Rs. 20,000 cash reward has been announced.
“To identify the deceased, we have taken the help of print and social media, such as WhatsApp, to spread her pictures with the hope that someone who knows her will identify her,” said K.B. Jhala, inspector at the Pandesara police station.
Posters of victim
The Surat police have pasted 1,200 posters of her photo across the city and on trains.
“In order to identify the girl, her details were matched with those of 8,000 lost children in the city,” Mr. Jhala said.
The police have registered a case under Sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Have responded to SEBI’s queries: ICICI
Bank facing CBI probe for sanctioning Rs. 3,250 crore in loans to Videocon Group
ICICI Bank, which is already facing probe by agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation, has confirmed that the bank is under the scanner of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as well.
In a statement issued to the stock exchanges on Monday, the bank said that the capital market regulator had sought clarifications from the bank and that it had responded to the queries.
“We wish to inform you that SEBI has requested the bank to provide clarifications based on news reports which the bank has duly responded to,” the bank said in the statement.
“There is no further matter that is required to be reported under Regulation 30 at this point,” it added.
The private sector lender has been in the news with allegations that it sanctioned Rs. 3,250 crore of loans to Videocon Group, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot supposedly had dealings with NuPower Renewables Ltd., founded by ICICI Bank’s MD &CEO Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar.
The CBI already said that it had started a preliminary inquiry into the matter. Last week, the agency also questioned Rajiv Kochhar, brother-in-law of Chanda Kochhar, for three consecutive days.
The Hindu had earlier reported that the market watchdog has powers to look into non-compliance with respect to disclosure guidelines and the conduct of the board members, especially the independent directors.
Incidentally, the board, in the recent past, had expressed full confidence in Ms. Kochhar and denied all allegations related to favouritism or nepotism.
“The Board has come to the conclusion that there is no question of any quid pro quo/ nepotism/ conflict of interest as is being alleged in various rumours.
The Board has full confidence and reposes full faith in the Bank’s MD & CEO, Ms. Chanda Kochhar,” ICICI bank said in a statement on March 28.
Shares of ICICI Bank fell marginally on Monday even as the benchmark Sensex gained 112.78 points or 0.33% to close at 34,305.43.
The lender’s shares fell 0.28% to Rs. 287.40.
With freedom comes responsibility
Having more autonomy may bring academic excellence within reach for institutes of higher education — with some caveats!
‘Academic freedom’ and ‘institutional autonomy’ are terms frequently used in India these days. Is it because our higher education institutions do not enjoy academic freedom and institutional autonomy, or, is it because those who are in power have realised that these are essential for achieving excellence in higher education? The answer to the first question is “yes” and to the second question could be “yes” or “no” depending on how we look at the recent policy decisions on higher education critically.
Recently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) granted greater autonomy to 62 higher education institutions, including five central and 21 state universities, in the country. According to the Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister, Prakash Javadekar, the institutions were chosen based on their record of maintaining high standards. The government’s decision has been welcomed by many academics and those who keenly observe the Indian higher education system but some sceptics have expressed their fear by stating that it is a step towards privatising higher education in the country, which may result in making higher education available only to the elite and not affordable to the vast majority of the people.
I have discussed the importance of autonomy (academic autonomy, teacher autonomy, and learner autonomy) in some of my articles published by this newspaper. I strongly believe that autonomy is the first step towards achieving academic excellence. My support to academic autonomy stems from my highly positive tertiary education experience in well-known autonomous institutions: St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchi, and the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL), now known as English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), one of the five central universities that were granted full autonomy.
It should be noted that the concept of granting autonomy to colleges is not new in India. Some colleges with good credentials were granted autonomy status in the 1980s. The Program of Action (1992), which is the revised version of the 1986 National Policy of Education, also suggested that many autonomous colleges should be established in the country.
Pros vs. cons
There are many advantages and some disadvantages of academic autonomy. It enables higher education institutions in the country to respond positively to the demands placed on them. Autonomous institutes have the freedom to design their own syllabus, to introduce new courses based on the needs of the students and society, to follow innovative examination systems, to announce results, to collaborate with foreign universities and the industry and to adopt the best practices followed in top-notch universities in the country and abroad.
A few years ago, while we were discussing the importance of autonomy in higher education, Professor MM Pant, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, said, “More than the independence of the judiciary we need independence of the academia.”
Very recently, I contacted Prof. Pant again to seek his views on Mr. Javadekar’s announcement on autonomy. Prof. Pant says, “Granting autonomy to higher education institutes is an important step in preparation for an uncertain future being shaped by exponential change, driven by artificial intelligence and allied technologies. Such institutions would serve all concerned by pursuing lifelong learning, rather than finite degrees. There would be several opportunities for innovative programmes and new pedagogical approaches that implement personalised learning.”
Will all autonomous higher education institutes use their freedom responsibly? Should they not be accountable to stakeholders? These questions arise because many deemed universities have misused the freedom given to them and have lowered the quality of higher education in the country.
In this context, it is good to recall the words of Molly Corbett Broad, a well-known educator and president, American Council on Education, who made the following statement at the Council of Europe in 2010: “.. academic freedom and institutional autonomy are not equivalent to entirely unfettered independence. The right of academic freedom carries with it responsibilities to pursue scholarship with the highest standards of professional practice and ethics. Institutional autonomy does not in any way abrogate the responsibility of colleges and universities to strive for the highest level of professional quality and to effectively serve key public purposes…”
Recently, Mr. Javadekar tweeted that “Quality, autonomy, research, and innovation are key pillars of our vision for improving higher education in India.” There is no disagreement. It is a welcome step to give full autonomy to some institutes but focusing on select top higher education institutes alone is not enough to make India a progressive nation.
There are hundreds of higher education institutions in our country which do not have quality, research, and innovation in their lexicon. Steps must be taken to help these institutes to improve the quality of teaching and research. Many more institutes which have sound credentials and the potential to show high standards should be identified and granted autonomy. An educational institution is really autonomous only when there is a healthy environment for teachers and learners to develop their autonomy. Teacher autonomy helps teachers become creative and critical thinkers and learner autonomy helps learners take responsibility for their learning, enables them to become good decision-makers and prepares them for life. The fruit of autonomy is autonomy.
Academic institutions that enjoy greater autonomy have the responsibility to be accountable not only to the government but also to the stakeholders. Those who are at the helm of affairs should strive to maintain and achieve academic excellence. They should be professional in their approach, progressive in their thinking, bold in their decisions and ethical in their practice. They should have the intellectual courage to defend autonomy whenever there is a threat to it.
The author is an academic, columnist and freelance writer. [email protected]
Quality, autonomy, research, and innovation are key pillars of our vision for improving higher education in India.Prakash Javadekar
More than the independence of the judiciary we need independence of the academia.Prof. MM Pant