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Manesar land deal: 7 accused get bail; Will the culprits be punished in this case?

Panchkula : A special CBI court granted regular bail to seven accused, including former principal secretaries Chattar Singh, ML Tayal and SS Dhillon, in connection with the Manesar land deal case, here.

CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh granted regular bail to these accused, who were present in the court, on two sureties of Rs5 lakh each.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and sitting Punjab and Haryana High Court judge’s son Gaurav Chaudhary, who is the director of Flair Realtors Pvt Ltd and Metropolis Realtors, were given medical exemption by the CBI court.

Hooda’s counsels SPS Parmar and Abhishek Rana submitted before the court that Hooda was unwell and had fractured leg and was undergoing treatment at AIIMS, Delhi.

The accused were also given copies of chargesheet submitted by the CBI recently.
The court has fixed the next date of hearing on May 1.

The others who were granted bail included Jaswant Singh, the then District Town Planner (HQ), Atul Bansal, director of ABW Infrastructure Ltd, Naveen Rao and Virender Kumar Jain.

Atul Bansal and Naveen Rao had appeared in the court after lunch and the Judge even pulled them up for coming late.

Earlier, the CBI court had dismissed pre-arrest bail plea of Gaurav Chaudhary, while an anticipatory bail plea of Tayal was dismissed.

The CBI, on February 2, had filed a chargesheet running into 80,000 pages against 34 persons, including Hooda, Chattar Singh, Tayal and Dhillon.

The CBI claimed the state government had issued notifications under the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring 912 acres in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula villages in Gurugram district for an industrial model township.

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‘Cong has conspired to put Punjab in explosive situation on Dalits issue’; Is BJP smoking its political rotis on Dalit Issue?

Chandigarh : BJP state president Shwait Malik on Friday said the Congress had conspired to put Punjab in an explosive situation on the issue of Dalits after the recent incidents at Phagwara.

He said their workers would launch a ‘Congress, Punjab Chhodo’ programme as part of our ‘Punjab Bachao’ programme.

He alleged that the Congress did not allow good education for Dalits which did not let them rise socially and they were used as mere vote banks.

He said their alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal would continue as had been decided by the high command.

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Haryana seals borders as wheat prices crash in neighbouring states; Is Haryana Government giving the right price for the wheat crop to farmers?

Chandigarh : With huge quantities of wheat from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan finding its way into Haryana owing to crashing of prices there, the state government on Thursday ordered sealing of its porous borders with these states.

The Palwal grain market, that has proximity to these three states, has been closed for further procurement after it was discovered that 3.73 lakh metric tonne of wheat has already been procured against 2.98 lakh MT purchased during the entire season last year. Additional Chief Secretary (Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs) Ram Niwas wrote to DGP BS Sandhu, requesting him to seal border entry points to prevent unauthorised movement of wheat into Haryana’s grain markets.

“We have reports that some traders in grain markets of Delhi, UP and Rajasthan, where the prices of wheat have dipped Rs 150 to Rs 200 below the MSP, have been making an easy buck by selling wheat purchased from there in our mandis,” Ram Niwas told.

Sources said besides Palwal, reports of wheat coming from other states have also been received from Sonepat and Karnal. The authorities in Karnal cancelled the licences of six arhtiyas from Taraori town after they were found bringing wheat from UP for sale in the mandi.

Karnal District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC) Kushal Boora said they were caught by a team of officials with wheat brought in an unauthorised manner from UP and hence their licences were cancelled by the Market Committee authorities. 
Sources said against the MSP of Rs 1,735 per quintal, wheat was available for Rs 1,550 to Rs 1,650 in the open market in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan because of poor government procurement.

The difference in rates is a huge temptation for traders, as the arrival of an additional 1 lakh MT wheat in Palwal means that some unscrupulous traders might have earned around Rs 20 crore, sources said.

Arrival of wheat from neighbouring states is not a new phenomenon, as Haryana has been facing this problem almost year after year. On March 20, Ram Niwas had written to all DCs that the huge arrival of wheat from bordering states, particularly UP, cannot be ruled out, as all districts of the state, barring Rohtak, had boundaries with some other state.

Again, during a video-conferencing with DCs and District Food and Supplies Controllers on March 26, the ACS emphasised the need to plug unauthorised arrival from UP to grain markets in Yamunanagar, Panipat, Palwal and Karnal districts.
Meanwhile, 50.34 lakh MT of wheat had been procured in different grain markets of the state.

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Crisis in higher education in Punjab; Can Congress Govt. correct Punjab's Education System ?

Chandigarh : The higher education sector of Punjab is in a crisis, and is primarily an outcome of the injudicious policy and perspective of the state government embraced during the economic reforms era. The neo-liberal philosophy, which was adopted in India in 1991, inter alia, pronounces a decline in the role of the government and public spending across the board, and increasing the role of profit-pursuing private actors in every domain. The main developments in higher education in Punjab during this period that led to the crisis are as follows:

Weakening of public subsidisation: Public expenditure on higher education in the state dropped significantly during the neo-liberal period in terms of relative priorities, i.e. (a) as proportion of the net state domestic product (NSDP), (b) as proportion of total budgetary expenditure of the state, (c) proportion allocated to higher education out of total education budget. For instance, the public expenditure on higher education as a proportion of the NSDP has declined from 0.47 per cent in 1991-92 to 0.38 per cent in 2014-15 (as per Ministry of Human Resource data), while it should have been increased to at least 1.5 per cent (as per the recommendations of Kothari Commission and Central Advisory Board of Education). These cuts have far-reaching repercussions in terms of depletion of quantity and quality of human and non-human inputs.

Rapid enlargement of higher education in the private sector, but lacking in quality: As per the recent National Sample Survey (NSS) data, the private players have become the major higher education providers in Punjab (their student share is approximately 71 per cent, and that of government institutions  29 per cent). This suggests that the major expansion of higher education during this period has been in the private sector. The private sector is playing a noteworthy role in plugging the gap between demand for higher education and its decelerating supply by the government. 
Moreover, the average quality of educationbeing delivered to students in the state is exceptionally below par. Not only inadequate faculty, but also inadequately qualified faculty are the main reasons for the low quality in the state. This predicament, although also prevalent in government  institutions, is particularly severe in private ones. As per the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations, an assistant professor should have a masters degree and also cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by the UGC etc. But the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) audit (2017) reveals that 123 assistant professors in two private universities of Punjab are graduates, just as two full-fledged professors in another case.

Cost recovery by enhancing fees and funds: Albeit education in India de jure is a not-for-profit pursuit, private universities and colleges run like business houses, charging exorbitant fees from students. The CAG audit (2017) has, from inspection of private colleges affiliated with Punjabi University, Patiala, found that a large number of them charged fee much in excess of the prescribed fees, violating UGC regulations. Similar is the scenario of the other private colleges. 

The picture in state private universities is further forbidding. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had to recently intervene on the high fee structure (vis-à-vis the government capped level) of a medical university.  Further, under this market-driven dispensation, a swing to market mechanisms in the government institutions through the introduction of self-financing courses has also been witnessed.  
The repercussions of these developments are the inequality of opportunity in access to higher education and the exclusion of the economically disadvantaged sections.  
4Weakening prominence of general courses: There is a tendency in private enterprises to go for course that are commercially most worthwhile. The latest NSS datasets establish that private universities and colleges in the state are predominantly providing education in professional courses. This is leading to the disappearance of some of imperative disciplines of study, viz. humanities and sciences. 

Infringement of rules and regulations: Several deficiencies in the process of establishment of private universities and colleges have also been reported. The CAG audit (2017), on checking the records in the office of the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Punjab, found that though the sub-committee did not recommend the establishment of certain private universities after their physical inspection, the universities have been established in violation of the rules. The issue of establishment of private universities/colleges without obtaining approval of change of land use (CLU), etc has also been observed.

The prevailing paradigm in Punjab can be summarised as one that identifies higher education as a private good, which suggests that the state government has a short-term perspective with regard to it. 

Thus, it is important to re-introduce the pre-1991 long-term vision, which recognises the crucial role of higher education for socio-economic development of a nation (ie recognises the merit good nature of higher education). This will also lead to a considerable growth in public spending on higher education which will not only lead to quantitative as well as qualitative expansion of the system, but also enhance equity which is particularly lacking in professional education. Moreover, given that the private sector is needed to supplement the public sector, it is important to regulate these institutions by effective apparatuses of authority as well as developing a culture of ethics among these education providers.

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Haryana : INLD, BSP tie up for LS, Assembly polls; Will this alliance change the govt in Haryana ?

Chandigarh : The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) announced a tie-up for next year’s parliamentary and state Assembly elections here.

Abhay Chautala, INLD leader and Leader of Opposition, and Meghraj Singh, incharge of BSP affairs for Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, asserted that the primary aim of the alliance was keep the BJP and Congress out of power.

“The INLD and BSP have resolved that the country needs to be rid of both the BJP and the Congress. While the Congress has been guilty of massive corruption, the BJP had led the country towards violent inter-community and inter-communal conflicts with a view to polarising society,” Abhay alleged.

The two parties were determined to champion the cause of Dalits, farmers and labour classes with a view to providing a credible alternative in the state and forming a Third Front at the Centre, they said. The seat-sharing arrangement would be announced at a later stage, they said.

Meghraj announced that Tek Chand Sharma, lone BSP legislator in the state, had been suspended from the party. Sharma had been extending outside support to the BJP government in the state.

The INLD and the BSP had contested the 1998 Lok Sabha elections in alliance and BSP candidate Aman Nagra had won from Ambala.

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