Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Are you a criminal? Mumbai school asks parents


Mumbai: Do you have a PC at home? Are you the carrier of a life threatening disease? How big is your house? What car do you drive? Do you have your tax returns in place? And most importantly, do you have a criminal record? Before you dismiss these questions with a curt 'none of your business', know that answers to these snoopy, unrelated queries, or their variants, will determine if your child gets admission in a school.
And pushing the odd into the outlandish is Maneckji Cooper High School in Juhu, which just upped the ante. It is asking parents of prospective students to get a character certificate from Mumbai police, presumably so everybody can rest assured that children of hardened criminals are not running amok in the school.
The requirements put forth by schools, generally, for admissions have obviously struck as unnecessary and extraordinary, other than being plain weird, to parents.
mumbai school
Jayant Jain, president of the All India Federation of Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), said, "Many schools in the city have come up with such requests.
A school in south Mumbai recently asked a parent if they have a personal computer at home; another school in western suburbs had inquired of the size of the parents' flat, and even the type of vehicle they own, before allowing admission to their kid in kindergarten."
Jain continued, "Some schools have asked for even Income Tax returns, and a medical certificate of the parents and the child to ensure that they are not suffering from any life threatening diseases."
"We learn about such bizarre requests when distressed parents complain to us. Unfortunately, parents fear that writing to the education department against a school may mar the chances of their child's admission," said Jain.
Why the weirdness
Jain said that no government department or minister directly regulates kindergarten schools, they exploit the liberty, and in the process, harass the parents.
"The Right to Education act has clearly mentioned that no child can be screened while admission. Then screening parents seems far-fetched.
A child's admission cannot be decided on their parents' background. We get such complaints from parents several times, but they fear to approach department to lose admission in any other school," said Jain.
Maneckji's admission form states, "Parents should obtain a certificate from the Mumbai police confirming that there has never been and currently no criminal investigation, proceeding, conviction against the parents and a guardians, whose child is applying for admission."
The admission process in Maneckji Cooper School started last month. And parents were called for interviews. Said a parent applying there, "This is unfair. What if there are false allegations against a parent, should an innocent child suffer? Besides, it almost takes a month to get a certificate."
Officials speak
Pandurang Patil, deputy education officer, BMC, and head of city private schools, said, "It is totally unfair that the school is asking character certificate from the parents.
Since there is not any department that controls them they are doing anything they wish. But if complained to government of such practices they can take action on them.
Today itself, the government asked me for data on the number of legal pre-primary schools in the city. I am sure they are coming up with some solution."
Who's got the time?
Since Maneckji listed the new criterion, the Special Branch of the city police has been busier than usual.
According to police officials, everyday around 20 parents come asking for the character certificate, piling on to the heap of paper work the officials have to deal with daily.
Madhukar Gavit, additional commissioner of police, Special Branch, said, "This is the first time that parents have approached us for a character certificate for the admission of their child. Since it is our job, we have to provide them with one."
Maneckji asked for several other documents from parents for admission, like birth certificate, pan card, ration, recommendations from at least two known people, and so on.
The other side
An official from Maneckji Cooper High School said, "The character certificate is just for a routine check and nothing else. It is not mandatory. Parents can also submit it after getting the admission as it takes time to get the certificate."
Not just Mumbai
MiD Day had earlier reported ('Will you go veg for your child's admission', January 5) that Mahavir Model School in north Delhi has made it a criterion for parents to be austerely vegetarian and also keep away from cigarettes and alcohol. The same report mentioned another school in Mumbai Central had asked for a qualification certificate from parents for their child's admission in lower KG.

Raja arrest: what the CBI did for five months


New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested former telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja over an alleged telecoms scam linked to awarding mobile licences, in a move that could weaken the coalition government.
Raja's arrest comes months after the country’s apex court issued a notice on his alleged involvement in the 2G mobile spectrum scam and the opposition shut down parliament, demanding a joint inquiry into a government auditor's report that India potentially lost crores of rupees in revenue when ineligible firms were given lucrative telecoms licences cheaply in 2008.
A timeline of events leading up to the arrest of A Raja
a raja
September 13, 2010: Supreme Court issues notice to then Telecom Minister A Raja and the Centre on alleged irregularities in allocation of the 2G spectrum and asks for response on a petition seeking the court to monitor an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into irregularities in sale of licenses.
The bench also issues notices to the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department on the petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), an NGO, and others. The petitioners challenge the May 25 decision of the Delhi High Court dismissing its plea to monitor the CBI probe into the alleged role of the Union Communications Minister in the sale of 2G spectrum licences in 2008.
October 28, 2010: Raja refuses to resign from the Cabinet. Raja says he will not resign over the spectrum controversy as he followed his predecessors and decisions were taken in consultation with the Prime Minister and the approval of the Solicitor-General.
November 12, 2010: Opposition presses government to sack Raja. The
Opposition parties, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, demand the resignation of Raja, and say the "scam" should be investigated by a joint parliamentary committee. Raja, who belongs to the DMK party, an ally of the governing Congress party, says there is "no question" of his resigning.
November 13, 2010: CNN-IBN exposes CAG report on 2G scam. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked Telecom Minister A Raja to auction the 2G spectrum but the minister chose to ignore his advice. Raja has been claiming that the Prime Minister gave the go ahead to him. But documents with CNN-IBN nail another of Raja's lies. Three letters all exchanged on November 2, 2007 between the Prime Minister and Telecom Minister show just how concerned Singh was with Raja's actions.
November 13, 2010: Raja says former Telecom Secretary D S Mathur was part and parcel of all decisions on 2G spectrum allocation over which he is facing the heat from the opposition demanding his resignation. Mathur has claimed that he had recommended to Raja that spectrum be given through auction so that there can be transparency. Raja says suggestions on likely availability of spectrum were also useful in arriving at the cut-off date of September 25, 2007 for allocation of the airwaves. He does not, however, specify who made the suggestions.
Opposition stalls Parliament asking for a JPC probe in 2G scam
November 14, 2010: A Raja resigns from the Union Cabinet. Facing Opposition onslaught and after days of defiance, Raja finally submits his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 2G spectrum scandal. The 57-year-old lawyer-politician, who got the coveted portfolio after the exit of Dayanidhi Maran in 2007 and retained it after the May, 2009 elections, drove to Prime Minister's residence to hand in his resignation.
November 16, 2010: The CAG report on 2G spectrum scam tabled in Parliament even as the opposition continues to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the accusations against former Telecom Minister A Raja. Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha is adjourned soon after the report is tabled. CAG report will be taken up by Public Accounts Committee headed by MM Joshi, which has members from other parties too.
December 2, 2010: Supreme Court comes down heavily on Raja for 'bypassing' and even 'overruling' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advice to defer the allocation of 2G spectrum by a few days. Apex court takes strong exception to the tone and tenor of Raja's letter to the prime minister, saying it amounted to showing 'disrespect' to the highest authority in the country.
December 7, 2010: CBI raids Raja and his aides. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) finds what it says were "incriminating documents" in raids on homes and offices of the former telecoms minister in connection with the country's biggest corruption scandal.
CBI agents search 14 locations across Delhi and Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court criticises the CBI for not questioning Raja in its year-long investigation despite him being at the centre of the inquiry.
December 24, 25, 2010: CBI questions A Raja for eight hours at the CBI headquarters in Delhi in connection to the 2G spectrum scam. After the questioning was over, Raja said he cooperated fully with the CBI. The CBI is looking for the money trail of 2G funds and linking the evidence to companies owned by Raja and friends.
January 31, 2011: The CBI questions A Raja for the third time in connection with the funding and allegedly showing favours to some telecom companies in granting 2G spectrum between October 2007 and 2008. Raja is called to CBI office and quizzed for nearly nine hours.
The DMK MP is asked about his conversations with corporate lobbiyst Niira Radia and the reasons of advancing the cut-off date of allocation of the spectrum in 2007. Raja is confronted with some documents recovered by the agency.
February 2, 2011: CBI arrests Raja in 2G spectrum scam case. CBI also nabs his personal secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behuria. Raja is arrested under sections 120B, 13(2), 13(1D) of Prevention of Corruption Act on the charges of criminal misconduct, violation of policies and favouring some specific companies during the grant of 2G spectrum licences.

Chinese agents offered missiles to NE rebels


Rebels in northeast were offered the purchase of surface to air missiles (SAMs) by agents - Indian intelligence believe - who had been working on behalf of the Chinese intelligence agencies. According to sources, the negotiations for the deal took place in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province of China, in December 2009. The agents had reportedly asked for $1 million for the missiles that included a package to train the rebels in the technical know-how for using them.
According to intelligence sources, Thabal, a top functionary of the United National Liberation Front of Manipur, had gone to Chengdu to procure arms and ammunition for his outfit and few other groups. During the negotiations an offer to sell the SAMs was put on the table. However, the deal fell through as the rebel groups could not arrange for the money.
This is the first time that intelligence agencies have got a confirmed report about a concrete offer from Chinese arms agents.
The intelligence agencies got evidence of Chinese involvement in the northeast after the arrest of Anthony Shimray, considered to be chief arms procurer for the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaac-Muivah).
He was arrested in October this year after a coordinated intelligence operation. Currently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the Shimray case.
Shimray, 50, had flown into Kathmandu in September this year. After reaching Kathmandu, he had crossed over to India through Nepal-Bihar border. Indian intelligence operatives, who had been trailing him, arrested him in Patna.
During his interrogation, NIA sleuths came across evidence that Shimray had deposited around $ 1.2 million in a Bangkok bank as advance payment for grenades, assault rifles and rocket launchers, which he was buying from a Chinese company fronting for their intelligence agencies.
It was also found that he had been in regular touch with Chinese intelligence operatives.

Pak, China and Iran not invited to Indian air show starting February 9


New Delhi, Feb 2(ANI): India has not invited Pakistan, China or Iran to South Asia’s biggest air show- Aero India 2011- which will witness participation of more than 60 countries in Bangalore next week.
Among the countries participating in the airshow are Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Greece, France, Israel, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mongolia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Sri Lanka, UK, US, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Secretary Defence Production R K Singh said: "The list of invitees is drawn up in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs ( MEA).''''
"China was invited in previous Aero-India editions but they did not they probably were not invited this time....We go by the advise of MEA. Our relations with China are improving and we have no serious problems with Iran,'''' he added.
Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since their independence from the British in 1947, have no military-to-military contacts.
Trade links in recent years have improved between India and China, who fought in 1962 but strategic ties are frosty as territorial disputes remain unresolved despite several rounds of negotiations.
The Defence Production Secretary did not comment on New Delhi’s decision to block Iran from the event.
Aero India 2011, which begins on February 9, has also invited a delegation from war-torn Afghanistan as part of India’s national policy to build better ties with the country.
“We have good cooperation with Afghanistan and so we are delighted it is sending a delegation to the airshow. We want such cooperation to grow,” Singh said.
About 350 official and trade delegations from 30 countries- including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Germany and the United States- will participate in the five-day event. (ANI)