Wednesday, November 28, 2007

[Telegraph] UGC spares rag-rod


New Delhi, Nov. 27: The University Grants Commission has asked affiliates across India to follow all recommendations of a Supreme Court-appointed committee to curb ragging, but is unwilling to do so itself.

The Supreme Court committee headed by former CBI chief R.K. Raghavan had recommended that funds received by universities be linked to the implementation of anti-ragging measures.

Amid reports of rising instances of ragging, the UGC has decided against implementing the recommendation, seen by committee members and activists as a key weapon in the Centre’s armoury.

UGC officials said the commission does not intend to pressure universities into implementing the Raghavan committee’s recommendations by threatening to snap their purse strings.

“There is no plan to link the performance of universities in curbing ragging to the funding they receive,” a key policymaker at the UGC said.

UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat confirmed this. “The measures we are taking are enough,” he said.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha yesterday, junior education minister D. Purandeshwari said the government was aware of 70 reports of ragging this year.

According to anti-ragging activists, the figure last year was in the mid-forties — indicating a rise in cases this year.

But the UGC believes it would be next to impossible to implement the recommendation right now. It is learnt that the UGC has not yet informed the Raghavan committee of its decision.

One member of the committee, informed by The Telegraph, said the UGC’s decision was “very disappointing”.

“It is surprising because our aim was to give the Centre a strong weapon to whip those universities which do not take strong anti-ragging measures advocated by the committee,” another member of the committee said.

The Raghavan committee, however, is planning to approach the Supreme Court for ordering the UGC to implement the recommendation, the member said. “Once the court orders the UGC, they will have to follow the recommendation,” he added. The court is hearing the case early December.

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