Cash-for-marks scam hits Gujarat medical college

first_imgWhen Gujarat’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) caught Bharat Sawant and Ashok Tailor accepting ₹20 lakh from a doctor couple to allow their daughter to appear in the final year MBBS examination of the Sumandeep Vidhyapeeth (SV), a deemed university that runs medical and dental colleges in Vadodara, the agency had little idea that a massive cash-for-marks and ‘donation’ scam would be unearthed.The ACB laid a trap to arrest Sawant and Tailor on Monday; the duo worked to collect money on behalf of Mansukh Shah, SV’s chairman and managing trustee. Subsequently, Mr. Shah was also arrested as the police established that the cash collected by the duo was meant for him.Following the arrest, the police raided several premises of Mr. Shah’s and recovered 200 signed cheques worth ₹101 crore from students. At the back of each cheque, the name and details of students were written, but the instruments did not have dates or the receiver’s name on them.“Cheques were taken in advance from students in addition to their regular course fees, which means those cheques were meant for other purposes, either as donation for admission, or as cash for marks in exams,” a senior official of the ACB told The Hindu, adding, “As per the modus operandi, the cheque was returned after the student paid in cash.”According to the assistant director of the ACB, D.P. Chudasama, after the arrest of Mansukh Shah and his agents, the agency has received a dozen complaints from current and ex-students that they were forced to pay a hefty amount in order to take exams.Mr. Chudasama added that the ACB had also collected documents related to ₹43 crore as fixed deposits in various banks, and papers pertaining to immovable properties and land parcels. Another ACB official pegged Mr. Shah’s empire at ₹1,500 crore, with annual donation income of close to ₹100 crore from 150 MBBS seats, 100 BDS seats, 112 MS and MD seats and 30 MDS seats in his colleges.Interestingly, the current president of the Medical Council of India (MCI), Dr. Jayshree Mehta, was earlier Vice Chancellor of SVU from 2007 to 2012.Considered a close aide of former MCI chairman Dr. Ketan Desai, Mr. Shah founded SVU’s medical and dental colleges, which were recognised as a deemed university by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2013, so it has its own fee structure and admission process.All for a priceAccording to insiders, the donation for each MBBS seat is anywhere between ₹50 lakh to ₹ 1 crore, in addition to the regular course fee of ₹15.95 lakh for general category students, ₹11.96 lakh for Jain students, and $50,000 for students getting admissions in NRI (Non Resident Indian)-sponsored seats.Similarly for BDS, donation amounts range from ₹10 to ₹15 lakh, besides a regular course fee of ₹4.75 lakh for the general category, ₹3.56 lakh for Jains, and $13,000 for the NRI category.“Shah runs his university like a shop, selling seats and also higher grades in exams. This concept of a self-financed and deemed university needs to be reviewed because the entire process, from admission to fixing fees and taking the exam is done by itself, without the intervention of any outside agency,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker R.M. Patel, who earlier served as health commissioner of Gujarat.“Shah is a medical and education mafia and will be dealt with strictly as per the law,” said Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya. “Sumandeep (Vidyapeeth) is an epicentre of corruption in medical education in the State. We have been demanding that his [Shah’s] colleges should be de-recognised as it is a massive scam running into several thousand crores of rupees,” said Congress leader and syndicate member of the Gujarat University, Manish Doshi.A senior official in the Gujarat government told The Hindu that more than 40% students in SV are children of doctors from Gujarat and other States. Interestingly, even the main complainant is an Ahmedabad-based doctor couple, whose daughter is in the final year of MBBS at SV.The couple approached the ACB when they received a call from the college, asking for ₹20 lakh to enable their daughter to take the final year exam. “The college authorities would call parents before the exam, saying that their child has failed in the internal exam, and so would not be allowed to take the annual exam. Subsequently, after the payment of a certain amount, he or she would be allowed to take the exam and get good marks,” an insider said, explaining the cash-for-marks racket.last_img read more

Images of 1983 still give Bhajji ‘goosebumps’

first_imgHarbhajan Singh was all of three years of age when Kapil Dev held the 1983 World Cup aloft at Lord’s but the off-spinner still draws inspiration from that glorious triumph.Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf Pathan in New Delhi. APIn the Capital to join hands with a campaign against road rage and drunken driving, Harbhajan said that even though in the ensuing 27 years he has seen six World Cups, the 1983 tournament still serves as the biggest inspiration for an Indian cricketer.”Seeing Kapil paaji lift the trophy is an image ingrained in all of our minds. I have seen the reruns of that match so many times and it always gives me goosebumps,” the off-spinner told reporters here on Wednesday.To repeat the success of ‘Kapil’s Devils’ at the World Cup, Bhajji believes the key for India will be the explosive opening combination of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.”There is no doubt that they are great players and I think if they stay at the crease for the first 15 overs, it will be very difficult for the opposition to come back into the match,” he said.Asked about India’s combination for the quadrennial mega event, Harbhajan said it may not be the best team out there but he was still a good side. “It is wonderful to have a lot of options in the team. We have got different types of spinners. We have (Ravichandran) Ashwin who performed well in the IPL and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla brings variation into the attack. We have great seamers too and the batting can chase down any target. If we just focus on our processes, we should have a good outing,” he said.advertisementHarbhajan has always been a feisty character but he believes comparing sledging to a serious issue like road rage is ridiculous.”Sledging is part and parcel of the game. It just adds a bit of momentum to the game and, as a cricketer, we don’t carry anything off the field. Road rage is quite harmful and it hurts you for life,” he said. He even claimed that neither he nor his India teammates drink.Looking beyond the World Cup, Bhajji will be sharing a dressing room with Andrew Symonds for the Indian Premier League Mumbai Indians, and believes the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal that brought bad blood between them is a thing of the past.”I am looking forward to winning the IPL along with him,” Harbhajan said, guardedly adding: “What Symonds has done with his career is his personal choice and I don’t want to talk about any individuals.”Though he was surrounded by the media during his short stay at the event, Harbhajan did find time to thank Indian fans. “I salute all those who are supporting us. With their good wishes, hopefully, we will do well in the World Cup,” he said.last_img read more