Monday, July 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India



CET exam: drama by GND University

My daughter, Soubhagyaprada Sood, architect rank 188 in the CET examination conducted by Punjab Technical University, applied for admission to the degree in architecture at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Counselling was on June 29. She falls in the all-India category as she has done plus two from Chandigarh. In all there are 30 seats, of which five are categorised as all-India seats (15%). My daughter's rank was 4th amongst the all-India candidates who had come for counselling and naturally this gave us the confidence of her getting the seat. But what happened during counselling left us stunned.

Counselling was first done for five all-India category seats and the seats were allotted to the first five rank holders from Punjab on the plea that Punjab is also included in the all-India category. Those who had come from other states were put on the waiting list.

Thereafter for the remaining 25 seats, counselling was done for the Punjab category seats from amongst the remaining rank holders from Punjab. While the last candidate of the Punjab quota to get a seat had a rank lower than 300, the all-India category candidates with ranks 146, 154 and 188 had to remain content with their names on the waiting list. Not even a single candidate from states other than Punjab has been admitted.


By not making their policy matter clear in the advertisement, the authorities are putting thousands of students and their parents to inconvenience and huge financial loss. One 15-page prospectus is priced at Rs 500 and a visit to Amritsar costs in thousands in terms of fare, lodging and absence from usual business.

The spot payment of an annual fee of up to Rs 50,000 and Rs 2,000 for putting the name on the waiting list are issues which encourage one to conclude that the doors of universities are totally shut for meritorious students with a humble background. The authorities talk about bank loans for education, completely ignoring the fact that a bank can give a loan only when the student is already selected and he has joined. The processing of a loan takes one month or so.


Pensioners’ grievance

There was disparity in the pension of some categories of pre-and post-1996 pensioners and to mitigate the financial hardship of such pre-1996 pensioners, the Central Government accepted in December 1998 the recommendation of the Fifth Pay Commission that "pension of all pensioners, irrespective of their date of retirement, shall not be less than 50 per cent of the minimum pay in the revised scale of pay w.e.f 1.1.1996 of the post last held by the pensioners".

The Haryana Government too has revised pension, but unfortunately Punjab and Himachal are yet to order the revision of pension.

R. K. GUPTA, Shimla



NZCC finances

The write-up by Ms Reeta Sharma about “NZCC’s financial mess” brought out startling facts about the mismanagement of funds and its cultural activities. Being a member of the Governing Council (in the absence of the Chairman) I have attended a number of meetings and am privy to the proceedings. In short, the whole matter literally stinks to high heavens, such has been the record of the investments and accounts.

For one, your correspondent has missed a very telling fact that in the year preceding the investment of Rs 315 lakh in “unsecured bonds” floated by HMT, the company had incurred a colossal loss of Rs 120 crore and was tottering on the verge of disaster. Corporate circles are aware that in such situations, brokers are called in with offers of fabulous commissions going up to 15 per cent for securing investment in such bonds. That those at the helm of the NZCC overlooked this grave situation and went on to invest such a huge amount in a “sinking ship” speaks loudly about their integrity and dedication to the cause of the centre. The interest paid in the first year was probably from other people’s money, and this is called passing the hat from one head to the other. Finally, the interest payments stopped, leading to the financial crisis in the NZCC.

In his rebuttal, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, the former Director, claims that the accounts were audited on the first of April of every year. This is a normal practice for which the chartered accountants are paid their fees. What has, however, 7 been cleverly hidden is the fact that a huge sum of Rs 23 lakh is still outstanding against certain NZCC employees. This has cleverly been covered by the “filing of suits” for recovery against them.

It was found that while the amounts were apparently embezzled, no criminal cases were filed, but recourse was taken to civil courts, which is as good as writing off the amount.

Mr Ahluwalia’s reference to his wife’s foreign travel at her own expense is curious because the government seems to have been remarkably generous in granting ex-India leave to her for any number of times. And the so-called foreign performances seem to have been concentrated at Dubai, which is just not the most suitable place for dissemination of Indian culture.

How the public organisation’s funds have been squandered liberally and without compunction needs to be investigated more deeply than closing the chapter by publishing the rebuttal of one who himself is accused of these actions.

H. S. BHATTI, Chandigarh

Reeta Sharma replies: The facts stated by me in the write-up (June 6) are correct and I stand by my story. There is no distortion of any kind as alleged by Mr Ahluwalia in his rejoinder. Mr Ahluwalia admits that, as the then Director of NZCC, he had invested Rs 313 lakh of the Corpus Fund in HMT in 1994. The investment was in unsecured bonds, while, as per the record, the two other ZCCs did not invest the Corpus Fund in unsecured bonds of HMT.

HMT delayed payment of interest in 1995-96 itself on the investment made in 1994-95. HMT paid only Rs 145.98 lakh as interest in six financial years against the due amount of Rs 302.490 lakh. Therefore, it is clear that the financial position of HMT itself was not sound.

As regards investments of Corpus Fund in SAIL, it is a known fact that this PSU too had been incurring losses. As a seasoned bureaucrat, it was expected of Mr Ahluwalia to have acted with prudence, taking the cue from the bad experience with the HMT deposit and he should not have invested nearly 50 per cent of the Corpus Fund in SAIL. The write-up does not mention anywhere that SAIL had defaulted in payment of interest.

As regards investment in Patiala Central Co-operative Bank, Patiala, the initials of Mr Ahluwalia’s brother are H.K. and not “A.K.” as inadvertently printed. It is a fact that he was posted as District Manager in charge of all branches in Patiala when a deposit of Rs 220 lakh was made in the bank in 1999. His brother retired earlier this year as AGM, posted in Chandigarh. The NZCC deposit then did give the credit due to a brother!

(Correspondence on the subject is closed. — Editor)Top


Have common syllabus

The subject income tax is taught in B.Com Part II of Punjabi University whereas it is taught in B.Com Part III of Guru Nanak Dev University. If a student has to migrate from Punjabi University after doing B.Com Part II to Guru Nanak Dev University B.Com Part III, he has to face this problem. It is, therefore, requested that the syllabuses of all universities in Punjab should be the same so that students do not suffer on account of the transfer of their parents.


Cabinet Secretary

The government's decision to extend the retirement age of the Cabinet Secretary by two years is not justified. It should explain how this decision is going to be in public interest and how it is going to meet the similar demands for other posts?

D.S. MATHUR, Ambala Cantt

So what?

This refers to the news item “Hip of 98 years old man replaced” (June 29). With advancement in medical sciences, these things are not uncommon. Such news items mislead the public.

DR K.L. GARG, Kurukshetra

Thank you

In the din of coming Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting, everybody who is somebody is managing to have his say. If someone stands totally blacked out, it is the Kashmiri Pandits. Aditi Tandon deserves thanks for visiting the camps of these refugees and highlighting the miserable, inhuman conditions in which they are languishing.


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