CAREER GUIDE Friday, January 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Teaching shops or cheating shops?
ELIEVING the claims of a reputed government institute, my friends and I enrolled for a diploma in computer hardware maintenance. However, even after repeated complaints to the Director, my batch-mates and I are totally frustrated, as we have lost one full year. There is no full-time faculty and leave aside practical training, no theory classes have been held in the past two months. What should we do?





Teaching shops or cheating shops?

BELIEVING the claims of a reputed government institute, my friends and I enrolled for a diploma in computer hardware maintenance. However, even after repeated complaints to the Director, my batch-mates and I are totally frustrated, as we have lost one full year. There is no full-time faculty and leave aside practical training, no theory classes have been held in the past two months. What should we do?

This is just one of several such letters I have been receiving from readers of my columns. And the sooner we take these unscrupulous teaching shops to task, the better. What gives them the right to play with students’ lives and money so recklessly?

Can any action be taken against such erring institutions?

Most certainly. Here’s a comprehensive action plan for anyone who has been unwittingly caught in this predicament.

If the institution refuses to heed your complaints, try writing to the "grievance columns" of influential newspapers in your city which may shame the authorities to redress matters. After all, educational institutes depend on word-of-mouth publicity for their survival, so a bad press is the last thing they’d want.

An educational institution is obliged to provide all facilities for proper completion of the course that you have paid for. This is a "service" which the institute is duty-bound to provide as defined under the Consumer Protection Act. As they have reneged on their commitment, this constitutes negligence or "deficiency of service" and "unfair trade practice" under the Act.

You can therefore take this matter to the consumer court under whose jurisdiction the institute is located. There is a District Consumer Forum in every district where you can file your complaint directly if the value of services and compensation claimed does not exceed Rs 5 lakh. In metros and big cities there is more than one District forum. For instance, Delhi has seven such consumer grievance redressal fora located in different parts of the capital.

However, if you and your batchmates decide to file a joint complaint where the compensation claim is in the range of Rs 5 to 20 lakh, you will have to do so in the state commission (there is one in each state). And if the relief sought exceeds Rs 20 lakh, the complaint must be filed with the national commission in Delhi.

Complaints regarding self-finance courses run by universities/colleges and paid seats in medical and engineering colleges also fall within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act.

Not long ago the Delhi Consumer Forum took a flying school severely to task for defrauding students by promising them training for PPL and CPL licences when it was not even recognised by the DGCA. Not only were they directed to refund all fee to the students but also to bear the litigation costs.

Similarly, a giant in computer education that was charged with extending the duration of its course, delaying the exams, withholding results and not issuing the necessary certificates was ordered to pay a hefty compensation to each of the aggrieved students who filed a complaint in the consumer forum. Similarly, in a landmark order, the NDRC ordered a medical college in Bihar to refund over Rs 6 lakh with 12 per cent annual interest to 12 students who had lost two years in the unrecognised institution.

However, consumer courts are over-burdened with a backlog of complaints that could take a long while to come up for hearing. You must therefore request that the case is taken up on a priority basis, or else a delayed verdict would prove infructuous.

If you are facing a blank wall despite making written complaints to the government authorities concerned i.e. Kendriya Vidyalayas, the CBSE, NOS, the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti or central universities under the Directorate of Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, you can approach the Directorate of Public Grievances, Cabinet Secretariat, Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi - 110001 (www.dpg. bharatsarkar. You don’t need to hire an advocate or lawyer or pay any fee or charges. Simply write/fax or log your complaint on their website.

You and your classmates can also file a writ in the high court. If the writ is admitted, the case will be taken up on a priority basis. However, this will involve hiring a lawyer and paying the necessary court fee. This measure should be considered as the last resort, and only if the matter is serious enough.

The UGC also has a Malpractice Cell where you can lodge complaints regarding errant institutions that come within its purview. Incidentally, with a view to regulating the spate of foreign universities setting up shop in India, the UGC has formulated a set of regulations. It is high time they are asked to furnish information regarding the quality of programmes and degrees they offer, their status within their own country, details of their collaborating partners in India and fee structure. Today, it’s a free-for-all situation where students are being lured with fancy promises, and glossy brochures and "orientation" seminars in five star hotels.

Similarly, branding them as "commercial ventures", the UGC is cracking the whip on the so-called "study centres" of universities offering courses through distance learning. In the name of "collaboration", universities strike moneymaking deals with franchisees who are mainly private enterprises with no connection to the university.

Unless the conditions outlined by the Distance Education Council and the UGC are complied with, the degrees offered by these universities will be de-recognised.

Presently, courses ranging from BSc (Internet Sciences), BSc (Information Systems) and Bachelors in Computer Applications and Mgt to MSc (IT), Masters in e-commerce and a wide array of PG diplomas, mainly technical, are being trotted out left, right and centre.

Even earlier, the UGC had written to the errant universities clearly insisting that these courses could only be conducted through the university’s own department or through its constituent colleges and/or affiliated institutions.

In case the course happens to be AICTE approved, then you should also bring the matter to their notice. Incidentally, the AICTE forbids the use of the word "Indian" and/or "National" and/or All India" and/or "All India Council and/or " Commission" in any part of the name of a technical institution and/or any name whose abbreviated form reads as IIM, IIT, IISC, IIIT, AICTE, UGC. Institutions using such names have been asked to change their names within a month or else face withdrawal of AICTE approval. Similarly, all institutions functioning in temporary location have been asked to shift to permanent sites with proper building and infrastructure by March-end ‘03, or else face closure for the next academic year.

And while we are at it, a word of advice: Avoid paying the full amount of fee up-front. Opt for an instalment plan instead and pay as small an amount at the outset as possible. That way, should the institute fail to deliver the goods or worse still, close down all together as has happened with several computer institutes, you will be able to cut your losses with the least damage.

And do thoroughly check the credentials of the institute, in the first place - before you commit your precious time and money. Make it a point to talk to the students. Whatever an institute may officially claim, the students of the institute know what the ‘inside’ story is. So do try and separately chat up with as many students of the institute as you can. Ask them about the quality of teaching and training and whether outgoing students are getting the kind of jobs you are interested in. Also, ask the students enrolled in these institutes the same questions you asked the institute officials. Do the official and student answers tally? Or, is there a lot of contradiction?

Beware of institutes that issue full-page ads in leading dailies, hire attractive counsellors to con new entrants, collect huge sums from franchisees and fat course fee from students. After they have made a neat profit, they just vamoos! A case in point being Wintech and Zap Infotech who cadged huge sums as franchise and course fee before doing the disappearing act.

As they say, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Pervin Malhotra




Q Can you please tell me about industrial product designing and its prospects?

Anju Garg, Hisar

A Books exclusively printed on demand, an IBM Net Vista monitor that directly clamps on to your desk...these are just two of the 174 design concepts honoured by IDEA 2002 (Industrial Design Excellence Awards) for innovation with exquisite detailing and understanding of user needs.

Design is not merely about cosmetic changes. It is out-of-the-box thinking that seamlessly incorporates ergonomics (safety and functionality), imagery engineering, environment and business features in a product.

Product designers will be in great demand in the years to come. Corporate houses, services industry, design consultants and NGOs will increasingly need their services. Moreover, product designers are increasingly being hired as design managers and business strategists. Already companies like Titan, Telco and Bajaj are investing heavily in their design teams.

Undergraduate Courses

NID, Ahmedabad, IIT - Mumbai, IIT-Guwahati, and 14 RECs offer BTech in Industrial/Communication Design.

Postgraduate Courses:

IIT-Delhi, IIT Roorkee, Indian Institute of Science (Centre for Electronics Design & Technology), Bangalore, School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi. Eligibility: Bachelors degree in engineering/architecture.


Q I am preparing for medical entrance exams. I would like to know if the age limit and the question pattern for the exam have changed?

Ranjit Kaur, Ludhiana

A As per the Medical Council of India (MCI)’s notification, students appearing in the exam should have completed 17 years on December 1 of the year of admission. They should also have 50% (agg) in English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Since AP and J&K don’t come under the all-India scheme, their eligibility could differ. For instance, colleges in Jammu require you to have completed 17 years of age on July.

Although the upper age limit is not mentioned, some colleges peg it at 25 years (relaxable for SC/ST candidates). However, a medical institution can individually determine the upper age limit if necessary. Accordingly, the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, has fixed it at 22 years.

While the syllabus of the exam has not changed, the examination pattern and the level of difficulty vary slightly from year to year.


Q Although I am academically bright and can pursue any other line, I’m thinking of going into teaching - particularly at the junior level. What are the prospects of a teaching career vis-à-vis one in the corporate sector?

Mohit Khanna, New Delhi

A Hey that’s great! For some strange reason, so few young people come forward to take up teaching. And many of those who end up in teaching jobs do so as a last resort, or by default. Which is really very sad because we need the finest and most committed teachers for the elementary level, which constitutes the foundation of our academic superstructure. Precisely for this very reason, primary and elementary school teachers in advanced countries are the highest paid.

Since there are more primary schools as compared to secondary schools, jobs are easier to get. Also now that the right to primary education is finally enshrined in our Constitution, there will be a greater demand for primary teachers. With experience, you will be promoted to the secondary school level in any case.

While pay scales are clearly not as high as those in the corporate sector, they are not to be scoffed at either. With the revised pay scales recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission, you have a well-paying career ahead of you.




1. Name the scheme launched by the Prime Minister recently that aims at providing drinking water to all villages in the country by 2004.

2. Name the two stations in New Delhi between which the Metro rail service was launched recently.

3. Name the French scientist and member of the Raelian cult who recently claimed the first human birth by cloning.

4. Name the Adviser to the Finance Minister and Chairman of the Task Force on Direct and Indirect Taxes.

5. Who has taken over as the new Chief of the Army Staff?

6. In which mountain ranges is the picturesque Amby Valley Sahara Lake City (AVSLC), said to be India’s first planned hill station, situated?

7. Which business legend’s stamp was recently released by the government to commemorate his 70th birth anniversary?

8. Who recently stepped down as the Chairman of the Tata Group of Companies?

9. Expand UNTOC.

10. What is the capital of Ecuador?

11. Who is the newly elected President of Kenya?

12. Name the writer of "Vande Matram".

13. Where is the urn housing the Ashes lying at present?

14. Name the Indian athlete who is likely to get her Busan Asian Games medals back after receiving a favourable report from the IOC recommending that doping charges against her be dropped.

15. Which state topped the medal tally at the end of the 32nd National Games in Hyderabad?

Name......................Class.......... School address.......................

Winners of quiz 172: The first prize by draw of lots goes to Madhuri Raina, VII, St Lukes Sen Sec School, Solan-173212.

Second: Akanksha, VIII-C, St Joseph’s Convent School, Cantt Road, Jalandhar.

Third: Kamini Devi, class 8, Govt High School, Passu, Dharamsala, Kangra (HP).

Answers to quiz 172: Yash Chopra; Amethi; 15; Malaysia; Taj Mahal; Himachal Pradesh; Vande Matram; Sunil Bharti Mittal; Aceh; Turkey; National Highway Development Authority; Argentina; English & African Nguni; Hyderabad; Pakistan.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

Tarun Sharma