Distance Learning

Distance schooling mess

Recently, Professor NR Madhava Menon, the founding Vice-Chancellor (VC) of my alma mater, the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata, and one of the founders of the countrywide regulation college (NLU) challenge, handed away. Few understand that Professor Menon has become the writer of policies governing open and distance mastering (ODL) in India. Tragically, this legacy is being tarnished at NUJS, a continual violator of ODL guidelines of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and University Grants Commission (UGC) since 2008.

The regulatory framework

ODL in India received an impetus with the establishment of IGNOU in 1985. For almost three years after that, IGNOU had the dual role of functioning as an Open University and discharging the countrywide regulator of ODL courses via its Distance Education Council (DEC).

Distance schooling
Under the ‘Guidelines of DEC on Minimum Requirements for Recognition of ODL Institutions’ (DEC Guidelines), first published in 2006, universities were required to secure mandatory approvals to offer ODL and for every ODL guide that has been to be run. These DEC Guidelines were compulsorily relevant to all Universities regarding the Supreme Court’s 2009 judgment in Annamalai. Following the Supreme Court’s decisions in Yashpal and Annamalai, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in August 2010 constituted the Professor NR Madhava Menon Committee to advise robust law measures ODL.

In December 2012, UGC became appointed the countrywide regulator of ODL (nontechnical publications). IGNOU’s DEC was dissolved to effectuate this, and its regulatory functions have been transferred to UGC’s Distance Education Bureau (DEB). The DEB followed the DEC Guidelines to avoid disruptions during the transition phase.
In 2016, the DEB suggested that each online ODL publication had been being run without its permission, and these guides cannot be run till new regulations are formulated. Later, the UGC notified the UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017, and the UGC (Online Courses or Programmes) Regulations, 2018 (Online Regulations).
Recently, DEB’s Right to Information (RTI) response dated 16. 04.2019 showed that no universities had been granted permission to run online courses until the Online Regulations came in July 2018.
PDF publications run by NUJS.

NUJS is in no wayppronos from the erstwhile IGNOU DEC or the UGC DEB for any ODL courses. Still, it continued running offline (missing approval) and online (blanketly prohibited) when considering 2008. When NUJS’ apolitical student frame, the Student Juridical Association (SJA) produced damning proof earlier than the 32nd NUJS Academic Council (AC), the individuals resolved to, without delay, suspend all such publications. This became ratified using the 61st NUJS Executive Council (EC), which had Justice Arun Mishra as the then Chancellor’s nominee. At the 61st EC, the gap education mess has become the not unusual subject matter for three separate inquiries; and the 62nd EC reiterated the ban following the SJA’s intervention and constituted a fourth, committed inquiry into the space training mess which NUJS is but even to convene.

There is likewise evidence to suggest that one of those allegedly worried, Ms. Vaneeta Patnaik, is a nursing Director at Effulgent Educators LLP, which sought to run a certificacertificate’sn in association with NUJS. Interestingly, Ms. Patnaik made no disclosures concerning her association with Effulgent Educators LLP to the University at any point in time, no matter being a member (both gift and vote casting) of the twenty-ninth AC and the fifty-fifth EC meetings – while the difficulty of her Effulgent Educators LLP was discussed. This is particularly investigated through one of the inquiries earlier, the 61st EC.

Subsequent (In)motion

Based on the proof provided via the SJA, the 60th and 61st ECs affected an administrative rinse that was introduced by a brand new Vice-Chancellor (Acting), Registrar (Acting), and Assistant Registrar (Administration). To the students, it appeared that the Augean stables of NUJS could finally get wiped clean beneath the watch of a venerable, retired judge of Calcutta High Court, Justice (Retd) Amit Talukdar. However, it is now an open secret that the aforesaid EC-instituted inquiries have long gone nowhere. While NUJS tiptoes around the gap in education in the imbroglio, it faces numerous civil and arbitration suits in the Calcutta and Delhi High Courts. Despite orders from the EC, Professor Anirban Mazumdar, Director, School of Distance and Mass Education (SDME), fobbed off duty to correspond with distance education college students on spurious “non-public” grounds.

Earlier this year, I had filed four RTI packages to NUJS, along with

one on distance schooling. Mr. Pritwish Saha, the NUJS Public Information Officer (PIO), gave evasive and incomplete solutions. During follow-ups, the PIO verbally introduced that the response changed into being drafted in session with Registrar (Acting) Ms. Sika Sen and SDME Director Professor Mazumdar. Aggrieved, I sooner or later filed an enchantment earlier than Registrar Sen. Predictably, Registrar Sen supplied a pretty evasive reaction against whom I was later constrained to file a complaint. DEB’s response dated 08.03.2019 to an identical RTI also establishes that NUJS changed into jogging these publications for almost a decade in gross violation of the UGC Act, 1956. Pressed through my RTI applications and the SJA, NUJS released a huge cache governing our bodies’ information.

This information, previously unavailable, did not effectively respond; however, it additionally provided signify that various insiders, along with former Vice-Chancellor Professor Ishwara Bhat, former Registrars (Acting) Dr. R Parameshwaran and Dr. Sarfaraz A Khan, Professor Mazumdar, Ms. Patnaik; and Professor Sandeepa Bhat, were the in all likelihood facilitators. In my recent letter, The information above diverticular references to governing bodies’ minutes) was made to the NUJS Chancellor, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and the 65th EC.

Reportedly, the 66th EC, in the end, took observation of the made available and installedstalledrson inquiry below Professor Saikat Maitra, the VC of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, Kolkata.
Distant hope? In 2012, while NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad (NALSAR) suffered a similar distance schooling mess, the ensuing cleanup led to NALSAR securing Category I autonomy the UGC, which has also had an effective impact on its ODL programs. NUJS continues to be suffering even to get an NAAC accreditation, thereby making NUJS ineligible to run ODL guides any time soon. Today, NUJS is confronted with sure uglyities. There has been a deliberate state of no activity and lively sheltering of the alleged offenders for over a year, notwithstanding a damning proof of institutional complicity.

An EC packed with felony luminaries, illustratillustrations Supreme Court, the Calcutta High Court, and the State Government has toge,ther didn’t put any meaningful motion into effect. And there may be a very actual chance of NUJS losing its UGC affiliation for everyday guides. Previously, positive universities in West Bengal and engineering faculties someplace elsewhere became non-compliant with ODL norms, including investigations via the Central Bureau of Investigation that the MHRD has initiated. Some universities even needed to be shuttered. For now, it remains to be seen whether or not NUJS will frustrate or permit Professor Maitra’s inquiry to provoke significant trade. The author changed NUJS’ Stuthe dent Juridical Association president for 2016- 18 and currently works as an Associate at Trilegal, Delhi. The views are private.

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