If there is one sector where both the Congress and its erstwhile ally the NCP are on common ground, it is the business of education. Half the previous Maharashtra cabinet of 42 ministers, or their immediate relatives in a few cases, run educational across the state. These 21 former ministers are almost equally split — ten are of the NCP and 11 of the Congress, including a Congressman who has since joined the Shiv Sena.
Some of these institutes have run into controversy. For instance, the Rajesh Tope family-run College of Commerce in Navi Mumbai came under the scanner of a Mumbai University inquiry committee that found it flouting norms. Tope was higher and technical education minister.
Also, the name of Anil Deshmukh’s Nagpur Institute of Technology came up in connection with the Adarsh scam. Some companies that had given loans to facilitate the purchase of Adarsh flats had allegedly, at one time, registered their offices at the institute’s corporate address.
While there are no quick estimates for how big the business is, an educational institution does bring clout and money to politicians. “Politicians know education is the best business as there is no state control. In the last 10-15 years, private schools belonging to politicians have mushroomed,” said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education.
Even Prithviraj Chavan, while he was CM, acknowledged the spread of private education and its impact. During a panel discussion, “Badalta Maharashtra”, organised by Lokasatta last year, he noted it was time the state revived government education. “Too much privatisation of education has reduced the role of the government to that of an agency that releases grants. Improvement and development of education… cannot be done through privatisation of education, which is rapidly mushrooming.”
He admitted to political pressure. There were instances where, he said, the state had granted permission for private schools on the condition that they would be permanently unaided. “They had given us affidavits saying they would never take any government aid. Today, these schools have come together demanding grants. There is too much political pressure, so we had to fulfil their demands. We have missed many opportunities due to wrong political decisions; it is very difficult to correct them now,” Chavan said.
Privatisation has affected access and opportunity too, say academicians. “It is creating unequal access to the poor. Unequal access is leading to inequality in outcome. Due to this, the demographic dividend that we have may just become a demographic disaster,” said Sukhadeo Thorat, former UGC chairman and JNU professor.
A big draw to start educational institutions is subsidised land. “Many politicians get land at subsidised rates to start an institution and all kinds of permission quickly, while a common man does not enjoy such facilities,” said Dr A K Sengupta, academician and founder of Higher Education Forum, an NGO.
The Indian Express made calls to several ministers but could not reach Anil Deshmukh, Fouzia Khan, Rajendra Darda, Rajesh Tope, D P Sawant and Varsha Gaikwad. The NCP’s Jayant Patil said, “The education society that I remotely belong to started in 1945. It all depends on whether politicians have started the institute recently or whether he was in that (educational) role already and then entered politics. I am not talking in favour of politicians, but irregularities are found in some institutions that are not run or controlled by politicians. So why doesn’t anyone talk about them?”
Here are some Congress and NCP ministers who own educational institution:
ORIGINAL CONGRESS XI
Owners & founders
1. Narayan Rane
Sindhudurg Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, which he founded, runs a College of Engineering affiliated to Mumbai University, and a Dairy Development College affiliated to Konkan Krishi Vidyapith, Dapoli. The engineering college, founded in Oras in 1999, shifted in 2013 to a 32-acre plot near Mumbai-Goa highway in Kankavli. According to the websites of the Mandal and the college, it has 1,200 students and a faculty over 65; fees are between Rs 32,570 and Rs 39,800. The board of management has Neelam Rane as chairperson, Nilesh Rane as vice chairman and Nitesh Rane as secretary.
2. Patangrao Kadam
Bharati Vidyapeeth, founded by Kadam in Pune in 1964, today runs 78 schools and 60 institutions of higher education, including of law, engineering, management, medicine, biotech, dentistry, ayurveda, homeopathy, pharmacy and agriculture. Campuses are in New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Pune and other cities. Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University’s website says these had a built-up area of 12.5 lakh sq ft, and 1.2 lakh sq ft was added last academic year.
3. Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil
The former state school education minister is a member of the board of directors of Pravara Rural Education Society, established in 1964 by his grandfather Vithalrao Vikhe Patil, founder of the agri-cooperative movement. Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, Radhakrishna’s father, is the chairman of the society and board of directors. The society runs Pravara Public School, Pravara Kanya Vidya Mandir, Padmashri Vikhe Patil College of Arts, Science & Commerce, and several high schools and junior colleges in 44 villages. The society’s website says Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil “has taken up the herculean task of modernising the systems and processes”.
4. Bunty Patil
The chairman, and vice president of the management of D Y Patil College of Engineering in Akurdi, Pune, is Satej a.k.a. Bunty D Patil. According to the institute website, he is also president of Shri Mouni Vidyapeeth Gargoti, Kolhapur.
5. Balasaheb Thorat
He is president of Amrutvahini Sheti and Shikshan Vikas Sanstha, Amrutnagar, Sangamner, which was founded in 1978 by his father Bhausaheb Thorat. It runs Amrutvahini College of Engineering, Amrutvahini Polytechnic, Amrutvahini Model School, Amrutvahini Institute of Management and Business Administration, Amrutvahini College of Pharmacy, and others.
6. Rajendra Mulak
He is secretary of Backward Class Youth Relief Committee, started in 1974, as well as of Bhausaheb Mulak Charitable Trust, founded in 2002. Between them these run KDK College of Engineering (Nagpur), Umrer College of Engineering (Umrer), Bhausaheb Mulak College of Engineering (Butibori), Smt Rajshree Mulak College of Engineering for Women (Nagpur), Nagpur Polytechnic, Bhausaheb Mulak Polytechnic (Butibori), Institute of Diploma in Pharmacy (Nagpur), and many other institutes.
7. Shivajirao Moghe
He runs several schools and junior colleges in Yavatmal under the aegis of Shivramji Moghe Bahudeshiya Gramin Adivasi Vikas Sanstha, a trust named after his father and set up in 2002. A Yavatmal resident, A Shamsuddin, had lodged a police complaint in 2011 against Moghe and two others for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 42 lakh for opening an ashram school. When the police failed to find evidence, Shamsuddin complained to a magistrate; the case is pending with Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court.
8. Harshvardhan Patil
He formed Shahjirao Patil Vikas Prathisthan in 2006 to start SB Patil College of Engineering near Pune. Governed by Patil and wife Bhagyashree, it runs two colleges affiliated to University of Pune, and two schools in Pune.
KIN IN CONTROL
9. Rajendra Darda
Former school education minister Rajendra Darda has a brother, Vijay Darda, who is the founder president of Shri Jawaharlal Darda Education Society, Yavatmal, which runs Jawaharlal Darda Institute of Engineering & Technology. Rajendra Darda is not a member of the boards of advisers or governors.
11. Dattatray P Sawant
Now in Shiv Sena, Sawant is a member of the working committee of Nanded Pharmacy College that is run by Shri Sharda Bhavan Education Society. SSBES manages and runs various schools and colleges. According to the annual fee structure given on the pharmacy college website, the tuition fee for degree is Rs 26,000.
NCP’s 10, WITH CAMPUSES IN MUMBAI, PUNE, NAGPUR…
Owners & founders
1. Chhagan Bhujbal
Set up Mumbai Educational Trust in 1989. The Mumbai campus is at Bandra’s Bhujbal Knowledge Centre. It runs programmes in management, mass media, insurance, IT, pharmacy, engineering, besides the MET Rishikul Vidyalaya, a registered Cambridge International School. The board of trustees includes Chhagan Bhujbal as chairman, Pankaj Bhujbal as secretary and Samir Bhujbal as the treasurer. The trust also has a campus in Nashik, spanning over 34 acres with 2 lakh sq ft of campus floor space, according to information on its website.
2. Jayant R Patil
Kasegaon Education Society, established in 1945 by his father Rajarambapu Patil, started Rajarambapu Institute of Technology in 1983, which has a campus of 17 hectares and buildings adding up to 49,021 sq m. Patil is on the board of governors. The society runs 31 schools and 11 higher education institutes — three arts-commerce-and-science colleges, three IT institutes, an engineering college, two management institutes, a nursing institute and a pharmacy college. Its website says the interim fees are Rs 90,410 for undergrad courses (fixed by Shikshan Shulk Samiti in 2014-15) and Rs 92,870 for PG.
3. Rajesh Tope
The former higher and tech education minister is secretary of Matsyodari Shikshan Sanstha, which runs primary and secondary schools at various locations in Jalna district, besides junior and senior colleges, B Ed colleges, a law college, and others. A commerce college in Navi Mumbai, affiliated to Mumbai University, came under the scanner after an inspection committee found it running from a residential building and without proper infrastructure or approved teachers.
4. Manohar Naik
Secretary of Janata Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, which runs Phulsing Naik Mahavidyalaya in Yavatmal among 23 institutions. Also, the website of Sanjay Rathod Shikshan Santha Gunj’s Manoharrao Naik Institute of Pharmacy, Umarkhed, called the minister its “inspiration”.
5. Anil Deshmukh
Nagpur Institute of Technology and Management is run by Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthaa, a trust Deshmukh founded. His son Salil is secretary. The institute, established in 2008 and self-financed, sprawls 26 acres in Katol Nagpur and houses five institutes. It is affiliated to Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University. The annual fees are Rs 75,000 for open-category BE students, and Rs 83,000 for MBA students.
6. Fouzia Khan
She founded Cosmopolitan Educational and Welfare Society, which runs Queen’s College of Food Technology in Aurangabad and offers B Tech in food technology. Batches are of 80, split between government and management quota, the respective fees being Rs 79,780 and Rs 1,95,000. It is affiliated to Marathwada Agricultural University of Parbhani.
7. Madhukar Pichad
Founder of Agasti Arts, Commerce and Dadasaheb Rupwate Science College at Akole, run by Akole Taluka Education Society. It is a private aided institute, affiliated to university of Pune..
8. Jaydutt Kshirsagar
Founded Navgan Shikshan Sanstha in Rajuri, Beed district. It runs three colleges —Arts, Science and Commerce College (Chousala), NSS PVP College of Pharmacy (Patoda) and NSS Rajuri’s College of Physical Education (Beed).
9. Ganesh Naik
Founded Shramik Shikshan Mandal at Bonkode, Navi Mumbai, in 1985. It runs Ramchandra Fakirji Naik Junior College of Arts, Science and Commerce and FG Naik Institute of Arts, Science (IT) and Commerce at Koparkhairne. The degree college is affiliated to Mumbai University.
KIN IN CONTROL
10. Sunil D Tatkare
The Tatkare Charitable Trust, registered in 2006, started its first college, Smt Geeta D Tatkare Polytehcnic College, at Gove in Raigad district in 2012. The trust is governed by Tatkare’s son Aniket, daughter Aditi and nephews Avdhut and Sandeep.
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