June 12, 1997
MUMBAI, June 11: The suspicious and abrupt manner in which the Mumbai divisional chairman of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, R B Phansalkar, was shunted out on Tuesday evening to make way for S A H Abidi, has considerably agitated city academicians.
The new divisional head of SSC and HSC Board, Abidi, was at the helm of affairs as the divisional secretary at the Sion board office when the infamous SSC paper leakage scandal took place last year. Following the paper scam, the then Mumbai Chairman Ashok Patil was suspended with immediate effect and Abidi was transferred out to Aurangabad.
However, now that Abidi is back on the saddle with a promotion and that too when Phansalkar had moved the heaven and earth in his short stint as the chairman to plug the yearly phenomenon of SSC paper leakages this year has touched a raw nerve even amongst some of the existing Board members.
According to reliable sources in Mantralaya, the State Chairman of the Board in Pune, Vasant Patil, had dashed an urgent and confidential note to the School Education Secretary Kumud Bansal on Tuesday, urging her not to execute the transfer orders at least till the time of declaration of SSC results. Which, however did not have any effect.
“In all fairness, I feel Phansalkar should have been allowed to continue as the chairman for a full three-year tenure before transferring him. This sudden change is totally uncalled for especially since the system had improved vastly in the past few months,” commented the Principal of Bhavan’s College (Andheri) on Tuesday.
However, though Phansalkar had last week told Express Newsline that there is nothing controversial about this transfer which is “routine and made for administrative purposes”, educationists insist that there is more to this than meets the eye.
The General Secretary of Mumbai Junior College Teachers Union, Mukund Andhalkar, stated: “This transfer is creating a havoc in the academic circles. We do not mind Abidi being given a promotion, but he should have been given some other portfolio so as to avoid doubts in the education section.”
Repeated attempts to contact Secretary Bansal since the past two days proved futile. However, the Education Minister Sudhir Joshi said Phansalkar was transferred as the deputy secretary since Mantralaya is in “need of good officers like him (Phansalkar)”.
When asked if Abidi was being favoured, Joshi said: “It is not correct for people to think that transfers mean punishment. Abidi was transferred to Aurangabad on his own request and now he has been brought back on the directives issued by Kumud Bansal.”
While Abidi was also not available for comment, one of the members of the Forum For Fairness In Education, Sunil Dawalkar, who last year was instrumental in mobilising parents SSC candidates to file a writ in view of the paper scam, said he may even file a public interest petition on this transfer business.
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