The Indian Express | 4 months ago | 07-01-2023 | 05:40 am
The West Bengal Central School Service Commission on Friday began the process of recruiting candidates for the post of school teachers who were illegally deprived of their jobs. According to SSC officials, about 65 of such candidates were called for the counseling to take up teaching jobs for classes 9 and 10. After the selection, these candidates will be given appointment letters. Among these candidates, there were several who took part in the over 650-day sit-in on Mayo Road demanding teaching jobs.“We have been waiting for this day for a very long time. It seems that we have won our battle. Today is a happy day for us,” said a candidate after attending the counselling at SSC office in Salt Lake. On December 19, nine organisations of job aspirants had taken out a rally from Sealdah to Esplanade in Kolkata, demanding appointment letters against teaching posts in the state-run schools by the month-end.Intellectuals like educationist Miratun Nahar had also joined the rally that culminated at Y-Channel in Esplanade. “For the last eleven years, there is no government functioning in the state. Rather, there is a rule of the ruling party. If there had been a government in the state, then one could not have got a job through backdoor. If the rally fails to yield any result, then I would ask them to put up resistance against this injustice,” Nahar had said.The Calcutta High Court had directed CBI and ED probes into the SSC recruitment scam that led to the arrest of former minister Partha Chatterjee and recovery of movable and immovable properties worth over Rs 100 crore.Former senior officials of West Bengal Education Department, including Subiresh Bhattacharya, a Vice Chancellor, TMC MLA and former West Bengal Board of Primary Education president Manik Bhattacharya were arrested for their alleged involvement in recruitment scam in the primary board which involved giving teaching and non-teaching jobs to people in state-run schools in exchange of money.
With just the clothes on their backs, M Joy Singh and his family of five fled their home in the hill district of Kangpokpi and arrived at a relief camp in Imphal West’s Lamboi Khongnakhong on May 7. They have been there ever since and see little hope of returning anytime soon, even as the violence that started on May 3 continues across the state.They are among the thousands of families currently in relief camps across the state, many of whom have been living as refugees within their own state for close to a month now.As of June 2, there were 37,450 people living in relief camps across 13 districts. And with the continuing incidents of shooting and arson, particularly in the areas at the border of valley and hill districts, this number is rising by the day.The relief camp in which M Joy Singh and his family are being housed is located in a government school. Set up by local residents from a group called Indigenous Development Mission, it is much smaller than many other camps — housing 67 people from 22 families, most from Kangpokpi district and a few from Churachandpur district. Because the school campus is small, organisers say they are already running over capacity and have not taken in any new people since May 24.“The provisions for the camp are mostly being donated by different NGOs and clubs. They have been asking us about our needs and contributing. We have also been receiving some basic provisions from the government’s side,” said S Milan Singh, one of the organisers. Since May 12, they have received 18 bags of rice, three bags of dal, a few bags of salt, potatoes and onions, three tins of cooking oil and 22,000 litres of water from the district administration.In Churachandpur, Kennedy, part of the Kuki Khanglai Lompi group which runs 50 relief camps in the district, said meeting basic needs is a daily challenge amid the swelling numbers and soaring heat. On Saturday evening itself, more than 100 people arrived at the camps from Moljol village. Currently, he said, there are more than 6,500 people living in these camps, set up in schools, churches and community halls. Another 2,000 people are living in relatives’ homes but depend upon the group for food rations.“Different stakeholders are providing us with supplies. There are other civil society organisations, the church, private organizations, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the district administration… Right now, providing medicines to the people is a big challenge for us, especially since a lot of people are getting sick because of the heat,” he said. More than anything, however, it is the future that worries him.“We can’t just keep feeding them every day. Ultimately, people will need their own livelihood again,” he said.Back in Imphal, M Joy Singh — who was a teacher in a private school — said that for him, rehabilitation would ideally mean returning to Kangpokpi with protection so that he can restart his life there. “I have lived all my life there. My parents and grandparents have been cremated there. I don’t want to lose the place where I was brought up, but I fear it may take more than one or two years to return,” he said.At another relief camp in Imphal, M Baby, whose home was in Churachandpur town and who has been in the camp since May 10, said that her family would prefer a fresh start in the valley.“We came with nothing but our clothes. But there is nothing to go back to, everything is destroyed,” she said.According to the Deputy Collector of one of the districts concerned, there are primarily two sets of people in relief camps with differing long-term needs. People who have moved to the relief camps from border areas of the same districts, and those who have come from other districts dominated by people from another community.“Those from fringe villages will probably eventually go back. It is more challenging for the other displaced group. Until the question of where they will be resettlement is tackled, we want to at least find a better place for them to live where they can have some privacy and live as family units instead of all together, which is something we are working towards,” said the official.Among the inmates of the Lamboi relief camp are 14 children. While schools across the state have been shut since the start of the violence and will continue to remain closed till at least June 15, a small respite for the children is that some volunteer teachers have been visiting the camp for the past two weeks to conduct some informal classes for a few hours for them.
Standing in front of her mud house in Khemasuli village in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district, 26-year-old Madhuri Mahato points to a scrawl on its outer wall alongside a picture of a girl with a bow and arrow, which read: “Party r Prachar Likhte Dibak Nai (We will not allow graffiti by any party).” A similar line is written across the mud wall of her neighbour’s home: “Hamder Kath Hamder Thak, Voter Prachar Bandho Thak (Let our wall be ours, let the campaign for votes stop).”In several villages in Paschim Medinipur and neighbouring Jhargram district, such messages have recently come up on the houses of Kudmis (Mahatos), forbidding political parties from using their walls for their campaigns. Not only this, several Kudmi leaders and workers of both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Opposition parties such as the BJP, CPI(M) and Congress, including panchayat members, have started quitting their parties or posts to join the community’s agitation demanding the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status and inclusion of their Kudmali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.This strategy of the Kudmi community is designed to put pressure on the political parties ahead of the panchayat elections, which are expected to be held in the coming months, and the Lok Sabha polls slated for next year.The Kudmi community, which is currently listed in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, plays a significant role in every election in the tribal-dominated Junglemahal districts of Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia. In the 2018 panchayat elections, the BJP had captured power in 100 panchayats and in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections won five out of the six parliamentary seats in the region dominated by Kudmis and tribals. But the BJP suffered a setback in the 2021 Assembly polls with the party winning only 16 of the 40 seats with the TMC establishing its upper hand in the region.The current escalation in Kudmis’ movement comes after months of their protests failed to yield any concession from either the BJP-led Centre or the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.In September last year, Kudmis staged a railway blockade at the Kustaur and Khemasuli stations in Purulia and Paschim Medinipur districts over their demand but lifted it after five days.They were back to squatting on the rail tracks at Kustaur and Khemsauli in April this year, even as they also partially blocked the national highway connecting Kolkata and Mumbai. Their protest lasted five days, ending again without any concrete government assurance about their demand.This time, however, the TMC government took note of the eruption of the Kudmi stir and on May 17 three representatives of the community met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah. At the meeting, the CM told the Kudmi leaders that her government would draft a proposal to grant ST status to the community and send it to the Centre. According to a senior official present at the meeting, it was also decided that a Kudmi Development Board would be set up for the welfare of the community.Nine days later, the apparent progress made at the meeting evaporated as the convoy of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, the CM’s nephew, was pelted with stones after it left Jhargram town following a roadshow. State minister Birbaha Hansda was injured in the attack. Since then, 10 Kudmi protesters have been arrested, including their leader Rajesh Mahato.The Kudmi community has alleged that it is a conspiracy to derail their movement and have demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident. But they are refusing to back down. “Most of the houses in my village have such writings on their walls. We will not allow any political activity in our village. Our walls cannot be used for political graffiti or campaigns, whichever party it may be,” says Madhuri.Not far from Madhuri’s home lives Sandip Mahato, the 33-year-old resident of Kantasol village, who was once a TMC booth president. “I was with TMC for many years, even during the Left rule. But I left the party on April 11. My samaj comes first. I am part of the agitation now. Neither the TMC nor any other party did anything for my samaj. This is our fight for Jati Satta (community identity),” says Sandip.Standing beside him at a sweet shop is Badal Chandra Mahato, 35, who was earlier the panchayat pradhan and the BJP’s area chairman. “I too left the BJP on April 11,” he says. Like them, Khodumeer village resident Pabitra Kumar Mahato, 47, who was earlier with the CPI(M), and former Congress worker Santanu Mahato, 47, have also given up their party affiliations to join the community’s agitation.“Samaj andolan (community movement) is going on. How can I turn my back on it? ST reservation is our right,” says Pabitra. Santanu says he was part of the rail blockade in Khemsauli. “When my children grow up they will ask me what I did for them. What will I say? Therefore, I am part of the movement,” he says.Kudmis’ mega Jhargram rallyWith no intention of backing down, Kudmis are now preparing to hold a mega rally in Jhargram on June 6 and are mobilising their community members in villages for their campaign. “It will not be easy for the state government, TMC or any other party to ignore us. On June 6, our leaders will show us the roadmap for attaining ST status,” says Adivasi Kudmi Samaj’s Paschim Medinipur district president Kamalesh Mahato.As he speaks with The Indian Express, standing by the road near Saotaldihi village in Jhargram’s Lodhasuli area, hundreds of Kudmis carrying the community’s traditional yellow flags and wearing yellow scarves are engaged in their outreach to villagers, with more than 100 motorbikes and two cars with loudspeakers being deployed for their campaign.Paschim Banga Kudmi Samaj leader Sandip Mahato, 47, says the community has adopted a “Ghagor Ghera (encircle from all sides)” strategy of confronting senior political leaders visiting the Junglemahal belts.Kudmis claim that during the British colonial rule they were considered a primitive tribe like Mundas, Oraons, and Santhals. But when the ST list was prepared after 1950, they lost out on the ST status and put in the OBC category.But the Kudmi agitation and the attack on Abhishek’s convoy have not gone down well with tribal groups and seem to have resulted in social fissures in the region. The United Adivasi Forum, a platform of 18 tribal organisations, has called a bandh on June 8. The tribal group Bharat Jakat Majhi Pargana Mahal’s leader Dilip Mandi says, “We are against ST status for Kudmis since they have been an empowered community from before Independence. They have land, education and money. They have always been associated with upper-caste people. Meanwhile, Santhali and Adivasi communities are extremely backward. If Kudmis get ST status, they will grab all the reservation benefits and the Adivasi communities will be further deprived.”Kamalesh Mahato denies Kudmis’ involvement in the attack on Abhishek’s convoy, pointing out that they have called for a CBI probe into the incident. Asked about the tribals’ opposition to his community’s demand, he says, “We have lived side by side for hundreds of years. It is also a part of a conspiracy to provoke them against us. Some of their leaders who live in cities are provoking the tribals and trying to create division and tension between us.”
TBSE Tripura Madhyamik, HS Results 2023: The Tripura Board of Secondary Education (TBSE) will declare the board exam results for Class 10 or HS and Class 10 or Madhyamik today at 12 pm. Students who appeared for the exam, can check their results at the official website— tripuraresults.nic.in.This year, the Tripura Higher Secondary or Class 12 final exams began on March 15 and ended on April 19. While Class 10 exams began on March 16 and concluded on April 18.Step 1: Visit the official website— tripuraresults.nic.in.Step 2: Click on the result link on the website for your respective classStep 3: Enter your credentials such as roll number and date of birthStep 4: View and download the resultA total of 112 exam centres were set up for Class 12 exams. All the exams were conducted in one shift. For Class 10, a total of 162 centres were set up for 43,503 students to appear for the exams.Unlike last year, this year, the exams were held only once. In 2022, the exams were held in two terms and final results were declared on July 6.
The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court, which asked Lucknow University’s Astrology department to look into the horoscope of a woman to verify the claim by a man whom she had accused of raping her on the promise of marriage. The man has claimed he backed out after learning of “problems” in her horoscope — that she is “manglik”.A bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal, which took suo motu cognisance of the May 23 order of a single bench of HC, stayed the order and asked HC to decide it on its own merits. The high court intervened after Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud took note of the matter.“At this stage, we say nothing on the merits of the case, except that in the interest of justice, the operation and effect of this order so far as it gives directions to the Head of the Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University must be stayed…In the meanwhile, there shall be stay of the operation and effect of the order dated 23rd May, 2023 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench),” the bench said in its order.The top court said that while it respects the sentiments of the parties on astrology and astronomy, what happened was “totally out of context” and involved issues of privacy, etc.Though the Supreme Court is on summer recess, the special bench in this regard was set up on the instructions of Chief Justice Chandrachud, who is currently overseas. The CJI took cognisance of the reports in this connection and directed early Saturday morning that a bench be set up immediately to consider it.The high court order came while hearing the man’s bail plea.Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the order is “disturbing” and urged the court to stay it.He told the bench: “Astrology is a science. Whether a person should decide based on manglik or not in marriage, nobody is questioning. The only question is while entertaining an application by a judicial forum, can this be a consideration?”The counsel appearing for the complainant woman informed the bench that the HC order “happened by consent of both parties, and the court directed for expert evidence under Section 45 of Evidence Act”. He also pointed out that universities are now granting degree on the subject of Astrology, and it is a science.“But this was totally out of context,” Justice Dhulia said, referring to the HC order. “What has this got to do with the subject matter?… It involves so many other features; the right to privacy has been disturbed. We don’t want to spell out — there are so many other aspects.” The judge said: “We are not challenging anything. We are only on the subject matter in this context.”The counsel for the victim pointed out that it was argued that the marriage cannot be solemnised since the woman is manglik, which, some believe is unfavourable for marriages. “That’s why the court ordered. It is not out of context. It was the issue before the court,” the counsel said.Justice Dhulia, however, said, “We do not want to join issues with you on this fact as to what is the relevance of these aspects, what astronomy has to do, what astrology has to do, nothing. We have nothing on that. We respect your feelings as far as that aspect is concerned. We are only concerned with this subject matter linking to that issue”.S-G Mehta said while adjudicating the issue, the competent court cannot examine such a thing.The complainant’s counsel said the petitioner had taken the plea that the marriage cannot be solemnised. “Half-part of the ceremony was done. After that, they backed out on the question of manglik. This was argued,” he said.Justice Mithal said, “We have stayed the order and permitted the court to decide bail application on its merits. We don’t understand why this astrology report is called for.”
ALMOST 50 years ago, when Anu Aga moved to Pune from Mumbai with her husband and settled down on the Boat Club road, the city welcomed her with open arms — and lots of fish.“The Mula Mutha was a flowing water body with aquatic life. Back then, it was a pleasure to be located next to the river and see the boating, and fishermen catching fish. In fact, we used to buy small fish from those fishermen. Those were delicious,” says Aga.Today, 80-year-old Aga is better known as the former chairperson of Thermax, the sustainable energy solutions provider, and spends her time reading, travelling, sharing precious moments with family and friends, and contributing to various social causes — including saving Pune’s rivers.“Over the past many years, I have seen the city grow. I recall my husband and I occasionally rode bicycles to dinners from our house on Boat Club road to Aundh or Koregaon Park. After dinner, they would take a lift home from friends and have the cycles picked up the next morning. For cycling, I could wear only one dress and I used to call it my cycling uniform. Today, with the indisciplined traffic and lack of cycle tracks, it would be suicidal,” she says.“As far as safety is concerned, Pune was and is a relatively safe city and I felt comfortable driving back alone till midnight. But me being a bad driver, my family has forbidden me from driving at night — for the safety of others on the road,” Aga says with a smile.Company in crisis, sleepless nightsAga’s memories of Pune are also tinged with sorrow and stress. In 1966, when her husband passed away, the Thermax board insisted that she take over the role of Executive Chairperson. “Having been in HR prior to being the Chairperson, our employees knew me well and wanted me to succeed. Even the outside world was very supportive. In those days, there were employees who proudly stated that this was their first and the last job. But today, youngsters think that staying with any company for even five years brings down their market value,” she exclaimed.Soon after she took over — the company had gone public a year before her husband’s death — the economy went through a downturn. “Thermax’s performance started slipping and the share which was quoted at 400 tumbled to 36. I got an anonymous letter from a shareholder saying we had let him down. For the Aga family, ‘letting down’ anyone was a dirty word and I went through sleepless nights,” she says.She then convinced the board to engage Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to find the way forward. At the time, Thermax had diversified into many non-core businesses like IT, electronics, bottled water, which added to the top line but eroded profits. “We were, perhaps, the first company to enter IT but had no clue how to run those businesses. In order to come out of those non-core businesses, many divisions had to close down and several employees were asked to leave. Thanks to the graciousness of those employees, they left without bitterness. If I meet them even today, they do not hold a grudge against the company,” she says.Those were very difficult days, Aga says, but Thermax managed a turnaround. “Some of the most difficult decisions I had to make was to decide whether the family wanted to be board members or executives. Until this point, my daughter Meher and her husband Pheroz were in charge of businesses and were board members but it was decided that they had to choose one. They were very upset to be pushed to make this choice and decided to be board members. Today, they feel it is the best decision they have made for themselves and for the company,” she says.An unusual encounter on Main StreetAs for life in Pune, Aga has an unusual anecdote to share. During one of her visits to Main Street in the Camp area, she saw a group of young boys begging. “I had seen them doing this very often but on that day I asked them why they were not going to school. They gave a big yarn that their parents had forced them to bring a certain amount of money home every day and if given an opportunity, they would love to study. Two brothers even took me to their parents,” she said, pointing out that her own children were young at the time.“I explained the situation and the parents were delighted that they could stay with me and attend school. I gave the parents my address, took them home and enrolled them in a municipal school nearby since no private school would admit these kids who did not know how to read or write,” she says.Then came an unexpected twist. “They went to school for about a week. But one evening, they did not come home. The same day, their parents came to meet the children. Some of my friends, who were visiting, cautioned that it could be blackmail. But I intuitively knew it was a coincidence. I went to Main Street, found the two children there and returned them to their parents. A few days later, when I met the brothers again, I asked why they did not come back home that day. They replied that they valued their freedom more than anything — an answer that thrilled my husband,” recalls Aga.An end and a new beginningAccording to Aga, the family’s philanthropic journey started with an incident that involved her son, Kurush. “He returned to India after studying and working abroad for eight years. He was extremely keen that a substantial part of our earnings should go towards social causes. To make his point, he threatened that if I did not do as he wanted, he would go back abroad. I hated doing anything out of compulsion and calmly told him that he was free to leave. But later Kurush apologised, and the family agreed that now that they had dividend income, they should seriously look at giving. Soon after this conversation, Kurush died in a car accident at the age of 25,” she recalls.To honour Kurush’s wish, Aga started looking for NGOs she could associate with. Soon, she met Shaheen Mistri, the social activist and educationist, and was drawn by her passion for educating the underprivileged. “Meher and I were invited on the boards of Akanksha Foundation and Teach for India,” says Aga. “Thus started my philanthropic journey.”