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A Student Reveals Abuse Of Power And “Upari Kamayi” (Bribes) Plaguing A University In UP

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By Shivangi Singh

Established in May 2000, the fifteen-year-old Uttar Pradesh Technical University (renamed Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University on 18-09-2015) is unique in ways more than one. Unlike most universities, it neither has a structured examination and evaluation pattern nor does it bother with providing quality education or employment opportunities to its students. While most of the universities, go ‘all hands on deck’ to preserve their rankings and culture of education, UPTU’s only concern seems to be to keep existing anyhow. Perhaps this is the reason the percentage of students enrolled in the university’s B.Tech course dropped to an all-time low in 2015, and more than half of the seats remained vacant even after four rounds of counselling spanning over two months.

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The University offers 1.47 lakh seats in engineering alone and also offers MCA, MBA, M.Tech., M.Pharma., Ph.D, B.Arch., BFAD, MAM and BHMCT. The University claims to fill 97,000 seats through counselling while the remaining are said to be filled using the JEE results. However, for the past two years more than 50% of the seats have remained vacant post counselling. Most of the colleges affiliated to the UPTU are run by individuals holding a considerable amount of wealth and political power in the area. This is how they are granted permissions and recognition in spite of not having proper infrastructure, basic facilities or qualified staff. The police and government officials who come for regular visits are paid off hefty bribes to keep their mouths shut. All students and staff know the pitiable condition of the University. The fact that Uttar Pradesh in general functions on a self-perpetuating corrupt system is not news to anyone.

One of the greatest follies of the U.P. government has been the rampant nepotism. It is no secret that the Gandhi family has been winning from Amethi in central Uttar Pradesh for generations now. Even the elected C.M. in 2014 gave the position to his son and the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav. The trend is not limited to politics and manifests itself in government offices outrageously. From the government hospitals to educational institute, nepotism in Uttar Pradesh ensures that talent is ignored and illogical lineage-based promotion at work is encouraged. Most of the times, selection and promotion at work depends on your contacts with the higher-ups. In UPTU colleges, what works is how connected you are with the Director or the Dean or his/her family. The selection criteria for professors is altered, and rules are bent if only you know how to maintain contacts and fake work.

Nepotism leads to the second issue that’s ruining the University. The administrative officials in Uttar Pradesh believe they hold absolute power and do not consider themselves answerable to anybody. Their line of reasoning is that if their contacts can get them a coveted government job then they can keep them from getting into troubles no matter what they do. What this leads to is ‘drunk in power’ syndrome. When power is given to people who are not qualified or competitive enough to deserve or attain it, it is abused. Consequently, most of the staff in UPTU colleges misbehave with the students and the parents alike and almost always, there are no consequences for their unprofessional behaviour.

Corruption in UPTU follows a trickle-down flow that isn’t restricted to finances. The teachers alter rules to get their favourite students through, which invariably include those who have flattered them the most. The clerks and the office staff ask students to pay unnecessary inflated late fee when the onus of not putting up a notice on time lies entirely with the staff. Needless to mention, a considerable amount out of this goes into the staff’s pockets. Since the Dean and college authorities are aware of this situation, they inflate the college fee and also ask the aspirants some amount of bribe to get selected as staff. The university, obviously conscious of the pattern, in turn, asks the colleges a hefty amount to get the affiliation. The education minister of the state turns to the officiating IAS officers in UPTU to get them the illegal share from which, ultimately, a bulky portion is offered to the Chief Minister. In the whole process, students suffer as the focus shifts from how to provide better education to how to earn maximum “Upari Kamayi” or illegal income.

The rampant corruption in the system demotivates all employees. Even the young and honest people are soon forced to follow suit. Their options are clear: either stay honest and lose the job or get your hands dirty and be rewarded with promotions, job security and inflow of illegal money. An average Indian with a family to support, no wonder, is obliged to choose the latter. It is a vicious cycle that is constantly perpetuating itself. The University takes on more than it can handle in terms of the numbers of affiliated colleges, students enrolled, courses being run, appointed official staff including clerks and professors and even the examinations being conducted. Consequently, the employees are overworked and underpaid. The university lacks proper structuring at any and every level. The lack of a proper evaluation system in examinations especially reeks of a system in desperate need of a serious do-over. One can only hope that the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party takes some time off from dealing with their existential crisis and actually does some or any work towards ensuring quality technical education in a university which they have shamelessly renamed after one of modern India’s most loved teacher and President.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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