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.
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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