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Rollback privatisation policy of Sainik Schools in national interest: Kharge writes to President

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New Delhi, 10 April (IANS) Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday asked President Droupadi Murmu to rollback the privatisation policy of Sainik Schools keeping in view the national interest.

He said that Indian democracy has conventionally kept the armed forces away from any partisan politics and the past successive governments have kept the armed forces and its affiliate institutions away from the shadows of varying political ideologies.

“I want to bring to your kind notice an investigative report based on an RTI reply, which described that Sainik Schools are being privatised using a new PPP model introduced by your government, and now 62 per cent of these schools are said to be owned by the BJP-RSS leaders,” Kharge wrote to the President.

“In the national interest, Congress demands the complete rollback of this privatisation policy and annulment of MoUs, so that children studying at Armed Forces Schools retain the desired character, vision and honour required for the service of the nation,” Kharge wrote.

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He explained that there are 33 Sainik Schools in the country which were fully government-funded institutions operated under the aegis of the Sainik Schools Society (SSS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

“In 2021, the Central government brazenly initiated the privatisation of Sainik Schools. As a result, MoUs have been signed for 40 out of the 100 new schools, based on this model, where the Union Government provides an Annual Fee Support of 50 per cent of fee (subject to an upper limit of Rs 40000/- per annum for 50 per cent of the class strength (subject to an upper limit of 50 students) per year from Class 6 onwards till class 12, on Merit-cum-Means basis. This in effect means, that for a school that has classes till 12th standard, SSS offers to provide support of a maximum Rs 1.2 crore per annum, among other incentives,” Kharge letter reads.

He said that the report also found that out of the 40 MoUs that have been signed, 62 per cent have been signed with individuals and organisations belonging to the RSS-BJP-Sangh Parivar which also includes a Chief Minister’s family, several MLAs, BJP office-bearers and RSS leaders.

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“This is a blatant step to politicise the independent Sainik Schools – a preparatory platform which plays a leading role in sending cadets for the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Naval Academy,” he wrote.

“It is evident that it has been effected to ideologically indoctrinate Armed Forces at the entry-level. No political party has ever done this, as there is a general national consensus to keep the valour and courage of our Armed Forces away from partisan politics,” Kharge wrote.

He said that it is not surprising that the Central government has broken a well-enshrined convention.

“In the grand plan of RSS to hurriedly thrust its ideology, they have dealt a body blow to the very nature and ethos of the armed forces. Imparting ideologically slanted knowledge in such institutions shall not only destroy inclusiveness but also damage the national character of the Sainik Schools, by influencing their character through partisan religious/corporate/family/social/cultural credos,” Kharge said.

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–IANS

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Centre orders CBI probe into allegations of irregularities in NEET-UG

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Centre on Saturday ordered a CBI investigation into the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) conducted the NEET-UG on May 5 in the offline OMR mode.

“Certain cases of alleged irregularities/cheating/impersonation/malpractices have been reported. For transparency on the conduct of the examination process, the Ministry of Education, Government of India after a review has decided to entrust the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for comprehensive investigation,” the Centre said in a statement.

“Central government has also enacted the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, to prevent unfair means in the public examinations and to provide for matter connected therewith or incidental thereto,” it added.

The NEET-UG, an abbreviation for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate), is conducted by the NTA for admission in undergraduate medical programs.

–IANS

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Bihar EOU submits NEET paper leak probe report to Education Ministry

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Patna June 22 (IANS) The Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar Police probing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) paper leak case submitted its report to the Union Education Ministry on Saturday.

Nearly 24 lakh students appeared for NEET-UG 2024 for undergraduate medical programmes on May 5. The results were released ahead of schedule on June 4. However, controversy arose with claims of question paper leak and the awarding of grace marks to more than 1,500 students, leading to widespread protests and legal actions, particularly in Bihar.

Nayyar Hasnain Khan, the Additional Director General of EOU, met the officials of the Education Ministry in Delhi on Saturday and submitted the report, which includes the statements of 13 arrested persons, admit cards, partially burnt question papers, booklets, and booking records of the NHAI guest house where the aspirants memorised the answers after the papers were allegedly leaked a day before the test.

As per sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is likely to do a hold review meeting with the officials, including Khan, on Monday.

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–IANS

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Union Minister Kumaraswamy holds meeting with HMT officials in B'luru

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Bengaluru, June 22 (IANS) Union Heavy Industries and Steel Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Saturday held a meeting with the top officials of the ailing PSU Hindustan Machine and Tools (HMT) in Bengaluru.

During the meeting, the Minister had discussions with the company’s Chairman and Managing Director Rajesh Kohli, along with other senior officials.

The officials observed demonstrations and received comprehensive information about the company’s activities.

Chairman Rajesh Kohli outlined the various problems HMT was facing, including financial crises, lawsuits, and overall losses.

He stressed the need for the Union government’s intervention to resolve these issues.

In response, Minister Kumaraswamy promised to address these challenges.

Minister Kumaraswamy reviewed details on turnover, net profit, and other key metrics.

He discussed the financial, production, and operational conditions of the company with the officials.

The once-glorious HMT is currently facing significant challenges.

The Minister emphasised the need to strengthen the company and instructed Rajesh Kohli to submit a proposal to the Union government for necessary support.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India) initiative was highlighted as a framework for HMT’s revival.

Minister Kumaraswamy encouraged the officials to adopt this vision and lead the recovery efforts, assuring them of the Union government’s assistance.

The Minister noted that HMT produces tools for the Department of Defence and space programmes, and has manufacturing units across the country.

He suggested that the company should enhance its capacity.

–IANS

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Nine Bangladeshi nationals including 6 women held in Tripura

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Agartala, June 22 (IANS) A total of nine Bangladeshi nationals including six women have been apprehended at the Agartala railway station while they were trying to board trains destined to different parts of the country, including the national capital, the police said on Saturday.

An official of the Government Railway Police (GRP) said that all the nine Bangladeshi nationals, aged between 20 and 45 years, illegally entered Tripura and came to Agartala.

The detained individuals told the GRP officials that they intended to go to Delhi and Bengaluru in search of jobs.

Including the fresh detainees, a total of 55 Bangladeshi nationals have so far been arrested in Tripura in less than two months.

All of them had entered India through clandestine routes, in search of jobs in various parts of the country.

–IANS

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Pre-budget meeting: Rajasthan Dy CM seeks Centre's support for rail, road and energy sectors

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Jaipur, June 22 (IANS) Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Diya Kumari, sought the Centre’s support for rail, road and energy projects in the state during the pre-budget consultation meeting held in the national capital on Saturday.

The consultation meeting was chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in view of the forthcoming Union Budget 2024-25.

Deputy CM Diya Kumari urged for an early solution to the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP). She also put forth the proposal for further strengthening the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’, and sought support from the Centre for the project.

The Deputy CM presented the case of three major pending rail projects for the state, which would provide connectivity to remote areas. Besides, she sought construction of national highways in the state to strengthen surface transport.

She said it is important for the state to have a network of roads for connecting the far-off and remote villages.

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Diya Kumari further said that Rajasthan requires appropriate energy development in view of its agriculture, industries and infrastructure development.

The Centre’s intervention is necessary for the state to become self-reliant in the energy arena, she told the Union Finance Minister, urging the latter to provide special assistance to the energy companies in the state, so that their potential could be fully utilised.

The Union Finance Minister has assured that all the demands of Rajasthan would be considered favourably for facilitation, the Deputy CM’s office said in a statement.

–IANS

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