A reply to an RTI query has revealed that many teachers across colleges in Kolkata who had obtained funds from UGC under the Faculty Improvement Programme (FIP) for completing their MPhil and PhD are yet to complete their degrees or refund the money.
Hiralal Barman, an RTI activist, had filed an RTI seeking information from the office of the Joint Secretary, Eastern Regional Office of UGC about those teachers who availed the Teacher Fellowship programme but haven’t completed their degrees. UGC had forwarded the application to all the 374 colleges in the state of which only 37 colleges replied. The information from the colleges revealed the names of 10 teachers who have not completed their M Phil and PhD degrees. These teachers after receiving money had gone on leave for a specified period and drawn full salaries.
“It is strange the UGC never asked them (the teachers) to return the public money which they had availed but never utilised,” remarked Barman.
After this startling revelation the authorities started taking action, while these 10 teachers have been asked to refund the money given by UGC, the remaining 337 colleges which have not provided information in the matter have been sent showcause order by the Central Information Commission.
“Why penalty should not be imposed upon them (these 374 colleges) for not responding to the RTI application within the mandatory period,” said Annapurna Dixit, the Central Information Commissioner.
It is to be noted that Barman did not get the information after filing the RTI within the stipulated time of 30 days; he then filed a complaint to the appellate authority of the UGC. With no response, Barman finally went to Central Information Commission and then he was called for a hearing on December 31 last year.
Meanwhile, the UGC authorities who have been given showcause notice continue to claim that they had forwarded Barman’s application the delay occurred at universities end.
UGC’s Faculty Improvement Programme is a scheme under which the Commission provides financial assistance of 10,000 per annum along with travel allowance for award of “Teacher Fellowships” for doing M.Phil. or completing Ph.D. to permanent teachers of those Universities and Colleges which are included in the list maintained by the UGC under Section 2(f) and 12 (B) of the UGC Act, 1956. The objective of the scheme is to provide an opportunity to the teachers of the Universities and Colleges to pursue their academic/research activities leading to the award of M.Phil./Ph.D., degree.
The names of the 10 teachers revealed in the RTI reply:-
*Dilip Kumar Mondal of Barjora College
*Deepak Giri of St Joseph College
*Anuradha Lahiri of Birbhum Mahavidyalay
*Probodh Kumar Ghosh of Garhbeta College
*Apurbo Kumar Roy of Deshbandhu Mahavidyalaya
*Jayashri Mukherjee of Birbhum Mahavidyalaya
*Swapna Sen of Syamsundar College
*Sabita Barui of Charuchandra College
*Santosh Kumar Roy of Deshbandhu Mahavidlyaya
*Sushnat Kumar Barik of Syamsundar College
[Sources: Indian Express]