Srinagar: A classic case of how the World Bank funds are going down the drain in the projects launched in Jammu and Kashmir, while playing with the career of students who register themselves with the courses, would be that of Craft Development Institute (CDI).
In 2011, CDI, an autonomous Institute established in February 2004, got a temporary affiliation with University of Kashmir (KU) to start a post-graduation programme in Craft Management and Entrepreneurship. The validity of the affiliation was one year.
However, the institute has been admitting new students from 2012 to 2017. Half of the staff in CDI is under-qualified as per the University Grants Commission (UGC). The website of the institute claims that some courses are being taught in CDI even though no faculty is available to teach those courses.
Moreover, the students who agitated have been in a textbook example of how the authorities deal with dissent is that the students have been accused of “spreading violence”. Instead of sending them to the Management or rusticating them, the Inspector General of Police, Divisional Commissioner, Station House Officer and SSP Srinagar were asked to inquire about them.
While the students were following the UGC recognition, in 2017, they got to know that the institute was not even affiliated with the University of Kashmir (KU) anymore, let alone be recognised by the UGC. This, the students say, makes their degrees worthless, and kills their opportunity for being eligible for anything.
Not only does the affiliation cease to exist on papers after 2012, out of a total 9 positions, only 4 are filled. Out of the 4 faculty members, only two are qualified as per the UGC norms and the other two, the students allege, are back door entries, who are graduates meant to teach postgraduate students. The documents proving the same lie with Free Press Kashmir.
As per norms, UGC recognises a course if the same is recommended by the affiliated University after a successful running of the programme for a period of 5 years. In a reply to the queries, the authorities write, “since the said program is being offered from 2012, the process of recognition of MCME by UGC has been initiated with the University of Kashmir. For graduates of the MCME programme interested in pursuing any research work (M. Phil, Ph. D) reserve number of seats have also been allocated by the University of Kashmir.
“Even if we go for the PhD in Management which is not our subject, we won’t have any eligibility as we have Masters in Craft Development,” the students say.
While the Institute, in writing, has also claimed to have a well-established network with reputed Institute like IIM’s, IIT’s NID, NIFT, NIT, Kashmir University, the Central University of Kashmir, and reputed organisations whose members/faculty are invited regularly to deliver inputs to the students of the said program, the employees working in the institutes do not testify for the same.
“World Bank closure of Rs 1,500 Crores has been invested in CDI as it now follows the Research & Development Model. Rs 9 Crores were invested for Building purposes and to start another Post Graduate programme in Craft Design,” the students informed quoting the official CDI website.
In 2015, CDI had assured the students that the Institute will ensure their eligibility for posts like Handicraft Design officer, Assistant Handicrafts Training Officer etc. Various notifications, the copies of which lie with Free Press Kashmir (FPK) show that CDI had kept its admissions open despite the expiry of the affiliation.
On pressing the issue again and again, in 2017, the students say that the authorities had promised them that they could sit in the National Eligibility Test (NET) of Craft Management and Entrepreneurship. However, nothing of the sort happened which pushed the students to detail everything to the Governor of the state.
“Through Smriti Irani, he had ordered the authorities to resolve the issues of the students. We have all the documents as to how the CDI authorities have lied about being in the process to get the recognition from UGC. They misinformed the Honorable Governor,” said the students, many among whom not only feel anxiety, but are also taking antidepressant medicines.
“The authorities, in 2018, instead of working on the shortcomings, decided to shut down the course as ‘it was not able to do well’, leaving the students in a dilemma,” the students informed Free Press Kashmir adding, “KU authorities told us that they will provide us with the certificates. But, if CDI shuts down the course, neither will we have an eligibility anywhere nor will all of us be entrepreneurs.”
“To keep these blue-eyed people in the institute they are ruining the career of so many students. They are mulling to start a new PG course, but at the same time, they are not strengthening the degree they already are offering,” said the students.
The students say that they have knocked many doors with a hope to secure their future. They say they have met Commissioner Secretary, Industries and Commerce, J&K, Director Handicrafts, Development Commissioner Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles, emailed the Chief Minister’s Grievance Cell, Dean Academic Affairs, Handicrafts Department, Governor J&K, emailed Smriti Irani, Ministry of Textiles, Tasaduq Mufti, Department of Handicrafts, Former Chief Minister J&K Mehbooba Mufti, Higher Education and Department of Handicrafts. However, they continue to be the in state they had begun with.
“We met Tasaduq Mufti at Hari Niwas. We asked him to save CDI and our degrees. He told us that he could save CDI but not our degrees. He had spoken to our Commissioner Secretary who had told him about the impediments in the development of CDI. Even our teachers told us they were not in a position to save us,” the students allege.
“The next day, we went to our Director, CDI. We told him that the Commissioner Secretary had communicated the problems to Tasaduq Mufti. The Director instead of listening to us showed us the middle finger in the presence of female students. We got furious and raised our objection against it. But we did not hurt him or do anything else. We also told him that he was just a graduate. His ego must have gotten hurt and he pushed the IGP, Div Com, SHO, SSP Srinagar to inquire about us,” they further allege.
“Our families are furious at us. Following one’s passion is not easy. And when you go against all the odds and you still have no outcome, you are doomed. We are worried and fearful,” said the students appealing to the authorities to make them eligible for the relevant jobs, keep running the course or compensate for the dues they had paid for the course and ‘the time that they wasted.’
This reporter tried to get in touch with the CDI authorities. The landline number provided to reach the Public Information Officer was answered a couple of days later when the CDI employee on the other side of the phone noted down the number, promising to make the authorities call back. However, no call was received by the reporter.
Today, PIO CDI, Nazima Qadri told this, “the Director is not in the office. He is probably on leave today. You can call tomorrow afternoon. I am not in a position to talk about it.”
To Be Continued
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