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Tirkey stirs a hornet’s nest
- Mandar council to dictate JAC, JEP

Ranchi, April 22: HRD minister Bandhu Tirkey today defended the reconstitution of Jharkhand Academic Council (JAC) and the Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC) in the face of criticism that he has packed them with his own coterie and loyalists.

“I do not care (for criticism),” he exploded today when asked to comment. “It is a decision taken by me (the government) in anticipation of the chief minister’s approval,” he said, adding, “Even if I have nominated 10 or 12 activists of Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (which Tirkey headed), what is wrong with that'”

The minister’s choice, claim critics, can be faulted on three counts. First, he appears to have let out some of the better-known educationists in the state like Ram Dayal Munda. He has, however, found a place in the JEPC.

Secondly, even after the expansion, neither JAC nor JEPC has representation across the state. There is disproportionate representation of people from Tirkey’s own constituency, Mandar, and adjoining areas. Finally, political activists in academic councils are deemed inappropriate.

The minister, by one stroke yesterday, had nominated 16 members to JAC, which looks after school education and conducts examinations up to the intermediate-level, and 30 members to the JEPC, which is the apex body at the helm of the World Bank aided Jharkhand Education Project engaged in evolving appropriate curricula, learning methods and teachers’ training.

Eyebrows have been raised by the nomination of three MLAs as vice-chairmen of JAC, headed by Shaligram Yadav. Critics point out that two more “Yadavs” will now join him as vice-chairmen, namely Manoj Yadav of Congress and Annapurna Devi of RJD. The third vice-chairman would be Ravindra Mahto from the JMM. All three posts of vice-chairmen have been created afresh to accommodate the three UPA legislators.

While the notification for the reconstituted JAC was issued yesterday by the HRD department, no official notification had been issued for the JEPC yet, though the minister has released the list “in anticipation”. Virtually each of the 30 new members happens to be from or around Ranchi.

There are a dozen of them from the minister’s own constituency and Tirkey obviously sees nothing wrong in it. Nor does he think it to be lopsided to have so many people from a single constituency.

Eyebrows have also been raised over the “disproportionate representation” of minorities with eight of the 16 new members of JAC hailing from the minority communities. The critics have questioned the inclusion of “minor academics” and exclusion of the established ones, too.

Not much is known about Ganesh Paswan from Chandwa, Parmanand Mahto from VBU, Ashok Kumar Singh, principal of Mangilal Rungta School in Chaibasa and yet another Ashok Kumar Singh from a college at Sisai. The nomination of MLAs to JAC has also drawn flak.

The “newly-constituted JEPC” includes JJM’s working president L.N.M. Shahedeo, party’s women wing chairperson Rama Khalkho, senior party functionary Jagdish Lohra, party activists like Md Islam (Mandar), Md Manzoor Ansari (Bero), Aslam of Itki, John Bara of Narkopi and Kurban Ansari of Nagri. Critics wonder what their association has been so far with “education”.

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