Sunday, May 13, 2018

'Ghost' claim but no proof

New Delhi: Prakash Javadekar's human resource development ministry has failed to back up with details his four-month-old claim that Aadhaar-linkage had helped the government identify 80,000 "ghost lecturers'' at colleges and universities.

Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri of the Satark Nagrik Sangathan had moved separate Right to Information applications on the subject.

Bhardwaj had sought the state-wise break-up of the "ghost lecturers", their names and those of the colleges and universities that had employed them.

Johri had asked the ministry's higher education department whether any inquiry had been conducted and whether the officials responsible for employing the "ghost lecturers" had been punished.

Both applicants drew a blank. The department told Bhardwaj that data on teachers with Aadhaar numbers had been collected during the all-India survey on higher education, 2016-17, for the "Gurjan portal". It was while releasing the results of this survey in January that Javadekar had made his claim about 80,000 "ghost lecturers".

"As per the portal, 85,708 Aadhaar numbers are found to be either duplicate or invalid," the department's reply to Bhardwaj said.

"These cases would be further verified with UIDAI (the Aadhaar authority) and the institution concerned before finalising the action to be taken in each case."

As for the details sought, the department's reply was that it "has no information to furnish in this regard".

In response to Johri's petition, too, the department said it lacked the information. It did not refer her to any other division, as is sometimes done when an inquiry has been conducted by some other arm of the government.

In reply to questions from this newspaper on the RTI responses, the ministry on Saturday pointed to a statement it had released earlier in the day.

"All the 80,000 names have been shared with both AICTE and UGC, the regulators, for taking up with the respective institutions and verify the reasons for incorrect entries. Both the regulators are still on the job," it said.

The responses to Bhardwaj and Johri were similar to those that transparency activists had received last August when they sought details of a claim Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made in Parliament on February 7, 2017.

Modi had said that 3.95 crore bogus ration cards had been detected over the preceding two-and-a-half years, using Aadhaar and technology.

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