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Sunday, May 20, 2012

BMC & police chiefs step out to ‘clean city’

Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik and BMC chief Sitaram Kunte have embarked on separate missions with one common goal—to clean up Mumbai. Kunte, who took the reins at the civic body at the end of last month, wants to convert Mumbai into a world-class city, while Patnaik aims to restore the citizenry's confidence in law-enforcement agencies. To get a firsthand feel of the problems plaguing Mumbai and their possible solutions, the top cop spends a minimum of two hours in a police housing colony and a police station every alternate day, and Kunte goes for a long morning walk in different parts of the city. The two exercises have been productive, to say the least. On his very first day out, Kunte got feedback about cleanliness and the performance of deputy municipal commissioners as well as ward officers. He was informed about the disconnect between the BMC and the aam admi, and urged to take action against erring officials. Patnaik's treks out too have yielded results. Not a few police stations he visited have witnessed the law and order situation improving in their area. The two top officials' missions, though commendable, are not altogether novel. Many successive police and municipal commissioners drafted ambitious plans but could not sustain them for long. It therefore remains to be seen if Patnaik and Kunte would continue their mission with the same zeal. 
Harsh lessons 
Medical education minister Vijaykumar Gavit as well as higher and technical education minister Rajesh Tope are under fire for their ham-fisted handling of teachers' agitations. Teachers of arts, commerce and science colleges had as far back as four months ago served a notice, threatening to boycott the examination process unless their demand of higher salaries as per the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations is settled at the earliest. Indeed, the teachers' leaders had conducted several rounds of talks with senior bureaucrats and later with Tope. But, it seems, their threat to strike work was not taken seriously. Tope swung into action only after the teachers began their agitation and it was realized that, owing to the strike, the results of major examinations may get protractedly delayed. Facing strident criticism, Tope had no option but to accept the teachers' demands. The blunder may be replaying now. Medical teachers have threatened to strike work unless their demand for removing the anomaly in the payment of non-private practising allowance is met. Some of these teachers even met Gavit and deputy CM Ajit Pawar. Gavit reportedly thrice gave them a written assurance, but, so far, no official order has been issued to remove the anomaly. A former dean says the government is deliberately ignoring doctors' demands. 
Study group 
Maharashtra's second capital, Nagpur, has a new distinction. It is the place where current vice-chancellors of many universities in the state come from. A glance at the 18-odd universities in Maharashtra shows that 10 incumbent VCs were born and brought up in Nagpur. Pune University's newly appointed vice-chancellor Wasudeo Gade is originally from there. And so are Mumbai University's Rajan Welukar, YB Chavan Open University's K Krishnakumar, North Maharashtra University's Sudhir Meshram as well as six others. According to a former VC, Nagpur has always been a centre of academic excellence. But equally important is the fact that scholars from Mumbai and Pune are reluctant to take up top jobs in universities owing to rampant politics and corruption. These scholars, instead, prefer assignments in IT cities in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka or abroad.


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