Kashmir University Buys ‘A’Ranking
Srinagar: Kashmir University officials say the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) minutely scrutinises nearly a thousand parameters before it gives its seal of approval to a particular institution, a startling reports, that shames University authorities, in New Delhi based Mail Today newspaper.
But they will never tell that the 'thousand parameters' include expensive gifts and extraordinary hospitality to the accreditation council's members when they call in for a ground check or random quality evaluation. The university showered a NAAC team last summer with high-end Pashmina-mixed Tosha shawls, a dozen intricately designed Samawars (Kashmiri tea pots) and Kesar (saffron) - the world-famous emperor of spice grown by Kashmiri farmers.
For the record, pure saffron comes at a prohibitive price of around Rs235 per gram and the university shelled out Rs12, 028 on this exclusive herb-spice. And that's not all. The university spent Rs1, 289,137 on the NAAC members during their 'stay' from July 18 to August 12.
Documents reveal the break-up: Rs311,235 on travel and dearness allowance, Rs83,000 as honorarium, Rs1,26,235 to library café for lunches, Rs70,000 to camping agency, and Rs5,87,994 to Hotel Taj Vivanta, where the team stayed. This includes Rs33, 150 for a dozen Tosha shawls. Besides, the university paid Rs6, 120 to bookseller Sheikh Usman for books that the NAAC members borrowed but never returned. Rest assured, going this extra length helps as the Valley's topmost institution takes pride in being an NAAC-accredited university with an 'A' rank - the highest possible.
The team checked all the parameters - curriculum, faculty, research, infrastructure, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial well-being and student services - and found them in order. University registrar Syed Fayaz said the NAAC normally reimburses the tour and dearness allowances (TA and DA) of its visiting team. 'But money spent on gifts is not reimbursed,' he added. Senior NAAC official Sham Sundaran said the team wasn't supposed to accept any gift, though the university might have given these things out of respect.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) formed the NAAC in 1994 with its headquarters in Bangalore. It was accorded autonomous status to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country. (mailtoday.com)