Union Cabinet approves major education reform Bills

According to the Bill on Prohibition of Unfair Practices, charging of capitation fee or failure of educational institutions to keep promises of quality education could attract imprisonment up to three years for guilty administrators or a fine up to Rs50 lakh for the institute

Duping students by charging capitation fee or failing to keep up to the promise of quality education could now attract a fine of up to Rs50 lakh for errant institutes or imprisonment up to three years for its administrators, according a Bill cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday, reports PTI.

Paving the way for stricter penal action against educational institutions indulging in unfair practices, the Cabinet approved the draft Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010.

The Cabinet also cleared two other education reform Bills—one for setting up of Educational Tribunals to adjudicate disputes in campuses and another for setting up a National Accreditation Agency to give accreditation and benchmarks to institutions. These Bills will now be tabled in Parliament, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters in New Delhi.

According to the Bill on Prohibition of Unfair Practices, charging of capitation fee or failure of educational institutions to keep promises of quality education could attract imprisonment up to three years for guilty administrators or fine up to Rs50 lakh for the institute.

The Bill seeks to consider such practices as criminal or civil offences depending on the nature of the crime.

According to the Bill, if an institute makes certain promises in its prospectus, but does not deliver or charges capitation fee from a number of students, then such practices should be considered criminal offences.

However, in case of an isolated instance of malpractice involving just one or two students, the offences could be considered civil offences. In such cases, the institutes could be slapped with fines.

The criminal offences will be tried in a court of law while civil offences will be tried in educational tribunals to be set up soon.

The Educational Tribunal Bill will provide for setting up of tribunals to settle all types of disputes, including any type of malpractice or harassment of students.

The third Bill is on setting up of an accreditation agency which will assess and accredit institutions of higher education to ensure high standards. The proposed National Accreditation Authority will evaluate the quality of institutes.

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    Aditya Birla Group: All sound, no substance

    This corporate campaign has lots of special effects, surreal visuals and exotic locales—but it’s not going anywhere

    The desi conglomerate Aditya Birla Group has released a brand new corporate campaign themed 'Let's reach for the sun'. The mysterious, esoteric commercial is a collage of people from different countries. Why different nations when the group is totally Indian? No idea. Perhaps they are trying to indicate global presence.

    Anyway, the commercial, from whatever little I could comprehend (it’s much too noisy and gimmicky for my taste), features music as a metaphor that con-joins people. And the shots are of people playing on various instruments in forests, jumping over mountains and skies, and one dude even sports a full-back tattoo (just in case you think Aditya Birla isn’t hep).  
    I don’t know what goes on inside the clients’ minds when they sanction and pay for this stuff. The group has released such commercials in the past as well. The last one had ‘Vande Mataram’ being hummed in the background. Wonder why they went away from it. Perhaps all the controversies over the song may have had something to do with it. Be that as it may, here’s my problem with corporate advertising of this kind: it’s a colossal waste of money. The Aditya Birla Group commercials are notorious for being bloody expensive, they hire international directors and musicians, shoot in exotic locales and the post production gets done in even more exotic studios. Commercials like these tell us zilch about the company. They are self-indulgent blind spots, commercials that float by like David Ogilvy’s famous ships in the dark. A lot of computer effects and noises, and not much else. To put it simply, the Aditya Birla Group’s advert is akin to ‘Avatar’ minus any story. I read somewhere the client imagines that such commercials impart a distinctive personality to the group. But what good is that if at the end of all those crores down, I know as little of the group as I did thirty seconds earlier?
    And to take care of that problem, they have committed one of the biggest sins of advertising: shove in flying supers (messages) across the already busy screen, that boast of the number of employees, number of nations the group has presence in and more such numbers. Totally ignoring the fact that with such fast effects and visual drama, it’s impossible for any normal eye to read all that data. In fact, I noticed the numbers after the fifth exposure, and that too as an ad critic, where it’s my job to watch ads pretty closely. Think of the already disinterested viewers who do many other things in life while watching TV ads!
    Bottom-line: I just don’t understand why these large groups can’t simply and charmingly tell us what they do. Why blind us with technology and deafen us with sound, when the end result is a one-way communication? Guess we’ll never know the answer.

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    1 decade ago

    Despite that this article is trying to dispute the fact of the commercial is extra ordinary, I like the commercial very much!


    1 decade ago

    I'm actually a student of marketing, and would like to hear Mr. Anil's comments on my understanding of the concept of corporate branding.


    1 decade ago

    I fully agree with all that Mr Anil Thakraney has to say about these advertsiements being issued by the Aditya Birla Group. Only an insder at the ad agency or at ABG can undersatnd and appreciate what the Ad wants to communciate. For us lesser mortals, it is a feeling of huge moeny down the drain and a waste of 45-60 seconds each time we view the ad........besides reading and writing about such wasteful efforts and "non-sense" ads!! I bet Mr Kumaramangalam Birla must not be watching TV or else he also may have protested.

    Prakash R. Mirpuri

    1 decade ago

    Yes I am in agreement with Anil Thakrarney


    1 decade ago

    i don't agree with the author's comments completely. the motive of that advertisement is NOT informing the viewers about the various businesses of Aditya Birla Group.

    the ad is focused on building the brand equity of ABG.

    here's an illustration to prove my point: take 2 persons, A & B. A has seen the expensive ad, while B has not.

    now, ABG enters a new industry and launches a brand for the same. the ad for that product features the standard "Aditya Birla Group" for 2 seconds at the end of the TVC

    Now other things remaining the same, the person A will definitely have a more positive attitude towards that new product vis a vis the person B.

    it is similar to Tata displaying "A Tata Enterprise" after every TVC. Tata already has a huge brand equity given its breadth and scale of operations. However, relatively lesser known groups like ABG need to build brand equity through dedicated campaigns.

    shirish vora

    1 decade ago

    it is best adds

    A consumer welfare fund to appropriate people’s money

    A fresh exercise that completely ignores the fact that large sums of money belonging to individuals, traders and businesses are appropriated by the government and remain impounded with it because of slow, corrupt and inefficient processes

    Binty, a Delhi-based voluntary consumer organisation, has formulated a draft Consumer Welfare Fund Act, which aims at "recovery and consolidation of unclaimed and un-remitted money of consumers lying in waste in various commercial set-ups, e.g., banking, insurance, telecom, pharmaceutical companies, airlines, and State sales tax departments.”

    It has proposed the creation of a Consumer Welfare Fund, which is separate from the one that already operates under the Consumer Affairs Ministry. According to its background paper, "the proposed Fund need not have any bearing/linkage with the Planned and Unplanned Revenue/Expenditure, Consolidated Fund and the existing CWF Fund under the Central Excise Act. The proposed Fund could be created under an Act of Parliament with special provisions for its management—assisted by staff nominated by consumer organisations in the Central Consumer Protection Council by rotation, supervised by an officer of the level of Additional Secretary, and audited annually by (the) Comptroller & Auditor General of India—and utilisation.”

    Binty claims a mandate from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to draft such an Act.

    It had organised a competition to gather ideas on how to recover money from these government agencies and ministries. On 30 January 2010, it held a meeting in Delhi to discuss what it calls the draft ‘Consumer Welfare Fund Bill’ under the ‘guidance of Dr Raghubir Singh, former law secretary to the government’.

    Since this round did not cover the ‘recovery’ of funds lying unclaimed/unremitted for over five years from the Income-Tax department and the Provident Fund Commissioner, it plans a second round of discussions which will be held on 20th March to figure out how to get these funds credited to the Consumer Welfare Fund, writes G C Mathur, Convenor-Trustee Treasurer of Binty. 

    It has proposed that that the Central government must pass orders to transfer all such monies to the Consumer Welfare Fund. These include:
    • Amounts recovered from pharmaceutical companies by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority for overcharging consumers
    • Unclaimed deposits, by whatever name called, lying with a banking company for not less than ten years
    • Unclaimed deposits or claim proceeds lying with an insurance company for not less than ten years
    • Any commission charged by an airline from the customers and not actually passed on to the commission agents
    • Any other amount which may be prescribed.

    In addition, it wants State governments to transfer any excess sales tax or value-added tax or any other amount as may be "prescribed.”

    According to the draft, “the money credited to the Fund shall be utilised by the Trustee Committee for the welfare of the consumers in accordance with such rules as the appropriate Government may make in this behalf.” 

    A similar attempt to seize and utilise unclaimed dividends and redemption money belonging to investors under the Investor Education & Protection Fund (IEPF) has ended up with the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI). The Finance Ministry demanded that nearly Rs400 crore collected by companies through an amendment to the Companies Act (under section 205C) would have to be transferred to the CFI and the IEPF could draw only as much as it hoped to spend in a given year.{break}

    The Binty Bill tries to get around this by prescribing that "The Trustee Committee" set up to administer this fund "shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire, hold and dispose of property and shall, by the said name, sue and be sued.”

    It will be packed by the usual government officials from the ministry and will have a three-year term. It specifically provides that all money collected under the Fund shall be deposited "in any scheduled bank or invest the same in debt instruments of any corporation owned or controlled by the appropriate Government or in loans floated by the appropriate Government or in any other manner as the appropriate Government may, from time to time, direct.”

    The proposed legislation also provides to bar actions under this Bill from the jurisdiction of civil courts.

    Stunningly, the Trustee Committee will also have enforcement powers to ensure transfer of funds by investing it with the "power to summon witnesses and take evidence" including enforcement of attendance, requirement of documents and examination of witnesses etc.

    Interestingly, the transfer of funds sought under this Act as well the extraordinarily wide-ranging powers demanded are completely at variance from the background paper. This paper is all about companies bilking consumers under the bland "local taxes extra" legend printed on all price tags.

    The convener of Binty is before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) (Case No.OP-65/2003) on the claim that such over-charging adds up to a stupendous Rs50,000 crore every year. Similarly, it claims funding of VAT charged to consumers, but doesn't say how the funds can be transferred to the government unless the Trustee Committee ends up as another investigation agency to go after the fudging of bills and invoices by traders.

    What is astonishing about this exercise, which is apparently being encouraged by the Ministry, is that it completely ignores the fact that large sums of money belonging to individuals, traders and businesses are appropriated by the government and remain impounded with it because of slow, corrupt and inefficient processes.

    Deposits with nationalised banks are often unclaimed because succession laws are faulty and the depositors or their heirs are locked in legal battles for decades. The five-year or 10-year period for transfer of money is ridiculously short, when an average civil dispute takes 25 years for ultimate resolution.

    Instead of examining ways of making the system more efficient, the government is keener to grab these funds and transfer them, eventually, to the consolidated fund of India.

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    Hitesh Chaudhary

    10 years ago

    treatment of unpaid Leave Travel Allowance in respect of company.
    whether it is deposit to govt. department or not ?
    and deposit to which departmment

    R Murugan

    1 decade ago

    Apart from unclaimed deposits Banks also have huge amounts lying with them on account of Drafts and Payorders/banker's cheques which have not been encashed by the payees. Payees include universities and also government departments like sales tax etc. Banks do not have right to use these funds and therefore a common fund could be created but who will monitor and ensure proper use of these funds?

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