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After finances, Ramdev varsity under UGC scanner for violation of norms

UGC puts recognition of Patanjali University on hold after concerns that the varsity is violating norms; varsity’s VC is Balkrishna, accused of holding a fake passport,Charu Sudan Kasturi reports.
Hindustan Times | By Charu Sudan Kasturi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 02, 2013 02:04 AM IST

After his finances and his aide’s nationality, yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali University is now under the central government’s scanner with regulators worried that it fails to meet norms required for varsities.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided against recognizing the Haridwar-based university even though an expert panel recommended approving the varsity, because of concerns over its infrastructure, faculty and administration, top government sources have told HT. The UGC has now decided to reexamine the varsity using new scrutiny parameters it is putting in place for evaluating universities.

The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are already probing allegations of money laundering against Ramdev and his aide Acharya Balkrishna. The CBI is also investigating the disappearance of Ramdev’s guru and founder of the Divya Yog Mandir Trust, Swami Shankar Dev, who vanished in 2007 while taking a morning walk. Balkrishna was also arrested earlier this year on charges of faking documents to acquire an Indian passport and is currently out on bail.

But the latest challenge for Ramdev – who has repeatedly targeted the UPA over corruption and its failure to repatriate Indian black money in foreign banks – could hurt his yoga education enterprise, which propelled him to national consciousness in the first place.

The university has 12 teachers and six classes, even though it offers six programmes on yoga. “The varsity hardly has any faculty members,” a senior UGC official said. “It’s strange how the expert panel approved the varsity’s teaching faculty.”

Though the private university was set up in 2006, it still runs out of the campus of the Patanjali Yog Peeth, Ramdev’s sprawling yoga ashram that lies on the Delhi-Haridwar highway.

And Balkrishna – a man who investigative agencies believe isn’t even Indian – is the vice chancellor of the university. He does not hold the academic qualifications – a PhD and ten years of teaching experience as a professor – to be the VC of a varsity, under UGC regulations.

“It is simply not kosher for a man accused of such major crimes as Balkrishna, a man who is on the run from the police half the time, to be Vice Chancellor of a university,” the UGC official said.

Though state legislatures – the Uttarakhand Assembly in this case – are empowered to create private universities – a landmark 2005 Supreme Court judgment, makes it mandatory for these varsities to seek approval from the UGC and other relevant regulators to run programmes.

But any action against Ramdev and his business or education enterprise is also likely to trigger allegations of political vindictiveness aimed at curbing his opposition to the central government.

“I am not surprised by the latest attack on Ramdev,” Anita Katiyar, a follower of the yoga teacher said. “That’s what this government does to target anyone who attacks it, and can hurt it.”

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