Politicians' NGOs get 52 of 215 HRD resource centres

FP

In a blatant trend of the government favouring organisations linked to politicians, almost a quarter of the Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) approved by the Human Resource Development ministry since 2000 have been found to belong to leaders of key political parties or their relatives and friends.

These sansthans were launched as Shramik Vidyapeeths in 1967 and are district-level resource support agencies, especially for organising vocational training and skill development programmes for neo-literates and other target groups of the continuing education programme.

The HRD ministry gives Rs 25-35 lakh per year to each JSS for recurring expenses, Rs 10-15 lakh per year for non-recurring expenses, and a one-time building grant of Rs 20 lakh.

Since 2000, the NDA and its successor UPA government have allowed NGOs to set up 215 of these institutions across the country, taking the total number of JSSs to 271. At least 52 of the 215 are controlled by politicians or their near and dear ones, including 30 with Congress links and 17 with BJP links, The Indian Express has found.

The pattern of approvals since 2000 shows that the HRD ministry under both the NDA and the UPA governments favoured NGOs that were close to the ruling establishment. When Murli Manohar Joshi was HRD minister, NGOs belonging to BJP leaders or their relatives and friends were favoured with JSS approvals. Similarly, Congress members or those close to them gained when Arjun Singh was HRD minister in UPA-I.

In fact, when Kapil Sibal got the portfolio in UPA-II, he could not sanction a single JSS as his predecessor Singh had exhausted the entire quota of 73 sansthans available in the 11th five-year plan.

The process of selecting most of these organisations was not fully transparent, The Indian Express found on inspecting information obtained under the RTI Act. Although there are detailed qualifications for NGOs that desire to run a JSS and clear guidelines to select them, they were not publicised through advertisements. This, officials said, limited applicants to a circle of NGOs working closely with the HRD ministry or those linked to politicians.

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