The CBI must understand trains and bogies if it aims to crack the Vyapam scam

out today, this story which looks at how exam rigging was done in madhya pradesh’s #vyapam scam.

As the number of gangs grew, the market evolved further. First, students began shopping for lowest prices between gangs. This gave rise to a set of disputes which, by 2009, had resulted in the gangs dividing up Madhya Pradesh among themselves in order to avoid competition. Take Sagar. According to Rai, he started in Bhind but was forced to leave by another person in the same business called Deepak Yadav. It is after this dispute that Sagar based himself in Indore. Another doctor, called Tarang Sharma, added Saklecha, operated out of Bhopal.

vyapam continued for long. why did checks and balances not kick in? who is responsible? all questions that the CBI needs to answer.

Vyapam’s hidden costs: Broken dreams and a health system staffed by dodgy doctors

In 2009, Poonam Sharma finished school and turned her thoughts to medical school.
The daughter of a junior police officer, Sharma left home in Shivpuri, in the northern reaches of Madhya Pradesh, for Gwalior, home to coaching centres that promise to help candidates crack all kinds of entrance exams. She enrolled for a year-long coaching programme and began studying for the medical college entry tests in earnest.
It was an intense, immersive time. “I studied for 14 hours every day,” said Sharma, who was 19 at the time. “I would stay up studying till 2 every night.”
However, it soon became clear that something was wrong. “Some students were very sure they would make it,” Sharma said. “They said they had paid money: Rs 12 lakhs if they were in the general category and Rs 3 lakh-Rs 4 lakhs if Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.” On the morning of the exam, around 4am or 5am, she said, a white van picked up these students and took them to the exam centre. “We later learnt that they had been given the question papers to read,” she said.

A report from Madhya Pradesh about its highly egregious #Vyapam scam.

Why medical workers are taking personal loans to keep Mizoram’s healthcare system running

One late evening in April, a senior official with the Mizoram health administration sat in his office in Aizawl, frustrated and angry. It was dark outside. Most of his staff had left for the day. “If they delay it by two months it is okay, if they delay it by three months we may manage, but it is four months now,” said the official, with discernible worry. The Mizoram Health Society, which decides how healthcare funds get used in the state, was to get Rs 25 crore from the treasury last November. That was the third and final instalment for the year 2014. Even today, the society is waiting for the funds transfer.

While the official watches helplessly, all around him the healthcare system is collapsing. Funds are needed for running hospitals and clinics, for programmes fighting malaria, tuberculosis and disease control, for immunisation, family planning, childbirth and care of new mothers. The delay is disrupting them all. “It’s not that our funds don’t come,” the health official said. “They eventually do. But the problem is the mismatch between the routing of funding and the needs of the schemes.” To tide over these shortages, he added, “We are telling staff to take loans to keep the work going. That we will reimburse them when the money comes.”

Why AIDS is about to explode in mizoram

Out today, my story on why Mizoram’s AIDS crisis is all set to worsen.

Why AIIMS Is In Trouble

This, and an accompanying story published in today’s ET, argue that this response is half-baked. And that, instead of making populist promises, India’s egregious leadership would be well-advised to start by reviving the main AIIMS. The hospital is meeting the same fate as most public sector enterprises — it is being subverted for private gain by a plethora of people.
This, I should also add, is my last story for ET. I left the paper in mid-February with a lot of affection and gratitude towards it, the bosses I worked under, and the colleagues I worked with. ET gave me my first break — to report on rural India and environment. Then, it followed up by giving me extraordinary freedom and support. It was a place where I grew as a reporter. And where I forged a set of friendships that will last a long time. For all that, much gratitude.

Why Health Secy Keshav Desiraju Was Transferred

something strange happened in mid-february. the bureaucrat who heads india’s union ministry of health was abruptly transferred. and none of the explanations doing the rounds seemed to make much sense.

Why was health secretary Keshav Desiraju transferred? Two days ago, in a statement reproduced by the Press Trust of India, Azad said: “Officers’ and ministers’ portfolios change — it is a regular affair.” In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, an umbrella organisation of public health professionals, disagreed: “It is inconceivable that a routine transfer would be effected in such a precipitate manner, especially when no replacement for Mr Desiraju appears to have been decided upon.”

The news took even ministry officials by surprise. Senior ministry officials told ET there were no visible signs of tension between the secretary and the health minister. What made the government’s decision even more surprising is that Desiraju had been health secretary for just a year. By transferring him, the government appeared to be violating a Supreme Court order last October directing the government to ensure fixed tenures for bureaucrats — to insulate them from political pulls and pressures. Said former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, “This is fully contempt of court.”