Shadow men of Anna University
DECCAN CHRONICLE | A Ragu Raman
Chennai: From registering PhDs to getting key posts that include the controller of examinations (CoE) and registrar could be achieved by approaching the middlemen who held the Anna University at ransom from 2013 to 2016, according to sources in the university.
One of the middlemen was close to the former controller of examinations G.V. Uma, even ran a parallel revaluation racket through casual labourers appointed by him at the controller of examinations office in Anna University, sources revealed. P.Veeraviswamithran, managing director of Arima Exim Pvt Limited, was the go-to man for professors, students and companies to get their work done in the university.
"Viswa’s association with the university started around 2011 for procuring old answer sheets. But, soon after the appointment of M.Rajaram as the vice-chancellor of the university, he became powerful," a senior professor from the university said.
"He was very much available within the vice-chancellor’s office physically in all three years and a few months even after his tenure," he said.
It is learnt that Mr Veeraviswamithran had approached the CoE’s office even before Uma’s tenure to urge them to buy mark sheets with security features.
"The university was collecting Rs 2 per mark sheet from students. The proposed mark sheet was priced at Rs 99. The mark sheets with high-security features were not needed. The controller of examinations office has the raw data and whenever it is needed, the officials can give the students original marks in transcriptions. So, the proposal was rejected," a faculty member said.
But, after taking the charge as the controller of examinations G.V. Uma inked the deal to procure mark sheets with high-security features. "Twenty lakh mark sheets were printed to be used for a period of nine years. When the regulations are valid for four years how can they print mark sheets for nine years? Moreover, when the budget allocation is for only the current year, how the university administration has allocated money to purchase mark sheets for nine years?" a professor asked indicating an involvement of top officials in the purchase.
"Of the printed mark sheets, only 25 per cent alone could be used and rest has to be disposed of as waste material," he continued.
When there are so many eligible professors were available how the university chose to appoint one young professor as controller of examinations?
"Veeraviswamithran was instrumental in Uma getting the CoE's post through a builder who was close to the former higher education secretary. The builder, agent and (former) higher education secretary was a deadly nexus. They appointed an associate professor as director of Ramanujan Computing Centre and secretary of Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions," another professor alleged.
The private builder’s alleged closeness to the former higher education secretary virtually landed him all the contracts and he even was provided with a temporary office inside the campus which is against the rules and regulations of the varsity.
One official alleged that Veerviswamithran even threatened one person at CoE’s office for not cooperating to boosting the marks. When contacted, P.Veerviswamithran refuted all allegations including his role in the revaluation scam.
"Our company is in partnership with Cambridge is providing soft skills training to students of Anna University. On part of my work, I have met many professors including former CoE Uma. But I did not have any role in the revaluation scam," he told Deccan Chronicle. He also denied having any role in appointments at the university.
"How outsiders like me can influence the appointments in the university? My name was unnecessarily been dragged into the issue due to the internal politics in the university," he claimed.
Denying that he was operating from Vice-Chancellor’s office during Rajaram's tenure from 2013-16, he said he had met the former V-C only once at his office.
But one of the professors confided to this paper that Veerviswamithran has approached him with an offer to make him as the Vice-Chancellor and many other professors also said he had approached them with similar offers.
E. Balagurusamy, former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University said, "If we want to eliminate the scams from the varsities you have to select best persons as Vice-Chancellors. After appointing a corrupt person, we keep crying about the degradation in the university."
Stating that it was no surprise he said, "all the corrupt Vice-Chancellors never collected money directly. They always operated through agents."
"If Vice-Chancellor appoints unqualified persons in key posts then they will only act as agents of the Vice-Chancellors and collect money," he said.