One person, many postings: Nursing colleges’ recognition ploy in Madhya Pradesh

Records of the Madhya Pradesh Nursing Council from the academic year 2020-2021 show a 42-year-old woman named Leena (without a surname), as the principal of the Yogeshwar Nursing Shiksha Mahavidyalaya in Barwani, which has 90 students in the General Nursing and Midwifery course. The records also show her as a principal of eight other colleges, most over a 100km away from Barwani. Unless there are other Leenas, all born on the same day.

The eight other colleges, where both her name, and the date of birth (August 7, 1980) match, according to the Nursing Counil records that HT has seen, are Shri Dadaji Institute of Medical and Technical Science Hospital, Khandwa (173km away from Barwani), NRI Institute of Nursing and Research, Bhopal (347km away), Accurate Institute of Nursing and Research, Raisen (401km), NRS Institute of Nursing Science, Chhatarpur (674km ), Chirayu Institute of Medical Science and Sakshi College of Nursing, Chhindawra (493km ), Vindya College of Nursing, Shahdol (840km), and Pandit Ramgopal Tiwari College of Nursing, Anuppur (885km ).

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In this third and final part of a series on fraudulent practices in nursing colleges in Madhya Pradesh, HT highlights the practice of teachers appearing on the books of multiple colleges, often hundreds of kilometres apart.

On January 11, Vishal Baghel, president of the Law Student’s Association approached the Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court alleging widespread fraud in nursing colleges across the state. On April 19, Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and juctice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav of the Madhya Pradesh high court directed the Madhya Pradesh Nurses Registration Council (MPNRC) , a body that governs nursing colleges in the state, to produce all existing material pertaining to each one of the 453 nursing colleges in the state.

In compliance of this order, MPRNC then produced the record of these colleges on May 12. On the same day, the petitioner was granted permission to go through the records produced by the council.

Baghel, his counsel Alok Vagrecha, the counsel of the respondent Swapnil Gangulay, who is deputy advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, and the officers of Nursing Council Harish Bari and Manmohan Mathur, then went through the records of 336 colleges out of the 457, and submitted an inspection report to the court on June 15, 2022.

The inspection report said that 33 “teachers and principals” were working across 80 colleges in the academic year 2020-21, in contravention of the rules. The report said that the records showed multiple unique nursing council registration numbers, issued in the name of teachers with the same name and the same birth date. “By changing the registration number, the nursing colleges have effectively and successfully evaded the process whereby one person cannot be appointed in another college as a faculty member in the same academic year. This is a deliberate attempt by the colleges in order to get recognition from the nursing council. Many nursing colleges have shown the same person as principal in the same academic year i.e 2020-21,” the report said.

Also Read| MP’s ghost nursing colleges: Degrees, but no students or training

On December 30, 2020, MPNRC amended its 2018 registration rules, mandating that records must mention the registration number of each faculty member — a move aimed at preventing duplication. In the absence of this, the council said there would be a penalty of 200,000 imposed on the institution as well as on the faculty.

Duplicate teachers

A reading of the inspection report, and calls made to several universities and colleges, have shown that the practice is pervasive. HT reached out to all nine colleges where Leena is registered as the principal, and found that three of them, NRI Institute of Nursing and Research, Accurate Nursing College, and NRS Institute of Nursing Science, had lost their recognition two weeks ago on this very count.

Prakash Solanki, now the principal of the Yogeshwar Nursing Shiksha Mahavidyalaya in Barwani, said, “It is true that she worked as a principal in our college till the last session but we were not aware of her work in eight other colleges. I don’t know how she was working in a college in Bhopal or Shahdol, which is 850km from Barwani.”

Jagdish Rathi, public relations officer of the NRI Group, which owns the NRI Institute of Nursing and Research College that has lost recognition, said:“She was never a principal in our college. We do not know how her name appeared in the list.”

Seven other colleges refused to comment on whether she was their principal in the last academic year, but did say that she was not now.

Leena could not be contacted. Yogeshwar Nursing Shiksha Mahavidyalaya refused to share contact details.

HT checked the records of registered Nursing Teachers’ Associations of five states, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, and found four different Leenas in the lists, but all denied that they were the woman who managed to serve as principal of nine colleges at the same time. Dr Leena KC, principal of the Yenepoya Nursing College, Mangalore, however, shone a light on the fraudulent practice.

“I am not that Leena, but it is true that these colleges are using teacher’s names as fake faculty. It is even possible this Leena is abroad and these nursing colleges are utilising her name without her knowledge. It is a huge problem. A centralised system is being developed by Indian Nursing Council to register the nurses with a unique ID so that their names can’t be misused by anyone.”

Jagdish Rathi of the NRI group, who claimed Leena was never their principal, admitted that six other faculty members that records show also work in other places all taught at the college. “Barring her, all the faculty members have worked here and we have salary proofs. The nursing teachers change their jobs frequently so there is a chance that in the same session, a teacher was found working at different places.”

But as the story of another teacher, Ankit Garg, shows, there could be another explanation.

HT spoke to 34-year-old Garg, who says he works as a government nurse in Gwalior, on the basis of records it saw that showed that he works as a teacher at the NRI Institute of Nursing and Research, Bhopal; Accurate Institute of Nursing and Research, Raisen; Sardar Patel School of Nursing, Mandla; Yuva College of Nursing, Guna; and the Shriram College of Nursing, Bhopal.

He actually works in none.

“It is shocking,” Garg said. “I left teaching six years ago and now work as a government nurse in Gwalior. How has this happened? I don’t know, but the matter should be probed thoroughly.”

The chairman of Shriram College of Nursing, Bhopal , Swapnil Verma refused to comment as the registration renewal of the college has been rejected. The director of Yuva Nursing College, Guna, Rajesh Parashar declined to comment as the college had lost recognition. The nursing in-charge at Sardar Patel College (Mandla), Ashish Joshi, said, “The college can’t share confidential information.”

Thirty one-year-old Gaurav Jain, another name that figures in the records of five colleges said, “I work in Ratlam. Obviously I cannot be working in all of these colleges simultaneously. I have no idea how this is possible.”

Jain said that there have been conversations within the teaching community, and some believe that their attendance at seminars may have been misused. “Many teachers have informed me that they had gone to attend a seminar or were called for some lectures and their names were now being misused as part of the faculty. I am also planning to move the court as they (the colleges) have misused our name to get recognition without our consent.”

Acute shortage

Officials of the Nursing Teachers’ Association, which has 6,000 teachers registered under it, said that a shortage of qualified teachers was to blame for these fraudulent practices. Association secretary Dr Maneesh Kumar said, “There is an acute shortage of qualified nursing teachers as most students join other jobs after they graduate. Only a few are left to teach and in their absence, college owners are misusing their names to run their institutions.”

The petitioner in the case, Vishal Baghel, said that this practice puts a big question mark on the process of inspection and verification that is meant to be carried out by MPNRC. “This clearly demonstrates that the inspectors and other members of MPNRC are hand in glove with these fake nursing colleges. If there are teachers working as multiple places at the same time, and even some principals, it is safe to say that no classes are being held, and basically this is just a diploma distribution racket in exchange for money.”

MPNRC chairman Dr Jiten Shukla said, “To avoid the duplication of teachers, we have decided to take help of software that will identify suspicious similarities. Similarly, we have made an amendment in the rules that recognition will not be given to colleges that have identical names. We will also carry out inspections by experts.” HT used no software to identify the duplication.

Deputy advocate general Swapnil Ganguly said, “We are urging the honourable court for an inspection.”

Vishwas Sarang, state minister for medical education, said, “We have cancelled the registration of at least 200 colleges after inspection and will continue to do so. We will now try to identify the root cause of these bogus colleges. It is not a mafia-driven fraud but more around individual people, who are running colleges without facilities and infrastructure.”

Asked specifically about the duplication of teachers, Sarang said, “For these irregularities like the absence of parent hospitals or the duplication of teachers, we are strengthening our system and making changes in recognition rules.”

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