By Sameera Sahil | Pune
FOLLOWUP A day after unmasking engineering seminar fraud (Exposed: Pune Techie Busts Int'l Science 'Seminar Racket'), INN Live finds out that the chief guest at Sunday's 'international' conference, Ashok Matani, was the only jury member. But that didn't stop him from presenting his own paper, assessing it, and then grabbing a certificate for it.
A day after INN Live blew the whistle on a thriving racket of spurious science conferences with the help of city-based techie, Dr Navin Kabra, it has emerged that the chief guest of the conference, a government college lecturer, has equally questionable credentials.
Associate professor Ashok Matani of Government College of Engineering, Amravati, was not only the chief guest at Sunday’s “international” conference, he was the sole jury member. And while playing these two roles, he presented a research paper at the conference and, being the only judge, evaluated it himself. He then went on to claim a certificate by the organisers, the Institute of Research and Journals (IRAJ), for his artful juggling.
The conference itself was spurious, given that it accepted auto-generated research papers that had dialogues from Sholay and gibberish written on them. Highly regarded educationists in the city have cast grave doubts on Matani’s credentials as professor and researcher.
Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, director of College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP), said that Matani has tried getting a professor’ job at the institute four times, but he wasn’t able to clear even one of the interviews.
“I feel no wonder finding out that Matani was part of that conference,” Dr Sahasrabudhe said. “Since I took charge at CoEP in 2006, Matani has come for interviews four times. Till now he has not been able to crack the interview with the CoEP panel. During the interviews, he referenced many of his research papers published in various journals, but they are simply not worth being called ‘research’,” said Dr Sahasrabudhe.
“His daughter was a student at our college. So he made an emotional appeal to me to select him, so that his family can settle down in Pune. He even tried to use political pressure to get through CoEP,” he said.
Vice-chancellor of University of Pune, Dr W N Gade, who originally hails from Amravati district , expressed worry at Matani’s presence at Sunday’s conference. “How can a senior teaching staff member in a government engineering college behave like this? This is too much. I know Amravati’s Government College very well. It is of considerable repute.”
When contacted, Dr W Z Gandhare, principal of Amravatri’s Government College of Engineering, he said, “Matani is a Ph D guide in our college. He is from the mechanical management branch. He took my permission for the Pune conference, but I was not aware of the manner in which these conferences are held.”
Asked if there any standards set by the college as to which conferences its professors should attend, he said, “We cannot impose such restrictions.” Then, referring to Sunday’s IRAJ conference in Pune, he said, “But conducting an international conference with eight participants and a single jury member is not at all acceptable.”
Off for another one
Incidentally, after returning from the city to his college on Monday, Matani applied for leave to attend another conference. “I don’t know the venue of this conference, but he submitted his leave application today (Monday) itself,” Dr Gandhare said.
While Matani claims to be a lofty researcher, we found out that he was rejected for promotion by a government programme because of shoddy research work.
“Under the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS), the government seeks applications from college teachers to promote them to the rank of professor. But Matani was not selected due to the substandard research papers he has authored in some journals,” the principal said.
He admitted that while he was the chief guest and only jury member at Sunday’s conference, he also presented and evaluated his research paper, which was on a topic related to electronic-motor losses.
Asked why he attended a conference which had such dubious standing, he said, “I went because the organisers told me that there would be at least 25-30 students coming for the conference.” He refused to respond to to Sahasrabudhe’s allegations about his reputation in the teaching field.
Matani could be probed
Since Ashok Matani, a government-employed associate professor, not only attended a specious academic conference but was also a participant and self-evaluator, he could be probed for this blatant breach of norms set by the two governing bodies of higher technical education in the country.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) as well as the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) can set up an enquiry into his actions, as per the procedure laid down. If the allegations are proven, Matani could face serious action.