Mumbai’s prestigious Guru Nanak Khalsa College at Matunga is in the eye of a storm after reports have emerged that principal Ajit Singh Tethi was involved in a bribe scandal. The principal and his personal assistant, Nikita Vaid, have been accused of taking bribes to give admission to students. The Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested the principal along with his personal assistant. The principal and his aide have obtained bail.

According to ACB officials, the complainant wanted to enroll his son to Class XI in the science stream. He met Nikita Vaid, who allegedly told the complainant that he would have to pay R30,000 and would not be given a receipt for the amount if he wanted his son to get admission. The complainant then approached the ACB. The principal and assistant were caught by the ACB when the complainant approached them and was asked to cough up Rs 25,000.

Post this report, a number of former students mustered the courage to talk about how they too were forced to pay for admission to the college. This is surely not an isolated case in the city. Educational institutes across the city at all levels have demanded money, couched euphemistically as ‘donations for repairs’ or sometimes simply as ‘added to fees’ for admissions. In a case where demand (for seats) outstrips supply (of seats), the ground is fertile for corruption.

The bribery is not restricted to a certain class. From nursery right up to university level, many parents are forced to pay for admissions. Parents are wary of taking on corrupt principals and trustees as they are worried about their child’s future.

No price seems too high and institutes are holding desperate parents to ransom. This incident, where a father actually complained about a principal should set a precedent and hopefully, also be the beginning of a movement to stamp out corruption.

Paying for seats at nursery and KG level is symptomatic of a malaise that seems deep-rooted at all levels of life in this country.