June 30, 2009

New Delhi: Is one branch of Delhi Public School equal to another?

Parents across the country have grappled with this question for decades as they scoured admission options at the prestigious school chain for their children, pulling out connections and credentials to snag elusive seats.
Now, the society in charge of the school, better known by its acronym DPS, is being forced to answer the same question.The DPS Society runs a network of 115 schools in India and 13 abroad.
In a letter to all owners of the schools, former president of the society, Congress party member and Supreme Court lawyer Salman Khurshid said a system where only 11 of those schools owned and run by the society have voting rights on its governing board is not fair to the franchise owners, who pay a fee for the right to use the DPS name and logo.
At the very least, Khurshid said, schools should have a right to vote for their governing body’s chairman and review the society’s finances. This becomes significant as schools currently pay a royalty to the society of Rs5 lakh per year. The royalty is set to go up to Rs25 lakh, Khurshid said.
I am saying, no taxation without representation, said Khurshid, asking the schools to stand united behind him. I cannot accept you as mere agents of DPS. Neither does our charter permit such a thing and what is more important is that public morality does not allow this. There cannot be ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’ DPS schools, Khurshid a DPS alumnus, member of the society since 1984 and its president for 12 years wrote in his 16 August letter.

Thrown out
After the letter, the society, headed by chairman and retired bureaucrat Ashok Chandra, voted to throw Khurshid out. One member said the dispute stems from Khurshid’s desire to be president of the society again, a role that is now not filled by anyone.
Our rules and regulations say a member can be asked to withdraw on a month’s notice, said Chandra of Khurshid’s dismissal. He said the notice asking Khurshid to withdraw from the society went out on 1 September. Chandra declined to comment on any of Khurshid’s other allegations.
Intertwined in the fight between Khurshid and the society are issues ranging from the use of influence to secure admissions to expensive junkets enjoyed by society members at the expense of the schools.
The society’s members include Planning Commission deputy chairman and DPS alumnus Montek Singh Ahluwalia, author Khushwant Singh and governor of Haryana A.R. Kidwai, along with retired bureaucrats and judges.
Its other members include principals of the 11 DPS schools owned by the society, including DPS R.K. Puram principal Shyama Chona, a well-known face in education circles. Chona declined to comment.