It only gets murkier
Did Ryan’s Pintos scout for Rajya sabha, Padma awards?
Many murky things are coming out of the cupboard of the Pinto family, which owns the 135 Ryan group of schools in 18 states across the country and abroad, comprising three lakh students, and in the enws over the murder of a seven-year-old boy is one of its Gurugram schools. What knowledgeable sources have revealed to The Sunday Guardian smacks of a bid to expand the empire. Behind the scenes is the lurking figure of a controversial journalist. A government agency is also checking out allegations about huge “foreign funding”. The group’s founder is Augustine F. Pinto, an economics graduate of the Loyola College, Chennai. He was born in a poor farmer’s family in Mangalore, Karnataka. In search of a job, he shifted to Mumbai, where he started working in a shoe manufacturing firm. The factory closed after two years. He then got a job in a school. That is where he learnt the business of education. Like so many self-styled men, he claims that “40 years ago, God planted a seed in my heart and directed me to spread affordable high quality English medium education.”
His wife, Grace Pinto, is the group’s managing director. Their son, Ryan Pinto, is the CEO. It was after his birth that the Pinto couple started the school chain. The Pintos’ story began in 1976, with their first educational institution, St Xavier’s High School, in Borivli East, Mumbai, with Rs 10,000 only. The family’s five brands are: Ryan International School, Ryan Global School, Ryan Foundation, Indian Model United Nations and Ryan Shalom Preschool.
Sources say that as the empire started expanding, the family’s ambitions also started rising. The family started hobnobbing with top politicians, including Prime Ministers and even Congress president Sonia Gandhi. They got bureaucrats to procure land for schools in different states. Pinto moved fast to become Mumbai’s Mayor. Over a decade ago, Grace Pinto is reported to have started looking for an influential person who could help her or her husband get a Rajya Sabha seat, the Padma awards and membership in the Minorities Commission. She zeroed in on a television journalist and his award winning wife about a decade ago. The journalist, who had claimed that he was working for a big Pakistani TV channel, in the meanwhile, ended up becoming a top office bearer of the Press Club of India (PCI). We spoke to two trusted sources on this, one, the editor-cum-proprietor of now a defunct Hindi weekly tabloid, and another the political editor of a Hindi daily. We spoke to them separately and both corroborated each other. They tell us that one day the PCI office bearer approached them (separately) and sought their help to get either Grace Pinto or her husband nominated to the Rajya Sabha under Anglo-Indian or any other category. Also, he sought their help to get them the Padma awards and a berth in the Minorities Commission. Both journalists were approached because of their political connections. The TV journalist also told them that their interests would be taken care of and some admissions to schools would be made on their recommendation. One of our sources said that his lunch meeting with “Lady Grace” was arranged at the India International Centre, where she used to stay when in Delhi. He says that “I found her holding a durbar in her room, touching the head of the visitors—sitting on the ground—and with closed eyes, whispering blessings.”
That was our source’s first and last meeting with her. The TV journalist moved on to some politicians to seek help in the Pintos’ mission and started doing public relations for the group. But soon he severed ties with the Press Club. It was also discovered that he used to ferry journalists to a notorious high commission on its national day. Meanwhile, photographs of the Pintos in the company of top ministers from different regimes have surfaced on the social media.
Out of proportion?
Advocate’s wife demands Rs 75 crore from husband
He is a below-40-year-old advocate, with a comfortable practice. The son of a well-known senior lawyer and a politician, he recently was shocked when his estranged wife slapped on him and his family members a “compensation” demand for causing her “mental trauma” under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 at a South Delhi Family Court. The wife has demanded Rs 75 crore, with Rs 20 lakh as monthly maintenance and a farmhouse as grand in size as the one possessed by her father-in-law, making it perhaps the biggest compensation demand case in the national capital.
The advocate has described her allegations as false. Interestingly, she is not yet talking about a divorce in the nine-year-old marriage, although she has been living separately for past one year. How did she reach the figure of Rs 75 crore? In her petition, according to him, she has claimed that her husband is the son of a rich advocate-cum-politician, who owns several farmhouses and flats in the national capital and outside, and that his family possesses expensive cars, watches and jewellery.
The wife has demanded Rs 75 crore, with Rs 20 lakh as monthly maintenance and a farmhouse as grand in size as the one possessed by her father-in-law, making it perhaps the biggest compensation demand case in the national capital.The advocate has described her allegations as false.
The advocate husband is not living with his father. For long, he has been residing in a rented apartment. “My fluctuating monthly income from legal practice is less than Rs 5 lakh. Let her fight it out, I am not in a hurry,” he has conveyed to her counsel. “I promise to bear all the education expenses of our four-year-old daughter,” he has said. He has not been allowed to see his daughter for the past six months.
Nothing to win
‘Cheap prize’ for statue competition
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh is looking for a suitable design to put up a 15 to 20 feet tall Bharat Mata statue to be installed in Bhopal. It recently invited sculptors, painters, sketch makers and other experts to participate in a countrywide competition to design the statue. 15 September was the last date for sending entries.
The MP government wants to dedicate the Bharat Mata monument to the Indian Army. It will be known as Shaurya Smarak. But artists are not enthusiastic about the competition because the prize money is only Rs 1.5 lakh. Not only that, the artists will have to bear all the expenses for preparing their entries. Also, the state government will have full control on all the entries, including the one adjudged the best, and will have the right to use them in whatsoever manner. The artists of the other entries would get nothing.
For greater transparency
A collegium needed to appoint ECS
Many advocates of electoral reforms are in favour of a collegium system to appoint the three Election Commissioners (ECs), including the chief. At present, all of them are retired IAS officers. So far, the ECs appointed by different political regimes have demonstrated an “unbiased attitude”, like in the recent controversy in the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat. Yet, many interested in the country having a complete transparency in the poll system are of the view that there should be a collegium to select the ECs. This collegium can consist of the Prime Minister and the leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha. A public interest litigation is pending in the Supreme Court in this regard. The previous Chief Election Commissioner, Nasim Zaidi had favoured such a system, which already exists for the selection of Central Information Commissioners and the Vigilance Commissioners. All the regimes have picked up their favourite bureaucrats as the ECs. But, so far, they all have worked to ensure free and fair elections.
The big holocaust
Firm walks out of Punjab Memorial
The battle took place in Punjab on 5 February 1762; 35,000 Sikhs were massacred by the army of the Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Abdali. Spread over nine acres, the Punjab government built a memorial, Vadda Ghalughara (Big Holocaust) at Sangrur district’s Kup Rohira village two years ago and dedicated it to those brave Sikh solders. A Mohali-based private company, Walks and Walks Private Limited, was hired for its upkeep. But some days ago, the firm walked out of this prestigious monument, with 45 employees, after serving a month’s notice as it had not received its dues of Rs 70 lakh for one year. The memorial has a tower, an open air theatre, an auditorium and a canteen. The memorial is under the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board. This has surprised many as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is a war history expert and battles involving the Sikhs are close to his heart. It is learnt that the Mohali firm is now likely to take up the non-payment of dues with the Chief Minister.
Man Mohan can be contacted at email@example.com