Did ryan’s pin­tos scout for ra­jya sabHa, padma awards?

The Sunday Guardian - - Covert -

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-cumpro­pri­etor 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.

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