The Strange Case of Dr. Raj

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

IOzzy King n the open­ing scene of David Lynch’s Blue Vel­vet we are in­tro­duced to all the quin­tes­sen­tial el­e­ments of idyl­lic Amer­i­can subur­bia: red roses against the back­drop of a white picket fence; a fire­man wav­ing cheer­fully to us while he hangs from a truck as it rolls down a sub­ur­ban street; a gen­tle fe­male po­lice of­fi­cer dili­gently help­ing a band of pleas­ant kids cross a mo­tor­way and the piv­otal set-up of an el­derly man leisurely wa­ter­ing his lawn.

We then see this man hold­ing the back of his neck in agony. He col­lapses onto the lawn, still hold­ing the hose as wa­ter jets pro­fusely into the air. Then comes an in­ces­sant, omi­nous dron­ing and we are skill­fully lured be­neath the ver­dant green of the lawn into the hos­tile nether­world of a re­pul­sive con­ges­tion of scur­ry­ing bee­tles.

The im­me­di­ate point Lynch com­mu­ni­cates is that be­neath the ve­neer of placid nor­mal­ity ex­ists a thriv­ing ecosys­tem of crim­i­nal­ity and cor­rup­tion—a per­spec­tive which com­pletely en­cap­su­lates the re­cent un­rav­el­ing of the Lam­birds and AIMU scan­dals on Rick Wayne’s TALK.

The AIMU scan­dal, ex­posed dur­ing the dis­en­tan­gling of the Lam­birds Af­fair, ap­pears to be a pro­to­type and in­spi­ra­tion for the lat­ter. The ac­cu­sa­tions hurled at AIMU are redo­lent of that launched against the Lam­birds Academy. Like those of Lam­birds, the stu­dents of AIMU ap­pear to be the vic­tims of a ne­far­i­ous ca­bal, lured to St. Lu­cia by se­duc­tive online ad­ver­tise­ments that promised a lot and de­liv­ered next to noth­ing.

The high­light of the June 4th episode of TALK was Rick Wayne’s pre-recorded in­ter­view of Ex­ec­u­tive Dean and CEO of the Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Med­i­cal Univer­sity (AIMU), Dr. Raj Babu. This was an in­valu­able com­ple­ment to the pre­ced­ing show which dis­closed—via Mr. Wayne’s pre-recorded in­ter­view of a for­mer stu­dent of AIMU by the name of Vard­han—the al­leged atroc­i­ties per­pet­u­ated by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of AIMU against its stu­dents. De­spite hav­ing mar­shaled all ob­jec­tiv­ity to the fore, I could not divest my­self of the in­tu­ition that I had sat be­fore sev­eral min­utes of dis­sim­u­la­tion on the part of Dr. Raj. Oth­ers, less diplo­matic, will con­fess to hav­ing been privy to noth­ing else but bla­tant lies. Dr. Raj dis­missed all al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against him and AIMU by Vard­han (and oth­ers) as “com­pletely, com­pletely false,” a procla­ma­tion that must be con­sid­ered in light of Mr. Wayne’s tes­ti­mony that all of Vard­han’s ac­cu­sa­tions have been cor­rob­o­rated by mul­ti­ple sources while noth­ing Raj said in his and AIMU’s de­fense has been cor­rob­o­rated by any source. For ex­am­ple: Dr. Raj claimed that Vard­han was dis­missed from the school in 2010 for the of­fense of work­ing while in the ca­pac­ity of stu­dent. When asked why the immigration author­i­ties were not in­formed of Vard­han’s in­frac­tion, Dr. Raj claimed that he had in fact made re­ports against Vard­han (and oth­ers en­gaged in sim­i­lar trans­gres­sions).

How­ever, pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions by Mr. Wayne re­vealed that no such re­ports had been made. There also seems to be ev­i­dence that Vard­han was an AIMU stu­dent as re­cently as 2013, though this was not con­clu­sively di­vulged on the show. What­ever the de­tails, one is per­suaded to the con­clu­sion that the dis­missal of Vard­han, if in fact it ever took place, would have been mo­ti­vated by noth­ing else but the threat Vard­han posed (and did man­i­fest) to AIMU (for, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Wayne, there are AIMU stu­dents who com­mit­ted the same in­frac­tion with im­punity). Dr. Raj also de­nied the al­le­ga­tion by Vard­han and oth­ers that AIMU stu­dents were kept at bay by co­er­cive threats and even beaten for re­port­ing or at­tempt­ing to re­port atroc­i­ties un­fold­ing at AIMU. Like­wise, he de­nied the al­le­ga­tion that the AIMU ad­min­is­tra­tion ma­nip­u­lated stu­dents’ grades as yet another in­stru­ment in the sys­temic ap­pa­ra­tus of co­er­cion. How­ever, a for­mer em­ployee of AIMU called in to make the point that an AIMU fac­ulty mem­ber by the name of Dr. Sasi (re­vealed to be with­out the pre­fixed cre­den­tial) was sus­pected of car­ry­ing out, and (prece­dent to 2013) was well po­si­tioned to ex­er­cise such an in­flu­ence.

Dr. Raj, when not en­gaged in overt de­nial, was dis­posed to as­cribe the var­i­ous al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and fraud­u­lence lev­eled against him and his in­sti­tu­tion to the os­ten­si­bly mo­tive­less machi­na­tions of a Ms Paule and a cer­tain, if not mys­te­ri­ous, Ku­mar. So archety­pally ma­li­cious did Ku­mar be­come that, had it not been for Mr. Wayne’s cor­rob­o­ra­tion of his ex­is­tence, one may have dis­missed Ku­mar as a malev­o­lent fig­ment of Raj’s imag­i­na­tion. San­tha­naraj Ku­mar and Paule Turmel-John were once re­cruiters of AIMU, among other things.

Dr. Raj also spoke of “a big con­spir­acy” in­volv­ing the poach­ing of AIMU’s stu­dents by other med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions here. When asked why AIMU did not re­port the ac­tion to the immigration author­i­ties, Dr. Raj made a du­bi­ous at­tempt at a de­fense by sup­ply­ing a se­quence of un­con­nected doc­u­ments, one of which was a let­ter of com­plaint against cer­tain stu­dents ad­dressed to the Chief of Po­lice. Fur­ther­more, when asked why his stu­dents would be amenable to be­ing poached by his com­peti­tors, he spoke of an anti-AIMU con­spir­acy, ap­par­ently fa­cil­i­tated by the ma­lig­nant gos­sip of Ku­mar and Paule. These and the other sim­i­lar equiv­o­ca­tions obliged one to lose all con­fi­dence in the tes­ti­mony of Dr. Raj.

A CNN clip pre­sented on the show minced no words in plac­ing Dr. Raj at the cen­ter of a scan­dal in­volv­ing the sti­fling of the aca­demic dreams of a young In­dian woman bent on med­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions, at the hands of AIMU. Dur­ing a brief stint in St. Lu­cia she be­came quickly dis­il­lu­sioned by how far the in­sti­tu­tion had fallen short of its online prom­ises. Back in In­dia, she com­plained to re­porters of the lack of ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties, stat­ing: “They told me they had lab­o­ra­to­ries and a li­brary. The li­brary did not have a sin­gle book and the labs were not work­ing.”

An in­ter­est­ing un­fold­ing in the in­ter­view was Raj’s cor­rob­o­ra­tion that an un­named man who came into St. Lu­cia as a de­pen­dent of a fe­male stu­dent of AIMU was one of the in­di­vid­u­als charged in the fraud­u­lence of the Lam­birds Academy. Ex­pect­edly, Dr. Raj de­nied any as­so­ci­a­tion with the stated in­di­vid­ual and blamed Ku­mar and Paule for that in­di­vid­ual’s as­so­ci­a­tion with AIMU.

Another high­light of the show was the dis­clo­sure by Dr. Raj, upon ques­tion­ing, that our cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony was at one time in the em­ploy of AIMU (iron­i­cally as a lec­turer on “le­gal ethics”). This was later sup­ple­mented by the dis­play of a list­ing of the AIMU fac­ulty con­tain­ing the name of the Prime Min­is­ter (un­der the ti­tle of “Ex­tra­or­di­nary Pro­fes­sor”). The ques­tion which came to the fore in the mind of most view­ers was un­doubt­edly whether he was em­ployed in the stated ca­pac­ity while Leader of the Op­po­si­tion or as Prime Min­is­ter. But this would be be­side the point for, as Leader of the Op­po­si­tion or Prime Min­is­ter, I can­not help but muse upon why a fig­ure of Dr. An­thony’s in­tel­lect and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence could have been per­suaded into such a shady sit­u­a­tion. It in­ti­mates of a cer­tain amount of neg­li­gence and pos­si­ble “will­ful blind­ness.” Doubt­less our prime min­is­ter will clear the fog of doubt and sus­pi­cion.

The an­nounce­ment by a caller that St. Lu­cian stu­dents had re­ceived gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ships to study at AIMU was another jaw-drop­ping mo­ment on the show. If this is in­deed true, it may be as good a place as any to start in­ves­ti­gat­ing the gov­ern­ment’s pos­si­ble in­volve­ment in or fa­cil­i­ta­tion of the AIMU scan­dal.

Yet another is­sue, which pro­duced more ques­tions than an­swers, was that of ac­cred­i­ta­tion which Dr. Raj, with the back­ing of Mr. Wayne, iden­ti­fied as an is­sue af­fect­ing med­i­cal schools across the Caribbean. How­ever, one did not leave the show with a clear un­der­stand­ing of the ac­cred­i­ta­tion sta­tus of AIMU, with Dr. Raj call­ing the ac­cred­i­ta­tion process com­pli­cated (and per­haps right­fully so). Be that as it may, the strange case of AIMU and Dr. Raj ap­pears to go way be­yond ac­cred­i­ta­tion and seems en­sconced in the zone of fraud­u­lence. With al­le­ga­tions of hu­man traf­fick­ing, money laun­der­ing, fraud, du­bi­ous ac­cred­i­ta­tion and whole­sale cor­rup­tion in the air, the value of the cer­tifi­cates con­ferred by AIMU is an un­nerv­ing is­sue in it­self. It is pro­foundly de­mor­al­iz­ing that one would in­vest five years of time and money in an ed­u­ca­tion to be gar­landed in the end by a doc­u­ment worth no more than the pa­per on which it is printed.

One caller in­voked the con­sti­tu­tional re­form as a way out of our predica­ment (of which the AIMU and Lam­birds scan­dals are but in­stan­ti­a­tions). Though the caller sounded re­fresh­ingly in­formed, it ap­pears to me that the term “con­sti­tu­tional re­form” has de­gen­er­ated into a quasi­in­tel­lec­tual catch­phrase and ap­par­ent panacea of our var­i­ous ail­ments.

Con­sti­tu­tional re­form means very lit­tle if St. Lu­cian cit­i­zens are not ready to chal­lenge con­spic­u­ous vi­o­la­tions of the ex­ist­ing con­sti­tu­tion. What is the Gryn­berg Af­fair but a fla­grant as­sault on the con­sti­tu­tion?— an event that the pop­u­la­tion seemed more de­voted to for­get than ad­dress. That such an event as the AIMU con­tro­versy could have been un­fold­ing for so long with­out as much as a squeak re­quired more than the short­com­ings of the con­sti­tu­tion or the prow­ess of the AIMU ad­min­is­tra­tion. It ne­ces­si­tated the tacit (and per­haps ex­plicit) endorsement of the en­tire gov­ern­men­tal ap­pa­ra­tus (fat­tened into com­pla­cency by decades of re­mark­able tol­er­ance on the part of the St. Lu­cian public).

Fur­ther­more, the fact that only two po­lice of­fi­cers were as­signed to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Lam­birds case raises the ques­tion of whether it is not a ploy on the part of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to stall the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the scan­dal, with the ten­able con­se­quence that the stu­dent wit­nesses de­part and the Lam­birds af­fair join the mot­ley crew of vaguely re­mem­bered strange hap­pen­ings on the is­land of St. Lu­cia.

The reader need not be swayed to di­vine in the Lam­birds and AIMU scan­dals—far from iso­lated events—trade­mark symp­toms of an ad­mix­ture of sys­temic in­com­pe­tence, neg­li­gence and cor­rup­tion. One caller asked per­haps the most con­se­quen­tial ques­tion of the night: what will be the fi­nale of the Lam­birds and AIMU scan­dals? Will it be the usual talk fol­lowed by am­ne­sia? Or will we give up the sheep­ish docil­ity and bound­less tol­er­ance for the clue­less­ness and un­scrupu­lous­ness which mas­quer­ades as gov­er­nance in this coun­try? Editor’s Note: The pre­ced­ing

was first pub­lished in the STAR of 13 June, 2015. This week Dr Raj Savaran Babu, CEO of AIMU, was ar­rested by lo­cal po­lice. He ap­peared be­fore mag­is­trate Burt­lyn

Rey­olds on eight counts in­clud­ing ob­tain­ing prop­erty by de­cep­tion, forgery, and op­er­at­ing with­out a trade li­cense. He has been granted bail in the sum of $20,000.

AIMU has op­er­ated in Saint Lu­cia since 2006!

AIMU fresh grad­u­ates at their Grad­u­a­tion Cer­e­mony along­side Ms Paule Turmel-John; VP, Dr Sasi P Subu; Cam­pus Pres­i­dent, Mr Kenny An­thony, Prime Min­is­ter of St. Lu­cia and Dr Raj S Babu, Ex­ec­u­tive Dean of AIMU.

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