Samajwadi’s Party Manifesto is a Joke!!

THIS IS a time when the nation is looking forward for some able and determined leaders. But Samajwadi Party (SP) has made a mockery of everything. The manifesto released by the party has a few very ‘good’ points, which can take India back to the year 1900.

The vision or should I call it a joke, has come as soother for many of us, who were bugged with the promises of various political parties. Samajwadi Party’s manifesto has established it as an antonym to progress. This is the party, which has a bonding with leading corporate houses. Big names like Jaya Prada, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Nafisa Ali are associated with the party. 

This party claims itself to be the champion of secularism and appeasement. After reading the manifesto, I was only laughing on these big wigs and wondering what vision this regional party has. The SP has truly redefined the meaning of retrograde. 

Here are the key ‘promises’ made by Samajwadi Party’s poll Manifesto:
 
1) Put a ban on English medium education.
2) Remove English language as a medium from all offices and educational institutions
3) Remove all computers from offices and institutes.
4) Ban the use of machinery in agriculture. Tractors will be replaced by bullock carts.
5) No to share trading and stock market operations.
6) Take action against high corporate salaries.
7) Mall culture will be stopped.
8) The salaries provided by private companies should be at par with the minimum wages for labourers. 9) All English medium schools, providing expensive education, will be abolished.
10) Improve relations with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
11) Action against communal powers and attack on the roots of terrorism.
12) Unemployment Allowance Scheme for unemployed youth.
13) Welfare schemes for lawyers and the business community.
14) Farmers’ cause to be taken up with the highest priority.
 
If this is the vision of party, which is hoping to be the ‘king maker’ in the upcoming General Elections, then this is the time to rethink before voting. This manifesto is totally against time. It seems that Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh have lost their mind somewhere. They are now in a damage control mode but this has clearly exposed their parochial state of mind.

But despite this, Samjawadi Party will win some seats in the elections. This is the irony of this country that people have always voted without thinking. Even if I neglect all the points in the manifesto, I cannot neglect the eleventh point. They haven’t talked of generating employment and have proudly agreed to give the allowance to unemployed. I would request all the voters that please use your vote judiciously. It is high time to set a few things right in our democratic set up.

The IIT incident: A result of persistent blind eyes

The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur which is a premier institute of India is again in news but for wrong reasons this time. The death of the institute’s third-year electrical engineering student, Rohit Kumar, last Sunday, has rattled the students of the institute. According to first-hand account of students, Rohit had been visiting the hospital since Friday, March 20, complaining of headaches. On Sunday, the headaches became increasingly painful and he was on his way back from the doctor when he fainted and fell from the rickshaw, resulting in major injuries.

Following this, he was taken to BC Roy Hospital by two students of Lala Lajpat Rai Hostel. The doctor on duty (who was present at the time when Rohit was taken to the hospital), Dr NK Som, recommended that he be taken to the Apollo Hospital, Kolkata and shown to a neuro-surgeon. He said that BC Roy Hospital did not have facilities to handle such cases and that it was best to take him to Kolkata as soon as possible. However, problems such as filling of petrol and the extensive paperwork involved in arranging an ambulance caused a delay of two hours during the course of which nothing much could be done. He was finally sent to Kolkata with two students for company and an untrained attendant. En route it was found that though the oxygen mask had been placed over his mouth, the tank had not been turned on. Soon after this, Rohit started coughing blood.

The students who accompanied him had the attendant call up Dr Som and the students followed his instructions; pumping out blood without any help from the attendant. At that time, it was decided to take Rohit to the Spandan Hospital in Midnapore since his condition was deteriorating rapidly. In spite of asking the BC Roy Hospital officials to inform Spandan authorities of the impending arrival, there was no one there to receive them. By the time a doctor was available, Rohit had passed away and the hospital declared him dead on arrival.
The above account is on the basis of the report filed in the online newspaper written by IITKGP students.(http://scholarsavenue.blogspot.com)

The news of Rohit’s death spread like wildfire and students gathered outside the director’s (Damodar Acharya’s) residence demanding some response from him. A callous answer of “looking into the matter” and his attitude made matters worse. As tempers ran high and numbers swelled, students resorted to destruction of property, in a bid to demonstrate their anger. They ransacked the director’s bungalow, smashing his car and forcing him to resign on Sunday.

In a democratic set up, one is free to protest. There have been numerous cases in the recent past where people have been forced to be violent and aggressive. It is very disheartening but true to a great extent that authorities just turn a blind eye to peaceful protests. Barring the stir by students against reservation in 2006, all the subsequent protests have been violent in nature. Be it Gujjar protest, Gorkhaland, Amarnath Yatra land row, Khairlanji incident, Nandigram etc. But only such protests were able to move the authorities.

In this case too, the students are justified in their protest. The reason being many such cases of medical negligence have been reported on the campus in the past few months. Given below are a few of them:


Gaurav Tomar, a fifth-year student was suffering from very high fever before Holi. He was admitted to the BC Roy Technology Hospital and treated for jaundice and typhoid. Later, in Delhi’s Apollo Hospital, Gaurav was diagnosed with malignant malaria, the actual reason behind high fever. The wrong treatment allegedly damaged his kidneys.

In December, a second-year student suffered cardiac arrest while attending an NSS camp outside the IIT campus.

He was rushed to the institute’s hospital, but doctors could not even administer oxygen, as there was reportedly no mask at hand. The student died shortly.

A few days ago, a fourth-year student had fractured his arms while playing football. It took five hours for the hospital to organise an ambulance to transport him to Kolkata.

Considering the series of the negligence cases and repeated requests from the students falling to deaf ears the students took such an action. If the authorities had taken the issue being raised seriously, a life could have been saved. Moreover, such violence would not have occurred in the campus of an IIT. But as Bhagat Singh said: “To make deaf hear, a blast is required.” Perhaps, this is the tragedy of this democratic nation. Bhagat Singh used these words for British Government which was neglecting the concerns of people. The concerns of people are still being neglected by our very own people. If the issues concerning people are not heard by the administration and government, then the meaning of democracy ceases to exist.

This incident was very visibly a result of the blinded deaf authorities. It had an implied reaction from the students in the form of very violent protests which led to self-resignations of the Director & the Dean. This and whatever post-incident action that is going to be delivered are very obvious reactive actions from the authorities, but a question that still finds an answer for itself is that when will the authorities of premier institutes and organisations take proactive measures towards the safety and well-being of their members?

Why Indian students go abroad?

Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge or Yale? A dilemma of Atlantic proportions for the Indian students for these universities not only have the patina of history and heritage attached to them but also offer a wide array of opportunities in todays world.
There has been a growing trend of Indian students going abroad for education. In the past decade whether it is America, the United Kingdom or Australia, the number of Indian students going to study overseas has risen tremendously so much so that in 2007, maximum students going to US for further studies were Indians. This was the first time that India went past China. There has been such an increase in the number of students going abroad that even international carriers are cashing in by offering special fares and packages to students. The favoured destinations of the Indian students include the universities of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. More than fifty percent of the students opt for US for higher studies.
But to think of it why do students choose to go abroad. To begin with there are capacity constraints in the Indian universities. More than ninety percent of the students who appear for the entrance examinations to the IITs and the IIMs do not make it through and the colleges that are now being offered to them lack in quality of infrastructure. If the Indian universities were compared with the American ones, a startling fact would be revealed. To begin with there are just 4,400 AICTE approved universities in India whereas in a country there are more than 10,000 universities and this despite the fact that India is home to the highest number of young people in the world. This is another reason why india fals to attract barely any foreign students whereas more than five lakh students from different parts of the world flock to the American universities every year. The number of specialization courses as well as scholarships and fee waivers available abroad are also high.
The students going abroad have been great advertisements for India. India has exported the most sought after commodity in the world-Talent. Winston Churchill had once said, “Empires of the future will be empires of the minds”. Brand India may not have had all its glitter if it weren’t for the list of the thousands of Global Indian achievers. How the foreign universities help the students is by transforming young talented students into world class skilled professionals. The students who choose to go abroad have several benefits. There is an emphasis on practical learning as opposed to theoretical learning thus conceptual clarity is the key in any course abroad. The foreign universities have the best in technology and infrastructure to offer whereas the infrastructure in many of the Indian universities is woeful. The world is a globalised village and hence it is imperative that students develop a global perspective. This is made possible due to interaction between students from various backgrounds. The teachers in India may not be paid enough but in foreign universities they are committed to mentoring and guiding the students. Placements and career opportunities are also better abroad. Moreover students get to study in some of the best universities of the world. Thus going overseas for education is being looked upon at as not just a harbinger of limitless opportunities for the students but also as a potent catalyst in the strengthening of the Indian economy.

Arjun Singh interviewed by Karan Thapar.

Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that a reservation is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.

Karan Thapar: The right way?

Arjun Singh: Also the right way.

Karan Thapar: In which case, let’s ask a few basic questions; we are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organization at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?

Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.

Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know ‘what percentage’ they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don’t know whether they are already adequately catered in higher educational institutions or not.

Arjun Singh: That is obvious – they are not.

Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?

Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.

Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 – which is the most latest research shown – that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?

Arjun Singh: I wouldn’t like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.

Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact – Is there a need for reservations? If you don’t know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don’t have a case in terms of need.

Arjun Singh: College seats, I don’t know.

Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO – which is a government appointed body – 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.

Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?

Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.

Arjun Singh: Well, I don’t know I have not come across that far.

Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don’t have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?

Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that it is not an issue for us to now debate.

Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?

Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.

Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.

Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliaments have said.

Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of ‘need’ that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.

For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.

Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?

Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.

Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes – that is a Parliamentary body.

It says that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000; just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.

Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don’t need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, ‘no reservations need to be done’ is not correct.

Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education is occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.

Arjun Singh: As I said, the kinds of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and of course, there is an element of prejudice also.

Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can’t be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.

Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.

Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don’t have a case for reservations in terms of need; you don’t have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?

Arjun Singh: I don’t want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallacious.

Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.

Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.

Karan Thapar: Let’s approach the issue of reservations differently in that case. Reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalized for being upper caste.

Arjun Singh: Nobody is being penalized and that is a factor that we are trying to address. I think that the prime Minister will be talking to all the political parties and will be putting forward a formula, which will see that nobody is being penalized.

Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other corollary – Reservations also gives preference and favor to caste over merit. Is that acceptable in a modern society?

Arjun Singh: I don’t think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.

Karan Thapar: You mean India is not a modern society and therefore can’t claim to be treated as one?

Arjun Singh: It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country.

Now take a moment to congratulate Karan Thapar for skillfully exposing Arjun Singh for the clueless dolt he is.

I want more RESERVATIONS

UNITED PROGRESSIVE Alliance’s (UPA’s) one minister has gone into my head and this ’great’ personality is Arjun Singh. This social engineer wants to become a hero of the so called ’backward classes’, and in the process, he is neglecting the highest education institutes of the country. If All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) became a battleground during the reservation stir, the focus has now shifted to Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The new order states that nearly half of all faculty positions at the public institutes and IITs should be reserved for members of lower castes and classes, effective immediately. This is just mindless.

Take into account that the minimum requirement for such a position is a PhD. So even after a PhD, one would need the help of a crutch to further one’s career? Does that not bring into question the quality of education itself? It becomes laughable when you consider the fact that the IITs find it difficult to fill in the required faculty positions even from candidates of ’forward classes’ since they are not ready to cut down on quality. [According to fellow blogger Brainwave

The reservation, however, comes with a clause. In case the reserved seats remain unfilled for a whole year, they are de-reserved. By which time the ruling parties can claim their victory in the election and the whole issue is forgotten. Who cares if the IITs have to make do with fewer (or even worse, lesser qualified) faculty?

The UPA government is playing a caste based politics and unfortunately ruining the world renowned institutes for the sake of political mileage. The autonomy, quality and reputation is at stake and yet the government is doing nothing to enhance the standards and infrastructure of these institutes and is inclined to bring down the quality. Arjun Singh and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has taken a few decisions, which will have their impact in the near future.

If we closely look at the various decisions on reservations in education and now in faculty positions, this has been supported by UPA and none of the opposition party showed any guts to oppose the move either. I have always opposed any reservations based on caste and there are many other solutions that can be more fruitful and at the same time non-injurious to health of these elite institutes. But you can do nothing because your representatives are echoing your sentiments and wishes in Parliament. Right?

I want more reservations now. This will help my country push on the verge of a caste war at a faster rate and this is the ultimate aim of our politicians, who are our representatives. If Arjun Singh does believe that deserving candidates who hail from the ’reserved’ category of the great Indian caste system do not get a fair evaluation due to discrimination, should he not be looking for means to introduce fairness in the process rather than arbitrarily lowering the bar? If not, then there should be reservations in judiciary. After all it is very essential for maintaining the fairness, which can not be provided by the current structure. If we are unable to find reserved candidates for the post, then there should be a recruitment drive to fill the vacant seats.

There should be reservations in sports. How come they have allowed majority of upper caste players in Cricket and Hockey. Even Australian media reported during the last tour that caste plays a more important role than merit in the Indian cricket team. The ’upper caste’ have dominated this stage and its time for them to sit back and let the others take charge of the field. The honourable sports minister, MS Gill should talk to Arjun Singh on this issue and he will definitely find a support from our representatives!

There should be a provision for quota in Bollywood too. Arjun Singh has made reservations in institutes offering the courses related to Film and Television but that is not sufficient. Everyone dreams of making it big into Bollywood and if we can have some provisions, then what is the harm? Moreover, till date there have been no reservations in the field, which makes it ’upper caste’ dominated!

I feel that our defence forces need to implement quota at the earliest. After all every one should be given a chance to serve his motherland. And let me take our defence minister AK Anthony in confidence that merit is not compromised if we provide reservations. As it is, we are facing shortage of officers in the armed forces, the vacant positions can be filled by the backward classes and thus we need no special arrangement to accommodate them as well. The government is planning to hike the limit of Other Backward Classes (OBC) creamy layer up to Rs4.5 lakhs per annum (LPA) and hence should also increase the pay of armed forces personnels to that level, else our officers and soldiers will continue to remain backward. Rs 4.5 LPA means that people with sufficient means can still take refuge of the societal clutch, while the really poor are still left to limp by. So what?

There should be reservations in the private sector. After all the policies of government lead to closing of the various Public Sector Units (PSUs), now it is the turn of private firms. Ram Vilas Paswan claims that the private sector is biased in its recruitment procedure and thus reservation is a must. I totally agree with you Paswan. You have done so much to improve the conditions of the people from your constituency! You held the post of minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and suddenly you realised that the communal Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA did nothing for the backward people and you resigned barely months before the elections. Then you thought of keeping the ’communal forces’ at the bay by joining hands with ’secular forces’ and regained a post of minister for your intentions and support. Even after holding the post of minister for 10 years, you still call yourself a backward!

There should be reservations in the organisational structure of a political party as well. Why is it so that during 55 years of its rule, the Congress failed to have a backward Prime Minister? The party workers want the party to be run by Gandhi’s only. Don’t they want the ’oldest secular party’ to be led by a person belonging to backward caste? The list of second generation leaders in Congress shows that they don’t have adequate representation of all sections of the people. Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajay Maken, Priya Dutt, Milind Deora, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasad and Sandeep Dikshit all belong to upper caste. The party, which has gone to the hilt to promote social equality has failed to do so within its own organisation. This is not fair Sonia Gandhi. I know Rajiv Gandhi opposed the caste based reservations but now the time has changed. Your most ’loyal team member’ has pressed so hard for reservations in education that it astounds me that he forgot any such reservations in your party.

People like Laloo, Mulayam, Sharad Yadav have always fought for the upliftment of down trodden and promoted equality, but these are the biggest hurdles in passage of Women’s Reservation Bill. Did they forget that a woman, who can manage the home irrespective of its condition, can really improve the state of this nation? When it comes to sharing their profit, they are unwilling to do so.

Mind you, you cannot comment on what an Indian politician thinks (that is, if he actually does)!

The government should form a new ministry, which can work on various strategies and come up with ideas of providing reservations in new form and new fields where it can be provided. But then the minister should be rotated in one term of the government. Else there will be reports of biasness against one backward caste by the other. Let this word ’reservation’ grip our entire nation. The Vision 2020 will be achieved when we will have no merit and all of us will be backward in our own respect.

Narayan Murthy once said that India is perhaps the only country where people fight to be called backwards. The upper caste especially ’Brahmins’ should be thrown out of the country because their ’genes’ represent ancestral crime records. In this way, we can correct the historical wrong. The large scale unrest, which will result due to this word ’reservation’ will change the landscape of India. We had division on the basis of religion in 1947 and now we can have a division based on caste/creed/class/colour. Congress played a role in the division the last time around and it can repeat that feat again. If educational institutions can be split based upon percentages in population, then why not the territory itself?

India was only an experiment post independence by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (he is credited for unifying the 600 odd princely states), which is failing now and that too very badly.

Vivekananda and Education in India

Today is Death Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

The society is inflicted from few serious crimes. We are witnessing more rapes, molestations, serial killings, drug addiction, school children killing their classmates, etc. The more surprising thing is that the children of affluent families and are also indulging in such crimes. There can be numerous reasons behind that but the primary reason is that our education has become totally materialistic. I am basically talking of moral and ethical values which are being left behind in this competitive world. The educational system and parents both are responsible for the same.
Swami VivekanandaVivekananda once said that the tremendous emphasis on the scientific and mechanical ways of life is fast reducing man to the status of a machine. Moral and religious values are being undermined. The fundamental principles of civilization are being ignored. Conflicts of ideals, manners and habits are pervading the atmosphere. Disregard for everything old is the fashion of the day. The defect of the present-day education is that it has no definite goal to pursue. A teacher has no clear idea about the goal of his teaching. The aim of education must be man making and this is where the education is failing.
We are not equipping children with a positive and healthy frame of mind. Modern-day children are averse to reading good books which teach the ‘lessons of life,’ they are glued more to the idiot box and computer games. This is the crux of the problem. If books furnishing tales of Harshvardhana or Shivaji or Asoka are read at an early age, the young mind starts idolising those characters. They try and emulate the great men, who become role models for them. The epics can dissuade them from aiding and abetting crime; it would encourage them to stand up for their beliefs and values. When the young ones don’t have such heroes to worship and ape in real life, things go wrong and they don’t know how to differentiate between right and wrong.
Swami Vivekananda also felt that the aim of education is to manifest in our lives the perfection, which is the very nature of our inner self. This perfection is the realization of the infinite power which resides in everything and every-where-existence, consciousness and bliss (satchidananda). After understanding the essential nature of this perfection, we should identify it with our inner self. For achieving this, one will have to eliminate one’s ego, ignorance and all other false identification, which stand in the way. Meditation, fortified by moral purity and passion for truth, helps man to leave behind the body, the senses, the ego and all other non-self elements, which are perishable. He thus realizes his immortal divine self, which is of the nature of infinite existence, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss.
He says, We need technical education and all else which may develop industries, so that men, instead of seeking for service, may earn enough to provide for them-selves, and save something against a rainy day. He feels it necessary that India should take from the Western nations all that is good in their civilization. However, just like a person, every nation has its individuality, which should not be destroyed. The individuality of India lies in her spiritual culture. Hence in Swamiji’s view, for the development of a balanced nation, we have to combine the dynamism and scientific attitude of the West with the spirituality of our country. The entire educational program should be so planned that it equips the youth to contribute to the material progress of the country as well as to maintaining the supreme worth of India’s spiritual heritage.
It is in the transformation of man through moral and spiritual education that he finds the solution for all social evils. Founding education on the firm ground of our own philosophy and culture, he shows the best of remedies for today’s social and global illness.

Image Courtesy: dailycupofyoga.wordpress.com

Arjun Singh Determined to Dilute “Educational Standards”

THE “ARJUN storm” is ready to defame prestigious educational institutes of India. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is the only technical institution of excellence in India, which has created a global brand in the last 60 years. As if quota in the topmost institutes was not enough, Human Resource Development (HRD) minister, Arjun Singh, has proposed addition of eight new IITs by 2012.

IIT DelhiI am made to believe by the actions of our minister that he has just lost it and he needs to retire from the politics now. Just a simple question I want to ask Singh is – can excellence be multiplied just by increasing the numbers? If Singh believes that it is possible, then I just wonder why not then we have more Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MITs) in America, London School of Economics (LSEs) in Britain and Ecole de Polytechnics in Switzerland. The simple reason is that our HRD minister is in great hurry and wants to impress the voters just before the upcoming Parliamentary elections in 2009. He is just not worried about the future and is concentrating on short term goals of ’votes’.

The idea of expanding the technical institutes can be a good one if Singh knows that the excellence in any institute is directly proportional to the quality of faculty. In a scenario where leading tech-colleges across America and Britain offer 1:6 faculty student ratio, most IITs just manage to scrape up a 1:12 ratio while struggling to stem attrition and quality faculty. In some of the IITs, it is tough to maintain a ratio of 1:14. Overall, IITs are facing faculty crunch of 900. Recently, the alumni of IIT Bombay have chipped in to provide funds so that their Alma mater can offer signing-on bonuses to new faculty. So, where does Singh expect faculty for new IITs to come from?

The IITs have maintained their global brand in the last 60 years. The reason behind this is the fiercest competition for entrance to these institutes. The nationwide test ensures that the top cream of students get into the IITs. One out of fifty students gets into the IITs. Now if you dilute this by opening more number of IITs and lowering the standards of admission in order to accommodate politically motivated quota, then the brand IIT is at stake.

India has one of the largest pool of engineers but the other side of the coin is that the industry considers every 26th engineering graduate to be unemployable. Has Singh ever wondered what the reason behind this could be? May I ask him what has he done to ensure that the existing institutes maintain their standard? The number of job openings for research and innovation, in which IITians are ‘supposed’ to be superior, is so wafer-thin as to be non-existent. Indian companies are notorious for not generating their own technology. But when we don’t have that many Research and Development (R&D) institutes where would we get the new technology from.

This is the reason that the global rankings of IITs in R&D is slipping. In 2003, the UR Rao committee studied the problems afflicting engineering and higher education in India and pointed out that we need over 10,000 Doctors of Philosophy (PhDs) and 20,000 Masters of Technology (MTechs) per year to meet the faculty needs of Indian technical education. Currently, India produces barely 400 engineering PhDs a year, mostly from the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science, as opposed to 4,000 in the basic sciences.

I just have a feeling that this plan of making IITs a common place for all is certainly going to backfire. Singh might have declared himself to be vindicated by the Supreme Court judgment but the fact is that he is just not concerned about changing the educational system of India towards the betterment and making it more innovative. Perhaps this is the reason that though government wants to implement the 27 per cent reservations from the current year, not a single new faculty has been recruited by University Grants Commission (UGC) till date.

Singh is on the wrong path and is just leaving a very poor legacy. He will be gone in a few years but we will feel the repercussions of his moronic decisions forever. He is living up to what Sir Ernest Benn once said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

Image Courtesy: www.ndtv.com/…/fullimage/ver1/i/iitech.jpg

India has no credentials to pontificate!

The disparity between the two sides of India is appalling, to say the least. One side is witnessing sky-rocketing growth, while the other side is ebbing away. The India of today needs to be transformed into a powerful ‘people’s India of tomorrow’.

Poverty in IndiaRECENTLY, FORBES came out with a list of the richest billionaires in the world. For the first time in its history, four Indians figure amongst the top ten. The rankings clearly show that India is a dominating player in the world market and India is where all foreign investments are headed. Another set, which ranked the dirtiest cities of the world featured Mumbai and the national capital New Delhi. These contrasting rankings made me wonder which way the real India is headed.

On one hand, India is the fastest growing economy in the world and on the other it is still one of the poorest countries of the world. On the one hand, we have the ‘Incredible India’ campaigns running all over the world particularly in America and the UK and on the other even our best cities are among the world’s worst. On the one hand, we complain of racism whenever we migrate to the western countries, but here in our own backyard, the Biharis and migrants from Uttar Pradesh are being driven out of Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra. The graph of India resembles a periodic sine wave where highs as well as lows occur periodically.

Take the tourism industry of our country. Cleary, if you were to go by advertisements then India is indeed a heaven on our planet. But when foreign tourists visit a city even in modern Goa, we cannot guarantee security; the chief minister himself admits that foreign tourists should be careful in Goa. Every state in India has come up with its own promotional plans to woo the foreign tourists. But whenever foreign tourists visit India, they get a bit anxious about their own safety.

This is one of the most beautiful places in the world – the unexplored regions of the North East, the backwaters of Kerala, the cold desert of Ladakh and the enchanting Ajanta Ellora caves in Maharashtra. But where is the infrastructure to take the tourists to such places? Thus every visitor has lots to say about nature’s delight but always adds, “if only the government had done a bit more for the tourists!”

None of the Indians should ever complain of racism, for what we face in our country is much worse than racism. A young Dalit boy is beaten to death for drawing water from the same well that the upper castes draw water from. The number of backward classes has increased since independence and exploitation of the people on the basis of caste is prevalent in almost all the rural pockets of our country. In Mumbai, the most developed and the most modern city of the country, migrants from different parts are beaten up and driven out – all because they have migrated from a different part of the country.

Why should have Mahatma Gandhi complained when he was thrown off the train at Petermaritzburg station in South Africa when apartheid was in vogue? Almost a century later, migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are being beaten up in trains by the goons of a political party. And make no mistake: Raj Thackeray is a very shrewd man; he is following in Bal Thackeray’s footsteps, though he plans to go further. The problem is that Maharashtrians have a history of capitulating to such theatrics. Dividing the country on the basis of caste, religion or now region has become the political mantra not just in Maharashtra but also in many of the states in India.

In the budget presented a few months back, Chidambaram gave away largesse worth Rs 60,000 crores to the suffering farmers of the country. A few days later, a village in the suicide belt of Vidarbha wants to sell itself off, for, the FM’s money cannot benefit it. Debt waiver is for marginal and small farmers, with less than five acres of land. But, in this village, most of the farmers have land-holdings in excess of that, at least on paper.

Jesus once said, “ To those who have, more will be given and those who have little, even whatever they have will be taken away from them.” Probably this is applicable to the people of our country where the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.

Image Courtesy: dsrfoundation.org/images/poverty.jpg

Ramadoss: An Embarrassment for UPA

Ever since Dr Anbumani Ramadoss has taken the charge of the health ministry he has been directly involved in lots of controversies. The recent judgement by the Supreme Court declaring the AIIMS amendment act as a void is yet another setback for the minister. The verdict came after Dr Venugopal challenged his removal as AIIMS Director following an amendment moved by Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss to fix 65 years as the upper age limit for the post.
It is belived that Ramadoss forced parliament to bring amendment in AIIMS Act to remove Dr. Venugopal. Dr Venugopal was removed from AIIMS in 2007. The AIIMS Amendment Act was passed by the Parliament in August 2007. The health minister of this UPA government has done everything wrong as far as medicos are concerned. The battle between medicos and Anbumani Ramadoss started in the year 2006 after the quota agitation and since then Ramadoss is at loggerheads with the autonmous and premeier institute of AIIMS. Anbumani Ramadoss is doing everything to ensure that he remains in some lime light but in doing so, he is maligning the image of AIIMS and health ministry and it is high time that Dr Manmohan Singh takes some stern action against him.
Dr Ramadoss junior has been in the eye of a storm for urging film and sports stars to not endorse soft drinks; for stuffing AIIMS with his cronies; for publicly contesting United Nations figures on AIDS in India; Dr Ramadoss had no time to sign degrees and hence student’s got their certificates of merit late and that too after intervention of court; increasing the tenure of MBBS; and for advocating statutory warnings for smoking on screen. He is targeting Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan for various stupid reasons and has just lost his balance somewhere it seems.
The UPA and Congress is trying to put a brave face up but the verdict has certainly showed the dishonest and malafide intentions of the minister. Anbumani Ramadoss has brazenly said that there is no question of his resigning over the SC verdict. The health minister has made AIIMS a playground to play the dirtiest of politics.
But this verdict might start a fresh debate in political arena to clip the wings of the Judiciary in the country. Few of the political parties have already said that judiciary is intervening too much in the working of the parliament. As Ramadoss waits to study the verdict we may see fresh confrontations between Judiciary and Parliament. Politicians argue that laws passed by parliament should be protected from judicial review since MPs are the people’s representatives. But then Supreme Court is the custodian of the Constitution. Any decision to clip the wings of the court may lead to same scenes that we saw in Pakistan after removal of Chief Justice. Whatever be the case the fact remains that Dr Ramadoss is and embarrassment for UPA and should be removed as soon as possible.

The Divisive Policy of RESERVATIONS

Reservation CartoonTHE RECENT Supreme Court verdict on Other Backward Class (OBC) quota in central educational institutes was a fine balancing act despite the enormous amount of pressure being exerted on the judiciary by the government in an attempt to curb the so-called judicial activism without realising that it has a become a necessity, due to complete failure of the government on all fronts.The various bright aspects of the order are:

1) No quota in post graduate courses, though the government is trying its level best to intentionally ignore it

2) Exclusion of creamy layer from the benefits of reservation

3) Review of quota policy every fiver years

But still this verdict will have far reaching consequences on life inside the campus in the coming years as we have already seen in the state owned institutes. Firstly, the campus gets divided into two ’almost equal’ halves. I say ’almost equal’ because many students from reserved category pick up unreserved or open seats or unreserved seats are shifted under reserved categories due to some biased rules like ’ear-marking’. As a result, general category or so-called upper caste students actually comprise of a ’minority’ in the campus and lets not forget there is reservation in jobs and promotion already present, so the faculty is also ’silently’ divided.

Quota based on rational criterias like economic status, rural-urban divide, gender divide, vernacular English divide etc would not have created ’Us’ verses ’Them’ feeling. But quota based solely on caste does create this dangerous divide in the campus. If you visit any campus, by general observation of socio economic status, students coming from OBC quota will tell any neutral observer that they neither require nor deserve benefits of reservation. Yes, there is some consensus that schedule castes and scheduled tribes do deserve quota but even amongst them the creamy layer must be kept out.

The term OBC in our constitution was never other backward caste. It was other backward class. The class could comprise anyone, it could have been a village artisan or a person belonging to economically backward upper caste. The important word in OBC should have been backward and not caste because it is the most cosmetic and divisive criteria to decide backwardness.

As far as current OBCs are concerned, they include Yadavs who were kings 2000 years ago! A Yadav (Yaduvanshi) was worshipped by all caste and classes in India. Jats were also rulers, Patils were village headmen, Patels of Gujarat, who were once agriculturists have come to play a significant role in the world of commerce. Similarly in southern India, Reddy’s, Vokkligas, Lingayats, Chettiyars, Vanniyars, and Ejhavas in Kerala are major beneficiaries of OBC reservations but are not backward by any rational standards like human development index and do not require any help, especially quotas.

In current Parliament, more than 200 Members of Parliament (MPs) are so-called OBCs, 18 chief ministers are from backward communities. It is this political clout that is forcing such divisive votebank politics in the name of ’Mandal commission report’. The blunders in Mandal commission are because of the fact that it was based on cost indexing of 1891 and the census of 1931 when Pakistan, Burma and Bangladesh were parts of British ruled India. Mandal report was a politically motivated report used for potential political gains and had glaring inadequacies in it, as highlighted in the speech given by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Loksabha on September 6, 1990.

The division in the campus and the frustration in the general category or the so-called ’upper caste’ students creeps up when they see sons and daughters of senior government officials, politicians businessmen, doctors, engineers and professors getting the benefits of caste based reservations and along with that 100 per cent waiver of college fees and other benefits like scholarships regardless of economic status. On the contrary, a lower middle class general category student gets no exemption what so ever based on his or her family income and also faces ’reverse discrimination’ when he or she voice their discontent over discriminatory caste based quotas and what about poor or below poverty line upper caste students? Well they never make it to such elite institutions because neither they have money nor caste for their rescue, regardless of their merit. They get used to getting second grade citizens treatment in their own country.

This debate is not about merit; merit is present among all class, caste and religions without discrimination, it’s about equal citizenship, equal opportunity and equal status in our motherland.

And I will never accept a second grade citizen treatment in my own country simply because they prefer to cast me as an ‘upper caste’.

This article is contributed by Dr Gunjan Sharma, Spokesperson, Youth for Equality, Mumbai.
He can be contacted on yfemumbai@gmail.com