Reforming Education Part 4: Single Entrance Examination for admission

In current scenario if you want to get admission to various colleges/universities then you might have to appear in many entrance examinations. Let us say that you want to get into an engineering college then you will write many entrance exam for various colleges. The autonomous colleges/deemed universities conduct their own exam. This is perhaps only the money making exercise as the cost of form is around thousand rupees. This in turn not adds pressure on students but also financial burden.

The best way out should be that their should be only one entrance exam per course. Eg: one for Engg, one for medical, one for law, etc. Consider that a student wants to get into engineering after 12th. Then there should be single entrance for admission into all engineering colleges in India and the syllabus of this entrance should be based on class 12th. The marks scored in this entrance should be the sole qualifying criteria for admission into all colleges. This will reduce the reliance on coaching institutes and also save on the time for many students who drop year or two to get into best college. If the syllabus is made common then the playing field is also made level for students belonging to various section of the society.

The government has intended of making common entrance examination from the year 2013 onwards.

If it is implemented in the best spirit then it will be a step towards reforming our education system.

Sex education for Children, education for Politicians.

I still feel dazzled by the recent drive of politicians across all spectrums, stuck in an age when the change of thoughts could be near impossible, to ban sex education in schools. Even the likes of Baba Ramdev speak boastfully about the need to have yoga than sex education in schools. But Mr. Baba is almost 50 years old, went to school till 8th and then to ‘Gurukul’. He doesn’t even have the slightest of idea of the s**t going on in schools today and speaks like a top-level marketing man on a role to promote his product/service. Sure yoga is great for an individual. But letting it be a substitute for sex education is like trying hitting a six with a plastic bat.

Just the thought of not having sex education in schools in this age, filled with negativity in the digital air and one click access to mind corrupting pleasure moments on the Internet, sends me in the state of excessive jadedness and paramount tension. India, with people high on the thought of sex and eve-teasing (not all), cannot be safe or even think of reducing the rise in no of cases of molestation, rapes (indignity towards women) or in young (below 16) people indulging in sexual encounters (a view supported by the SC).

Over the past 5 years, with the high intensity in the sales of video and camera enabled devices, there has been a huge surge in the exposure of privately held sexual proceedings, watched by millions worldwide quite to the embarrassment of the victims and their families. Curbing these exposures has been almost impossible for mostly it’s the victims themselves taping the exotic times, sure to be leaked. But the waves of curiousness generated to watch this brain triggering moments has seemingly surpassed the encouragement to be morally educated and professionally thoughtful. Sex, as a thought if imbibed in a child at a young age, could hamper his growth in being socially matured and his stance in differentiating when placed with options.

The stand that these politicians take to ban sex education is first that it will teach and encourage students to have sex when they are in schools. Gosh! I had sex education in my school when I was in the 10th grade. All we boys in that grade were simply bored by the biological terms that the educators were using. The reason! We all knew what sex was. It just shows the degree to which these politicians are ill-informed and are going ahead and ill-informing the society. The only good thing that apparently happened, is that we actually happened to see a condom and know the importance of it. Imagine. You are high in those last 3-4 years of your school with the thought of girls & sex and you do not know what a condom is. During my time (I graduated from school in 2002), sex was known to most of the boys right from the 6th grade. When I say sex was known, I do not mean all the technicalities and all the right-wrong stuff, but sex in its basic sense is. It was a knowledge shared even amongst the girls. And today in this high bit-rate internet generation, we are talking about introducing it in 8th grade. More than 90% (could be an understatement) of the students in that age would know what sex is. The only thing remains is to tell them whether their full knowledge about it is factual or not.

World Health Organization(WHO), way back in 1993, had carried a survey in which it found that the people who have been imparted with sex education in the school are more likely to delay the indulgence in sex compared to those not given sex education in schools.It also found that it reduces sexual activity among  young people and encourages the one who have already indulged in sex to have safer sex.Researchers found “no support for the contention that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. If any effect is observed, almost without exception, it is in the direction of postponed initiation of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraception.” Failure to provide appropriate and timely information “misses the opportunity of reducing the unwanted outcomes of unintended pregnancy and transmission of STDs, and is, therefore, in the disservice of our youth,” the report called Effects of Sex Education on Young People’s Sexual Behavior says. This report was commissioned by the Youth and General Public Unit, Office of Intervention and Development and Support, Global Program on AIDS, and the WHO.

So the basic argument about sex education through this political mindset tends to be so misguided.

The other argument they make is that our cultural values and heritage cannot allow sex education to be part of the curriculum. Let me get this straight. So according to these politicians, killing people on the basis of religion, hating people on the basis of caste and differentiating them on the basis of region and language fits our culture, but educating the kids of this nation with proper knowledge so as not to allow them to be victims of HIV and STD’s is disgraceful to this culture,especially in this land of ‘Kamasutra’, whose drawings and sculptures one would find around the caves and temples in India. The height of narrow-mindedness of these politicians is evident and as much as I hate saying this, I do not think I would even respect such a ‘Indian culture’, described by these politicians, let alone follow it, which puts the life of its own kids on the edge, especially being in a society where sex is given such a negative posture and sex talk is avoided as much as one would avoid standing on the edge of a 1000 ft cliff. Even the rape victims here are blamed for being raped, rather than the person who raped her and socially isolated(in a way tortured), not able to find a husband (those bloody man’s always want a virgin,no matter how much they f**k other women before marriage) and physologically disturbed(they have to accept  rape as an unfortunate event instead of a crime). I still do not know what ‘Indian Society’ these politicians keep babbling about.

“Message should appropriately be given to school children that there should be no sex before marriage which is immoral, unethical and unhealthy,” said the parliamentary committee report. So having sex before marriage is immoral and unethical? Who are these politicians to decide what’s immoral and unethical. These are the same group of corrupted, extremist, vote-bank gamers who have made the culture of Divide and Rule thrive. Morality is an individual’s virtue and not a guideline to be labourously followed. And talking about health, I have never heard the issue of hygiene being raised and pushed by these politicos in this land where diseases flow as easily as a fly by the wind of a storm. This should not be a country where everything has to be decided by ethics, morality and traditional thoughts. The moral police that guard’s the behaviour of people are the same that takes bribe in huge amount. Rather truth needs to have a dictatorial stand. Truth needs to be embraced and put into effect. Only than can we expect desired positive results.

Whether sex education is important or not is not a debate which should involve the politicians or their survey,but the youngsters and their experiences (there are issues the youth can address better and clearly). Its the youth which has to address this issue,while the media being responsible and approaching and addressing their concerns.I am a youth and I know the importance of sex education,something which i have tried to express in this article. I can just hope that reality makes its present felt, and our kids would have a better and healthy life in the coming times.

Views of an Australian professor

Prof. Isaac Balbin is a programme director and professor at the school of computer science and IT at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
A regular visitor to India and a mentor to lots of overseas education seekers in India, Prof. Balkin expresses his views about the recent incidences in Australia.
As @Asfaq terms it, this is one of the most sensible & practical posts we have yet read about the issue.
This post was originally published in Indian Express (found via @Asfaq)

I have frequently visited India and have mentored Indian students for over two decades. I have supervised 11 Indian postgraduate research theses. Recent events compel me to pen these words.

The easiest part of my visits to India is convincing good students to join my school’s well-regarded programmes. My central aim is to speak with better students and offer these partial scholarships so that our school continues to flourish, and they may become global leaders in their profession. Indians proudly value quality education and the international experience.

I confess: I love India. I love the people. There is much goodwill and diversity and I am always treated with reverential respect. I have sat with family members and discussed their children’s prospects; I have always given an honest appraisal of their child’s suitability for overseas study. I am not a salesman. I advise with both a professorial and parental hat firmly on my head. Also, I have a keen perspective on racism, as I am visibly Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors. People of my faith have been persecuted since their beginnings.

To be sure, there were times when I was not able to travel to Ahmedabad because of religious violence, and warned to avoid questionable Indian taxi drivers because foreigners had been robbed, murdered or abducted. I commonly read press warnings to female Indian university students about the possibility of rape upon returning to Delhi hostels in the evening. Pockets of violence are an unfortunate abnormity of our world, but my overall perspective, however, was and remains one of confidence and contentment.

I sojourned at Nariman House exactly 2 weeks before terrorists in cosmopolitan Mumbai murdered my good friends, Rabbi and Mrs Holtzberg. I saw the bullet-riddled and bloodied room that I had slept in. I frequented the Taj Hotel in Mumbai. In Melbourne I spoke and wrote about these events and my comments were reported in the Australian Parliament; they continue to shake my core. I know I will return to Mumbai soon, but this time, apart from the psychological trauma induced by that memory, I will have anxious parents asking me whether they should send their beloved to study in Melbourne, or indeed any other city in Australia.

It is counterproductive to generalise about Australians in the same way that it is counterproductive to generalise about Indians. Indian students in Australia are not all the same. Some are serious and highly motivated, seeking international educational excellence; some are opportunists who knowingly enrol in programs from nefarious institutions and whose primary concern is to find a way, any way, to stay in Australia. This second type of student can sometimes be seen congregating in centre of cities as if they have little to do — that is, until they commence night-time employment as taxi drivers, cleaners, guards or door-to-door salespeople. It is demeaning. Why do it? Students should come for real educations by all means, stay if they choose by all means — Australia is in need of qualified professionals — but “purchasing” paper diplomas is not a sound aim.

Some sober realities:

  • Australia is a great and relatively safe country with an exemplary but currently challenged police force. I consider it the multi-cultural success story of the world. Melbourne, in particular, is a rich tapestry of culture and tolerance.
  • There is a real problem with some members of “Generation Y”, especially in certain suburbs. This may relate to a lack of proper parenting, drugs and alcohol. One should not assume they are “white Anglo-Saxon Aussies.” They do not go after Indians per se, in my estimation. Rather, of late, if they identify someone as a “vulnerable target” they have exercised unjustified and mindless violence. Ironically, one member of a gang was himself clearly from the sub-continent and involved in perpetrating recent train violence against an Indian. Idiocy knows no racial boundaries.
  • Australians care. When a young Anglo-Saxon father came to the aid of someone in distress in the dead of night he was stabbed and later died. Where are those perpetrators? They immediately fled to Thailand. It is easy to guess their origin. We don’t blame their country per se. There are rotten eggs everywhere. To blame a people or besmirch a city can be construed as reverse racism.
  • Some student agents in the sub-continent are irresponsible. They send students overseas when they are well aware that the students don’t have the intellectual capacity and/or the parents don’t have the financial capacity. They make unpardonable promises that students can work (almost full time) to pay both their living and tuition fees. These agents should be exposed and marginalised.

It is great that Indian students protested both last night and this morning, but I think that they should not have done so solely as Indian students. Let’s stop the mindless sensationalising. There is a problem, yes. I am equally confident that this is a transient issue that will pass, perhaps even quicker than swine flu. Let’s enhance cooperation, not work against it. I’d like it if more local students spend a semester in India, at least performing quality work integrated learning. Are there any companies out there who are listening? This will help to further bilateral cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

In summary, this issue is primarily one of delinquency. It is not about a particular race. Surely, we are well past the spat between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds?

I can only speak for myself but I live in a wonderful, unique, multi-cultural, exciting and friendly melting pot. As a father of five children, two of whom have studied overseas, I am confident that any student who studies here will be in an environment that gushes tolerance and oozes love and respect. I will personally continue to “look after” any student that knocks on my door, be they Indian or otherwise. My campus has had, thankfully, close to zero incidents and we endeavour to keep it that way. This issue will pass if we stick together, forcefully and effectively, but without unnecessary rancour and aggressive finger pointing.

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?

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.

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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.”

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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.

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