118 years of trust
Chandigarh, Monday, July 20, 1998
 
  Student must have the right to know
By Belu Maheshwari
EVERY year thousands of students are jolted with marks they did not expect or deserve. Dissatisfaction assumes alarming proportion when it comes to entrance tests held for professional courses. It is well-known that students’ fate lies sealed in these examination, for which they have worked for years. The question-setting evaluation should be of a high standard, because if the student is not satisfied, it might demoralise him/her for life, both psychologically and academically.
There has always been a grievance against the way these exams are conducted. But the authorities turn a deaf ear till a court case is slapped. Nothing concrete is done to make these entrance tests more student-friendly. The means available in the system to redress grievances are grossly insufficient and inadequate. Because of the sheer number of candidates, no institution wants to open the Pandora’s box by bringing transparency and accountability in the system.
In the common engineering test held by Punjab recently, another aggrieved student had to go to court. She was ranked 900. Not satisfied, she filed a case. When her answer-sheets were opened, it was found that approximately 30 marks in her chemistry (objective paper) had not been added to the total marks. The authorities blamed the computer and poor writing of Roll Number (as usual they wanted to shrug the blame). But is it the duty of the University to see the computer functions properly. Those 30 marks helped her to secure 180 or so rank, a jump of about 700 positions. The difference between getting a good engineering branch and not getting any branch.
Another example of how faulty the system is can be gauged by the subjective question paper set for the entrance test of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. After talking to a number of highly qualified physics scholars it appears that many questions were erroneous, or vague, even having omissions.
Q. 1 Show that the moment of Inertia of a body rotating about a given axis is equal to torque due to inertial reaction, the body offers when it undergoes a unit change in its acceleration.
What is wrong: a) The moment of Inertia cannot be equal to torque. Moment of Inertia is scalar quantity whereas torque is a vector. It can at best be only numerically equal to torque under certain conditions.
b). There is no such thing as torque due to inertial reaction. In physics the term "reaction" refers to a force not a torque.
c) "Unit change" in acceleration translated into mathematics would read D a = 1 but in this problem there is angular acceleration and no D a (delta).
d) It is the angular acceleration and not linear acceleration which is equal to 1 and not its change.
Q. 6 Figure is drawn where angle q (theta) described in text as 30 degree is not own. On appearance, no angle can be imagined to be 30 degree. The figure shows three charges, q1, q2 and q3. What is the resultant force acting on q1 Assume q1 = 1.5 x 106 coul, q2 = 2.0x 10–6 coul, q3 = –1–0x10–6 coul, r12= 15cm, r13 = 10cm.
1. The figure does not show the angle.
2. The two possible angles which could be labeled theta look more like 45.
Q. 8 A circuit has L=12mH, C=1.6 mF, R=1.5 ohms. (a) After what time will amplitude of charge oscillations drop to of the initial value (b) What is the period of oscillation? Log e2 = 0.6931.
What is wrong a) No LCR circuit oscillates without charged capacitor or a voltage source at some stage. b) Part II of this question related to damping is not part of plus II level and is out of course.

No one knows how these questions have been marked. Have they been left out of evaluation or have they been marked on the basis of attempt. Every mark matters. The student needs to know how these questions have been evaluated.
To make the system transparent, student should be allowed to see their evaluated answer-sheets, may be by asking for some amount of money. Second as in the case of I.I.T., solved answers could be published later in newspapers. This will at one stroke take care of the problems of examiner’s integrity, missing answer-sheet defective questions, marking schemes, errors in computer evaluation, fictions numbering, posting of marks etc.
In the USA, parents had to go to court to fight for openness on the grounds of the right to know. Educational Testing Service that administers SAT examination for more than 20 lakh students in the USA alone gives the right to student to see their corrected answer-books along with correct answers.
For the institutions conducting the exams, a student is just a roll number but for the parents and the student the examination and its result is the culmination of hard work. A system has to be evolved which is full-proof and satisfies the students.
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  Private colleges in fiscal mess
By Charanjit Chawla
There are more than 200 colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh. Out of these, 150 are managed privately, and 139 get government aid. The rest are unaided.
The State Government provides for every need of government colleges while the rest of the 150 colleges are at the mercy of private managements. These colleges meet the educational requirement of 80 per cent of the students of the state and UT.
The stepmotherly treatment meted out by the government to non-government aided and unaided colleges coupled with the indifferent attitude of certain management has resulted in a mess in college education in Punjab.
Punjab and UT meet 95 per cent of the salary expenses of the staff of 139 aided colleges appointed before November, 1981. An amount of Rs 56 crore is spent on this purpose.
Since 1981, there has been 20 per cent increase in students and subsequently, teaching and non-teaching staff in these colleges. However, the state government has failed to review grant assistance policy adversely affecting the teaching learning process.
The plight of colleges opened after November, 1981, is worse as these colleges are not covered under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme of the state. The management of such colleges are exploiting the teaching and non-teaching staff. The staff is deprived of their full salary as per the U.G.C. and DPI (C), norms and in many eases, especially in women colleges, allowances such as House Rent and Dearness Allowances are not paid, despite guidelines from the concerned affiliating university as well as the Punjab Government.
The situation of rural colleges and these situated in small towns is also bad. In the 139-aided colleges, the flow of salary grants is erratic. The Finance Department has failed to release salary grants to the aided colleges and the amount not released up to June 1998, is Rs 23 crore.
This has led to piling of salary arrears in a number of colleges. Many colleges are not paying salary at all.
Various organisations of the state — Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU), Principals Federation of Punjab and Chandigarh and Management Federation — have demanded that all posts be covered under grant-in-aid scheme.
On many occasions, the government had assured re-view of posts up to January, 86. As amount of Rs 3 crore was earmarked for this purpose. The present SAD government included this demand of non-government colleges in its election manifesto, but till date no action has been taken on this matter.
If these posts are not brought under the 95 per cent deficit grant-in-aid scheme of the government, rural colleges will be ultimately closed. It may be mentioned that the grant-in-aid scheme was started by the Badal government in 1978 for non-government colleges of the state.
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  University to sell “Palampur Tea”
From Pratibha Chauhan
PALAMPUR:
At least 300 scientists from all over the world are meeting here on October 29 to discuss the issue of sustainable agriculture in hill areas.
It is for the first time that an international symposium is being held in the university. Since the pace of progress in vast rainfed areas and marginal hill areas has remained almost static, the symposium will focus on technology suitable for hill agriculture.
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr P.K. Khosla, said the technologies developed for agriculture in plain hand irrigated areas was not applicable to the hill areas. Hill areas were faced with various problems like low productivity, small holdings, undulating terrain, soil erosion, lack of farm implements and pressure on land. "All these issues warrant a closer examination of production characteristics and constraints to increase agricultural productivity and overall development of sustainable land use in hill areas," he said.
The seminar is being held in collaboration with the Society for Sustainable Agriculture and Resources Management, Hisar. Over 150 scientists from the USA, Australia, Africa and Europe will attend the three-day symposium.
Dr Khosla said the hill universities should be given more grants in comparison to others and a new post of Deputy Director-General (Mountain Agriculture) be created in the ICAR to look after the interests of hill areas.

The university had decided to make all its five Krishi Vigyan Kendras multi-dimensional and need-based. Since the needs of the hill farmers are multi-disciplinary, efforts will be made to provide information and technology on various disciplines like animal husbandry, use of improved technology and seeds. "As far as research and teaching is concerned, it is the priority of the university, but the services being offered at Krishi Vigyan Kendras must be in tune with the needs and requirements of the farmers of the area," said Dr Khosla. Animal husbandry was an important component of hill agriculture and it could in no way be separated from it, he stressed.

A project to convert the vast slope land into grasslands, covering several thousand hectares, will soon be launched in Himachal. Though more than 40 per cent of the area in Kangra district is grassland, the infrastructure for promoting fodder production and grassland rehabilitation is weak.

The university is formulating an action plan to eradicate weeds like lantana and ageratum, which cause genetic erosion and threaten the ecology in the state. A massive programme is to be launched shortly in collaboration with the Agriculture Department, village panchayats, farming community and other agencies in this direction. A two-day workshop will be held to formulate an action plan to tackle the menace.
In order to achieve self-sufficiency and supplement its income, the university will be selling tea grown in the campus by the name of "Palampur Tea".
Till now the university had been selling green tea leaves only, which fetched over Rs 7 lakh. All fallow land lying waste in the university campus will be converted into a tea plantation. Till the university has its own set-up for undertaking the processing of the green tea leaves, it will be processed from an outside unit. The authorities have already held discussions with the NABARD for financing the scheme.
Apart from this domestic income from the sale of seeds and nursery plants will also be supplemented. Various units like the university press, dairy unit and seed production unit have been directed to float the revolving fund scheme and plug all wastage.

The universitiy is exploring possibilities for collaboration with Chinese agricultural universities for exchange of scientific information. The university will approach the Indian National Science Academy to finalise modalities for exchange of scientific manpower with various agricultural universities in China.
Since the two countries have almost similar problems, exchange of experience and information could help in increasing farm production.
A Chinese delegation, led by Prof Q.H. Shang, Director of Cooperation for Asian, Latin American and African countries, had informed the university that the yield of all major crops like wheat and rice in China was almost double than that of India.
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  An unequal system
By Shalini Goyal
With the dwindling expenditure of education, increase in the dropout rate, gender disparity and inadequate facilities for higher education along with lack of job-oriented studies, the story of education in India is nothing more than a shattered dream.
Educational inequality implies existence of two types of schools for the two sections — elite and the poor. The Supreme Court, having first declared education as a right of the citizen, later allowed non-capitation colleges to emerge and collect high tuition fee in the name of management quota.
In 1951, elementary education constituted 55.6 per cent of the share of the total education budget. But conditions have altered. It has never approached the 40 per cent since then.
Besides, the dropout rate in India is very high. Available statistics show that only 50 per cent of children who enroll in Class I complete five years of schooling. In Punjab, out of 100 students who join school at the primary level, only 29 reach high school. In case of Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, the rate is 51 per cent and 65 per cent, respectively.
There are not many educational facilities provided for the disabled. There are just 280 schools for the physically handicapped covering 28,000 students and 200 schools for the visually impaired. The percentage of enrollment of handicapped children at the elementary stage is just 0.07 per cent.
Not many facilities are provided for vocational education of the poorer section.
  Court raps CBSE
The Delhi High Court has criticised the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) method of evaluating the Class X and XII examination papers. While observing that "something appears to be drastically wrong in the CBSE," a Division Bench directed the board to apprise the Bench of steps taken by it to address the grievances of students regarding the alleged bungling during evaluation, reports The Pioneer. The observation was made after hearing arguments on a public interest petition by the All-India Lawyers Union, questioning the veracity of the marking scheme.

Praise can be bad
Praising children for success in school and for their intelligence could harm them, psychologists warn in a study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reports AFP. They say congratulating children for what they accomplish leads them to believe that getting high marks is more important than learning something new. Praising children for their intelligence, meanwhile, encourages them to embrace self-defeating behaviours, such as worrying about failure and avoiding risks, says the study’s main author, Carol Dweck of Columbia University in New York. "When children are taught the value of concentrating, strategising, and working hard when dealing with academic challenges, this encourages them to sustain their motivation, performance, and self esteem," says Dweck.

Kashmiris in Karnataka
The number of students from Jammu and Kashmir arriving in Karnataka for higher education has fallen drastically this year following an improvement in the conditions in their home state. Until recently, nearly 3,000 students from Kashmir arrived every year in Karnataka for higher education, reports The Asian Age. Students are now seeking admission nearer home without any fear, say students in Bangalore. The number of students seeking admission this year is a quarter of the earlier figures.

Urdu gains ground
India’s rich poetic language, Urdu, is coming back into its own, thanks to the efforts of a city-based educational trust which has encouraged over one lakh students and professionals to take up the language course, reports The Times of India. And with Urdu going on the Internet, the global learner can hardly be far behind. Designed as a primer course in Urdu by the Abid Ali Khan educational trust, it has already taught thousands across the country using Marathi, Kannada and Gujarati language phonetics.

Deadly figures
Recent statistics suggest that one in 12 high-schoolers in the USA is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. The number of youths murdered by firearms went up by 153 per cent from 1985 to 1995. Shocked by such trends, up to 76 per cent Americans in a recent poll favoured stricter gun-control laws. Top

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