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Thursday, October 29, 1998
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Is it computer education?

  THE exposition that Raj Sadosh has made (“Education Tribune”, 19.10.98) is not an isolated instance. Computer education has really become a “fraud on students”. A few months back The Tribune (5.7.1998) exposed a fake computer centre duping students. It is a matter of serious concern. Computer institutes are entrapping students and charging exorbitant fees, in many cases to the tune of Rs 90,000 per annum. It is due to this money minting aspect of computer education that these centres are mushrooming everywhere.

This reflects on the tardy state of computer education. But, sadly this is being done with the active involvement of the Government of India (Department of Electronics). It is giving franchises to unscrupulous private teaching shops. They have no qualified person on their staff. What shall be the fate of M.Sc. students if matriculates are recruited to teach them? There is large-scale corruption in the allotment of computer franchises by the DOEACC.

In order to put a check on this crass commercialisation of computer education, the following guidelines are suggested:

1. The institute that applies for franchise should submit a list of the staff members possessing the minimum qualifications prescribed by the universities for MCA/PGDCA.

2. These names should not be mere notional, they must be there on the pay-rolls of the institute. For this, some conditions of employment should also be prescribed. This should be properly scrutinised by the DOEACC.

3. There should be a rational fee structure, so that degrees may not become the luxury of the wealthy class. The fee structure should be fixed by the DOEACC, and any institute violating the norms should be penalised with the cancellation of the franchise.

4. Before allotting the franchise, a team of experts from the DOEACC ( or any university) should visit the institute to see whether proper infrastructure is available there.

If these measures are adopted, the “fraud” in the name of computer education will largely be checked.

H.S. Sinha

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Recruitments in varsities

This refers to a news item and a letter regarding the ban on recruitments in Punjabi University, Patiala. The burden of the argument against government interference in the matter is on the ill-effects of such an order. It has also been argued that having a strong representation on the university Syndicate, the government should pursue its policies through the Syndicate rather than send orders direct to the university authorities. In abstract terms, these arguments sound logical and reasonable. But the basic fallacy in this line of argument is that it ignores the ground reality at Punjabi University, Patiala. I would like to draw readers’ attention to some of the glaring violations of the statutes by the custodians themselves in the matter of recruitments.

In many a department the number of teachers recruited exceeded the number of the advertised posts. The university statutes clearly stipulate that whenever a post is to be filled, it shall be advertised and applications invited. The Vice-Chancellor has wilfully flouted this rule to accommodate his favourites by waitlisting them and later creating additional posts by transferring them from other departments. It is a generally accepted norm in the universities that recruitments for teaching posts are made on the basis of specialisation in various branches of the subjects of study. This norm is also being wilfully flouted as a result of the above subterfuge.

In some cases recruitments were made to accommodate favourites despite the unavailability of work in the departments. There are instances of advertisement of new teaching positions where not even a single student has sought admission.

About 50 ad hoc appointments for teaching posts have been made so far by the Vice-Chancellor. Some of these were made at the fag-end of the teaching session.

In most of these cases the Vice-Chancellor has been able to either mislead the Syndicate by misconstruing its earlier decisions or winning over the government nominees on it by placating them. Not only this, he went to the extent of wrong/non-recording of the decision of the Syndicate in at least three cases. The Syndicate in its last meeting had decided to set up a rationalisation committee to assess the workload, and the teachers’ strength in the various teaching departments, but the same is mysteriously missing from the minutes circulated to the members.

The concern for university autonomy is welcome and every effort should be made to ensure it. But in the case of a state university the government has the moral responsibility to ensure that behind the facade of university autonomy the Vice-Chancellors do not become arbitrary authoritarians.

A sizeable section of the teachers of this university has been making representations to the Chancellor against the misuse of authority by the Vice-Chancellor, but to no avail. We have also been bringing the sad state of affairs in the university to the notice of political leaders. The Punjab government had ordered a preliminary enquiry against the alleged misappropriation of funds and violation of rules by the university authorities. On the basis of the preliminary report of the Vigilance Department, the state government has ordered a comprehensive enquiry into the cases of misappropriation of funds and violation of rules in the recruitment of teachers. Therefore, the temporary ban on the recruitment in Punjabi University should be viewed in the light of the above facts.

United Teachers Front

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Beneficiaries of quota policy

Apropos the letter of Mr H.S. Bains, Superintending Engineer, PSEB, Bathinda, published in The Tribune of October 15. I do not agree with the arguments, rather sentiments, advanced by him. In fact, he does not seem to be effective in his day-to-day work as also to extract work and respect from his subordinates.

It is the reservation policy which has brought us to the mainstream of government service. I have no hesitation in saying that it is the outcome of the reservation policy which has brought the letter writer to the present status of Superintending Engineer. Dr Ambedkar, the Principal Architect of the Constitution of India, had been throughout his life struggling for ameliorating the lot of the downtrodden.

The policy of reservation was got introduced after lengthy debates and struggles. This policy has helped a large number of families to improve their standard of living, and some have even developed inter-caste relations too.

I would suggest that the matter of doing away with the reservation policy should not be raised in the Press.

North Zone Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Welfare Federation, Patiala Unit

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Financial indiscipline

The editorial of October 14, “A real power struggle”, is biased and in no way likely to promote discipline in the government.

All right-thinking persons should appreciate the step initiated by Mr Kumaramangalam, Central Power Minister. It is only due to the failure of the previous governments that the disease of non-payment — or, I would say, of financing the states by the NTPC or other PSUs — has spread. Is it the function of the PSUs to provide budgetary support to the states.

Why do the states not discipline themselves in collecting the payment of electricity charges from their consumers? I think they don’t want to antagonise their voters. We are putting a premium on non-performance by the states by providing such crutches.

The Power Minister has been crying from house-tops for many months that there is no “free lunch”, but very few Chief Ministers have heard it.


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Saraswati Vandana

It seems BJP people lack far-sightedness. At the inaugural session of the Conference of the States’ Ministers of Education, convened by the Government of India in New Delhi on October 22, instead of calling it “Saraswati Vandana” in Hindi, they should have straight-away mentioned this very ritual as invoking the Goddess of Knowledge and Learning in English. Then, perhaps, nobody would have any objection because it would have satisfied the secular ego of our politicians on the eve of the crucial elections to the Vidhan Sabha in four states. The walkout by certain ministers as reported in The Tribune (October 23) could have been avoided.



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