Saturday, July 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Making Army an attractive career

THE article “Making Army an attractive career” by Major-Gen Kuldip Singh Bajwa (July 23) has a pretty confused outlook.

I do not agree with the author or other media reports that not enough people apply for the forces at the commissioned officer level. I feel that there is no dearth of youth applying for the forces. The only problem is that out of the total strength applying for the forces and then getting through the UPSC written examination, only a few get through the Services Selection Board interview. This is so because unlike the civil services, the defence services do not check a person for academic qualities only but also for Officer Like Qualities (OLQs), which include courage, discipline, intelligence, group coordination, leadership etc. Unlike the civil services there is no merit list based on total marks achieved. In the forces there are only two things — selection (recommended for a commission) or rejection (not recommended for a commission). Because of this difference in selection, all the vacancies in the civil services are always filled since no weightage is given to the real capability of the applicant. He is appointed only on the basis of his merit in respect of the entire group. In the Army some vacancies remain vacant because in its selection process a person is either in or out. If he has OLQs then he is considered for selection, if he does not have OLQs then he is not considered.

Had the reasons been economic then all government services would have faced a shortage and not just the Army because other services do not offer better pay and perks than the Army. In fact, the starting pay and official perks of a young commissioned officer are much more than that of a civil services officer.



English teaching

I would like to draw your attention towards the problems of English language teaching in Himachal Pradesh.

In this era of modernisation and globalisation, English has acquired a new status. The use of English has become indispensable, especially in the rapidly expanding fields of Information Technology. In the present age of computers, e-mail and Internet, the operations of these gadgets is best done only through English. Thus, there is a greater need of proficiency in English today than there was at any time earlier.

Since English has been made a compulsory subject in all the schools/colleges of Himachal Pradesh, the strength of students in each class is very high ranging from 100 to 200. Sometimes it shoots beyond 300. In such a highly crowded class, there is hardly any space left for the lecturer to stand. In such circumstances his teaching can neither be effective nor interesting. He faces many difficulties so far as his teaching is concerned. He can do justice neither to his students nor to his subject. It becomes difficult for him to pay attention to students in such a crowded class. And due to this many of the students fail to grasp the subject.

The Himachal Pradesh Government should give a serious thought to the problem and appoint English lecturers in the 1:50 teacher-student ratio.

Kujabalh (Mandi)


As if the blood-sucking menace of tuitions in colleges and schools was not enough, another ill has creeped up — in the form of plagiarism — in higher education.

Some teachers collect notes of some popular and efficient teacher from bright students who have passed and with a few changes here and there publish them in their own name. This is illegal but the legal process is so cumbersome and slow that it is not worth the trouble. These people go scotfree. This malady is more prevalent in women’s colleges.

The only remedy is conscience, but if these people had conscience they wouldn’t stoop that low in the first place.


Wake-up call

Whenever a big tragedy like the recent Patna air crash or any big train accident occurs, it just become a sensational news for people and for newspapers and electronic media. Where have our feelings been lost? Merely two days after the Patna air crash another Alliance Air aircraft tragedy was averted when a technical snag developed on flight and the plane had to hover around the Lucknow airport for about one hour before the snag was rectified by the pilot.

After every crash or big accident, an inquiry is ordered. The recommendations or suggestions are never implemented or even looked into seriously. The minister and other high officials concerned think that they have done their job by merely announcing ex-gratia for the families of the deceased or by ordering enquiries.

The Minister of Civil Aviation and other authorities like the safety board should consider an accident as a wake-up call and take tough decisions to enforce the recommendations of inquiry reports to ensure safety for air passengers rather than waiting for another such mishap to happen.


HPSFC working

I am writing to you with reference to the news item “Contractors ‘plundering’ forest wealth” (July 17 and the editorial, “Great timber robbery” (July 18). Recently the HP Government and the management has made large-scale changes in the HPSFC to plug loopholes in its working. Now, greater emphasis is being laid on physical verification of stocks, updating and foolproof maintenance of the prescribed record and returns, field check, including checking of stocks at the roadside depots and close scrutiny of the performance of labour supply mates registered with the HPSFC. The HPSFC management itself detected the shortages and surplus timber in the Rampur depot when a surprise checking of the stocks was carried out. Disciplinary action against the defaulting officials was taken and independent inquiry instituted.

Moreover, the HPSFC reviewed its internal working with all its field officers on May 3 in Directors/Divisional Managers’ conference and took stock of different modes of fixing the price for the trees offered for sale by the owners of the trees on the private lands. Views of the field staff of the HPSFC were sought in the matter and it was unanimously agreed that efforts would be made to introduce the royalty system. It is this recommendation of the workshop, which has been alluded to by your correspondent as decision of the “High Level Committee”. Steps are being taken to operationalise this recommendation in consultation with the Forest Department and the government.

As for the dilution of role of the Forest Department referred to in the news item, it is clarified that in no way the role has diminished with the setting up of the HPSFC as ultimately all the regulatory functions are with the department.



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