Monday, August 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Resource crunch in universities

MR P.P.S. Gill’s “System constraints bedevil education” (August 20) was clear, crisp and forthright. But, why talk of Punjab alone? From primary education to university education all is rotten everywhere in the country. Indian universities are reeling under an acute resource crunch. The Panjab University Senate continued fiddling when the university was burning. It took nearly five months (March-August) for the political academics to clear the university budget.

In the 1999-2000 financial year the UGC released Rs 640 crore to 17 central universities, just over half the requirement of Rs 12,000 crore. With over 60 per cent of the allotment needed to pay staff salaries alone, many of the colleges are making do with fewer teachers than required. One look at the position of vacant posts in December, 1999. In Vishva Bharati University, Santiniketan, nearly 100 posts were lying vacant. At Banaras Hindu University, there were about 400 vacancies while in Delhi University’s postgraduate departments some 200 of the 700 posts were vacant. Hyderabad University was nearly 100 teachers short. Should the Human Resource Development Minister, Dr M.M. Joshi, not hang his head in shame?

Why talk of the central universities alone? Position in the universities in general — both central and state — is far from satisfactory. An allotment of 3.8 per cent of the Gross National Product (GDP) in 1999-2000 was grossly insufficient to meet the needs of 242 universities and 8,000 colleges. Of this the share of higher education was reported at just 8 per cent. According to a sample survey in Delhi conducted towards the close of 1999, the UGC’s actual allocation to six leading colleges in Delhi amounted to Rs 1,615 lakh against its stipulated share of Rs 3,022 lakh.


What is the way out of this messy scenario? Obviously it is the allotment of more funds. But since that looks increasingly unlikely (in view of genuinely needed higher defence allocation), the only way out is raising student fees which have been, except in the case of some newly introduced courses, stagnating for nearly six decades. The need of the hour, perhaps, is to stop trading charges. The government and the universities need to sit together to sort out the issue which has ominously resulted in a rapid decline in the standard and quality of education being imparted. Quality education has to be ensured at all costs. Good education would make us good citizens who would make India a vibrant, a dynamic and a self-reliant nation.


Moral education

The older people are a neglected lot, disrespected by their children and uncared by society. With the fast changing Indian culture, the breakup of the joint family system and the formation of nuclear family units with materialistic and self-centred approach and changes in moral values, the older people have to face various problems like those of social isolation, starvation for affection, depression and negative thinking. Limited residential accommodation, higher cost of living and education, more and more women taking up jobs, outdoor activities, children going abroad or other far off places pose other problems like feeling insecure, loneliness, boredom and health problems.

About one-third of the aged population is living in bereavement and their condition is rather more vulnerable. In many cases, it is observed that the older persons themselves invite problems in various ways e.g., by bequeathing their cash and property in their lifetime to the children, by becoming stubborn, adamant and disagreeable over small issues in the family by poking the nose in the matters of their grown-up and/or married offsprings, by being partial in some matters, by thrusting their decision on the family members, by criticising a member of the family or his/her relations.

If we may go deeper to find out the crux of the problems of the aged, responsibility to a greater extent lies on the absence of moral education to the children at their formative stage. In fact, the moral education has not been given its due place in the education policy set by the government. As a result, moral values are dwindling from modern society and the national character is going down. This continued degradation is assuming serious proportions and can cause an irreparable loss to the future of India.

There is still time for the authorities to give a serious thought to this and to take steps for making moral education a compulsory subject in schools from the primary level. The parents should also instil similar SANSKARS in their children right from their infant stage. Today’s youngsters are tomorrow’s senior citizens. Along with many facets of moral education, they should understand their role towards parents and the elderly persons. If they pay respects and regards to their parents, their children will follow suit.


Politics & corruption

Politics and corruption are the two sides of the same coin and money-power and muscle-power are the supporting factors to grab power and then to cling on to it. The post-independent era is a witness to this phenomenon in India. Our readers should be ashamed that today India ranks sixth in the list of the most corrupt countries of the world. This dubious distinction of India is entirely due to the nexus among the politicians, bureaucrats, criminals and anti-social elements who are ruling the roost in the country. Veerappan is not the only exception.

As a taxpayer and a law abiding citizen, I am particularly concerned about the fact that those 15-paise out of a rupee which are reaching the poor for rural development works should not further be bungled in the form of crumbling bridges, collapsing retaining walls and washed out roads.

Paridhi Kedarpur (Paonta Sahib)

Untimely death

The death of Mr Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, Union Power Minister, has cut short another promising career. India has lost one more charismatic personality-cum-politician after Mr Rajesh Pilot, who also met with an untimely death. It will be very difficult to fill the vacuum created by the deaths of Mr Kumaramangalam and Mr Pilot in the Indian Politics.

Mr Kumaramangalam, popularly known as ‘Ranga’ was recently conferred the Man of the Millennium award for his outstanding contribution in the power sector. As the Power Minister, he was instrumental in making policy initiatives like legislative moves to enable privatisation of transmission, creation of regulatory commissions at the Centre and state level and a new hydel policy.

Besides, being a minister, he was affiliated with student movements and was a part of the Youth Congress. He was the founder President of the National Students Union of India (NSUI). May God grant peace to the departed soul and courage to the aggrieved members of his family to bear this irreparable loss.


Municipal stench

I am sure the municipal corporation of Chandigarh has problems of its own. From time to time the common citizen hears noises emerging from its meetings, or about the garbage that each group in it thinks the other group’s ideas are.

But, meanwhile, what is the Corporation doing about the real stench issuing from all those overflowing, un-cleared garbage dumps that “adorn” the city, and the litter that lies about on unswept streets? Uncleared, and unswept, for weeks together. Does no one from within the Corporation — officials, corporators or councillors, field staff — ever see or smell these? Or is it that, magically, their eyes can blank out these sights, and their noses can smell only other things?


Soiled notes

In the light of public complaints on the recycling of soiled and mutilated notes in bundles, we had taken up the matter with the Reserve Bank of India. In response, the RBI has said:

“....We advise that as a matter of policy, the Reserve Bank of India is ensuring to put only good quality notes in circulation. Banks are under instructions not to mix cut/mutilated notes in note packets issued to their customers/public.

“Consequent to coinisation of lower denomination notes of Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 5, printing of these notes has been stopped and coins in these denominations are being issued. In order to retrieve soiled/bad quality of lower denomination notes from circulation, special counters have been opened at all RBI offices throughout the country for the benefit of members of public. Our regional offices have given wide publicity to this facility, through local newspapers. Public/private sector banks have also been advised to identify their branches for undertaking this work. We further advise that both the bank and the Government of India are already seized of the issue and are making all possible efforts to retrieve the soiled notes from circulation. However, you will appreciate that the number of such notes being fairly large, it may take some more time to withdraw them entirely from circulation...”

Hon Secretary
All-India Bank Depositors’ Assn


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