Monday, May 14, 2001,  Chandigarh, India



NCERT’s new curriculum

It is a matter of grave concern that efforts are being made to rush through the introduction of the new curriculum and integrated courses without a try-out which is the basic requirement of any educational reform.

In the 1950s Basic Education was declared the National System of Education without much thought and experimentation. Overnight all primary schools were made junior basic schools. The fate of this system is before us. In 1975 the same mistake was committed when a uniform pattern of education 10+2+3 was introduced. Between 1966 (when the Education Commission submitted its report) and 1973, no research paper or write-up on the new scheme was produced by researchers and experts. The Ministry of Education and Social Welfare did appoint a National Committee in 1973 to formulate practical measures to introduce the proposed educational structure all over the country. Again, the report was not based on any operational research findings.

It is high time the new curriculum was tried out in one or two states. True, our educational system suffers from several defects but in our zeal to bring about revolutionary changes without research, we will be confounding the confusion.

J.C. Aggarwal, New Delhi


The girl child’s cause

It is nice of the SGPC to have taken up the cause of the girls who are murdered while they are still in the womb. Your paper has also taken up the cause. The reasons against female foeticide given by both is that these girls should be saved to maintain the male-female ratio of the population.

It is shocking that female infanticide is not opposed on the more appropriate ground of their right to live. Maintaining the ratio is fine, but these girls have a right to live for their own selves. Moreover, nobody, is concerned for the harm to the health of the mother or the shock she suffers when a child is aborted only for being a female.

Drastic steps on the part on influential members of society and the government are called for to ameliorate the sufferings of the living and yet-to-be-born fair sex, which ironically is also worshipped as “Mata”.

Tej Bahadur Puri, Kapurthala


Updating MiG-21s

This refers to the report “Flying Coffins of IAF” (May 8). Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis, an ace flier, especially of the MiG aircraft, supports updating of the ageing fleet of MiG-21s. However, Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd), also a renowned pilot, has expressed his reservations on the updating.

Periodic servicing and maintenance of various systems of the aircraft in the IAF is carried out by specially trained technicians under strict supervision as laid down in the maintenance schedules prepared by the manufacturers. No deviations are permitted except under exceptional circumstances. Maintenance standards in the IAF are second to none.

However, some limitations like shortage of spares tend to dilute the quality of maintenance. Unavailability of spares leads to cannibalisation of parts from other aircraft. Frequent removal and fitting of parts from one aircraft to another cannot match the original fitting. To that extent cannibalisation is an undesirable course.

Ageing sets in the inevitable process of decay. Older aircraft even if maintained by the best of technicians and flown by the best of pilots will compare unfavourably with the new ones. Both technicians and pilots tend to place less faith in the older aircraft. This is natural.

Updating of an aircraft is mostly limited to avionics and weapon control systems, leaving the basic airframe structure or the engine untouched. It may, therefore, be worthwhile to have a few new aircraft, than having a large number of old ones.

Wg Cdr C. L. Sehgal (retd), JalandharTop


Animal diseases

Indonesia has banned the import of corn, soyabeans and soyabean meal from India because this country is not free from foot-and-mouth disease. The import of meat from India has been banned by some countries for the same reason. Such bans will mean a loss of foreign trade worth thousands of crores of rupees.

That animal diseases can cause such losses has not been realised by the Government of India and no effort has been made even to record, much less study and control, the outbreak of animal diseases. An effort to mass-vaccinate cattle against FMD has not met with success and nobody seems to try to know why. Any country can at any time impose a ban on the import of any item of agricultural origin from any part of India because of FMD, Brucellosis, Anthrax, Actinomycosis and a host of other animal disease that are know to prevail in this country.

Having opted for world regulations, we will have to learn to work to the accepted international standards in the practice of veterinary medicine and produce goods that meet international standards. Infrastructure for the purpose is available. What is lacking is the will to enforce the regulations. The sooner we do it, the better.

L. R. Sharma, Solan

Disabled soldiers

I am a war disabled officer of 1971 Indo-Pak war. During the war the Government announced that widows of those who were killed and the war disabled would be given the last pay drawn as their pension. But they were given the minimum pension of the rank and it was called War Injury Pay. In my case the pension of one lower rank was sanctioned for reasons best known to the authorities. Three consecutive medical boards held after two, five and ten years at an army hospital assessed my disability to be 70 per cent but it was reduced to 60 per cent by the CDA (P) for reasons best known to them. The Ministry of Defence or the Army Hq do not even acknowledge letters on this issue. After the Fifth Pay Commission’s report, pensions were raised considerably, but my war injury pay was reduced to one-fourth initially and then to less than half on my representation and struggle for about three years.

I am a Mechanical Engineer. In January 1981, I applied for an industrial plot in HSIDC Udyog Vihar Phase-IV, Gurgaon, and another in the Industrial Area of Chandigarh and deposited application money of Rs 14000 and Rs 12000 respectively. The HSIDC never found me suitable for the allotment and the Chandigarh Administration has not yet started interviews. I have been assured that whenever it is done I shall be called. I have requested both the agencies to refund my money but they have not obliged.

I was allotted residential plot No. 337 in Shastri Colony, Yamunanagar, in 1976. I paid the price in four installments, as per their demand. When I approached the Chairman of the Improvement Trust to get the plot transferred to my name, my allotment was cancelled without any regard for the fact that I had made full payment for the freehold plot. Trees on the plot which were worth Rs 2 lakh were sold without even informing me and the police refused to register a case.

The District Consumer Court, after a struggle of eight years, directed the Chairman, Improvement Trust, to transfer the plot to my name within 30 days and to pay Rs 5000 as damages. The Trust has now gone to the State Consumer Court and it is anybody’s guess, how long it will take there.

And this has not happened to me alone but this has been the plight of most people like me. We are the most vulnerable people to be exploited by anyone who matters.

Maj Balwan Singh (retd), New Delhi

Tuition menace

The Haryana Government’s decision to ban private tuition by college lecturers is a step in the right direction. The will also provide a breather to the hard-pressed students. Parents were forced to spend huge amounts on tuitions. The situation was worse in the case of science students who were at the mercy of their teachers for the practical examinations. Besides, they had to rush from one tuition location to another, incurring extra expenses on transportation. Middle-income parents were doubly burdened as they were already hit by the highly expensive college education.

Teaching work in colleges was seriously affected due to this malady as the teachers had their eyes on tuitions and the students were also non-serious, as they had to go through the same syllabus at the lecturer’s home again.

The move will check the falling standards of college education. Extra classes by college teachers for weak students should be made mandatory and the student’s performance should be linked with the teacher’s efficiency.

D.S. Mathur, Ambala CanttTop


Teaching shops

“The Tribune” has done a commendable job by highlighting the mushroom growth of the so-called “teaching shops” in various cities. It has revealed that the student-teacher ratio in these academies is 1:150. But it may surprise you that this ratio in Amritsar is 1:250. This should be an eye-opener to the government, the educationists and the policy-makers. This is a malaise about which everybody, including the students, the parents and the government, grumbles but nobody does anything. The government often accuses the teachers of resorting to these malpractices, and threatens them with dire consequences, little realising that their own policies are responsible for this mess. The government has not cared to study the cause of this evil.

The problem lies in the gap between what is taught in the classroom and what is asked in the competitive tests. In the competitive tests, the students are asked multiple choice questions at a fast pace whereas no such practice is given to them in the classroom. The teacher is required to finish the syllabus in the time prescribed by the Board which is not of much help to the students in the competitive tests. So the students have to go to these teaching shops which prepare them for these competitive tests.

If the government mean business, it will have to frame the syllabus, and the examination pattern in a manner that helps the students in the competitive tests.

Asha Batta, Amritsar

Rain-affected wheat

Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, of Punjab, has declared that all rain-affected wheat in Punjab will be procured at the minimum support price. In the past also, rain-affected wheat was procured. The farmers got the support price, the Punjab Government avoided the hue and cry of the farmers, the arhitias and traders also got their commission. But the rain-affected wheat thus purchased was declared “downgraded” by the FCI, resulting in heavy losses in storage. Many employees of the procuring agencies who had parchased rain-affected grains under the directions and threats of the state government were charge-sheeted. Losses on this account run into crores and are being recovered from the procurement staff. According to the staff, such recoveries relating to the period 1980 to 1985 are still being made from the employees for no fault of theirs. Now it is for the people, the political leaders and the public welfare societies to decide who is responsible and will be responsible for such losses in storage.

B. S. Sharma, Amritsar

Chemists’ strike

Chemists in Bihar are on strike and according to reports, 32 lives have been lost for want of medicines due to the strike. These lives could have been saved and who is responsible for this loss of life — the chemists or the state government. The people are thoroughly disillusioned with the politicians but the chemists should think about the harm their strike is doing to society.

The government invoked ESMA after seven days and yet there is no result. Maybe, the Central Government the Supreme Court or the President should intervene and save the people of Bihar from this uncalled-for misery.

Avinash Bajaj, Lehragaga

Remembering Tagore

The casual manner in which Shimla Doordarshan presented the item on the birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore on May 8 was painful. It was marred by an assortment of different dance forms, costumes and music, and above all, wrong comparing. Rabindrik style, which is distinct from other dance forms, was missing. The programme was not well conceived and was hurriedly staged. Doordarshan would have done well to entrust the task to a professional group rather than taking up the venture itself.

D. Dasgupta, Shimla


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