Thursday, August 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Sahmat convention: no exchange of views

The Sahmat organisers deserve appreciation for holding a national convention in New Delhi from August 4 to 6 against communalisation of education by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. I also got a chance to attend this convention. Delegates from different parts of the country participated in it. A few of them were lucky enough to react and ask questions also in the convention.

But there was an avoidable minor flaw in the convention. The chairpersons seemed to be a bit hasty, cold and lukewarm in responding to reactions and queries of the delegates. It was apparently one-way traffic.

The top Sahmat intellectuals lay a lot of emphasis on rational outlook and a democratic vision but this convention nearly resembled a congregation in which the delegates were expected to behave like devout followers of some religious sect. The guest speakers got five to six hours everyday but the delegates were not spared even one hour to share their views with the finest brains of the nation.

I saw there an impressive book-stall. I also bought a few books. But the questions which troubled my mind the most were: will this secular and democratic knowledge be accessible to the common people of India? Or will it remain confined to the air-conditioned premises of the Constitution Club and big libraries of the national Capital?

There is an English proverb “Pure gold does not fear the flame”. Had there been a frank and mutual exchange of views and ideas between the guest speakers and the delegates, the Sahmat convention would have been more purposeful.



The nation as fortress

Apropos the editorial “The nation as fortress” (August 15), I may allude to Mahatma Gandhi who had said in 1921 on a day Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy, was visiting Banaras Hindu University: “I would rather Lord Hardinge committed suicide than be surrounded by so many policemen”.

We can appreciate that Lord Hardinge was a foreign ruler, standing on a hostile land, but what would Mahatma Gandhi have said had he seen “the presence of a large contingent of crack commandos” at his own Samadhi or the honourable popular Prime Minister, enclosed in a bullet-proof glass cabin surrounded by commandos, delivering to the nation his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort?

I. P. ANAND, Jagadhri

More on principals

Apropos the letter “College principals” (August 15), most private college principals misuse college funds for their personal benefits with the blessings of certain corrupt members of college governing bodies.

It is ironical that an ad hoc college teacher is paid only Rs 5,000 a month, while the electricity and telephone bills of a college principal run into more than Rs 10,000 a month, besides their TA and DA claims.

Regarding their intellectual/academic pursuits and managerial abilities, one can recall the famous undergraduate rhyme about Benjamin Jowett:

“I am the Master of this college

What I do not know is not knowledge”.


MBA examination

Seventyfive per cent of the paper “Operation Research” for MBA (final semester) of PTU was outside the syllabus and the pattern was also changed of which we were not informed. Normally the pattern is 10 questions of two marks and four questions of 10 marks but this time all questions were of 20 marks.

Since the paper was for the final semester, the career of the students is at stake as most of the students have been placed in good companies. PTU should give grace marks to students.


Exhorbitant fees

The fees charged by engineering colleges in Punjab for BE/B.Tech courses are the highest in the country. A free seat costs around Rs 10,000 in all other states, but it costs Rs 48,000 in Punjab. A paid seat in Punjab costs around Rs 90,000 whereas it costs  Rs 40,000 in Maharashtra and Rs 52,000 in Haryana. Such a large disparity is not understandable by any logic.


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