Tuesday, January 1,
2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Chaotic state of higher education

Mr Bhartendu Sood’s scathing attack on the teachers’ strike (Dec 15) provoked by his daughter’s experience of expensive but less productive study in a government college is unwarranted. Instead of showing the teachers the door, tantamount to throwing the baby with the bath tub, resulting in irreparable damage to the already chaotic higher education scenario, a conversely opposite approach must be adopted to correct the prevalent teaching-learning situation.

Regrettably, in the absence of much-needed government aid and subsidies to a service sector like education, the private managements and universities have taken to the commercialisation of education. This has led to exorbitant fee structures thereby making higher education largely accessible only to the privileged few belonging to upper socio-economic strata. On the other hand, teachers in the aided colleges of Punjab do not receive even their salaries for months due to non-availability of the agreed 95% government grant! Their just demands for other essential facilities including pension, though conceded to in principle for years, are not provided to them, naturally making them restless.

Further, the so-called competitive examinations and irrelevant syllabi have given a death blow to the face-to-face studies, and the scant prospect of gainful employment after long schooling has made the students to look for greener pastures elsewhere by way of private job-oriented coaching classes and part time on job training, not forget the preparations undertaken for competitive examinations to secure white-collared jobs. 


Unfortunately, this situation has prevailed for long, and despite plentiful deliberations on the subject, the desired academic reforms to attract the students back to the classes have not been introduced by the concerned boards and universities.

Coming back to the teachers’ strike, their anguish can be gauged from the fact that 18 of them chose to be lodged in jail in the severe winter conditions hoping that they would be able to prick the conscience of ministers who have doled out nothing but false promises to them throughout the last decade. Had the government-aided colleges been without such committed leadership, they would not even receive their bare minimum salaries, not to think of allowances, medical aid and pension, from a corrupt and bankrupt government unprepared to spend even 6 per cent of the total GNP on education. It is the government not the teachers who should be held responsible for the disruption of academic curricula for years on end.

It is be understood that proper salaries and basic facilities will only attract the most talented to take up careers in higher education. Having initiated the much-needed reforms to make the on-campus education at once relevant and need-based, the teachers too would no doubt put in their very best to impart the necessary knowledge and skills to their willing students. When viewed in its proper perspective, the government-aided teachers’ struggle is fully justified and needs to be supported by one and all.

ANIL SARWAL, Chandigarh

Jinnah’s role in Partition

This refers to ‘Jinnah’s role in Partition: A reappraisal’ by P. K. Ravindarnath (Dec 16). Dr Zakaria seems to be playing to the tune of the majority community. The people of the Indian subcontinent are poor students of history and they like to dwell on the hearsay from one generation to the other.

The Muslim League did not win Pakistan on its batting strength. It was the bad bowling and fielding lapses of the Congress party that created Pakistan. It is absolutely wrong to pin the blame of Partition on Jinnah. The reviewer is right in asserting that all the principal actors on the political stage, except Mahatama Gandhi, were responsible for dividing India.

The students of history would agree that Pakistan was nowhere in sight till July, 1946. The Cabinet Mission Plan had been accepted by the Indian National Congress as well as the Muslim League Council. On the fateful day of July 10, 1946 events changed the course of history. Congress President Jawaharlal Nehru asserted in a press conference that the Congress would enter the Constituent Assembly quite unfettered by agreements and that it regarded itself free to modify the Cabinet Mission Plan.

On the other hand, M.A. Jinnah, whom the Indians have unnecessarily given a short shrift, had faced major difficulties in persuading his adversaries within his party that nothing better could have been obtained from the Cabinet Mission Plan. Nehru’s statement provided Jinnah with a great opportunity to wriggle out. Thus Pakistan came into being.

In 1937, UP Muslim League’s offer of cooperation was rejected by the Congress party. Sir Fazal-I-Hussain, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan and Sir Chhotu Ram, all the three stalwarts of the Unionist Party of Punjab who could stem Jinnah’s meddling in Punjab politics, had died by 1941-42. In 1942, the Congress party by resorting to Quit India Movement created a vacuum on the political scene. Nehru’s unstatesmanly statement in a press conference on July 10, 1946 proved disastrous for the unity of the country. Because of all these events the ground was open for Jinnah to emerge as a formidable leader just in one decade to achieve unbelievable Pakistan.

In history, no answers are final and complete. History is a subject which continues to provide opportunities for its reinterpretation for all time to come.


Indians’ habit

Mr M.L. Garg, in his letter (Dec 20), described his shock on a foreigner’s comment that “every place in India appears to be a urinal.” Maybe the foreigner was commenting upon the habit of Indians to urinate in public view. We Indians have the complex and feel belittled by the observations a foreigner or even the foreign returned desis make while comparing their land surrogate with India. In foreign (westernised world), couples (not necessarily married ones) bask seminude in sun, roam in biknis on beaches and even make love in public places. Isn’t that objectionable? It is. At least for us in India. If India appears a urinal to a foreigner, what should we call a foreign land? Mr Garg should get the views of his foreign friend.


Insurance for students

Apropos of Mr Raj Nijjar’s letter (December 21), I would like to make it clear that insurance is essential for students and parents have no desire to reap any benefit. Mr Raj Nijjar should go through the scheme devised by insurers “Amartya Shiksha Yojna” to understand how useful the concept for insurance is for twinkling little stars.

B. C. CHAWLA, Rohtak

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