Thursday, July 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Indian education system still not out of the woods
Gaurav Choudhury

In spite of substantial efforts by various agencies, state and central government bodies, open universities and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India is faced with challenges in the field of education at various levels. “Indeed, the ultimate challenge is meaningfully educating a one billion strong nation on a continuing basis. A quick review of these challenges, distance education scenario in the country, resource crunch etc., are necessary to evolve possible long term strategies for the education sector in the country”, observed Dr K.Kasturirangan, Chairman of ISRO.

He was delivering the 7th Annual Prof G. Ram Reddy Memorial Lecture organised by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) in collaboration with The Commonwealth of Learning here this week.

India hosts the single largest illiterate population in the world. According to Census 2001, there are 302 million Indians above the age of six-years who are illiterate. Female illiteracy is as high as 45.8 per cent and rural illiteracy is about 43 per cent, he said.

“While the sheer expansion in numbers itself poses challenges to the quality of education, massive expansion in knowledge and information base is leading to rapidly changing needs and demands. Irrespective of the level at which they teach, all teachers need to be fully equipped with rigorous intellectual and other qualities to understand and value their own culture and help learners to view various events happening around them”, Dr Kasturirangan said.

Higher education also faces other constraints like dearth of latest scientific equipment, up to date libraries and research facilities. There is a non-availability of latest information, data, pedagogical techniques as well as inability to interact with peers, professionals and experts, he said.

In view of the challenges faced by the country in the field of education and in view of the potential use of Satcom to support education, thought is being given to launch a satellite to be dedicated to meet the requirements of the education sector.

The Indian space research organization (ISRO) is contemplating building a dedicated satellite for education called `Edusat’ in the near future, he said.

“Edusat has been specially configured to meet the requirement of education in the country at all levels. To meet the requirements of regional languages, high powered Ku-Band Multiple Beams will be provided”, he said.

Multi-spot beams will also help in optimising the cost of ground segment and will cater to the multimedia education package delivery. The satellite will also have national coverage beams in Ku and extended C-Band to continue the ongoing developmental communication activities initiated already in the country, the ISRO Chairman said.

“The establishment of such a system will need a cooperative national effort by several central and state departments. Providing satellite alone would not be enough. The ground system has be in place, and effective mechanisms for utilisation of the system would be required”, he said.

The most important challenge will be that of content generation, which has to be done by the educationists, he said adding, “We have to substantially build upon the past experience to come up with a joint activity to effectively meet the challenge. I would invite the academic institutions, NGOs and all concerned to join us in the effort of educating the nation, and IGNOU may take a lead role in this endeavour.”

“Over the past four decades, we have learnt that realisation of reliable space systems, whether it is a launcher or a satellite, it demands the highest level of professionalism – which is an inevitable requirement to achieve economic and social progress in the face of intense global competition. Such unique capabilities throw open innovative possibilities and opportunities to deal with some of the major developmental issues in the country – one of the crucial area being education,” he said.

Fashion courses

The Delhi-based Senorita Institute of Fashion Design and Management has invited applications for admissions to its full-term and short-term courses.

Established in April 1992, the college offers 10 full-term courses and six short-term courses.

The college aims to provide knowledge of management and accounts to its students. Recently, the college launched Adamas–The Man and Sequin collection, the hi-fashion design, designed by the students during the current season.

The college also organises ramp shows and exhibitions to provide experience and exposure to students and infuse them with confidence. The college also provides design and consultancy to different export houses and boutiques. College authorities claim that in addition to theoretical inputs, the students continuously work on practical projects, thus lending a practical and realistic touch to their efforts. These projects culminate in shows and exhibitions where the students themselves design and present their products.

Swift India package

IT training major, NIIT, has introduced a special SWIFT package to celebrate the monsoon season. The monsoon offer consists of a 36-hour programme called `Swift India’.

The learners enrolling for the Swift programme this monsoon season, will also have an opportunity to win computers as they get started with IT and Internet literacy.

The special package will provide learners with an opportunity to acquire computer skills that can be applied in daily lives. Priced at Rs 2,749, the programme is available till July 31, 2002.

Scholarship awarded

UK-based educational institute, Wigan and Leigh College has announced the winners of their annual scholarship programme for which examinations were conducted in September 2001. Of the 8,000 students who took the examination in north India, 23 have been awarded scholarships by the college.

The awardees were selected from a short list of about 250 students by a panel of judges comprising experts from fields of advertising, fashion, theatre and arts.

“Every student has the calibre and the ability to excel but are sometimes not financially equipped to pursue their dreams. Our scholarships are an attempt to help convert some of these dreams into reality,” director of Wigan and Leigh College, Mr S.R.Duggal said.

The scholarship entails a fee waiver ranging from 40 per cent to 100 per cent in courses such as fashion, design, media studies and business administration.

Spreading IT education

IEC Software Limited has implemented IT education programmes in over 146 colleges and 500 schools. Presently, it is in the process of implementing the second phase of IT education in at least 150 more colleges and 500 schools in Madhya Pradesh.

Integrated Learning

The Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (IILM) has a tie-up with the Michigan Technical University of the USA and the Fachhochschule Nordostniedersachsen, University of Applied Sciences, Luenberg, Germany.

It also has an extensive student exchange programmes with these universities. The objective behind the student exchange programme is to promote integrated learning and international exposure by inviting faculty and students of the partner institutions to participate in a variety of teaching, research activities and professional development. The exchange programme will also facilitate participation of students and teachers in symposia, conferences, short courses and meetings organised by the colleges involved, director of IILM, Dr Ahindra Chakravarty said.

Achievers felicitated

Delhi-based coaching institute, V 3 Classes, felicitated its students who successfully cleared the IIT-JEE. Of the total 193 classroom students at V 3, 63 were selected. Nitin Jindal, a student of V3 Classes, secured 91st rank in the IIT-JEE, a press release issued by the institute said.


‘Teachers help us compete with the best’ 

Manish Joon, a second year Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering student of Maharaj Surajmal Institute of Technology (affiliated with the Indraprastha University), is quite content with the education provided in his institute. He strongly feels the institute is a dream destination for all aspiring students.

“Being a private institute, it provides us with the requisite motivation to excel in life. Moreover, the teachers and the principal have always lifted our morale so that we can compete not only with the colleges of Delhi University but the best institutes in the country.

I think there is much hype about the colleges of Delhi University. However, students get to know this only when they enroll themselves in our institute.

However, students are confronted with transportation problem, which makes it difficult to attend the lectures.

Our college does not have a students union. And at times, we feel left out because there is little scope for political involvement.

Though sports in our institute are given the necessary importance, the heavy-workload, provides little opportunity for students to avail of these facilities.

Our canteen is no different from other colleges. The hygiene is not up to mark. It demands an urgent attention.

Input by Tarun Gill 


Rock music is more than just head banging
Tarun Gill

The moment we talk about rock music, the first thing that strikes us is the high-pitched vocals, with people screaming and dancing. Despite criticisms from the classical lovers, it continues to be a favorite among the students. Not surprisingly, most of the musical concerts in the various colleges have a tradition of a rock show in their annual festivals. Even though the festival may start with an Indian note, it always ends with a rock show.

Clearly, the popularity of rock music is on the rise and increasing numbers of students are getting attracted to it. Though there are shows where Indipop artists like Sukhbir and Anamika are invite to perform, yet rock music remains popular.

And rock tunes are also popular with the growing number of college bands that have made its presence felt in the university.

During the various college festivals in the university, rock shows are the most awaited programme.

Whether it is ‘Lexus’, the annual festival of Sri Venketeswera College or ‘Harmony’ of St. Stephen’s College, rock music attracts the maximum crowd.

Rock music has come a long way in India. There was a time when little serious though was given to the fundamentals of this particular kind of music.

From the last decade or so, the popularity of rock music amongst the youngsters has gone through various phases.

The first experience of western music among the generation X begins in the teenage when they start getting bored with the repetitive music dished out from the stable of Bollywood.

Not surprisingly, the younger generation is attracted to the rock section at popular music shops. “Rock section is perpetually crowded and it is not just the students but even elder people buy rock compilation,’’ said Adarsh, an employee at the Music World, Ansal Plaza.

“Some people have the false notion that rock music is nothing but useless noise. I think it is a matter of choice,’’ he added.

Parikshit Sood, a former member of a famous college rock band feels that rock music is here to stay and it is not just “head banging”. “Rock is not just head banging, yelling or screaming. Of course, rock music has many other branches such as Acid, Alternative, Punk, Heavy Metal etc., and it appeals to more or less everybody,’’ said Parikshit.


Change in GRE pattern worries Indian students
Tarun Gill

New Delhi, July 3
The introduction of the new analytical writing section in the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) that will come into effect from October 1 this year, replacing the old analytical section for the admission seekers to universities and colleges in the USA, has sent a lot of them hurrying to register for the examination before the new section actually gets implemented.

The GRE is a mandatory test held by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for students who wish to study humanities or engineering abroad (the US) after their graduation. The test contains three sections — Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical — which will now be replaced by just analytical writing.

“Though the GRE website gives us all the useful information about this new section, it is not adequate as the new CDs are not available anywhere except at the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI). One could not access it even there if one is not a member. If I plan to order online, it will take at least four to eight weeks before I actually get it. So I am planning to register before October 1,” said Karan Sharma, who wishes to study Psychology in the US.

According to the information available on GRE website, these changes to the general test are being made to help admissions committees assess higher level critical thinking and analytical writing skills of applicants and provide a performance assessment that measures a test-taker’s ability to make and critique arguments, which is central to the work done by graduate students in most fields.

Some applicants apprehend that doing well in such a section would be quite a task for students whose native language is not English. “The new section is quite different. It won’t be easier for candidates like me to do well, as the ETS examining authorities also demand high level of English,” said Nasim Khan, who intends to do a commerce-oriented course in the US.

The ETS admits that students whose native language is not English will find the analytical section more challenging. But steps have already been taken to ensure that the performance differences between English-speaking and non-English speaking candidates is very marginal, it says.

The new analytical writing section will consist of two analytical writing tasks: a 45-minute “Present your perspective on an issue” and a 30-minute “Analyze an argument”. The ‘issue’ task states an opinion on an issue of general interest and asks to address the issue from any perspective, with reasons and examples to support the views. The ‘argument’ task presents a different challenge that requires the candidate to critique an argument by discussing it. A candidate is asked to consider the logical soundness of the argument, rather to agree or disagree with the position it presents. These two tasks are complementary in that the first requires to construct a personal argument about an issue, and the second requires to critique someone else’s argument by assessing its claims. 


Senegalese scientists in MDU on sesame research
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, July 3
Three scientists of Senegal (West Africa) are on a tour to Maharshi Dayanand University from July 1 to July 10 to exchange the research experiences on sesame seeds with Dr Rana Pratap Singh, a faculty member in the Department of Bio-sciences who has got published several research papers in international journals on the subject.

A spokesman for the university today said the Senegalese scientists from separate national research institutes of Senegal, Dr Macoumba Diouf, Ms W. Deye Seye Doumouya and Dr Amadou Fofana, intended to develop a collaborative research project for increasing productivity, yield and quality of the under-exploited ancient Indian oilseed crop with Dr Singh. The project is to be executed between the research laboratories of both the countries.

Rohtak is known for sesame-based dry sweets, eg. ‘Rewari’ and ‘Gajak’, but its cultivation is decreasing in Haryana, possibly because of its low productivity and limited uses. The scientists are exploring the possibilities of its non-conventional uses, oil quality and medicinal properties.

LJP raps Centre

The Haryana unit of the Lok Janshakti Party has expressed surprise over the ‘silence’ adopted by the Union Government over the apex court’s order regarding the distribution of Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal waters. Addressing newsmen here today, Capt. Shamsher Singh Malik, state president of the party, said all the water resources in the country were under the authority of the Union Government.

Reacting against the ‘unwarranted’ statement of the Punjab Chief Minister in this regard, the LJP leader appealed to the authorities to book him for contempt of court. He also expressed concern over the ‘deteriorating’ law and order situation in the state and held the state government responsible for it.

MDU prof visits Thailand

Dr L. N. Dahiya, a professor in the Department of Commerce and former Pro Vice- Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University, presented his views on the relevance of Indian ethical values in the field of management education at the Global Forum Conference on Management Education held in Bangkok, Thailand recently.

Dr Dahiya, who returned to India recently, said this global forum conference used to take place twice a decade. He said it was the most comprehensive and most technologically sophisticated event of its kind and was held in Asia for the first time.

He said the conference that brought together the global community of leading business educators from over 70 countries was inaugurated by Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand.

Apart from the conference, Dr Dahiya visited several universities and research institutes in Thailand and Cambodia during his 15-day academic tour with a view to studying the system and structure of higher education in these countries. He also visited world famous Angkor Vat Hindu temples at Siem Reap in Cambodia. Dr Dahiya felt that the Indian Government should initiate urgent steps to restore the pristine glory of these temples, which were in dilapidated condition. 


HC stays enhanced charges levied on MTNL
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has been directed by the Delhi High Court not to ask for enhanced charges from the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) for the repair of roads/pavements dug by it or seek any security deposit for the same till the month end.

Justice S. K. Mahajan, issuing notices to the Delhi Government and the MCD, however, asked the MTNL to continue paying the charges it had been giving earlier.

The MTNL had challenged in the court the decision taken by Delhi Urban Development Minister A. K. Walia to enhance the road repair charges, collected by the MCD from the MTNL, and also seek security deposit for digging roads/pavements to lay or repair telephone cables in the national Capital.

Until now, the MCD used to permit digging of roads/pavements and charge 60 cm repair costs for every 30 cm width of road dug up by the MTNL. But in a meeting in March this year, it was decided by the minister to enhance the repair charges and also ask for a security deposit of 25 per cent of the estimated cost of restoration.

The MTNL challenged this on the grounds that only the Municipal Commissioner had the power to give permission for digging the roads and the minister had no jurisdiction to lay down conditions for giving the permission. And that even the Commissioner did not have the power under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act to ask for any deposit for giving the permission.


Delhi Bar Association expels two members
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The Delhi Bar Association (DBA) yesterday expelled from its primary membership two lawyers for allegedly snaring the seat allotted to another lawyer who died of cardiac arrest following a scuffle with them on Monday.

At an emergency meeting yesterday, the DBA Executive Committee unanimously decided to expel advocates Sunil Mohan and Shamim Khan Sultan from the primary membership of the association with immediate effect, DBA Secretary Jatan Singh said in a release.

The two advocates would not be allowed any seating space in the Tis Hazari court complex in future, the release said. The Executive Committee also expressed its condolences to the family of advocate Rao Yashpal Singh, who died of cardiac arrest after a scuffle with Sultan and Mohan over his seat on Monday, the release said.

According to the police, the incident had occurred at 10 am when Singh reported to the court after the summer vacation and saw that the seat allotted to him by the DBA had been snared by Sultan and Mohan.

The deceased, a heart patient, got agitated and had a verbal duel and scuffle with the duo. He suffered a massive heart attack, resulting in his death on the spot, the police said. A case of criminal trespass and causing hurt was registered at the Subzi Mandi police station. The post-mortem report was still awaited and the police might add Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) to the case.

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