Monday, August 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Closure of schools in Punjab: stop playing with education

The order of the Punjab Government to close all educational institutions in the state till August 4 is disgusting. Such an irresponsible order was least expected from a government headed by a progressive Chief Minister. It only shows the flippant attitude of the state government towards education.

The closure of all educational institutions for a week, just at the start of the session, would further harm the students. Already, there is a plethora of holidays in the educational institutions. Even when they are open, actual teaching takes place on a very few days. The classes are abandoned frequently on flimsy grounds. There is a high degree of absenteeism among the teaching staff. Due to one reason or the other, even half of the stipulated lectures are not offered. Thus only a fraction of the prescribed syllabus is covered. Owing to a low level of teaching in educational institutions, the students are forced to go in for private tuitions, giving rise to a tuition culture all around us.

The closure of educational institutions to save electricity is simply ridiculous and laughable. The quantum of electricity consumed by them is minuscule as compared to other sectors. In any case, it is still going to be consumed as only teaching work has been stopped and all administrative work, interviews and counselling, etc. is being continued.


Instead, the state government should have ordered the closure of entertainment hubs like clubs (patronised by bureaucrats), cinema halls, restaurants, etc. Rather, the best would have been to close down the state government offices for a week, which would have won it a lot of admiration from its corrupt and idle staff.


The summing up

This refers to the middle “The summing up” (July 22) by N. S. Tasneem. I see an element of universality in this write-up. Every human being has to undergo the vicissitudes of life. Some people face the challenges of life quietly and boldly, and many cave in to unexpected pulls and pressures.

William Shakespeare said centuries before “Sweet are the uses of adversity”. In our lives, there always looms the chance factor which sometimes proves to be crucial and quite surprising. Then, man is a slave to time and socio-economic conditions. In the modern age, selfishness, callousness and cruelty have come to assume alarming proportions in family and social life. We don’t have time “to stand and stare”. We are getting shrunk within ourselves. Most of our fellow human beings are becoming “hollowmen stuffed with straw” as the stormy petrel of the West, T.S. Eliot, wrote in The Wasteland.

This is human nature to dream and aspire. Sometimes even dreams (which remain unfulfilled till death) keep us hopeful and vibrant. Everybody has a few ambitions in life but only those who are able to commit themselves to their cherished goals really succeed. The will power to go ahead basically determines the destiny of nations and individuals. Cynicism creeps in our lives when we feel frustrated because of failures. In such a situation, our imagination dries up and we become confused. The great poets and playwrights certainly help us in rationalising the pains and sufferings of human life.

R.B. YADAV DEHATI, Fatehabad


Why self-praise?

What I do not really understand is why again and again, whether it is the Sidhu case, the judiciary case, the freedom of the Press issue, Bhatnagar’s transfer etc, The Tribune has chosen to print scores of letters blowing its own trumpet? Did the Tehelka go ga, ga over its feat?

JASDEEP KAUR, by e-mail

SYL water & staff

This refers to the editorial “Work no, salary yes” (July 27). You have rightly brought the amount being wasted by the SYL staff drawing salary without doing any work. An amount of Rs 1.68 crore is being wasted on this account.

You have written, “the taxpayer’s money is being siphoned off the same way in which the process water of the Sutlej is flowing unutilised out of the country”.

This is not correct. Not a drop of water is flowing from the Harke barrage waste to Pakistan. The Sutlej water is collected in the Harke pond and diverted to the netowrk of the canal system. The canals fed are: the Rajasthan feeder , the Makhu canal, the Sirhind feeder, the Gang (Bikaner) canal and the eastern canal.

The unavoidable leakage and seepage from the Harike Barrage is collected at the Hussainiwala headworks and utilised in the command area of the eastern canal.

When/if the SYL canal starts operating, it will carry the Beas water which has become available in the Nangal pond after the construction of the Beas-Sutlej link canal.

G. S. DHILLON, Chandigarh

Dr Kalam’s speech

Dr A.P.J. Kalam in his address, after being sworn in President, blacked out the name of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Opposition who had supported his candidature.

Dr Kalam had earlier stated that he would eradicate poverty in 15 years, but he did not disclose the magic stick with which he would end poverty. Does he wish to remain President of India for three terms?

SATISH BALI, Kurukshetra

Plight of bus commuters

Whether it is HRTC or private buses, employees go on strike very often. I am a lecturer in a college in Shimla and always tell my students about the relevance of punctuality in their lives and then turn up late myself due to erratic bus services. If you are lucky enough to get into a bus, you are jostled, hit against other passengers and even face the danger of falling out as buses, especially the private ones, are always overloaded. That is exactly what happened on July 24 when there was an accident between a private bus and a Tata Sumo, killing three Class 11 students.

The culprits must be punished, but the sudden stoppage of bus services has caused the computers a lot of problems. I have been walking to college and it is a pity to see small children walking with their heavy schoolbags and old people struggling with their walking sticks. The HRTC buses alone cannot cater to the large number of passengers. Why are the authorities apathetic to the problems faced by the people due to recurrent strikes by bus operations?


Technical education

The letter by Mr Rajeev Prashar (July 16) has accused the teachers of engineering colleges of not having any industry interface. Little does he know that there are regular MoUs signed between institutes and industry. The institute at moga where I teach has an MoU with Nestle India. There are regular visits to industry as a part of the curriculum.

Secondly, he seems to put the engg. faculty on a par with that in arts colleges. In any engg. college of the state a lecturer has to devote 8-10 hours a day to lectures and those who are engaged in R&D projects even 20 hours a day!


School pensioners

The pensions of all categories of the government staff have been revised since January,1996. The minimum pension has been fixed at Rs 1,250 p.m. However, the pensioners of government-aided private schools of Himachal Pradesh continue to get a meager Rs. 350 p.m. under the triple benefit scheme.

This is despite the Union H.R.D. Ministry’s instruction issued in December 1998 that the pensions of these teachers be revised from Rs 350 to Rs 1,250 p.m. w.e.f. January, 96. As there are only 90-odd pensioners in this category, it is not going to be such of a burden on the state exchequer.


UTI mess

Your editorial about the mess in the UTI represents the agony of thousands of investors. What punishment is meted out to the management, responsible for bungling? Another case is that of P.N.B.-promoted R.I.Ps. - 94. For seven long years investors were not paid anything and at redemption 63% is offered. The reason given: “Due to the liberalisation policy of the government the corporate sector has defaulted in the repayment of loans.”

Neither S.E.B.I. nor the Finance Ministry intervenes on behalf of the investors.

D.P. MAHINDRA, Jagadhri


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