Tuesday, January 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



New Year: miles to go before we rejoice

ON New Year eve, sitting in a dim-lighted corner of my drawingroom, with eyes fixed on the roof, I am lost in a query: "what is there to rejoice?” Soon, people would be wishing a happy and prosperous New Year without counting gains on their backs. The bag on my back is empty.

The largest democracy of the world, India, is my country where primary education lacks primarily everything from building to staff. Secondary education is directionless. The educated have no employment and those who get employed have no work culture. Tender hands are doing harsh labour despite the law and regulations against child labour.

"Health For All By 2002" was a blank slogan. Smitten by depression, youth are driven to drugs. The debt trap has become the death trap for farmers. Wheat rots in godowns and potatoes roll on the roads, but still many sleep hungry. Powerhouses face a power crisis to impose six to seven hours' power cuts.

There is economic recession in every sphere. We spent 1,000 crore rupees to move our forces to the doorstep of a defiant neighbour and then meekly withdrew when the Big Brother frowned.


The government takes populist measures to collect votes and then plays truant in performance. Corruption is a creation of the polity. Now this virus has also infected the judiciary—the last remaining pillar of democracy. Political outfits have formed a cartel to protect their vested interests. They have collectively stymied electoral reforms advocated by the Supreme Court. Now an ass can become your boss because of our Parliament's dictate that a politician does not need any educational qualifications.

The man-made inferno at Godhra, the Gujarat carnage and the human lynching at Dulina send shivers down my spine. Widows of 1984 crying for justice even after 18 years of trial bend my head in shame. Saffron's effort to spread to the domain of the other colours in the Tricolour is horrifying.

The agony of the situation is that still the majority is silent. The citizens easily forget the past and pray for a bright future. People have failed to blow the conch against the fraud repeatedly committed on them. The intelligentsia has to shed the cozy cocoons to lead the masses. We have miles to go before we rejoice! Some may call it pessimism but I name it realism.

Dr KULDIP SINGH, Citizens’ Awareness Council, Hoshiarpur

Bus delays

Punjab policemen enjoy a number of benefits and one of these is free travel in Punjab Roadways buses. When in a 52-seater bus there are 10 to 12 free-pass holders, including five to six cops, the PRTC is bound to be in a bad financial health, as it is today. In order to cut down the losses, the PRTC is tactfully disallowing free pass-holders in KM scheme buses and instructions to this effect are written on buses.

But cops invariably board these buses. When the conductor insists on a ticket there is a tiff and quite often the bus is stopped. In such a situation the sufferers are the ticket-holders as such stoppages result in delays.


Right to education

THE right to education will remain a futile exercise unless our primary education system is restructured to suit to Indian needs. The present system, borrowed from the British, aims at testing a child for his/her general knowledge rather than the special skills he/she may possess. It is amazing that a child living in a remote village is made to cram the names of the Presidents of different countries or the history/geography of the country. Our education system will have to be made flexible and Indianised to enthuse the rural masses.

Our children are tested for what they do not know, rather than what they know. What primary education needs is training a child for reading and writing a language, simple arithmetic and special skills which he possesses, rather than making him cram the things which he will automatically learn with time.

We may find the so-called illiterate children who are excellent in music, fine arts, agriculture, sports, craftsmanship, stitching etc. To my mind, a self-sustaining illiterate mechanic is more knowledgeable and educated than a post-graduate who is fit for a clerical job, that too at the mercy of an employer. What we need to concentrate on is to provide education to children at the primary level akin to their skills and needs.

Dr A.K. THUKRAL, Amritsar


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