Thursday, April 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Mass production of unemployables

Prof Amrik Singh in his article “State of India’s colleges” (April 8) has done a good job of analysing the past and coming economic scenarios of college education and the concomitant issues of quality of teachers and management.

Since the times of Socrates and Hippocrates, there has been an adage that for a meaningful enrichment of society, two professions are expected to suffer: doctors and teachers. Regarding doctors, the last word was said by one of the American doctors engaged in genome mapping that a doctor has much right to be rich as the next business billionaire. Coming to the teaching profession, prior to the state funding of their pay rolls they were given virtually subsistence salaries and still dedication to the cause of education was a rule rather than an exception.

Ever since the state funding, when their salaries have become relatively princely and one visible proof is that car parking by teachers hardly leaves sufficient space for students to park their cycles and scooters; most of the teachers attend to college classes as a perfunctory ritual while planning mercenary teaching in private coaching centres at their homes.

Instead of prescribing books of acclaimed standards by reputed publishers, self-authored books or those authored by their cronies are forced upon captive students. An appraisal of the experience of a teacher now means one-year’s experience repeated as many times as years of service. The author is right in his observation that the respect of the teacher in society has come down by more than a few notches.


Coming to the management of colleges, the author, after making a fleeting reference to Britain where state funding of education does not mean government control, immediately goes on to making meaningful and detailed suggestions to improve the quality of management committees. The author knows it better than most of us that most of the members of the management committees are powerful businessmen with a fragile nexus to the core concepts of education and who are there to iron out functional wrinkles by their influence followed by politicians to help cut down the time gap between the accrual of grant and its release by the government. The teachers on the committees are mostly handpicked by the Principal for obvious reasons. All this, needless to say, results in staff selection where credentials and competency often take a backseat.

Lastly, let us look at the end product coming out of the assembly lines of these colleges. A majority of the students come out totally confused to face the embattled world that confronts them with the bitter reality that their college education is not performance-specific so as to create any earmarked job to their degree.

The bottomline is that let all those concerned and connected with education apparatus do some introspective reconnaissance in the light of the past experience to make education a highly productive investment to extract the maximum consumer surplus out of it rather than be content with marginal utility.

R.C. KHANNA, Amritsar

Of a grandma’s love & sacrifice

Savitri Devi (70), wife of Capt Kripal Singh, a resident of Ghuniana village in Hamirpur district of Himachal, has made a unique sacrifice.

On March 17 she had gone to the fields to get grass for her cattle. Her nine-year-old grandson, Anku, was also with her. While the grandmother was busy cutting grass, Anku was attacked by bees.

Savitri Devi rushed to his rescue and covered him with a bamboo basket. His legs, however, remained uncovered. Savitri Devi covered the child’s bare limbs with her own body.

Hearing her cries, villagers rushed to the scene. They made smoke and dispelled the marauding bees. The villagers took the woman and the child to the nearby Primary Health Centre, 15 km away at Nadaun. While the boy responded to treatment, his grandmother, however, could not survive her injuries.

K.L. NOATAY, Shimla

Message for dissidents

By asking Mr Shanta Kumar to put in his papers, the BJP high command has tried to send a message to its rank and file in general and to the dissidents in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Chhattisgarh (the states where the Assembly elections are due in a few months from now) in particular that dissidence and indiscipline of any kind would not be tolerated at all. Not to speak of the ordinary members, even the high or mighty would not be spared.

However, one thing is very clear that a wrong person has been crucified for a wrong cause. Mr Shanta Kumar is a great stalwart of the BJP and a prominent leader of the state. The Tribune very aptly observed the other day in one of its leading articles that what Mr Vajpayee is for India, Mr Shanta Kumar is for Himachal Pradesh. By taking such drastic action against him, the party high command has not only overlooked his magnificent record of faithfulness and steadfastness to the great organisation but has also doomed his reputation to dust. Anyway, it is a party matter on which a lay citizen has but little option to comment upon.


Shanta pays a price

The unceremonial ouster of Mr Shanta Kumar will prove to be the last nail in the BJP’s coffin in Himachal Pradesh. The senior BJP leader has paid a heavy price for his bold outpourings. He had gone to the extent of saying that the corrupt Dhumal government was solely responsible for the party’s debacle in the recent Assembly elections. The plainspeak earned Mr Shanta Kumar the wrath of the BJP leadership.

RAMESH K. DHIMAN, Chandigarh

Male emancipation

I refer to the letter “Need for male emancipation” by Samidh Shikha (April 10). Whatever Samidha has written is correct. But do not put all blame on men. I have some suggestions to make.

Do not marry a person who asks for dowry. Do not kill baby girls. Do not stand atrocities of the in-laws. Do not submit to the partner's carnal desires if not in mood. Marry a person you love. Do not submit to terms and conditions since these are designed for the subjugation of women.

But I have reservations about the claim that women can rule better than men. Take the cases of three most famous women Prime Ministers: Indira Gandhi, known for her Emergency, compulsory sterlisation and promotion of her sons; Bhandarnaike, known to start Tamil insurgency due to her anti-Tamil policies, and about Mrs Thatcher, the less said, the better.

YOGESH DATTA, Canberra (Australia)


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