Promoting quality education

Apropos of Mr Ranbir Singh’s article “Too many varsities impede HRD” (Feb 17), the standard of education has never been high in the past half a century. This, however, does not absolve the University Grants Commission of blame since it has direct responsibility for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in the universities. How many universities and colleges has it pulled up for not maintaining proper norms and standards?

The UGC says that universities are a “State subject” and there are limits to what it can do. However, in respect of higher education, the states’ rights are not absolute. If they were, the Centre would not be able to determine and coordinate standards. There is no contradiction in the constitutional provisions in this regard. The states could run the universities and the Centre could perform watchdog functions or those equivalent to accreditation.

In expanding university education and determining its policies and practices, the Centre and the states have been succumbing to populist pressures. The UGC has failed to perform its function and has stood as a silent spectator while the states have gone ahead and established universities and colleges in an unplanned manner.



There is need for an authority to make higher education the subject of serious study, promote experiment and innovation, assist in the evolution of an academic community dedicated to the higher tasks of learning and promote the quality of education in the universities and colleges.

ANIL BHATIA, Dept. of English, D.N. College, Hisar

Guinea-fowl, not chakor

The report “720 rare birds freed from poachers” (The Tribune, Feb 25) must have gladdened the hearts of all those championing the cause of wildlife. But the birds in the accompanying photograph are not chakors, but guinea-fowl which are as removed from the former in size and shape and which are as removed from a peacock. A click of the mouse would have shown your correspondent how a chakor looks like and where it inhabits.

There are 14 species of the partridge in India and chakor (now called chukar) is one of them. Just as the black partridge is the State Bird of Haryana, the chakor would be a strong claimant to be the emblem bird of the Ladakh subdivision of Jammu and Kashmir. It lives and breeds in scrub on rocky ridges and ravines mostly at 3,000 M elevation, but may descend to 1,000 M under severe winter conditions. Though Ladakh is the stronghold of this bird, it also inhabits the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and up to Western Nepal.

The guinea-fowl is from Africa where it had long been domesticated as a poultry bird. In India, it is bred and marketed extensively, mostly in Uttar Pradesh and to a lesser extent in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. Intercepting this cargo as “trafficking in wildlife” is patently absurd, but certainly laudable if the manner and conditions of transporation were cruel.

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH, Chandigarh

In defence of migrants

I disagree with the views in your editorial “Need to check influx of migrants” (Jan 22). In the present age of liberalisation and globalisation, how can we curtail the rights of the migrants to go anywhere in search of jobs or other means of livelihood? The labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh work at lower rates compared to those from Punjab. As they are an asset to the state economy, where is the question of our losing out to them?

I do not agree with the view that the local labourers are losing jobs because of the migrants. There are numerous opportunities for everyone in this rich state. If any ban is imposed on the migrants by the Punjab government, it will trigged off an agitation between the locals and the migrant labour.


Care for the elderly

No doubt, elderly persons are being ignored and not cared for at home and in society but they are also equally responsible for this state of affairs. Confidence-building between the younger generation and the elders at home is a must. The elderly should not expect too much from the younger generation as the latter have little time to care for the former since they are busy in their own struggle for existence in these days of cut-throat competition.

However, the administration should show due concern for them and grant concessions such as exemption from paying house tax and property tax. There should be separate counters for the elders at railway reservation counters, airports, banks, post offices and all such places where bills are to be deposited.

D.K. TALWAR, Panchkula


In my letter “Non-pensioner retirees deserve better” (Feb 25), the sops for the elderly, that I had referred to, were announced by the Union Finance Minister in the Union Budget (2003-04) on Feb 2, 2003, and not in the Interim Budget (2004-05).



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