Punjab must overhaul education

Dr Ajit Singh Bhart, Mayor, Bicester Town County (UK), has aptly advised Punjab to overhaul the education system to “enable students to compete with Western counterparts” (Jan 15). The advice needs to be taken seriously.

An Indian child spends his time and energy learning three languages whereas his counterpart in the UK, the US, Australia, etc, has to learn only one language and thus devotes more time to science and mathematics.

The books on languages show an obsessive preoccupation with religion. This is sad because the decision to teach three languages was taken for political and not academic reasons.

We want to send our children to English-medium schools, see them smartly dressed in western style and talk fluently in English. Government schools have to provide the same facilities to the rural students.


Hindi and regional languages can be offered as optional subjects at the middle standard and later. Stress should be on sciences and arts. The children can well learn about religion and religious personalities at home.

Dr L.R. SHARMA, Jalandhar

Plan to raise funds

I read the news-item “Punjab plans to sell 13,413 sites to generate funds” (Jan 21). I am happy the Punjab government is waking up to sell sites owned by it in different departments.

However, the people don’t know whether this also refers to lands left over by the British government as ‘Paros” for the army camps along the G.T. Road, the land acquired by the state government in 1957, 1963 and 1980 for the construction of overbridges at Sherpur, Ladhowal in Ludhiana district and in other places such as Kapurthala (Chehru), Beas (Dilwan), Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Hoshiarpur etc. as also for the construction of approach roads thereto.

Most of the lands so acquired under the Land Acquisition Act were paid as compensation to the owners where action under Section 47 (ii) of the said Act in withdrawing orders of acquisition had not been modified/ withdrawn. But simultaneously this was not shown in the revenue records of various villages. The original owners have sold the land in the absence of corrections in the revenue records concerned. This should be brought into the scope of the proposed Punjab plan.


Checking plagiarism

Plagiarism is responsible for the dearth of fresh ideas among university teachers and students (Jan 13). Jaspal Bhatti did a serial exposing how a Ph.d degree is managed in India, but he did not examine the pitfalls of Indian doctoral research work.

Research should be relevant to global needs. For instance, employing poverty-stricken people all over the globe in afforestation and refforestation can solve two problems simultaneously - the removal of poverty and improving the ecological balance. But such topics for research are ignored in favour of those where plagiarism is possible.

GND University is taking stern measures against students indulging in plagiarism. However, in one incident, why was the supervisor under whom this plagiarised research was conducted spared? And what about the research degree committee which had cleared the project? The university should take stringent measures against all those involved in the project.

Dr G.S. BHALLA, Professor of Commerce,
GND University, Amritsar

Quota politics

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has raked up the obnoxious issue of quota for minorities, apparently to appease the Muslims. I don’t see the need for quotas for the Muslims. They should come out of their medieval mindset which job quotas cannot reduce.

Last year, a poor Muslim vendor in Visakhapatnam educated his wife and finally helped her in getting a good job in Infosys. This shows that if one studies well, everyone can come up in life irrespective of his/her religion.


Minority rights

I read the article, “Dalit Christians too need reservations (Dec 25) and the letter, “End exploitation” (Jan 18). I must say that we are more communal today than ever before. As no person of any religion is better or worse, rich or poor, one must rise above religious considerations.

While making a case against reservation, we should not undermine the civil society’s role in providing quotas for religious minorities in educational institutions and employment, government and private. The rise of Hindu majoritarianism as a powerful force in Indian democracy over the past two decades has meant the virtual acceptance of an anti-minority stance by large segments of society.

We are quick to appreciate the Christians’ contribution to the country’s educational system, but do little to ensure that they are not marginalised. The civil society must re-examine its current understanding of minority rights before helping the minority communities.


Not suspended

This is apropos your editorial in the January 28 edition of your newspaper, “World Bank cheated”. The World Bank would like to clarify that it has not suspended funding to the tune of $1.3 billion for the nine active health sector projects.

We would like to clarify that in 2006, a Detailed Implementation Review (DIR) launched by the World Bank and supported by the Government of India found serious incidents of fraud and corruption in five health projects. These projects began implementation between 1997 and 2003.

Of these five projects, four have been completed. One project — The Food and Drug Capacity Building Project — is ongoing, but it is not disbursing funds and will be reviewed to incorporate the findings of the DIR. This project is one of the nine active World Bank health projects currently underway. We would, therefore, like to reiterate that the World Bank has not suspended funding to this or any other ongoing health sector project.

RACHID BENMESSAOUD, Operations Adviser, India,
The World Bank, New Delhi



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