C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Cold wave, rain force people indoors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Intermittent rain and severe cold wave has disrupted normal life in the city and surrounding parts of Punjab and Haryana, forcing people indoors throughout the day. As rain continued at irregular intervals and chilly winds persisted, the mercury dipped significantly. The minimum temperature rose slightly to 8.6 degree Celsius, while the maximum dipped to 14.2 degree Celsius.

The morning was extremely chilly due to the thick cloud cover and constant drizzle till about 11 am. The evening was colder than usual, thanks primarily to chilly winds that enveloped the city.

Humidity levels ranged between 56 per cent and 91 per cent today. The meteorological office recorded 4 mm of rainfall until 5:30 pm.

Meanwhile, reports of light to moderate rainfall were reported from across Punjab and Haryana The minimum temperature rose at isolated places in the two states.

“Due to western disturbances, there has been moderate to heavy rainfall in most parts of Chandigarh and parts of Punjab and Haryana. Similar conditions will prevail in the region for the next 24 hours,” the director of the meteorological department, Chandigarh, Chatar Singh, said.

Agricultural experts said though the falling temperature and fast-blowing chilly winds, accompanied by light to moderate rainfall, had brought misery in their wake for the poor, biting cold conditions were considered immensely good for the wheat and other rabi crops in this part of the region.

“We have been waiting for the rain. It has come a little late, but it is good for the rabi crops, especially wheat. However, it is too scanty at the moment. It will be better if rain gods are a little more liberal. A moderate spell of rain will be enough for rabi crops at this stage,” said Amarjit Singh, an agricultural expert from Patiala.

Besides wheat, the other major crop was mustard. About 80,000 hectares were covered under this crop. The prevailing weather was also good for this crop. Barley had also been sown in certain pockets.

Though reports of rain came from almost all parts of the region, only light showers were reported. Meteorological officials said the rainfall had been around 3 mm at Ambala, Karnal and Amritsar. It was a little better at Hisar.

Daily wagers, street vendors and construction labour in different parts of the city were deprived of their earnings due to the inclement weather.

Dense fog and intermittent rain brought some relief from the cold weather, said a meteorological official, adding that there had been an increase in temperature by two or three degrees in most parts of the region in the last 12 hours.

Isolated spells of rain were expected in some parts of Punjab and Haryana in the next 24 hours, he said, adding that December went dry as there was very little rainfall, far below average, during the month.

As all the flights to and from the city had been cancelled, the effect of the fog on visibility made matters worse for railway traffic. All major trains coming to or departing from the city were late by an hour to 16 hours.



Chandigarh on a high
Per capita consumption 136 bottles

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Blame it on the Chandigarh administration’s lopsided excise policy or the people’s changing lifestyle, the city is slowing turning into a Bacchus lovers’ paradise. The per capita consumption is around 136 bottles, a development which is set to ring alarms bells among a cross-section of society.

The figures are all the more alarming in the backdrop of the fact that the Excise Act prescribes 25 as the minimum age for drinking liquor.

With over 2 lakh bottles of liquor being sold in the city every day, the problem seems to have assumed alarming proportions, with smuggling not being ruled out.

And surprisingly, there are less than 20 cases registered in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi in the past 10 years for underage drinking.

“The liberalised policy on alcohol sale by bureaucrats of Chandigarh is responsible for the problem and it is time for the administration to take note of the huge figure,” says public health activist Hemant Goswami.

In fact, information obtained under an RTI query by the NGO People for Transparency for its campaign ‘Stop! Underage Drinking’ presents an alarming picture of liquor consumption in the region.

Sturdy Haryanvis seems to have overtaken boisterous Punjabis, famous for their Patiala peg, as far alcohol consumption is concerned.

During 2008-09, 1.2 crore Haryanvis gulped 26.52 crore bottles of alcohol. Delhi with a population of 1.10 crore adults was far behind Haryana with 16.28 crore bottles of alcohol.

Even the hilly picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh managed to beat Punjab with regard to per capita alcohol consumption.

According to information provided by excise departments of the five states, the 4.5 crore adults consumed 74.46 crore bottles of alcohol during the year 2008-09.

“This is certainly very good news for the alcohol industry, but not for the health authorities,” said RTI activist Kamal Anand, who had compiled the information.

According to the World Health Organisation’s global status report on alcohol 2004, the total recorded per capita alcohol consumption among the age groups above 15 years of age was 0.82 litre of pure alcohol, but it was 12.44 litres of alcohol in the five states.



Ruchika’s expulsion shattered her, says Aradhna
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
“SPS Rathore’s continuous efforts to spoil Ruchika’s career perturbed her, but it was her expulsion from Sacred Heart that literally shattered her,” Ruchika Girhotra’s best friend Aradhna claimed today.

Speaking to the Chandigarh Tribune over the ongoing magisterial inquiry against the school, Aradhna rubbished the school’s claims of non-payment of fee and voluntary withdrawal by Ruchika.

“I still remember that when she was thrown out of school, she came to me and told me that when she reached school that day, teachers asked her not to attend school as she was expelled. She was also asked to send her father to the principal the next day,” she said.

“When uncle went to the principal, she confessed to being under immense pressure from Rathore as his daughter was Ruchika’s classmate. She asked him not to send Ruchika to school after that,” she added.

According to Aradhna, it was then that Ruchika started facing yet another type of struggle, which eventually made her end her life.

“Rathore wanted to ensure that she could not continue her studies. Getting thrown out of school months before the class X board examination was too big a thing to deal with, but what followed later was worse. She appeared as a private candidate from the Punjab School Education Board,” she said.

“Though she would study at home, goons sent by Rathore would not allow her to step out and appear in the examination. Uncle was forced to hide her in a car and take her to the examination centre. Had she been able to continue in school, things would have been different,” stated Aradhna.

When questioned about Girhotra not complaining against the school or taking a transfer certificate, Aradhna asserted, “She had seen the plight of her family after a single complaint. When she saw that the man using his influence to destroy her career, she lost all hope and desire to join any other school.”

Meanwhile, according to the administration, the final report of the inquiry into the alleged expulsion of Ruchika under pressure would be submitted to the Governor within three days. The committee was in the final stages of interrogation of some of the teachers concerned.

While two teachers who had been questioned maintained that they did not remember much as Ruchika was an average and introvert child, others were yet to be questioned.

The school authorities had so far pleaded innocence, claiming that they had struck her name off the rolls because of continuous non-payment of fee and that her parents might have withdrawn the child under the circumstances then.



Pritpal remanded in 2-day police custody
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
A local court today remanded Baba Pritpal Singh in two-day police custody. He was arrested from a village near Machiwara in Ludhiana on Saturday.

Sources in the police said officials of the special crime investigation cell told the court that they wanted to quiz the baba regarding the SIM cards he used during his escape and how he had procured those.

The police also wanted to know who the persons who helped him while he was on the run and provided him shelter were.

The baba was wanted in a cheating case for allegedly forging a general power of attorney, on which he had sold a piece of land belonging to an NRI woman to a private company.


Initiative to ‘free’ Open Hand
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Braving the cold wave and drizzle, a group of at least 20 local residents, including activists, students, artists and tourists, converged on the “Open Hand Monument” with monosyllabic placards, standing hand in hand in solidarity, to convey a loud message subtly: “Free The Open Hand”.

They said the they had gathered to “reclaim the legacy, our own monument, the common man’s monument — The Open Hand”.

Certain participants were at the place for the first time and were glad to discover that such a place existed in the city and they were specially happy to learn the vision behind the inception of the same, according to a press release.

While the participants were going to the monument, the police tried to prevent them from doing so and enquired about the reason for the same.

However, the participants told them that no such permission was required for the purpose and continued their march towards the monument without lending an ear to the “unlawful” objections by the security men, the release said.

The participants formed a queue and joined hands to display the message “Free the Open Hand” and later pledged to spread the word about the monument among their friend circle.

Social activist Hemant Goswami said: “It is necessary that people should take a stand on such issues. Until people come together on a common platform, the administration will keep on taking advantage of the ignorance of citizens. It should be understood that visiting any public place is a fundamental right of every citizen as enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution. If the bureaucracy is transgressing on the issue, people should come out and fight to protect their own fundamental rights.”

Jeroninio Almeida, founder of I-congo, from Delhi; Sawan, a visual artist; Dr Gaurav Chhabra, who initiated the movement; and Moonstar, a sustainability expert from the city, were also present.

It was pointed out that the administration did not even allow people to organise any discussion forum at the place and the road to the monument had a board saying “VVIP Parking”.

Moreover, even the hop-on, hop-off bus of CITCO wasn’t allowed to visit the monument.

Schools are not given permission to visit the Open Hand for educational tours. This is a defeat of the founding vision of Open Hand and its “contemplation pit”.

The road to the monument has been blocked unlawfully by security men from the traffic police, special security, CRPF, etc. and they site that it has been done by the order of the Chief Justice/administration.



LPG shortage hits consumers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 3
There seems to be an acute shortage of LPG cylinders in the city when one goes by the backlog of the cooking gas at different agencies in Chandigarh and Mohali. Consumers of HPCL and BPCL are complaining more about shortage of the cooking gas.

For the past few weeks, the backlog is running beyond 10 days to 15days. Beena Thakur, a resident of Phase VII, who is an HPCL consumer, said she got a cylinder after 10 days and that too after repeated visits to the distributor concerned.

Similar complaints are being received from consumers from other parts of the city and the adjoining areas like Kharar and Nayagoan. In the rural areas the problem is more acute as long queue of the cooking gas seekers can be seen in front of offices of LPG agency. Officials attribute the shortage to poor supply of the bulk material from the refineries.

An official of the HPCL said situation had now improved and the backlog was reducing with each passing day. The situation with the IOC consumers was better as its refinery was located at Panipat.

The use of LPG in houses for geysers, use of LPG for running automobiles, use of domestic LPG cylinders for commercial purposes were the other reasons.



Medical charts in Army outdated: Study
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
In a revelation that could have serious health implications for the armed forces and medical classification of soldiers, the charts, used to define the correct weight for height and age, are not only outdated, but also are apparently based on data applicable to western population that is inherently different from Indian population.

A study, conducted by three armed forces medical specialists, has found that the weight for age and height calculated in the study after recording anthropometric measurements of about 1,000 healthy armed forces personnel was at considerable variance with the charts currently being used in the Army.

Pointing out that the existing reference weights have not been revised in the last 50 years, the study has recommended a large-scale multi-centric study should be taken up for replacing the existing charts. The study has been published in a recent issue of the Medical Journal Armed Forces India.

The average weight for a majority of height and age category among the surveyed individuals was found to be higher than in the Indian Army chart. For example, as per the old scale, individuals in the height category of 178 cms and 28-32 years should have an ideal weight of 68.5 kgs, whereas the study found the average weight to be 71.19 kgs. Similarly those who should have an ideal weight of 72.5 kgs were found to be 81.23 kgs.

The study states that the origins of the anthropometric charts used in the Army are obscure and it is widely believed that these were obtained from life insurance tables made for British and American civilian population.

Anthropometry is an accepted method of measuring obesity, the prevalence of which has increased globally. In India alone, there are over 100 million obese people, which indicates that they are amidst an obesity epidemic.

The Indian Armed Forces, the study points out, are not immune from this epidemic and studies indicate a rising trend of obesity in the armed forces. Although armed forces personnel are subjected to periodic medical examinations, the standards for body weight used to classify individuals as overweight are very old. Overweight and obesity not only have serious health consequences, but also are a cause of lowering the medical classification in the forces, which adversely affects a soldier’s career.

Therefore, the study noted, it was imperative that reference anthropometric values related to overweight and obesity for the Indian Armed Forces should be established based upon data for the same population instead of using outdated data meant for individuals of different ethnic origins.



‘Religion, human rights complementary’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
As human values form an integral part of all religions, human rights and religion are complementary to each other, experts said at a seminar on “Religion and Human Rights” here today.

Addressing the seminar, organised by the Global Human Rights Council (GHRC) as part of its third anniversary celebrations, Justice RS Mongia, chairperson of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), said it was the distortion of various tenets of religion that resulted in human rights violations.

Justice Mongia said religion could never take away the human rights as all religions led to humanity and respect for life and liberty. Right interpretation of the various religious dogmas was the need of the hour to protect human rights, he added.

Making a fervent appeal to the general public to perform their duties, Panjab University vice-chancellor Prof. RC Sobti underlined the need for ethical and transparent public dealings in the public offices, including the educational institutions.

There was a need to emulate the human body in our day-to-day life as different parts of the body worked in unison and did not encroach upon each others’ functioning. If we performed duties assigned to us in an honest manner, our rights would automatically follow and there would be no human rights violations, Prof. Sobti added.

Stressing the need to hold such seminars, organisers said according to a study conducted by the United Nations, over two lakh persons were either victimised or killed due to religious rivalry and vendetta in 2009.

Representatives of various religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, who also spoke on the occasion, resolved that religion should be an instrument for the protection of human rights.

Meanwhile, the GHRC awarded three activists in the fields of education, art and culture and journalism with the Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir awards for excellence. Joginder Sant, daughter of former Punjab Chief Minister Musafir, announced that the awards would be an annual feature.



Reporters' Dairy
In a bit of a hurry

Pankaj Bhardwaj, the lawyer contesting the case on behalf of Anand Prakash and the Girhotras in the ongoing Ruchika molestation case who has been getting kudos from different quarters for providing his services without charging anything, appears to be in a little hurry. He exhibited this haste more than once last week.

On Thursday the lawyer reached the Panchkula superintendent of police’s office accompanied by Ashu, Ruchika’s brother, to lodge the complaint of abetment to suicide against former state DGP SPS Rathore. Even as the SP was not in the office, Bhardwaj, thronged by mediapersons, taking Ashu along barged into the office without even registering his arrival with the supporting staff in the SP’s office. The fact that the media had already created quite a mess at the venue is a different story. The next morning, before the hearing on Rathore’s anticipatory bail application began at a Panchkula court, Abha Rathore, wife of the petitioner, asked Bhardwaj to hold the “press conference” outside the courtroom. Bhardwaj was interacting with media personnel in the courtroom itself. The same day the lawyer was caught on the wrong foot when he started pleading the case as soon as the judge sat in his chair. The judge had to remind Bhardwaj that his client was not even served a notice in the case and he was not supposed to be in the arguments at that time.

Freebies come to an end

‘Baba’ Pritpal Singh, presently in police custody in a cheating case, is said to have enjoyed “close links” with several Chandigarh police officials. These “links” became a matter of discussion during the past several months when Pritpal was on the run. The top brass of the UT police even had to face the music at the Punjab & Haryana High Court for not being able to nab the absconding ‘baba’ amidst allegations that certain police officials were “hand in glove’ with him and were leaking information to him to evade his arrest.

“Leave aside undercover benefits, Pritpal was helpful to the police in many ways. Whenever there was any major agitation his followers took it upon themselves to provide free refreshments to policemen on duty. Sometimes even food was provided from the ‘langar’ (community kitchen) of the gurdwara”, recalls a police officer during a protest held recently.

His superior, in a bid to win over the agitators, offered them a hot cup of tea for calling off their demonstration. Sensing trouble in arranging tea for so many agitators, the officer asked, “Now that the police is after the ‘baba’, who will go there and ask for tea?” “They will give masala tea to buy some leniency,” quickly replied his superior.

New colours to bus stop shelters

Colourful bus stop shelters have not only been equipped with benches for visitors waiting at the bus stop to sit, but provision has also been made if anybody wants to sit on his own chair as it could be adjusted in place of missing benches at the bus stops. The Sector 26 bus stop (see picture by Manoj Mahajan) is a pilot project of the administration where this facility has been provided for the public by placing a frame of the bench at the bus stop, which does not have any chairs to sit.

Enjoy mangoes in winter, too!

Seems incredible but cases of mango trees bearing the fruit in winter are happening often. In one such case Amardeep, an industrialist in Industrial Area, Phase IX, Mohali, was awestruck when he found a couple of mangoes hanging on a tree in his garden.

Not one, the tree had several mangoes. An anxious Amardeep consulted agriculturists who said due to the “strange weather” pollination takes place and trees bear the fruits. But the fruits might not ripe as seen in summer.

The tree belongs to the commonly found Dasehri variety. These days he is guarding the tree so that people can enjoy the sight of mangoes hanging from the tree in winter.

New Year greetings, Bhatti style

Poker faced comedian Jaspal Bhatti seems to have a hotline to laughter. The "ulta-pulta" comedian's New Year greeting was as usual funny and a little mischievous. "May u be as active as Tiger Woods and as fit as ND Tiwari...Happy New Year!" was the comedian's tongue-in-cheek message to a colleague on the first day of 2010. We could only laugh at the ingenuity of the comedian, who has made satire on politicians a perfect art. Happy New Year, Mr Bhatti. Expecting more "active and fit" messages from you!

‘Caught’ at last

Desperate to get any lead on the ongoing inquiry against Sacred Heart School a section of the media thronged the residence of the UT home secretary today. Frenzied over Ram Niwas being quoted in a news channel claiming the probe was over and a report had been submitted, all OB vans that had so far been stationed outside Sacred Heart School rushed to Niwas’s official residence and “caught” him. Niwas, who had so far evaded any media query, had to finally give in and revealed there were still three days to go for submission of the report.

Contributed by Arun Sharma, Ramanjit Singh Sidhu, Aarti Kapur, Rajmeet Singh, Pradeep Sharma and Sumedha Sharma



Book ‘Akhaa Jeevan’ released
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 3
True creative writing is possible, or rather, exercises better influence, only in a language which is spontaneous in expression and genuine both to the writer and his audience. This was stated by author and journalist Varinder Walia, Editor of the Punjabi Tribune, at the Pracheen Kala Kendra hall here today. He was the chief guest at a monthly seminar of the Sahit Chintan.

“I prefer to sculpt my literary creations in Punjabi to draw solace, satisfaction and a lasting personal pleasure out of it,” he said.

Sharing his passion for literature and views on the contemporary scene, he opined that journalism was considered a mission and practised with sincerity of ethics and zeal not many years ago, but many commercial considerations had now crept in.

Saradara Singh Cheema, general secretary, Sahit Chintan, welcomed the chief guest and Sulakhan Sarhadi, the guest of honour, who released the book ‘Akhaa Jeevan’, a compilation of 37 published articles by Sushil Dosanjh, Editor of the Punjabi magazine Hun.

Twentyfive writers offered their views on and critical appreciation of the book. The main speaker, Prof Raman, delved into the contents of compiled articles in book form, especially free and frank opinions of Dosanjh on diverse socio-cultural, economic and political issues.

Dosanjh shared his anguish over the treatment given to him. National Sahitya Academy awardee Mohan Bhandari maintained that a writer had to bear the brunt of free expression and Dosanjh was no exception.



Gaushala to come up near Pinjore
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 3
The residents of the town can hope for better civic conditions as well as lesser risk on the roads as the municipal council has decided to build a gaushala on 15 acre near Pinjore before handing it over to a social organisation involved in such activities.

Panchkula MC executive officer OP Sihag said the negotiations with a few social organisations and NGOs were going on and the final decision in this regard would be taken very soon.

Stray animals can be seen on most of the A roads, especially those near slum and labour colonies and 13 Panchkula villages at night. The animals are responsible for several accidents.

Besides, after the cattle get injured and are rendered useless they are abandoned by the villagers from different parts of the district on the outskirts of the town. There are 220 dairies in and around the town where at least 2,200 buffaloes are kept and dairy owners leave the cattle free in the town for grazing, leading to road accidents and piles of dung.

Earlier, in 2007-08 municipal council allotted contracts for rounding up stray cattle which was not renewed after the exercise proved futile. Though the contractor had been allowed to impose fines (Rs 1,500 for cow and buffalo and Rs 1,000 for other animals) on the owners, it had hardly proved to be a deterrent.

Now the MC has, however, decided to adopt a two pronged strategy. While the dairies would be set up on 50 acre in Kaami village, the cattle found abandoned would be sent to gaushala. However, the success of the plan would depend on the acceptance of plots by dairy owners in Kaami, as the schemes had already failed in many other towns of the state.



Cultural extravaganza by residents’ body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Fun and frolic marked the cultural function organised by the Residents Welfare Organisation, Sector 38(A and B), here today. Braving cold inclement weather, a large number of children below the age of 10 years participated in various items in the cultural extravaganza, including fancy dress, poetry recitation and dance competitions.

Earlier, organisation general secretary DP Singh read out the achievements of the organisation in the preceding year.

He demanded the construction of a security wall and installation of security gates in the sector to tackle security-related problems.

Organisation president KC Sethi welcomed the guests.



Tributes paid to Justice Mahajan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
The Mahajan Sabha celebrated the 120th birth anniversary of Justice Maher Chand Majan at Mahajan Bhawan in Sector 37 C here today. RK Gupta, general secretary of the sabha, and his wife performed a “havan”.

Sabha members paid floral tributes to Justice Mahajan and remembered his services to the nation as well as to the Mahajan community.

Justice Mahajan started his practice as a lawyer in Gurdaspur (Punjab) and by dint of hard work rose to the post of Chief Justice of India. For a short span, he also remained Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir State.

He advocated improving the destiny of women and worked as a lighthouse to show path to the coming generation. Ram Murti Mahan, president of the sabha, and other office-bearers were among those who paid floral tributes to Justice Mahajan.



Power cuts continue in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 3
Even as Saturday’s technical snag in the northern grid was rectified, Mohali residents continued to reel under power cuts throughout the day today. The intense cold followed by light drizzle further compounded the problem for the residents.

Officials in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) confirmed that different parts of Punjab continued to face power shortage. As a result, the power cuts were being imposed beyond the scheduled power cut timings. The problem started in the morning with power going out after every few hours. “Cuts ranging from few minutes to two hours were imposed throughout the day,” said the officials.

Due to disruption in power, the supply to the southern sectors of Chandigarh was also affected.

“We are still facing cuts despite the fact that the power tariff has been revised. It is unfair trade practise,” said Anoop Singh, a resident of Phase VII, here. As a result of power failures, the traffic lights across the city remained out of order.



235 persons examined at medical camp

Panchkula, January 3
As many as 235 persons were examined at a free heart checkup camp organised by the House Owners Welfare Association, Sector 10, at Sood Bhawan here today. The camp was held in association with Fortis Multi-speciality Hospital, Mohali, said Bharat Htheshi, general secretary of the association.

The camp was inaugurated by Ashok Yadav, director and special secretary, Agriculture, Haryana.

Dr HK Bali, cardiologist, delivered a talk on the increase in heart ailments among young generation. ECG, ECHO and lipid profile diagnosis tests were also conducted. — TNS



PU’s exam system needs a revamp
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Open House

Chandigarh Tribune will like to share your experience with Panjab University’s examination system along with possible remedies. Write your experiences and suggestions to the Open House, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh or [email protected]

It is common knowledge that the percentage of marks attained in a Panjab University examination is not by itself enough to ensure admission in professional colleges or even when seeking employment. Candidates are required to appear for a competitive exam or a special interview in the specific field separately.

The varsity’s recent initiative to make evaluation compulsory for teachers notwithstanding, a sizeable majority of teachers are not involved in the examination paper setting or evaluation process at all. The exam duties are assigned to nonteaching staff.

Every year during the annual examination there are complaints of out-of-syllabus question papers. One wonders how this occurs frequently in different subjects when the paper setters are also supposed to have copies of the respective syllabi. This often leads to the university covering up with a package of common grace marks to all the candidates.

The re-evaluation, more often than not, reveals change in results of a number of students. Understanding the subjectivity involved in the issue, a difference of even 10 per cent is understandable. It will, however, be appreciable in case teachers are found guilty of discrepancies resulting in absolute change in nature of the result being questioned.

The University Grants Commission has asked institutions to furnish answer sheets, on payment of a nominal fee, to students who wish to have a look at their copies if they doubt the results. However, PU has not yet implemented the recommendation. There seems no reason in denying students the right to have a look at their answer sheets as well as the evaluation.

An evaluator was found to have made assessment of 30 answer sheets in less than an hour. A university inquiry too found it “thoroughly unprofessional”.

In all fairness, one has to concede that the university’s examination branch is greatly overburdened. In fact, it will be not be an overstatement to say that the varsity’s primary function appears to have been reduced to only conducting exams. It is a long time since one heard of the university initiating any programme to revamp the overall educational system in tune with the changing times and requirements.

A BA or an MA is only a prerequisite to enter the professional world. Getting qualifying marks is supported by a flood of guides and helping material in the markets. Instead of joining classes, a large number of students prefer to exercise their right to education through correspondence studies. What difference does it make in case a student secured 65 or a 65.5 per cent, especially in the humanities and languages. The end result could be unfair to certain toppers who missed the top position by a whisker because of the subjectivity involved in the process.

The long drawn process of conducting examinations for students of more than 110 affiliated colleges and approximately 70 teaching departments on the campus is followed by a tedious evaluation process. The matter is compounded by the simple fact that a sizeable number of teachers do not participate either in the paper setting or evaluation process at all. The university has attempted to make evaluation compulsory for all teachers by having each teacher evaluate at least 250 answer sheets each.

However, skeptics feel it would be best to comment on the matter only if this happened in reality. If a university order were sufficient a university or college teacher would not have been seen giving to tuitions at their homes.

The annual examination is followed by re-evaluation, as students are not satisfied with their marks. Evaluation is a subjective matter so it is understandable to understand minor alterations; however, big differences surprise the students as well. There is nothing denying the fact that there is very little accountability on part of the evaluators.

It may be remembered that a few years back a teacher was found guilty of giving 45 marks to a student who had secured a zero. A committee was followed by a review committee, and only hectic parleying in the senate led to stopping two increments of the teacher. There have been other cases of toying with the work ethics of evaluation, which were later detected. However, there have been negligible examples set in form of deterrents for a check in future.

Students also have the option of reappearing. At the same time the university also has the load of supplementary examinations. Till December end the university is busy sorting out the results of the students.

As has been discussed several times earlier, the university should consider phasing out examinations of part I and part II in the undergraduate classes and part I of postgraduate classes. The concerned colleges should be asked to conduct the examination and tabulate the individual results. The final year exam can be conducted by the university, which can set up a central monitoring agency to supervise the overall exercise instead of employing a very big workforce merely on outlining question papers and evaluation and re-evaluating the same.

After initial hiccups, schools seem to be adjusting to the grading system introduced by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal. It is not a bad system for the university to consider. It will be optional from the next academic year (2010-11) while the grading system will be introduced this year itself.”

Following the change the board (Class X) examination of the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) will be closed down from 2010. Students wishing to continue in the same school after Class X need not take the board examination at all. The minister had said the grading system will be “continuous, comprehensive evaluation” It has however been clearly stated that along with grades students can also ask for their percentage.

The grading system has potential to enhance the class value of teaching. At the same time it is also relevant to mention that classroom teaching for a normal BA or BSc has been reduced only as a precondition to appear in the exam. The examination results have a little meaning in the placement scenario. While attending routine graduation or postgraduation classes, students these days are going in for additional courses in computers, financing and certain other fields. The quality of classroom interaction with teachers and among students as well has undergone a massive change. With the latter expecting only a qualifying certificate, a grade can be perceived to be a fit document.

A senior faculty member of a postgraduate class made an interesting comment when he came out for a cup of tea after a long session at having a look at answer sheets. “I spend over an hour checking the first answer sheet. All the rest of copies, in a group, seem almost similar and take no time. In literature answers, for example, a majority follows the same pattern of formatting of beginning with quotes, quoting almost same critics and almost same conclusions. In fact, the questions too remain largely the same. I’m not sure if this suited the qualifications of a postgraduate. The year round evaluation in the classes based on interactions, projects and student enthusiasm will be a fair alternative”.

There also seems no justification in the university denying a copy of the evaluated copies to the students in case they demanded them on payment of a small amount. The UGC has already issued a circular in this regard. However, there are some who are opposed to the move.

The grading system is also seen to incorporate greater accountability on part of the teachers. Instead of supplying simple data cards at the end of a session, teachers will have to be engaged in class activities promoting greater student participation. The yearlong evaluation will at least make place for more academic activities out of the parameter of only routine class lectures. The dependence on the results of the annual examination to judge the worth of a candidate also leaves scope for defending certain teachers who only teach portions that are best suited for preparing their students only for the annual examination than promoting any other academic exercise, forcing them to read or argue on subjects, other than in their course.

There also seems to be differences of opinion on the answer sheet evaluators, particularly in postgraduate classes. The university attempts to keep a concerned class teacher away from the evaluation process, in the particular subject, for the obvious reason of giving a fair evaluation to all with minimal chances of any personal bias. At the same time, there are teachers who question the university stand saying being class teachers they were in the best position to evaluate the answer sheets of the students they stayed in touch with throughout the year.

One often feels that appearing in a university examination and securing higher percentage seems to have a lot to do with being Masters of the System (MS) rather than being MAs. A sizeable majority of the toppers first understand the examination system in terms of the details of the question paper and the required preparation. In case there is no major change in the syllabi, which happens once in many years, question papers have a set pattern. A perusal of the last ten-year question papers reveals most of them have been repeated after a certain gap, with minor alterations. This does not apply to all students and definitely not to the studious ones. However, an “intelligent” student need not bother about his classes if he has a good overview of the examination pattern. The results of the most casual students often surprise the most studious.

Whether the university goes in for the grading system or not, there is nothing denying the fact that the existing examination system of the university definitely needs a relook.



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