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Social conflicts must be resolved

Vimal Sumbly’s article “Dalits assert their identity in Punjab” (March 3) throws light on the assertive mindset of the Dalits in Punjab. A large section of the Ravidassia sect has declared a separate religion. It is true that despite the spread of education, industrialisation, urbanisation and information-technology, society has not been able to break its caste barriers.

In Punjab the economic condition of many sections of Dalits is much better than many sections of the so-called upper castes but a “mindset” persistently exists among many people, which does not accord an equal social status to the Dalits. An integrative approach is missing.

In a secular India, members of the Ravidassia community are free to have their own religion but they must not force others to join it. It is hoped they will do their best to promote equality and communal harmony. On their part, the progressive forces should spearhead a campaign against social discrimination. The best remedy to resolve social conflicts lies in the promotion of science education that is based on rationality.


Talks with Pak

Even though in our relations with Pakistan, dialogue is helpful, I think we have to plan for our security after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Pakistan policy will not change as long as the Army dictates it. Our foreign policy in Nepal also faces a big question mark.

ANIL DIVAN, via e-mail

Electoral reforms

V Eshwar Anand in his article, “Electoral reforms” (Feb 17) while rightly praising the achievements of the Election Commission avers that a lot more needs to be done. The suggestion that the members of the commission be selected by a collegium is just and will go a long way in making this august body independent.

People will stand by the commission if criminals are barred from entering into Legislative Assemblies and Parliament. Anyone charge sheeted should be kept out.

SHUCHI CHANANA, Dehra (Kangra)

Teachers’ evaluation

Shelley Walia’s article “Evaluating teachers” (Feb 16) regarding the need for and importance of evaluating teachers is in sync with the changing dimensions of education. There is a serious need for evolving a streamlined system of feedback for evaluation of teachers by students.

A sense of insecurity and fear of vendetta probably prompts the teaching community to resist feedback which is a means by which one can know where one stands, thus offering scope for improvement.

The problems, which Prof Walia mentions about irregular students filling in feedback and mediocre students unable to appreciate an outstanding teacher, are relevant. However, the problem can be solved and a beginning has to be made. Indeed, we are not looking for unanimity; consensus is all that is needed.



I agree with the observation that “Often it is noticed that a teacher who engages in simplistic and humdrum linear delivery of knowledge is rated as lucid and superior to an intellectual who sparks off controversy and, to an extent, imparts new ideas that inevitably result in after-class debates stimulating endeavour for further research.” At the risk of sounding insolent I would however say that almost all teachers who taught me at the post graduate level (English) were mediocre because they taught without any kind of intellectual rigour. Their lectures were often derived from popular “guides”.

AKHILESH, Garhshankar, Hoshiarpur

Don’t burn leaves

Burning of dry and fallen leaves emits toxic and harmful fumes. It increases suspended particulate matter in the air and thereby pollutes the atmosphere. It also produces carbon dioxide, which creates greenhouse effect. It causes cough, eye irritation and respiratory disorders. We must stop burning leaves.


Retirement age

The editorial “Judges’ retirement” (Feb 24) has aptly observed that raising the judges’ retirement age will help clear the huge backlog of arears in the higher judiciary. At present the age of retirement of High Court judges is 62 years and that of the Supreme Court judges is 65 years. It has been observed that when judges reach the age of 60 or above they become quite mature and impart justice more speedily. It is imperative that the retirement age of judges is raised.


Empowering women

The centenary year of International Women’s Day (March 8) becomes all the more remarkable and significant for Indian women as the historic legislation for granting reservations for them in Parliament and the state legislatures is being introduced.

Political empowerment of women is rightly perceived as a powerful and indispensable tool for eliminating gender inequality and discrimination.  When high positions such as the President of India, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of the ruling Congress Parliamentary Party and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha are all occupied by the fair sex, there ought to be no further delay in passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill.

The voices of dissent raised by certain parties on the pretext of protecting the interests of women from the other backward classes must realise that if they are so concerned, they can allot a handsome share of their party tickets to these women. Political parties who are opposing the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill must rise up to the occasion and pass the legislation with voice vote.

HEMANT KUMAR, Advocate, Ambala City



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