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Defending the  indefensible

It is not surprising that the debate on Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s remarks about IIM/IIT faculty lacking class is linear and lacking in rational analysis (editorial, “World-class row”. May 26). We have in our past produced world class teachers but Lord Macaulay’s advice to the British Parliament in 1835 (intellectually subdue India by dismantling its educational system) has ensured that, today, we thrive in lower order, one-dimensional teaching over higher order critical teaching and research thereto.

“Choose your students well so that you can’t go wrong inspite of the faculty” was the tongue-in-cheek advice that the founder-Director of IIM Ahmedabad gave to the professors of the first batch of IIM students. With just 20 books and nine monographs as major research output by about 100 faculty teaching at IIMA for the year 2009-10 (IIMA lists 1950 working papers overall, since 1963) and with negligible government research funding, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal is defending the indefensible. Incidentally, Harvard, on which IIMA is modelled, has its faculty of 1497 writing thousands of research papers annually; with an annual research budget of $ 2 billion to just one of its 13 schools, its medical school. Maybe maverick Jairam Ramesh had a point to make, after all.

Maj-Gen RAJ MEHTA (retd), SAS Nagar


Indeed, Jairam Ramesh’s observation that the faculty of the premier IITs and IIMs is “not world class” but the institutions are “excellent” has hurt the teaching community. But one cannot ignore the ground reality. The fact remains that the “top ranking students seldom join back the institutes as faculty.” And the faculty in the premier professional institutes may be `the best’ but virtually they are from among the `left-over’ simply because the top rankers fly off to join big industrial houses.

Moreover, Mr Jairam’s expressions just vindicate the observations of Prof Govardhan Mehta committee which categorically stated that “the education system is not only unable to sustain good teachers but also fails to attract scholars into its fold”. Nonetheless, instead of politicising the issue or indulging in self-glorification, it is time that serious thought be given to the education system. And the issue is “how to invite and sustain scholars into its fold”?

Dr RAVI K MAHAJAN, Chandigarh

Unwanted hype

I find the hype around the IIT-JEE and CAT exams quite amusing.  Many a parent thinks it is a matter of life and death. And the coaching centres exploit this sentiment to the hilt. We have just witnessed the hysteria and comments following the declaration of recent IIT–JEE results. It may be prudent for the youth to rethink about their obsession with the coaching centres and passing the IIT- JEE examination as if it is a do or die situation.

I have seen parents spending their life time earnings at coaching centres. Students spend their entire time cooped up in a small room, with little time for sports or recreation. Apart from mugging up the syllabus, appearing in test after test, they do little else for years. As a result, these children miss out on the enjoyment of teen years, and perhaps also the real education. Those who do not make it feel frustrated and they miss out on all round development.

It is the duty of the parents to help their children to succeed in life. But, there are few questions to be answered. Do these children who aspire to enter IITs or IIMs or medical colleges, have aptitude for these fields? If yes, then are coaching centres the panacea for success?  If these are, then there is something lacking in our education system.

Col R D SINGH, Ambala Cantt

Punctuality pays

The middle “Punctuality” (May 20) by Harish Dhillon was inspiring. It is a scathing attack on the habit that a majority of Indians have of reaching late everywhere. The examples mentioned speak volumes of our casual attitude. The golden virtue of punctuality is mocked at. We have forgotten-time is ‘precious’ and we must value it. May be this is one of the reasons that our country is still lagging behind on the global front.

 SHIVANI DUA, Jalandhar

Mixed bag

The middle “The tang on tongue” (May 23) by Tushima Rattan was interesting. It compared human life with everyone’s favourite “golgappa”. It is true that our life is a mixture of everything. In other words, we experience both happiness and sadness, ups and downs in our life. We never know what is going to happen next and how will we be facing that particular situation. The situation may bring happiness and at the same time sorrow too. 

Well, all seven days of a week can offer us different experiences. In the same manner, a “golgappa” or a chat offers both “khata” and “meetha” flavour.

We all demand complete happiness but forget that if we will not experience sorrow in our lives, how we would understand the meaning of happiness. In fact, facing different kind of situations in life adds variety to our life and variety is the spice of life. So, let us be positive and prepare ourselves to face all hurdles in life. If we want variety in our food, we have to accept variety in our life as well.




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