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RTI: Discussing case studies will help

The write-up Fighting corruption with RTI (December 21) missed out in producing properly selected case studies. My own experience of dealing with RTI applications is that (i) people are not themselves fully educated about the provisions of the Act (ii) irrelevant information is sought from unrelated departments (iii) unwarranted transfer of applications to other departments to save own skin whereas the answer could have been provided at the first stage of dealing (iv) improper documentation and upkeep of record by departments (v) shortage of staff and inadequate training.

The sociology of corruption is a widely- studied phenomenon across the globe, particularly India, which tells us that the perception of the people about it is divided. When an individual bypasses the system and adopts a shortcut to get his problem solved or a matter settled, his idea of corruption can loosely be defined as ‘facility’. On the other hand when a ‘sarkari babu’ is burdened with public interest and is held accountable, it becomes a duty for him under the Act to defer the answer or deny information in public interest.

Here perception of public interest is not as contained in the law but means individual mindset. The magnitude of the non-cooperative attitude, a product of the colonial era, has made a lasting impression on our bureaucracy.

It is time we start discussing case studies and share experiences in an academic manner, particularly when its other manifestations such as Grievance Redressal Bill and Lokpal Bill are underway.

RANBIR PHAUGAT, via e-mail

Elementary education

In the article A re-look at private institutions (January 10), the writer has emphasised on the role of private institutions and has appreciated their efforts. Our society is in transition, so development is our main agenda in which education plays a predominant role. The government has emphasised more on elementary education than higher education. This has been done to provide a sound base to the children so that they can reap the benefits of good quality of higher education.

The purchasing power of the middle class has gone up and they are prepared to pay for their children’s education. According to McKinsey report, in 2005 middle class was 4% and by 2015 it will rise to 19%. In the same report, it has been calculated that in 2005 the poor class formed 54% and lower middle class formed 41%. By 2015 they will constitute 35% and 43% of the population respectively. Can 78% (35%+43%) of the population afford the fees of these private institutions? There is need to emphasise on the inclusive aspect of education and the role of public institutions comes in here.

Private institutions of higher education in Punjab have failed to provide good quality of research and they depend on public institutions for research, despite charging heavy fees for research-related activities. Also we cannot deny profit maximisation agenda of private institutions at the expense of quality education.


Eating right

This has reference to the news report 59% kids stunted, 42% underweight in country (January 11). The Prime Minister has candidly admitted to the fact and termed it as a national shame. The government is not solely responsible for the worrying state of the health of children in India. We cannot build an edifice on a weak foundation since it is bound to collapse any time.

Lack of awareness among masses, uneducated mothers, lack of medical facilities, poor socio-economic conditions and early marriages are some of the other factors responsible for poor health of children in our country. A sumptuous meal does not mean good food intake. We must acquire basic knowledge of eating right and know the nutritional components of our food. Firstly, the term ‘complete food’ must be understood by the mothers. Secondly, collective effort is required where scientists, doctors, dieticians, teachers, agriculturists and the mothers put their heads together for implementation of effective measures so that our children thrive in the best possible environment by developing healthy and proper eating habits.


Research work

Guru Nanak Dev University is one of the six universities in the country to win the status of University with Potential for Excellence (UPE). The UGC has taken a step in the right direction by giving a substantial amount of Rs 6.15 crore to Guru Nanak Dev University to establish a centre for the study of cancer in Punjab.

The environmental degradation in Punjab and Haryana brought about by wrong methods employed by industries in the region has contributed to the spread of cancer in the region. The establishment of an advanced research centre on cancer would not only provide much- needed remedial measures for treatment of cancer, it will also bring to light the flaws in the region’s development path.


Team spirit

While taking a decision to declare the inning, Clarke did not think of ‘losing’ a golden opportunity of going ahead of 334 score of Bradman and Taylor. He was at 329 when he sacrificed a personal milestone to gain victory for the team. Our aim should be to win for the country and not only add another century to a player’s track record. ‘It would have been a very hollow feeling to score so many runs and not win the Test’ Clarke had declared.

BS BHATIA, Advocate, Chandigarh 

Vendors in streets 

The middle Heartmarts at my door (January 3) presented a view of the changing times. Gone are the days when vendors and hawkers would move in the streets and a group of ladies would surround them and indulge in bargaining and then buy his wares. It is not a classic case of buying and selling alone, it emerges out to be an interaction.

The ladies enquire about the well- being of one another’s families and sometimes the vendor also involves himself in the discussion passing on relevant information. The middle presented a beautiful picture of the street vendors — the milkman, the newspaper man, and the vegetable vendor —each one of them addressing their customers in different styles. Supermarkets and malls are fast replacing the street-side enjoyable scenes. The fast pace of life has taken its toll on the simple joys of street-side shopping.

SHIVANI DUA, Jalandhar



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