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PPP model replete with anomalies

The Punjab government claims to provide quality education to school children through the PPP (public private partnership) mode in Aadarsh schools. The state government cites paucity of funds whenever funds for government schools are needed, while the same government provides “liberal grants’’ to private players in the PPP mode to run schools. The tall claim of the government that the PPP model will transform the education scenario in the state is both misleading and exaggerated. Children belonging to the marginalised and underprivileged sections of society will remain out of its domain. Government-funded education will get replaced with “user charges” as education would be considered a commodity for which user charges will be levied.

With the implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE), the government is willing to pay Rs 19,000 per annum per student belonging to the weaker sections of society to private schools. This subsidy to private schools can be used in government-run schools, but the government has a ‘soft corner’ for private players.

The health sector has also been put on PPP mode. PIMS Hospital, Jalandhar, and Max Health Care Institute, Bathinda, have been conceptualised through PPP mode. The private players who have decided to run these premier institutes have extracted a lot of benefits in terms of tax exemption, free land, land on lease or land at a dirt low price, etc, from the state government. In return, 5% annual income of these hospitals would be utilised for the treatment of BPL families. These health centres would cater to the needs of the rich only and the poor would be deprived of treatment at these centres.

The exorbitant hike in the user charges at Indira Gandhi International Airport which functions under PPP mode has put an additional burden of Rs 1,000-Rs 1,500 on every passenger.

PPP is nothing more than marketing and privatisation of public goods or services. Adopting this mode leads to a situation in which the classic dictum ‘government is business and business is government’ becomes an operating ideology.

The PPP mode is dangerous for the country, as it reduces the role of the state considerably. This model of growth would spell doom as the economy of the country would gradually slip into the hands of a few oligopolies who would bypass the projects that rank high on social priority.

Prof RAJAN KAPOOR, Jalandhar

Unwieldy Aadhaar card

The much-talked about Unique Identification Card is disappointing in many ways. Its large size, 21.3 cm x 6.7 cm, is unwieldy and unmanageable rather than the standard 8 cm x 5 cm smart card.

It bears numbers like the Aadhaar No, Enrolment No, and many others which causes confusion. It carries the bearer’s year of birth but not the date of birth. It says that it is a proof of identification but not of citizenship. Why so?

The card is printed in English and a regional language. There was no need to have a bilingual card, and if at all necessary it should have been in English and Hindi.

Wg Cdr CL SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

Trust deficit

In his interview, Punjab Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka said that despite the government schools having teachers more qualified than those in private ones, people did not have faith in government education (“Will restore people’s faith govt. schools”, May 18). The reason is obvious. The government schools do not provide quality education. It is not the higher qualification of any teacher, but the devotion and ability to induce even dull pupils to acquire knowledge that matters.

Absenteeism among teachers and their indifferent attitude towards students’ problems vitiates the academic atmosphere. A large number of teachers are not proficient in their subjects and perform their duty in a slipshod manner, with the result that many students use unfair means in examinations.

Jo ik nigaah sey kartey they khaak ko akseer, kahaan gaey voh mo’allam voh mehrbaan ustaad (Where have gone those kind teachers, who transformed dust into elixir with a single glance at it).


Meaningful memorial

However, anguished a large number of Sikhs might feel about the desecration of the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar, they need to bear one thing in mind. Why was a place of worship permitted to become a sanctuary for brutal murderers? Did they not defile the precincts of the ‘Swarna Mandir’first?

A similar dilemma was faced by the Japanese when they set upon remembering people who lost their lives during the Hiroshma bombing in August, 1945. What Japan suffered was horrendous, more than the loss in Op Bluestar.

But the Japanese also realised that they were the ones who started it. So, the memorials they built in the city, at the centre of which is the Peace Park, do not reflect any anger or thought of revenge. Instead, they convey a message of universal peace. The centre-piece is the cenotaph in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park which carries this simple inscription in Japanese: “Rest in peace. We shall not let it happen again.”

A sober enunciation with no bitterness such as this can never be faulted. It blames no one, yet it recognises that something abominable happened. Will the SGPC also show the same sagacity when they build a memorial commemorating Op Bluestar?


Tatkal quota?

Tatkal quota under the Indian Railways Passenger Reservation System (PRS) which has been facilitated for the passengers to book tickets in emergency is a farce. The common man is not benefiting from this service because it is being misused by travel agents who place their touts at booking counters in the wee hours or late at night in collusion with some station masters.

The travel agents charge up to Rs 500 extra for sleeper class and up to Rs 1500 for AC ticket. Since online booking of Tatkal ticket is banned for travel agents between 8am-9.30 pm, they hire young boys on daily basis and send them for booking tickets. They manage to book the first tickets at the reservation counter and then they call the travel agent and tell him about the status on reservation counter. After half an hour, the travel agent comes to the counter and replaces the boy to book the ticket. He books around 10-15 tickets in connivance with the ticket booking clerk.

CCTV cameras must be installed at railway station premises and persons frequently visiting reservation counter should be questioned and the working of the ticket booking clerks should be checked.

RAM MISHRA, Amritsar



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