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Testing times

The Punjab government has no new jobs for teachers. So many candidates with B.Ed degrees are unemployed. In this scenario, teachers serving in private schools are being forced to clear the teacher’s eligibilty test (TET) as it has been made compulsory in private schools. This is totally wrong and unfair. Old and experienced teachers who have been working for five years or more in private schools must not be asked to clear this test. Fresh teachers may be asked to clear this test.

I hope that good sense will prevail on the state government.

Satpaul Batra, Jalandhar

UGC-NET criteria

Though the University Grants Commission (UGC) has changed the pattern of the National Eligibility Test (NET) from subjective type questions to objective type ones to enhance its reliability, it has lost its validity. The minimum qualification to appear in the test is a masters degree, but to qualify it has become an uphill task even for a Ph.D scholar. The tougher test has discouraged the examinees. It has been found that the concepts of which knowledge is mandatory for the teacher have been left out and stress is given on issues that have not been even heard by the examinees. The criteria does not test any research aptitude, teaching skill or subject knowledge of the candidate. Rather, it is memory-based, with the frustrating chance factor. I would say that this is a bad bargain with quality. I want to ask that if the UGC has changed the pattern of testing, then why are the colleges and universities are still following the subjective mode of questions in exams? Students, then, must be trained according to the testing pattern and level of questions asked in the UGC-NET test.

Preeti, Amritsar

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Khushwant Singh back!

It was heartening to see Khushwant Singh in the pages of The Tribune after a long time. The nonagenarian wordsmith’s pithy and spicy column is missed by his fans and critics alike. In his column, “A loving letter from Pakistan” (January 12), he has, as usual, displayed his ingenuity and mastery of producing a readable piece without contributing much from himself. The column contains an original narrative from a Pakistani writer, Mahboob Ali, aka Preetam Giani, and some pieces of poetry received from the celebrated writer, Vikram Seth, of ‘A Suitable Boy’ fame and son of Leila Seth, former chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

It is indeed a feat which can be likened only to a magician who produces things out of thin air. And in the article, which everybody will ascribe to Khushwant Singh (although he said nothing in the narrative), he serves two motives: he shows his love for stray dogs and praises Vikram Seth, a person of literary substance, by describing him as a writer suitable for the Nobel Prize.

Such artistry and craft is rare in the tribe of present-day columnists. One may or may not agree with Khushwant Singh, but there cannot be second opinion about his wizardry of flavouring the unacceptable with the treacle of his words.

Er L R Sharma, Sundernagar

Rights and duties

India is fast turning into a country of ‘rights’. One finds groups of individuals filing past in public lanes, roads and streets, shouting for their rights. They eventually forced the lawmakers to pass laws, eg right to information (RTI), law against corruption etc.

But many other laws are already on the statute book. For example, right to education, right to food, prevention of corruption etc. But can strong governance be ensured on rights alone? Is there no duty of the people to conduct themselves responsibly?

No right can be safe unless secured by dutiful acts. If the persons required to perform public duty are not given an environment to do their duty fearlessly and firmly, their conduct would stunt the joy, that a right may entail, to one looking out for fair justice. The lawmakers, irrespective of their political leanings, unanimously ensured that their actions were exempt from the purview of the RTI. They have one voice when it comes to increasing their perks and privileges. So, rights find primacy over duties.

Tek Chand, Abada Barana (Una)



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