April 13, 2012

Education, reservation, do-good fallacies

The business of reserving seats is again on. This time the 'honorable' Supreme Court thought, it would help the downtrodden society a lot if private schools are made to not only enrol poor children but let them sit with rich children. This type of impractical do-gooder thinking does not take us far. Be practical and find doable solutions, not taking extreme positions for a purported good end.
Let me explain. Rather ask questions?
Will it not lead to instant comparisons and ill-will between the children of the rich and the poor? Even if they are mixed up early in life for good integration, won't their parents perpetuate the classdivide that harms not only the poor children but also the rich ones?
Not all private schools are run by rich trusts. I read a report sometime back that stated that even in Delhi, a majority of private schools hardly give quality education. Their teachers are worse than governmetn run schools in terms of training and capabilities. Over three-foruths of them take receipt of Rs. 8-10 thousand from teachers but pay them about Rs. 2000 per month. In some colonies, teachers of such 'English medium' schools are paid as low as Rs. 500 a month! My question is will these schools pay even less to their teachers? How good quality education will these exploited, demoralised, ill-trained teachers impart?
Why can't the government, instead of subsidising a new form of corruption in the name of RTE, use the money to improve infrastructure of government schools in terms of teachers, facilities and so on?
Why should the middle income group people be penalised for the governemnts's follies, by paying up to 30 percent more fees? If schools are forced, even if they are subsidised, they will charge enhanced fee in one or the other pretext. Many will increase under-hand 'management quota fee' that they charge from hapless parents by creating scare about lesser availability of non-poor seats and so on. The parents who'd suffer would mostly be from lower and middle strata withing the middle group. 
Will it not lead to another corruption: declaring oneself poor? Will it not fatten the purses of politicians, babus and touts?
If finally, you don't listen to any sane logic, and think that this RTE of yours is the panacea for all education-related ills, why don't you eliminate the caste based reservation to that extent? After all, SC and ST children will be covered predominently if poor children are enrolled under RTE. Why do they need a reservation and special treatment over and above the children of others who might be equally backward and poor?

February 3, 2012

Bloody Economic Times says, Supreme Court judgement is 'unfair'

Today I felt like spitting at the Economic Times.
The otherwise respectable English economic daily - the largest circulated one in India - says, the Supreme Court judgement on 2G scam is 'unfair'.
It is not an meotional outburst, and I understand economics well.
If punishing the guilty for blatant misuse of authority and blatantly unethical trade practices based on bribe-giving is unfair, what is fair, dear ET? It is only because papers like you support crony capitalism that the country is growing in statistical growth while poverty, hunger, diseases, civic mess, farmers' suicides and so on continue in this country. Papers like you encouage businessmen and third-rate political leaders and bureaucrats to keep doing what they do.
Shame on you.
[I have praised your mother paper, the Times of India, and your sister TV channel, ET Now, for taking up relevant causes. So it is not my bias but your absolutely irresponsible take on SC judgement that makes me upset with you. I have decided that I will rant against you as much as I can do till my anger subsides and you apologise. If not, I'll keep spitting on you.]

January 6, 2012

Why is BJP ‘a party with a difference’?

BJP is indeed a party with a difference, and we keep learning about this quality of BJP now and again. Look, the way it spoiled its image by letting its Karnataka and Uttarakhand CMs stick to their seats till it became unbearable. Numerous political observers have talked in current affairs shows that the two CMs in question used their money bags to silence the top brass. We are not sure whether that is true or not, but the trend shows that things are rotting in a big way in BJP’s moral core.
BJP’s handling of Lokpal issue also made the party look like a mirror-image of the ruling major, the Congress. The lack of moral courage, indulgence in insincere rhetoric, resolve to deny the country an effective anti-corruption institution… BJP showed itself as a party with a difference – yes, people are seeing huge difference from its initial image of being disciplined, nationalistic and honest.  
The latest act of commission, the entry of Kushwaha in the party leaves the party with a rotten egg on its face. On one hand, the party postures by meeting the president [who is ‘Her Excellency the President of India’ other than a Congress’s hand-picked politician?] and in parallel, the party’s president is busy selling the party’s reputation on a tainted BSP-discard called Kushwaha! 
Sometime back, India News Today talked about a serious internal drift within BJP. The way BJP is declining, it may soon end up being another BSP or SP. We don’t need another instance of what happens to a ‘national’ party when it loses its moral strength and tries to compete with others in third-rate politics. Btw, when the party was supposed to be a relatively honest party, the positive public image might have been because people had not seen its true colours, or maybe it acquired the colours once it came to power.

October 24, 2011

It happens in India; in Britain too?

A news items carried by Daily Express [of Britain] about fixing of a street bulb taking 46 days and 12 visits by workmen amused me. More because it makes news in Britain while it is so routine in India. The story there ended with fixing of the bulb; here in India, we would not be sure.

mesh of electric wires on Delhi's poles
The story runs like this: elderly man in Britain was shocked to find that it took 46 days and a dozen workmen to replace a street lamp bulb. A pensioner Jack Doran, of  Cheltenham town noticed a bulb on the  lamp-post broken.  The electric workers found that the base of the lamp was surrounded by a hedge, so called  parks' department. The new workmen found water leaking into the light. When this was repaired, they discovered it needed a special bulb.They borrowed one from a nearby lamppost and returned for another try. But then, they discovered the fuse had gone. So, after 46 days of complaint, the bulb was finally fixed.

October 17, 2011

Indian society: when will you be civil enough?

A heart-wrenching article on atrocities on dalits has appeared in yesterday's DNA. In Maharashtra, the report says, dalits are not free even to bury their dead. I have visited many places throughout the country but what I never noticed that burial ground was such an issue. Also, I did not know that Sikhs too practice casteism, that too of a highly despicable kind. Just read this:

Though Dalits form 30% of Punjab’s population, and though Sikhism frowns on discrimination in the name of caste or creed, untouchability against the Mazhbis and Ramdasias, the two Dalit castes among Sikhs, is well established. They have been forced to live in separate settlements, contemptuously called thhattis or chamarhlees, and forced to reside on the western side, away from the main area of the villages, so that the winds blowing over them don’t pollute the upper castes. All the Sikh organisations, from Sikh temples to the political parties, are under the control of the Jat Sikhs, who refuse to consider Dalit Sikhs equals even after death. The former disallow cremation of the latter’s dead in the main cremation grounds. Over the years, such harsh discrimination has forced Dalits to establish separate gurdwaras, marriage places and cremation grounds. This, in many ways, is the biggest paradox of Sikhism, which is often characterised as ‘emancipatory’ and ‘revolutionary’.

Full article is available here: DNA's dalit burial ground report