Pseudo Poor Sympathizers & F1

I was just going through the newspaper when I came across an ample number of brickbats in connection to the Indian Grand Prix being held in Greater Noida. The criticizers whose opprobrium was highly venomous argued that the Indian Establishment should stop spending money on such activities as they are western ways of recreation and a status symbol sport for the elite.

They said they should instead spend the money of the State exchequer on poverty alleviation. What I fail to realize is that why can’t these pseudo-poor sympathizers realize that India is aiming for inclusive growth which implies all around development? On one hand we are doing our bit to alleviate poverty and eradicate unemployment by enacting schemes like the MNREGA and on the other, we are trying to showcase our strength and emergence on the global scale by hosting events like the F1. Development is a simple word having positive as well as negative implications. What the establishment has done is going to give way to positive development but such pessimistic takes being published in leading dailies will lead to only ‘negative developments’.

Dynasties in Judiciary

The Indian Judiciary is even more plagued by dynasties and nepotism than Indian Polity. The rule of dynasties in Indian Politics is characterized in the form of insurmountable control of the political high command by first families and it also applies to certain constituencies which yield MP’s & MLA’s belonging to the same family election after election but the disease of dynasties runs through the entire Indian Judicial System right from the top to the bottom.

Decent judicial family background helps individuals to get an easy entry in the judicial spectrum. These young judicial officers’ ie new lawyers usually take up those cases which were with their parents till now. They carry forward the legacy of his or her father or mother. A highly dubious system of sitting senior judges appointing new judges ensures that the family legacy continues in the form of appointment of a judge’s son as a judge courtesy nepotism and favouritism.

The point that I want to make over here is that entry into Indian Politics is highly challenging and tough but entry into the Indian Judiciary is miraculously stern. One more thing is that there is a huge difference between politics and judiciary. One isn’t supposed to take up politics as a career, he is supposed to sacrifice in order to join politics but people crave for a career in the judiciary. The Indian Judicial system has become a family business cum family profession. The Indian Society is highly critical of the political system but the truth is that problems aren’t just relegated to the Parliament, State Legislatures & the Executive. The third pillar of our democracy ie the judiciary is in a mess too where new entrants don’t get an opportunity to prove themselves because all the cases go either to senior lawyers or to the children of established practicing lawyers.

Team Anna’s Tryst with BJP

In a press conference, Anna Hazare has made public his future plan of action. Anna categorically stated that if the Congress led UPA government fails to get his version of the Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of the Parliament, he will embark on a tour of all the poll bound states and campaign against the Congress. He further stated that he plans to launch a fast in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, three days prior to the Election Day in case the worse happens.

He further urged voters in Hisar Lok Sabha Constituency of Haryana which is scheduled for by-polls to not vote for the candidate representing the Congress because his party has deliberately delayed the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill. What is strange is the fact that Anna and Team Anna has tactically singled out the Congress as the party to be attacked and to be blamed for the entire ‘Delay Lokpal fiasco’ at a time when no party in the country is willing to lend full proof support to his version of the bill. Even the BJP which happens to be the prime opposition party of India and a supporter of Team Anna doesn’t support the Jan Lokpal Bill in its present form. Very strategically and opportunistically the BJP stated that it supports the Jan Lokpal Bill but with amendments. This vindicates the fact that the BJP is trying to politically hijack Anna’s movement and is trading its guns in coordination with Anna’s movement but the truth is that they themselves are not in full support of Anna’s version of the bill.

What remains to be seen is how will Anna react and deal with the BJP. Team Anna has been very reluctant to accept any amendments to its version of the bill. It has taken a maximus stand and refuses to budge, bend, reach out or compromise. Will Team Anna claim the BJP’s support at a time even when the BJP doesn’t support its stand fully or will Team Anna launch an accelerated attack even on the BJP for failing to lend unconditional support to its bill?


Too Much of National Pride is Crushing Constructive Criticism

The people of India are extremely intolerant towards the criticism of certain iconic individuals and incredible institutions of their country. These iconic individuals are known for their superhuman efforts and these incredible institutions are remembered for churning out the most talented set of men and women. Any criticism of these individuals or institutions (be it reasonable or unreasonable) happens to create a stir and is presumed to go against national prestige. All in all, they are considered to be larger than life.

It’s a scenario of exaggerated national pride where we categorically crush constructive criticism. We don’t allow anyone to kickstart any debate which questions Gandhi’s political strategies, his views on sex and his alleged superstitions. We create a huge furore when Shoaib Akhtar questions Sachin Tendulkar’s credentials as a batsman or when Adam Gilchrist raises doubts about his sportsmanship and the entire country collectively condemns Narayan Murthy’s opprobrium of IIT’s after an unneeded controversy. We’ve got to accept the fact that these individuals/institutions are not above suspicion or criticism. ‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion’ doesn’t apply to them. We need to stop seeing Mahatma Gandhi as a saint, prophet or messiah. He was a master politician who happened to be just as shrewd as all the other politicians of his time and achieved awe-inspiring success but that doesn’t mean that he did not lead movements which failed or he did not take any wrong step which backfired. There is no denying that Sachin Tendulkar is the one of the best cricketers of all time but the truth is that sometimes he has also failed to deliver on occasions when the team has actually required him to lead from the front. The IIT’s continue to be extremely prestigious and sought after institutions but the IIT’s just like all the other institutes of India can be accused of not imparting technical education necessary for survival in the industry.

What we need to learn is how to utilize opprobrium and critically analyze it for our own benefit. There is no point in banning books and crushing criticisms. It’s always better to have a debating society where factions advocating different view points exist instead of having a society where there are no mavericks, no argument can be countered and there is a unitary centre of power/thinking whose stance has to be toe-ed on each and every matter.

The 100% Cut-Off – Feasible or Fanatical?

Like all these recent years this year too there was a great sense of curiosity prior to the publication of the first cut-off list pertaining to admissions in the highly reputed Delhi University which houses a galaxy of prestigious constituent colleges. All the colleges (except for St Stephens which has been granted restricted autonomy and special status within the ambit of the University by the apex court of law and justice) as has been the tradition made public the cut-offs for various courses in a cumulative list published  by the Delhi University. The cut-offs lived up to the expectations of being murderous and merciless. The sky smooching and roof topping cut-offs left many heartbroken while others slipped into unexplainable ecstasy as they had managed to fulfill their dreams. Amidst all this action, there was one cut-off of a very sought after course belonging to a highly popular college which stood out, became a talking point for millions around the country and generated a national debate. One of the most prestigious colleges of commerce in the country, namely, Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) had set the cut-off point for admission to BCOM (Hons) at a staggering 100%. There was a sharp response and a stir which was pretty inevitable in this bizarre case. Let’s go fact by fact and delve out whether this move of setting the cut-off at such a staggering spot was feasible or fanatical.

The media was up to task even before students and parents could correctly interpret things and realize as to what had happened. Very predictably, the media took up the case of enraged students and started sympathizing with them. The media bashing began and they were accompanied in this job by academicians, educationists, intellectuals and even the HRD Minister of India. Everybody was fuming over the fact as to how could an institute of such repute act so recklessly where it actually sets up an impossible feat as a necessary criteria for admission. But what was overlooked was a simple fact that the cut-off of 100% was for non commerce students who intended to switch over to commerce and do BCOM (Hons) whereas the cut-off for commerce students remained at an achievable 96%. This figure was categorically ignored and the media resorted to false propaganda to grab eyeballs and TRP’s. The sensational figure of ‘100%’ was broadcasted and talked about day in and day out but not even a single attempt was made to bring to light the reasons which led to the culmination of this bold move.

The Principal of SRCC, came out in public and took a daring stand. He argued that no engineering or medical college gives commerce students the liberty of sitting in their entrance examinations, forget about getting admission their, then why should these students be allowed to foray into the field of commerce and steal valuable seats which are meant to be for students of commerce. Extreme significance was given to the 100% cut-off but nobody highlighted the fact that SRCC had taken in more students than its intake capacity courtesy the liberal cut-off for commerce students. The 100% cut-off acted as a filter and ensured that no science or humanities student managed to walk inside the course of BCOM (Hons) at SRCC. Even though one girl hailing from Kerala defied all odds when she came for admission in SRCC in BCOM (Hons) and proudly flaunted her phenomenal percentage of 100% but she belonged to the commerce stream. One can even state that setting the cut-off at 100% wasn’t as illogical as portrayed. Indian institutions are often accused of not being world class. The only way in which we can shed this tag and blaze past Ivy League institutions like Harvard and Brown is by raising the bar of performance to a level which is beyond being surpassed.

After carefully analyzing the college’s spirited defence and stand, let’s analyze and highlight the other side of the coin. The Principal of SRCC, rightly pointed out that no commerce or humanities student is granted admission in engineering and medical colleges but the point to be noted over here is that the UGC, AICTE and the HRD Ministry has clearly granted science students the right to switch over to humanities or commerce background. Secondly, the HRD Ministry led by popular Minister Kapil Sibal has decided to take a revolutionary step which would enable students from humanities or commerce background to switch over to science after 10+2. This move of the HRD Ministry clearly defeats the argument fielded by SRCC. Hopefully students from all backgrounds will be able to switch over and this is enough of a reason as to why science students should not be stopped from stepping over to commerce. We also need to realize that there is a great amount of insanity attached to the cut-off of 100%. We’ve got to overcome this numbers game which seems to have actually overshadowed innovation and out of the box talent. Its true that we need to enhance the quality of our educational institutions but that cannot be done by putting into place astronomical cut-offs. The question is how many people get 100%? Maybe one in a million! It’s practically an impossible task. We are giving too much of importance to marks one obtains in an examination which is known to be extremely lenient in comparison to home examinations conducted by schools on their own. An examination where students who repeatedly fail to even get 60% in schools end up getting a decent 75% or maybe a healthy 80% or where average students get 90% thanks to the leniency of the person correcting the answer script and also because of the highly questionable marking policy. We’ve got to become innovators ourselves and hone out a way with the help of which real talent could be bred. The quality of a student does depend on the quantity of marks obtained by him but it also depends on his concise views, technical know-how and overall knowledge. We can surely find a better way of tapping and attracting the best talent in the country instead of advertising for a perfect score of 100.

Whether the 100% cut-off was feasible or fanatical is for the people to decide but there is no denying that this event has fuelled an important debate which has sparked concerns over the issue of education in India and the ever increasing competition to be cleared to realize dreams.