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What Dalits wantIt is not just reservations and jobs. But also, respect and participation, prosperity and empowerment

Ram Madhav

In 1947, we opted for democracy as our political system post-Independence. Democracy was something that would give the weak the same chance as the strong, explained Mahatma Gandhi. Like many otherdemocracies in the world, the three famous principles of the French Revolution liberty, equality and fraternity have inspired us too. Liberty we secured through a prolonged political struggle; equality we secured through our Constitution. But what about the third?

Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of our Constitution had said that his inspiration for liberty, equality and fraternity was Bhagwan Buddha. What does fraternity mean? he asked and went on to explain, Fraternity means a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians of Indians being one people.It is the principle that gives unity and solidarity to social life.

Fraternity cant be achieved through rules and laws in the Constitution. It requires apersistent education of the people throughpublic and private initiatives. In the last seven decades, have we been able to achieve what Ambedkar had described as fraternity?

Indian society is divided into castes and sub-castes. One single biggest challenge to fraternity today is the hierarchical castesystem. Its roots are no doubt very deep. But its distorted and utterly discriminatory manifestation today has no sanction in any Hindu dharmashastras.

Janmana jatih caste by birth is what we practise as the caste system. Although it had its roots in the varnashrama system of ancient times, the varnashrama system never sanctioned any caste hierarchy; nor did itallow any discrimination. In fact, transmigration was said to be the order of the day in that ancient system.

Ajyestaaso akanistaasa yete sam bhraataro vaavrudhuh soubhagaya (No one is superior or inferior; all are brothers; all should strive for the interest of all and progress collectively), proclaims the Rigveda (Mandala 5, Sukta 60, Mantra 5).

But the present-day caste system defies its own great scriptural wisdom and knowledge. It defies our Constitution in that it stands as a stumbling block in achievingfraternity in society. In a way, it has outlived its utility. The varnashrama system had depended on guna and karma aptitudes and actions in positioning a person in a varna. Todays caste system has no connection with the old system. Hence, it should go lock,stock and barrel.

However, caste has not remained justa system. It got entrenched as an identity. Identities are not easy to erase.There isa need to find innovative ways to tackle this identity question.

Pending that, we shouldnt lose sight of the immediate. The immediate issue is about discrimination based on caste. Article 17 of our Constitution has effectively and fully sought to abolish untouchability and enforcing any disability on the basis of so-called low and high caste discrimination. Towards that end, we have also promulgated the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, which made the offence of violating Article 17 punishable.

But has it really ended discrimination? Why is a Dalit, however well-educated and well-placed he may be, forced to hide his identity? Why is it that a leader from among Dalits is always seen only as a Dalit leader, which is not the case with other leaders? Hierarchical casteism is entrenched in the social psyche, and that is where the battle is.

Today, we are living in an era of caste assertion. In order for social unity and harmony to be well-maintained, we need to keep the discourse on track. In the mid-1990s, a Dalit sub-caste in Andhra Pradesh started using their caste name as a suffix to their names. This, in their view, was a proud assertion of their identity. This act led to serious discussion among the intelligentsia. Many were worried that casteism was staging a comeback. But a simple and profound question asked by a Dalit intellectual put the discussion to rest. In Andhra, people belonging to several non-Dalit castes use their caste name as a suffix. This has been the practice for long. Never did the question of growing casteism arise when Sharma or Shastry or Reddy was used as a suffix. Why this concern when a Dalit does the same?

This calls for a deeper understanding of the discourse within caste groups. For political correctness, one may declare that there is no discrimination in Hinduism and that a Dalit has an equal right to study the Vedas and become on par with a Brahmin. But the question a Dalit will ask is about this notion of on par. Why cant it be that a Dalit reads the Vedas and still remains what he is? Why should he be doing it in order to become on par with some other caste?

This is the real discourse that we need to address. We assume that the Dalit discourse is all about more reservations and more jobs. No doubt, reservations are important and so are jobs. But the hunger today is for four things: Samman (respect and dignity), sahbhagita (participation and partnership), samriddhi (progress and prosperity) and, finally, satta (empowerment).

The government can take care of the last two, but the first two are the responsibility of society. Social and religious organisations have to take responsibility for addressing the Dalit hunger for samman and sahbhagita. That is when social equality is achieved.

Ambedkar was right when he warned the nation about it. On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life ofcontradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life wewill have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of oursocial and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.

How long shall we continue to live this lifeof contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social andeconomic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril.

The writer is national general secretary, BJP, and director, India Foundation :



Bureaucracy has had it too easy


Only now are they in the line of fire. Some lateral thinking is required to reform the administration

This seems to be a season of some good news as far as administrative reforms for economic growth is concerned. The commerce department at the nudge of the Prime Ministers Office is considering setting up a large specialised team to negotiate international trade deals. Such a team would comprise specialists drawn from the Indian Trade Service, Indian Foreign Service and trade lawyers.

This line of thinking has been influenced by the fact that on such issues, we are always short on government expertise compared to other countries, while the number of international trade deals continues to rise.

On the home front too, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently set up a task force to recommend more efficient deployment of bureaucrats to priority schemes and do away with the practice of sinecures.

These and other steps such as asking secretaries to attend to a set of grievances on a weekly basis clearly signals the Prime Ministers resolve to usher in good governance which would indisputably involve elements such as responsiveness, transparency, accountability and predictability, amongst others.

Combined efforts

These elements do not fructify in isolation. They require sustained and seamless coordination amongst sections of society, industry and the government, thus necessitating the need for efficient bureaucratic machinery comprising capable and responsive public servants.

The importance of such a bureaucracy assumes special significance in a country such as India as it is largely still characterised as an apathetic state despite the Prime Ministers clarion call of Maximum Governance and Minimum Government.

In order to get an efficient, proactive and a responsive bureaucracy, a number of factors need to be considered. For instance, it will serve us well to understand administrative norms that bureaucrats in different States are socialised into. A recent study by Akshay Mangla, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, reinforces this point.

His research establishes that different bureaucratic cultures are a significant cause for significantly different primary education outcomes in the socially comparable hilly States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Another point that this study reinforces is that bureaucracies do not operate in a political vacuum.Public institutions evolve in response to how political leadership conducts itself. This perhaps explains why certain bureaucrats perform better under an outcome and performance oriented political leadership compared to others. Bihars chief minister, Nitish Kumar, and Modi are both examples of leaders who have turned around things at the State and Central level using largely the same administrative machinery.

They brought in some changes at the helm to get the subordinate staff to deliver outcomes. They have also inspired other political leaders to follow suit.

Sustainable solutions

There needs to be a more sustainable solution a solution that ensures that adverse and deeply entrenched bureaucratic norms do not slow down the development process and most, if not all, bureaucrats deliver.

This is where a rather old but perhaps an ever more relevant call for lateral entry and exit would make sense. The debate for lateral entry into the civil services has been going on for a while. Many individuals, committees and commissions have espoused or seconded this idea, and instances of lateral entry have even taken place in the past, but a recent reform by the Jharkhand government lays out a template for other States.

Jharkhand, which has also carried out other reforms such as reduction in the number of government departments and improvement in ease of doing business, has allowed lateral entry in the appointment of advisers at the special secretary level.

It is indeed a positive step and one that acknowledges the lack of expertise amongst the generalist civil servants. This step makes even more sense in light of the fact that the so-called next generation economic reforms that India is looking to unleash actually vest at the State level.

Therefore, bureaucratic expertise will make a significant difference in the trajectory of Indias economic and inclusive growth. The Prime Ministers Office has already asked the NITI Aayog to circulate this innovative practice of lateral entry from Jharkhand among fellow States so that the model could be replicated.

Hopefully, other States will follow soon. But just as we move ahead, it is important to note that it is equally crucial to have an institutionalised system of lateral exit and weeding out of non-performing bureaucrats.

Complementary function

An institutionalised system of lateral exit would complement the lateral entry system by providing exposure to serving bureaucrats in an organisational set-up outside of government, such as in the private sector or with civil society. As Indian States trudge along the path of competition with each other, such lateral exit for bureaucrats will make them more empathetic, proactive and responsive towards the needs of businesses, consumers and citizens. But, most of all, the institutionalisation of lateral entry and exit will obviate the need for the PMO always showing the path which is not only unsustainable but also undesirable.

Another important element to revitalise the bureaucracy is to weed out non-performers.

In my own experience of over 30 years in public policy, I have often found senior officers whom I will not even hire as upper divisional clerks. They reach high levels through sheer sycophancy while their capacity to perform drops in proportion over time.

The recent sacking of 15 customs and central excise personnel on the grounds of non-performance shows that such practices can also be made routine as the enabling rules exist but are seldom used.

In short, the need is to bring in a perform or perish culture in the bureaucracy as the stakes are really high and the country cannot wait.

The writer is the secretary-general of CUTS International

(This article was published on April 14, 2016)


Government employees to file asset details for three years by July

NEW DELHI: All Central government employees were today told to file details of their assets and liabilities, along with that of their spouses and dependent children, as part of mandatory obligations under Lokpal Act by July. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked secretaries of all Central government ministries and chief secretaries of state governments to ensure that employees working under their control file the declarations in time. The move comes as the deadline for filing of these returns was yesterday extended for the fifth time, till July 31. Employees have to file three declarationsone each for 2014, 2015 and 2016. There are about 50 lakh Central government employees. The declarations under the Lokpal law are in addition to similar ones filed by the employees under various services rules. Employees have to give details like cash in hand, bank deposits both in domestic and in foreign, investment in bonds, debentures, shares and units in companies or mutual funds, insurance policies, provident fund, personal loans and advance given to any person or entity, among others. They also have to declare expensive furniture, fixtures, antiques, paintings and electronic equipment if the total current value of any particular asset in any particular category (e.g. furniture, fixtures, electronic equipments) exceeds two months' basic pay or Rs one lakh. As per rules, notified under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, every public servant shall file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities as on March 31 every year or on or before July 31 of that year. For 2014, the last date for filing returns was September 15 of that year. It was first extended till December 2014, then till April 30, 2015 and third extension was up to October 15. The date was then extended to April 15, this year for filing of returns for 2014 and 2015. Now it has been extended till July 31, 2016 and employees have to file one returns each for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by this new date.


No disciplinary action against employees with more than 2 children: Rajasthan government

JAIPUR: Rajasthan government will not take disciplinary action against its employees who have more than two children. The decision was taken at the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje here today. "After considering the demands of employees unions, the government decided to not take action against those employees who have more than two children on or after June 1, 2002," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rajendra Rathore said. As per a government notification in June 2000, a candidate having more than two children is not eligible for government recruitment. An employee, whose third child is born after recruitment, is not given promotion for five years. Decision to execute 'Gram Uday se Bharat Uday' scheme from April 14 to April 24, approval to financial restructuring plan under UDAI scheme for power discoms were taken in the meeting, he said. The Cabinet also approved jal swavalamban abhiyan from April 17 to 24 and exemption from development tax to 25 solar solar projects, the Minister said.


Babus get fifth extension till July to file assets details

The deadline for central government employees to file details of their assets and liabilities, along with that of their spouses and dependent children, as part of mandatory obligations under Lokpal Act was extended for the fifth time today till July this year.

The relevant rules under the Lokpal law have been amended to extend the date of filing returns from April 15 to July 31, 2016, a senior official in Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.

This is the fifth extension in the deadline after the Act came into force.With the latest extension, employees will have to file three declarations--one each for 2014, 2015 and 2016. There are about 50 lakh Central government employees.The declarations under the Lokpal law are in addition to similar ones filed by the employees under various services rules.

Employees have to give details like cash in hand, bank deposits both in domestic and in foreign, investment in bonds, debentures, shares and units in companies or mutual funds, insurance policies, provident fund, personal loans and advance given to any person or entity, among others.

They also have to declare expensive furniture, fixtures, antiques, paintings and electronic equipment if the total current value of any particular asset in any particular category (e.g. furniture, fixtures, electronic equipments) exceeds two months' basic pay or Rs one lakh.As per rules, notified under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, every public servant shall file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities as on March 31 every year or on or before July 31 of that year.

For 2014, the last date for filing returns was September 15 of that year. It was first extended till December 2014, then till April 30, 2015 and third extension was up to October 15. The date was then extended to April 15, this year for filing of returns for 2014 and 2015. Now it has been extended till July 31, 2016 and employees have to file one returns each for 2014, 2015 and 2016 by this date, the official said.



NET not needed for those who registered for PhD before 2009

Scholars who completed a PhD or registered for one before 2009 would be eligible for lectureship without clearing the national eligibility test (NET), HRD minister Smriti Irani announced on Tuesday.

The move will help create a larger talent pool for teaching jobs. Women researchers will get more time to complete their research an additional year for MPhil and two more for PhD along with maternity leave benefits, Irani said.

At present, a student who has a postgraduate degree or an MPhil and has cleared the NET/SET (state-level eligibility test) is eligible for lectureship in a college or university. If the student fails to clear the eligibility test but has an MPhil degree, he or she can teach in a college, but not a university.

If a student does a PhD in accordance with UGC (University Grants Commission) regulations, such as publication of research papers and presentations in seminars/conferences, he or she is eligible for the post of assistant professor in any college or university.

In 2009, the UGC made NET and a PhD the minimum eligibility criteria for the post of assistant professor in colleges and universities.

On Tuesday, the ministry gave the go-ahead to the commission to exempt such students from NET/SET for teaching jobs in universities and other educational institutions.

However, students will have to fulfil a number of conditions, including that the PhD is offered in regular mode and researchers have published papers as part of their work.

The ministry and the UGC did not have a specific figure on the number of beneficiaries but officials said the decision would benefit hundreds of thousands of aspiring teachers who were so far ineligible as they could not clear the NET or SET.

There has been a long-standing challenge faced by researchers/aspiring teachers. The UGC today in conjunction with the government has taken this decision, Irani said.

UGC chairman Ved Prakash said the move would create a greater pool of eligible candidates for recruitment as assistant professors. It would also address the shortage of faculty in educational institutions, he said.

Irani said female students would be given maternity leave of 240 days that would be excluded from the duration of their research. They would also be given eight years compared to the existing six for completing their PhD and three years to complete their MPhil instead of two. The same benefits will be provided to people with disability.

Also, in case of relocation of a female MPhil/PhD scholar due to marriage or other reasons, research data will be allowed to be transferred to the university to which the scholar intends to relocate provided other conditions are met.

Granting more freedom to autonomous institutions and to incentivise quality education, the UGC and the ministry have done away with mandatory inspection of such institutes, nor will they require a no-objection certificate from the state. An autonomous college has academic autonomy to design its curriculum, prescribe syllabi and evolve its own pedagogy.

They will only have to provide an NOC from the affiliated university and if they are accredited with the highest grade for two consecutive cycles, they would be granted autonomous status, Irani said.


Narayana Murthy calls for Pay-per-performance system in schools

IT czar N R Narayana Murthytoday said he wants pay-per-performance system be implemented in every school and the students should vote on the competenceof teachers based on certain attributes.

"What is my vision for primary and secondary education in India? I want India to go from its current 130th position in HDI in 2015 to the top 10 by harnessing education.

I want every child to receive the best help from teachers to rise to its best potential commensurate with his or her capacitywithout being hindered by financial constraints," Murthy said, delivering convocation address at the University ofMysore.

"I do not want the access to high quality, high leverage education to be restricted to only the elite as it is today but to be available to the poorest of the poor also," he said.Murthy was conferred honorary doctorate by theUniversity, which is celebrating its centenary year.

"I want the Indian schools and universities to become inspiration for children all over the world. I want our children to focus on problem-solving, orientation to improve the context rather than the current focus on learning byrote," he said.

Noting that market will be the "ultimate decider" of the efficacy of every school, he said the only function of the government was to regulate the quality of education by setting standards.

The committee for standards will consist of well proven teachers, academicians, parents who have a global outlook.

He said the syllabus and examination system will have to be validated once in five years by comparing it withthe best global standards by a committee of experts withIndians from around the world as well as experts fromcountries that have done better than India.

He said many people think that education is expensive and would like to remind them of the words of Derrick Bok, aformer President of Harvard University, who said, "If youthink education is expensive, try ignorance".

"Many people call for democratisation of excellence in education. This is obviously a much needed thing but such a thing does not exist since excellence is rising above the normal," he said.


First time in 8 years: Ambedkar University to hold student unionelections

Last date for filing nomination papers is 2 pm on April 13, and the last date of withdrawal is April 16. The elections are due to be held on April 18 between 9 am and 3 pm.

Written by Aranya Shankar

Eight years after it was established, Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) is all set to hold its first student council elections on April 18. University officials and teachers who are helping with organising the first election said they had been mulling the idea since last year, but decided this was the right time.

AUD was established in 2008, but it was only in 2011 that many students decided to opt for admission in the college. There were certain demands from students, and we too felt that it would be better for students to have their own union where they could debate and discuss issues, said a teacher.

He added that at the initial stage, each programme would choose one student representative. We have 40 programmes in total (undergraduate and postgraduate), so elections will be held for one student representative from each programme on April 18, he said.

The 40 representatives would then be required to draft their own constitution and eventually elect the union. They will be given the task of drafting their own constitution and then eventually elect the four central office bearers president, vice-president, secretary and joint-secretary. The idea is to allow them their own process, said a faculty member.

However, the university has not fixed a timeline for the central panel election and has left it to the prerogative of the students. A university official, however, said this process would take time and is not on the universitys immediate agenda. The last date for filing nomination papers for the council elections is 2 pm on April 13, and the last date of withdrawal is April 16. The elections are due to be held on April 18 between 9 am and 3 pm. The results would be declared the same day at 10 pm.

ASIAN AGE, APR 11, 2016

OBCs not to get benefit in entrance tests in JNU

From the upcoming academic session, JNU will not provide any relaxation to the OBC candidates in the entrance examinations for M.Phil and Ph.D. courses, but they will be entitled to a concession of five marks in the eligibility criteria.

Last week, a decision in this regard was taken at a standing committee meeting attended by the deans of various schools.

At present, the university treats both OBC and general candidates at par when it comes to eligibility criteria for admissions to various courses. They need to have secured a minimum of 55 per cent marks in the qualifying examination.

However, the SC/ST candidates are given a relaxation, as they only require passing the qualifying examination with 34 per cent marks. However, the OBC candidates are offered a 10 per cent relaxation in the entrance examination or at the interview stage.

Therefore, while candidates in the general category are required to secure 40 marks, OBC students had to secure a minimum of 36 marks. The OBC students have been demanding a concession at both the stages since long. Last year, a candidate had also approached the court challenging denial of admission by the JNU as he had stood second in the entrance exam, but did not meet the eligibility criteria.

A source said, It will be unfair to give the concession at both the stages, so it has been decided that the OBC candidates will be given a relaxation in eligibility, but they will have to compete with the general category students in the entrance exam or the interview.

HINDU, APR 12, 2016

Bar Council of India suggests proper dress code for law students


The controversy over what makes proper dressing on campus refuses to die down. The Bar Council of India (BCI) has noted that the standard of dresses by the students of law all over the country is gradually detracting. A letter has been shot off to principals and Registrars of law colleges and universities suggesting that a dress code of white shirt and trouser on campuses will be preferred.


IIT fee goes up from 90,000 to 2 lakh

Studying at the IITs is set to leave your pocket lighter as the annual fee has been increased from 90,000 to 2 lakh.

The report of the committee on funding of IITs and the recommendations of the Standing Committee of the IIT Council (SCIC) for revision of annual fee in IITs to 3 lakh per year from the current 90,000 has been examined, a statement from the Ministry of Human Resource Development said on Thursday.

It has been proposed that the increase is capped at 2 lakh per annum, the statement added.

The SC/ST/differently abled students shall get complete fee waiver. The most economically backward students (whose family income is less than 1 lakh per annum) shall get full remission of the fee. The other economically backward students (whose family income is between 1 lakh and 5 lakh per annum) shall get remission of 2/3rd of the fee, it added.

All students shall have access to interest-free loan under the Vidya Lakshmi Scheme for the total portion of the tuition fee payable, it said.

Rohin Kapoor, Director, Deloitte in India, said, Higher education in Indian public institutions is highly subsidised resulting in an additional burden for the income tax payer. With collateral free education loans easily available, the students of such premium institutions can effortlessly fund their studies. The extraordinary salaries offered immediately after graduation to most of the students can be used to repay such loans.

The Ministry has asked all IITs to use the increased student fee for infrastructure development with the assistance of funds from the Higher Education Funding Agency.


A higher price foreducationAs IITs raise their fee, it is time to consider innovative ways of financing education for elite institutions that require a higher level of funding to support research.

Written byM Balakrishnan,Pankaj Jalote

The graduating student would then have the option to take up a career without worrying about the education loan hanging. (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)

Last week, tuition fee for undergraduateeducation in the IITs was increased fromRs 90,000 per annum to Rs 2 lakh per annum. Earlier, last month, IIM Ahmedabad increased the fee of its flagship two-year diploma programme from Rs 18.5 lakh to Rs 19.5 lakh.

As a nation, we are in a great dilemma on the financing of public higher educational institutions. Highly subsidised quality higher education, with admissions based strictly on merit, continues to be a great hope for upward socio-economic mobility. This public demand has also ensured that there is consensus across the political spectrum on the need for setting up new IITs, IIMs, AIIMSs, NITs, etc. On the other hand, as the number of such institutions increases, the budgetary requirements for supporting them will prove to be a challenge.

What are the alternatives? Globally there is a shift towards charging a higher fraction of education costs as fees even in European countries where, traditionally, higher education was completely free. For the purpose of inclusion of students from economically weaker sections, there is the provision of education loans, often at lower-than-commercial rates. This has resulted in education-loan-driven higher education, which has clear implications for blocking the socio-economic mobility of poor people, even in an affluent country like the United States.

In a country like India, public-funded institutions where the full fee is financed through loans are undesirable for many reasons. One, it will make education inaccessible to many who cannot afford to be burdened with such large loans. Second, heavy debt would result in higher education being seen more as capital investment. It would lead to the clear graduation objective of getting a quick return on investment. The net result would be that graduates would opt for safe career options even more than they currently do that provide the highest package and not those choices that may be low-paying but have greater social value and impact and which the graduate may genuinely want to pursue. The success of Make in India as well as Start-Up India depends on the ability of young people to take risks and become entrepreneurs. Heavy education loans are unlikely to promote these choices. Medical education in India has already fallen into this trap; with high cost of education in private and foreign institutions, the increase in volume is not resulting in enhanced access for a significant section of the population. Further, in the Indian socio-economic context where, even today, most students pursue academic programmes and careers that are forced on them by family and not out of their own choice, there is another great disadvantage. Just when we were seeing some change in at least a small fraction of students the increase in fees or a greater loan burden would put the clock back.

The loan model is gaining traction in the public discourse in India primarily driven by the stories of high-paying jobs for IIT graduates. The argument is that if they are earning so much after graduation, why should they not pay for their education. But hundreds of IIT graduates are also following their dreams in entrepreneurship, social service and many such sectors.

However, there is an innovative middle path possible for financing education, at least for the elite institutions that require a much higher level of funding to support research.

In this approach, a tuition fee based on the cost of education is computed. Every selected candidate would have an option to defer payment of a significant part of the fee till after graduation. The key innovation being suggested here is that after graduation, the student would be required to pay the deferred fee, but with a ceiling that it will be at most a fixed percentage of her income for a fixed number of years say, 15 per cent of income for seven years. The graduating student would then have the option to take up a career without worrying about the education loan hanging over her head. If the graduate chooses a career that is not financially lucrative, her payments for education would be correspondingly low.

In the present context, one more fact is important: The tuition fee increase announced by the government is only for undergraduate education and is likely to apply to only 25 per cent of the students in an institution like IIT Delhi. The reason is that in almost all the larger (older) IITs, roughly only 40 per cent of the students are undergraduates, and after the announced waivers, the tuition fee increase would apply only to 60 per cent of them. Presently, students in postgraduate programmes like the MTech are charged nominal fees, though the motivation for joining these programmes is often similar: Widened career prospects and excellent pay packets. Our proposal can be applied to all students, undergraduate and postgraduate except, perhaps, to PhD students as the cost of education is being paid by the graduate through her earnings, rather than by her family.

Such a proposal could evoke cynicism: What will compel the graduate to declare her income truthfully? But in a changed world where an individuals credit rating is important and tracking instruments like PAN and Aadhaar exist, it is easy to devise a system where the cost of default would be rather high, particularly as alumni need references or verification from educational institutions even years after graduation.

Balakrishnan is professor, IIT Delhi. Jalote is director, IIIT Delhi. Views are personal


Delhi govt orders sacking of 5 govt schools' principals

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday ordered the termination of the services of five government school principals for allegedly being involved in financial irregularities.

Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, said the move is intended to send out "a clear message that there is zero tolerance for corruption" in the AAP government.

"Have decided to remove principals of five schools from their jobs after finding evidence of financial irregularities in school-welfare fund, scholarship fund, salary and admission," the deputy chief minister tweeted in Hindi.

An official statement said the services of the principal of the Government Boys' Senior Secondary School at Nithari has been terminated over his alleged role in irregularities to the tune of Rs 30 lakh.

The state government also decided to terminate the services of a former principal of Lajpat Nagar's Sarvodaya School who allegedly gave admissions in Std 11 on the basis of fake marksheets.

The three other cases involve misuse of funds of various government schools in the Tughlakabad Railway Colony, Hirankudna and Jangpura areas.

Sisodia, meanwhile, has decided to recommend to President Pranab Mukherjee that the pension of a former Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) who allegedly extended undue favours to one party in a property dispute case be stopped.



Delhi: Bypolls for 13 municipal wards to be held on May15Last date to file nominations is April 25, results to be declared on May 28

Written byPragya Kaushika

Bypolls for 13 municipal wards in the capital will be held on May 15, announced the state election commission Tuesday. State Election Commissioner Rakesh Mehta said the results would be declared on May 28.

The notification will be issued on April 18. The last date to file nominations is on April 25 and scrutiny of nominations is April 27. Last date of withdrawal of candidature is April 30. The date of polls is May 15 and counting of votes will be on May 17. The results will be announced on May 28. While the Munirka ward will be contested by women candidates, the rest are general wards, said Mehta.

The model code of conduct will come into force from April 18. The government, including the local bodies, shall not announce any financial grant in any form or promise. No foundation stone of any project or schemes must be laid in these wards. No construction such as that of roads, new drinking water facilities, shall be made to attract voters, said an official.

There are a total of 680 polling stations and 20,500 polling staff, including 13 election observers and 13 election expenditure observers. The commission has put a ceiling on election expenditure at Rs 5 lakh per candidate.

Mehta also held a meeting with the political parties. Each political party has been allowed three vehicles with mounted LED screens. We have allowed one LED screen per vehicle per corporation to each political party. This comes to three such vehicles per party this election, he said.

It will be a three-way contest

Thirteen wards of the three municipal corporations that have been vacant since the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections will be going to polls in May.

Congressstate unit chief Ajay Maken said internal party surveys have given encouraging indicators about the partys performance in the bypolls. We will gain from anti-incumbency against both the AAP at the state level and against theBJPin the corporations. Senior functionaries are active in all these wards and first round of door-to-door campaigning has already been completed, he said.

Meanwhile, state unit chief of the BJP Satish Upadhyay stated that winnability of the candidates is the main criteria for the bypolls. Five of these are traditionally BJP seats, so we are confident we will win them again, he said.

AAP, which has already released its list, claimed that the candidates have already covered two-thirds of the constituencies in a door-to-door campaign, and the remaining will be done shortly.


South MCD

Nawada Naresh Balyan (then Independent). Resigned from MCD to contest from Uttam Nagar constituency, where he now represents AAP.

Matiala Rajesh Gahlot (BJP). Resigned from MCD to contest from Matiala. He won the election in 2013 but lost the subsequent one to AAPs Gulab Singh.

Tekhand Sahi Ram Pahalwan (then BSP). Resigned from MCD to contest from Tughlakabad. He has now joined AAP.

Munirka Parmila Tokas (then Independent). Resigned from MCD to contest from R K Puram. She is now a member of AAP.

Nanak Pura Anil Kumar Sharma (BJP). Resigned from MCD to contest fromR K Puram. Lost to AAPs Parmila Tokas.

Vikas Nagar Mahinder Yadav (then Independent). Resigned from MCD to contest from Vikaspuri. He is a member of AAP.

Bhati Kartar Singh Tanwar (then Independent). Resigned from MCD to contest from Chattarpur constituency. He represents the constituency for AAP.

North MCD

Ballimaran Imran Hussain (then RLD). Resigned from MCD to contest from Ballimaran. Lost to Congress Haroon Yusuf in 2013 and defeated him in 2015 on an AAP ticket.

Shalimar Bagh North Ram Kishan Singhal (BJP ). Resigned from MCD to contest from Adarsh Nagar. He won the seat in 2013. In 2015 polls, he lost to AAPs Pawan Kumar Sharma.

Wazirpur Mahinder Nagpal (BJP). Resigned from MCD to contest from Wazirpur. Won the seat in 2013 and lost to AAPs Rajesh Gupta in 2015.

Quammruddin Nagar Raghuvinder Shokeen (then BJP). Resigned from MCD to contest from Nangloi Jat. He is now a member of AAP.

East Delhi

Jhilmil Jitender Singh Shunty (BJP). Resigned from MCD to contest from Shahdara. He won the seat in 2013 and lost to AAPs Ram Niwas Goel in 2015.

Khichripur Vinod Kumar Binny (then Independent). Resigned from MCD to contest from Laxmi Nagar on AAP ticket. He has since joined BJP.



Only connect - How to prevent waste, theft and loss in the power sector

CommentaraoS.L. Rao

State governments in India are close to their voters. They affect their lives intimately by supplying and pricing electricity, water, local transport, providing law and order, services of health and education, besides many other ways in which they affect the daily lives of citizens. In an electoral democracy, they are able to woo voters with favours in all the ways in which they interact with the voters. Every state government gives special favours to large voter groups. Kejriwal promises a minimum of free water; Badal gave free electricity for agriculture (even when it was not an election promise). Governments also employ large numbers of people who are also voters. Their indiscipline is tolerated as is their collusion in theft (for instance, of electricity). Government school-teachers stay away from school at will. Government hospitals in rural areas and smaller towns are notorious for bribes being paid to get treatment, and rarely are supplied the free medicines that they are entitled to.

Many services like power require huge capital investments to build and maintain. The charges pay for fuels, labour and other running expenses. They must also produce the surplus for maintenance, modernization and building new capacity. In many states, such surplus is not made. This is so also with water and transport. Services like health and education cannot charge cost from the many poor. If government finances subsidized electricity and has little left for maintenance, renovation and modernization, the amounts available for essential services of health, education, law and order, roads, and so on are also reduced. Corruption and theft in all projects ensure higher costs, poor delivery and terrible quality.

For the electricity sector in India, it was a tragedy that the Indian Constitution was passed in 1949 and not later. Electricity, at that time, was generated locally and consumed nearby. Thus, in December, 1950, the installed generation capacity in the whole of India was 1,713 MW; by March 31 2015, it was 27,1722 MW and this served the country and not just one state. There is much transmission from high-generation locales to those that do not have the fuels for generation. Electricity can now travel very long distances. Generation and consumption are not in one state.

But the Electricity (Supply) Act of 1948 created state electricity boards in each state to be responsible for supplying power in their states. So electricity did not automatically seek markets. The state had to approve import. Decisions on optimizing supplies over the country now are at the mercy of individual state governments.

When the National Thermal Power Corporation was created in 1975, it established large capacities and could transmit electricity between states over long distances. Power began flowing across the country. Power Grid Corporation took over this interstate transmission. Economics teaches that optimum results (adequate supply and affordable prices) for consumers come about with trade. The interstate flow of electricity across India could have made for very efficient power supply at reasonable prices. But the Constitution gave a monopoly on supplies within the state to state governments. Many state governments generate electricity. They can not afford to cut their generation to buy cheaper power from other states.

Populism has entered into the pricing of electricity in each state. These costs are additional to those caused by large-scale collusive thefts, and inefficiency in local generation and distribution, as well as the costs due to users having equipment that waste power. This has led to a complicated structure of cross-subsidies between customer groups, and subsidies to be reimbursed to the distribution companies by the state governments. While tariffs are set each year by statutory regulators, they do not in practice, give adequate net return on capital employed. There is no monitoring and correction of targets in relation to the working of the pricing formula.

A sufficient surplus to invest in in generation, transmission and distribution capacities to meet the galloping demands of a growing economy is essential. Bank borrowings and government budgets today find these funds. Periodic measures to reduce SEB debts have now led to their adding to state government debts with repercussions on their ability to perform other tasks adequately (thus reducing spending on poverty alleviation, infrastructure, education and health). In spite of electricity being unavailable to many and bulk users having to keep backup capacities, half the national generating capacity is unutilized because distribution companies do not have funds to pay for more electricity. Central and privately owned power enterprises, however, are less adversely affected as those owned by state governments. They have the option of stopping supplies, unlike the SEBs.

Regulatory, legal and administrative decisions have to be taken by state governments. The Centre has no direct authority to compel state governments.

Tariff revenues must cover all costs including those caused by inefficiencies, untimely financial disbursements of subsidies. If Discoms were treated by banks like any other borrower and banks instructed not to lend to those with poor balance sheets, they would be compelled to improve their finances. Perhaps losses of SEBs could be made a charge on Central grants to a state, thus reducing allocations meant for other purposes. Central muscle might make states correct themselves.

Governance and management of power companies and regulators must be by career professionals with management experience and long tenures. Appointments of top management in power companies must be for their managerial experience, not administrative service. Regulators must demand that power companies have well considered management systems and procedures.

A top priority is for feeders for agricultural power to be separate. The actual consumption in agriculture, exclusive of thefts must be established so that thefts are not subsumed in it. Emphasis on almost universal grid-connected power must give way to establishing more distributed power through micro-grids connected to the central grid. Achievement must be closely monitored. This must be accompanied by detailed training ofpanchayat-level staff in technical operation, and watching that every consumer pays his or her dues. Measurements of T&D losses must improve. The governments must establish special police to catch, punish and curb power thefts.

The Central government must exercise its powers to stop production of sub-standard pump sets and other inefficient electricity-using equipment. It may even be worth while for governments to replace sub-standard sets with acceptable ones. Inter-state transmission bottlenecks prevent states from optimizing power purchases. These must be resolved on top priority. Trading and open access can improve availability and price. The power sector should have in each state a bureau that will look for, investigate and try corrupt practices, especially in purchases of power.

With a statutory regulator, autonomous state-owned undertakings, a State Load Despatch Centre that is governed autonomously by users, and the Central Electricity Authority to oversee and guide operating enterprises, where is the need for a department of power in each state government?

These actions might never be taken in adequate measure in our governmental system. The alternative is privatization under strict and truly independent regulation. Public-private partnerships could have private equity holders to prevent waste, theft and loss to the enterprise.

The author is former director-general, National Council of Applied Economic Research


PIONEER, APR 12, 2016


Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that a new Happiness Ministry will be constituted. The department will strive to bring happiness and bliss in peoples life. The department will promote sports and entertainment activities.

Chouhan was addressing block level Antyodaya Mela at Ringnaud in Sadarpur development block of Dhar district on Saturday. He gave gifts of over Rs 125 crore to people. These included foundation stones/dedication of works costing Rs 86 crore, sanction letters, materials and cheques worth over Rs 40 crore .

The Chief Minister said that no stone will be left unturned to make agriculture profitable. Efforts would be made to reach water to every field. At present, 36.5 lakh hectare area is being irrigated in the country. In deference to wish of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the State Government is committed to doubling farmers income in next 5 years. Efforts would be made to promote crops which give more income including spices, medicinal plants, fruits-flowers, vegetables etc. He said that Prime Minister has launched Agriculture Crop Insurance Scheme. Every farmer in the state will be covered under the scheme.

Expressing happiness over attendance of large number of women, the Chief Minister said that this is proving increasing awareness among then. He said that women have come forward in political arena after 50 per cent reservation was given to them in Panchayats. The Chief Minister informed that after taking oath of Chief Minister for the first time, he had chalked out Ladli Laxmi Yojana. Till date, 22 lakh girls have become Ladli Laxmis. He said that a scheme will be implemented to provide LPG and stoves to poor tribal women in Dhar district.

The Chief Minister said that rules of free cycle and uniform scheme for students will be changed. Now, instead of deposting amount in bank accounts, it would be given directly. He said that a piped water scheme will also be sanctioned for Ringnaud. Rs one crore will be sanctioned to supply water from backwater of Mahi Dam in Rajgarh district.

Chouhan informed about sanction of Rs 14.43 crore for Billighati Mangarh lake in Sardarpur development block, Rs 3.15 crore for Dhumela lake and Rs 75 lakh from his discretionary fund for Sardarpur urban area. Besides, he informed about sanction of Rs 5 crore for construction of 100 housing units.

On the demand of MLA Wel Singh Bhuria, the Chief Minister announced for survey and preparing DPR for reservoirs at 4 places. He also assured for survey of bringing Naramda water to Mahi River. About Kharmor sanctuary, he said that efforts would be made to send its proposal to National Wildlife Board and seek Central Governments sanction.

MP Savitri Thakur, MLAs Wel Singh Bhuria, Collector Shriman Shukla also spoke on the occasion. MLA Ranjana Baghel, Bhanwar Singh Shekhawat, Kalu Singh Thakur, Nirmala Bhuria, district Panchayat President Malti-Mohan Patel, District BJP President Raj Barfa, Rajgarh Nagar Parishad President Madhulika Tanted, other public representatives and large number of people were present on the occasion.



SC allows common entrance test for medical courses, recalls its 2013 order

Amit Anand Choudhary


Supreme Court has paved the way for implementation of National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for medical courses across the country

SC set aside its 2013 order by which the common entrance test for admissions to MBBS, BDS and PG courses in all medical colleges was quashed.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for implementation of National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for medical courses across the country.

The top court set aside its 2013 order by which the common entrance test for admissions to MBBS, BDS and PG courses in all medical colleges was quashed.

Hearing areview petition on NEET, the top court said it will hear the case afresh on validity of the common entrance test. "Till the matter is decided NEET can be implemented," the top court said.The Supreme Court had, in June 2013, had ruled that the Medical Council of India (MCI)'s notification for holding common entrance tests for MBBS, BDS and post-graduate medical courses as invalid. A three-judge bench by a 2:1 verdict held that the notification was against the Constitution.

The court had ruled that the MCI did not have the jurisdiction to enforce common entrance test (CET) on private medical colleges and that the move could also violate constitutional guarantee to minority communities to establish and manage their own educational institutions.

MCI clears joint medical test proposal, ball in govt court

Apart from students being forced to cough up thousands towards the fee for appearing in multiple exams and travel expenses, many students are robbed of the opportunity to stake admission claim to different colleges, an MCI official said.

Over 90 medical entrance tests are held across India.


A global university can be a shot in the arm for medical teaching

Devi Shetty & Vinay Kumar

It costs about Rs 500 crore to start a government or private medical college. With such a high cost there is no hope of bringing down the cost of medical education. Indirectly, we are admitting that medical education is not for the poor. Furthermore, our medical education system is based on the 70-year-old model we inherited from the British.

Medical practice requires both knowledge and the competence to apply the knowledge. An MBBS graduate of today has full knowledge of medical sciences, but is weak in competence to handle even common conditions such as coronary artery disease.

Knowledge is imparted through endless lectures, but unlike in the past, facts and details of medical procedures can also be accessed online. By contrast, competence is best imparted through apprenticeship: A senior doctor mentoring students by teaching the art of healing. Medical students in India and in most parts of the world hardly touch the patients. If technology could be used to deliver essential knowledge in a standardised form to colleges across the globe, we have an opportunity to build thousands of medical colleges across Asia, Africa and Latin America and skill highly-skilled doctors. India alone requires close to two million doctors.

The idea is to create a global medical university on the lines of United Nations. The university would be truly virtual. It will identify outstanding medical teachers to deliver lectures on topics of their interest, which will then be recorded and made available on a website. So, the university will not require classrooms.

The university will recognise busy hospitals across the world having over 300 beds, broad specialties like medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics as mini medical colleges. Any medical specialist with over five years of experience, after careful vetting, can be recognised as a medical teacher. Each 300-bed hospital will be allowed to take only 30 students per year based on their performance in an online exam.

The first year will be structured roughly as follows: In the first month, the students will attend virtual dissection classes online. After this they will work in the hospital for five hours every day as nurse assistants and spend two hours a day in group discussions on anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. These discussions will supplement the online lectures and demonstrate their importance in clinical care. The students will also work in hospital labs as assistants to understand biochemical, hematological and microbiological tests. At the end of the first year, the students will have adequate knowledge about the basic sciences in the clinical context.

In the second year, they can work as student doctors under medical specialists by taking care of the patients under the resident doctors. They will be substitutes for some of the activities performed by the nurses and also take part in on-call duty at night working as assistants to on-call doctors. During the clinical years they will assist surgeons and take care of the patients in the intensive care unit under the resident doctors. Essentially, these student doctors will take care of the patients for at least six to seven hours a day, spend two hours in a group discussion about the patients admitted in the ward rather than on an imaginary patient based on textbook descriptions.

What will the hospitals gain from the training programme?

At any given time, hospitals will have 30-150 students working with great passion and taking care of their patients, which will improve the outcome of clinical care. Also, a modest tuition fee paid by the students is an additional attraction to maintain the highest standards and attract bright students.

The students will be evaluated through online tests every quarter. A students promotion to a higher class will depend entirely on the aggregation of their performance in the quarterly exam rather than on a final exam at the end of the year. By exposing the medical students to clinical settings and a gruelling schedule from day one will encourage the less motivated ones to drop out. Another advantage of having a global university is that the doctors would be able to practise in any of the member countries.

India requires 500 new medical colleges. With the current cost structure, not many governments or private enterprises will be keen to set up medical colleges. With this backdrop, we are in a unique position to have as many as 10,000 medical colleges across Asia, Africa and Latin America by adopting medical education as apprenticeship and online education to supplement classrooms. We can convert, for instance, 150 naxal-affected district hospitals into medical colleges with a little over Rs 100 crore investment and change the medical economy of the districts. Interestingly, quite a few African countries are keen to adopt this model and many are looking at India to take the lead. Some of the most respected medical teachers from England and the US have liked the concept. This model is not aimed at claiming superiority over the existing models of medical education. It is a proposal for a different and affordable model as a pilot, which, at the end of five years, can be compared with the existing forms of medical education.

Devi Shetty is chairman and senior consultant cardiac surgeon, Narayana Health Group of Hospitals, Bangalore

Vinay Kumar, MD, FRCPath is chairman, department of pathology, The Pritzker Medical School, University of Chicago

The views expressed are personal


TRIBUNE, APR 14, 2015

Modis foreign policy

KC Singh

Leading power fine, but who is India leading?

NEXT month, the Modi government completes two years, almost midway through his term. It would be appropriate to assess the success of his governments foreign policy and whether it is different from his predecessors.

A phrase frequently used by the Modi government is that India aspires to be a leading power. The phrases avoided are global power or major power which used to signify the US and the USSR during the Cold War, or even Great Britain till the 1950s. China, when referring to Sino-US relations, prefers the coinage great power relations. Ashley Tellis, a US analyst of India origin, explains that major powers are those making the rules of global governance. A leading power, at best, aspires to shape the existing ones to suit its national interests.

For instance, only the P5 members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) can really impact the adoption of resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN charter which are binding on all members. Hence, the Indian focus on becoming a permanent member of the UNSC and the demand for its reform. India is willing to wait, as with growing economic power, its chances will only improve for a permanent seat. Despite raised expectations last year, this may not come about during Modis current term in office.

Similarly, the four dual-use technology control regimes, i.e. Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, can only be shaped by their members. That is why, India aspires to join them, the path being cleared by the civil nuclear agreement with the US. India may start by joining MTCR as not only is India fully compliant with its rules, but also China is not its member, and thus cannot play the spoiler. Moreover, by joining it, India gets into a better negotiating position with China over NSG membership.

Both these processes began with PV Narasimha Rao recalibrating Indian foreign and economic policies in 1991 to meet the needs of the post-Cold War world. Vajpayee brought new realism to India-US relations by authorising the nuclear tests that forced the US to accept that India could no longer be treated as a perennial middle power. Finally, President George W Bush, realising that a strong India was the necessary counter-weight to a rising China and crucial for stability in Asia, unshackled India from dual-use technology restraints by authorising the civil nuclear agreement without India signing the Non- Proliferation Treaty. It is interesting that the NSG was formed in 1975, immediately after Indias nuclear test of 1974, and thus was originally India specific.

Foreign policy of a nation is thus like a river, forever flowing, although great leaders augment its flow or redirect its course. The other phrases frequently employed by the Modi government are Neighbourhood First, Act East and now, Look West. These are also old initiatives being pursued in an evolving context of the rise of China and the threat of radical Islam, as indeed the Shia-Sunni contestation. The first is really a given for any country and has been for all prime ministers, particularly post- 1991.

With Bangladesh, the agreement on exchange of enclaves and allaying of concerns over river waters has put the relationship on a positive path. With Bhutan, relations have always been exemplary. Sri Lanka will continue to test Indian diplomatic prowess, playing the China card periodically. The Maldives will also remain an area of deep concern over its domestic politics and Chinese intrusion. Nepal, likewise, continues to be a testy neighbour unclear of its destiny. Relations with Pakistan, despite periodic bursts of bonhomie, are unfortunately on a downward path. The conundrum is the traditional one of balancing engagement with the civilian government, and deterring Pakistans army from undermining it.

Appointing a National Security Adviser known to be hawkish on Pakistan, including his open espousal in the past of retaliation in kind, may be good for public opinion in India, but is bad for diplomacy. While, undoubtedly, new deterrence strategies are needed to overcome the cycle of dialogue-terror-dialogue, the person engaging Pakistan should not be seen by them as the master of dark arts. Although Pakistan has been levelling charges since 2001 that Indian consulates in Afghanistan undermine its security, of late, it has become more specific and is being taken more seriously by Western powers, including the US. The re-hyphenation of India and Pakistan by President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit, which Modi took the trouble to attend, is not a good sign.

A BBC report last year about MQM leaders confessing to Indian financing of their leader Altaf Hussein, self-exiled in the UK, and now the arrest of a retired Indian Naval officer have dragged India into mud-wrestling with an experienced opponent capable of extreme subterfuge. The appointment of Lt-Gen Naseer Janjua, a former corps commander in charge of Balochistan, was a clear sign that if Indian NSA Ajit Doval wanted to remain terror fixated, Pakistan will direct attention to real or imaginary Indian hand behind the fifth uprising in Balochistan and the actions of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Act East is proceeding well as it rests on the growing convergence between India and Japan, 10 nations of ASEAN and Australia. Myanmar will present a challenge as India will have to balance between the new civilian government and the military, the latter crucial for security cooperation. Look West has been pegged on Modi, who is personally investing in relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It would have been better if he had balanced this with a quick visit to Iran. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj going for the Joint Commission is a poor substitute for a prime ministerial visit. Moreover, the BJP also needs to introspect whether baiting Muslims at home while hugging them abroad is sustainable.

The broad lessons are that the PM must rebuild traditional political consensus over foreign policy, particularly because he is really building on old themes, although his style may be more assertive, personal or even, at times, theatrical. Henry Kissinger says: High office teaches decision making, not substance. That is why the PM also needs a rethink on his immediate aides, Cabinet colleagues and advisers.

The writer is a former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs



East Delhi gets 10 mohallalibraries

Called kitabgiri, the initiative started by the Bhartiya Akshara Social Organisation (BASO) encourages students to donate books for the mohalla libraries.

To encourage the culture of reading among students, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia inaugurated 10 mohalla libraries in east Delhi.

Called kitabgiri, the initiative started by the Bhartiya Akshara Social Organisation (BASO) encourages students to donate books for the mohalla libraries. The libraries have been opened in Patparganj, Kondli, Okhla and Laxmi Nagar. BASO will open more than 2,000 such libraries in the city, said Sisodia.Terming it a revolutionary step, Sisodia added that with 25 per cent reduction in syllabus, children would now be free to go and visit the libraries.

Students from east Delhi schools such as Amity International, Bal Bhavan School, ASN School and Ahlcon School contributed towards opening the libraries, said BASO founder Deepak Bajpayee.



A saffron twist to nationalism

Sankar Ray

The Union finance minister and a hardcore saffronite Arun Jaitleys statement, freedom of expression and nationalism do necessarily co-exist and the Constitution gives full freedom for expressing dissent and disagreement but not the countrys destruction reflects his abysmally poor knowledge of history.

Even if nationalism is to be emphasised, Jaitley, the BJP president Amit Shah and even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarsangchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat have little moral right to talk of nationalism nor ought to identify who is committed to nationalism.

The RSS, to which all the three BJP leaders are deeply committed, never took part in the freedom struggle.

The legendary freedom fighter Trailokyanath Chakraborty (known as Maharaj) was on record that when he approached the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Dr K. S. Hedgewar, on behalf of armed revolutionaries for assistance in importing arms and ammunitions, he was refused co-operation. Nationalism, nevertheless, is a burning question today as the RSS and its subordinate outfits like BJP and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad have been aggressively at work in branding the slightest dissent as seditious under Section 124 A of Indian Penal Code.

This is why the issue whether freedom of expression is to be subservient to imposed nationalism or even patriotism is now being discussed in India.

It should be clear though that patriotism is not synonymous with nationalism. Hitler was an aggressive nationalist but never a patriot. Consider the observations of the late Tapan Raychaudhuri, a historian of international stature and formerly Ad Hominem Chair as Professor of Indian History and Civilization at St Anthonys College, Oxford in a lecture, on the streams of Indian History at the Bengal Club in Kolkata in mid-December 2012.

If you teach history, you cannot avoid saying unpleasant things. And sometimes, you cannot get away with it either, he told the audience.

Tolerance has been ingrained in the Indian tradition while intolerance is a Western phenomenon he said and, contextually, mentioned that thousands of young men and women were killed by the Indian army in Kashmir.

In an interview to Hindustan Times on 8 March 2002, he had also asserted that ..the people who are fighting in Kashmir are not fundamentalists, unlike the Talibans (contextually, he reiterated that he was against the prefix fundamentalist to religious terrorists). Had he said these words today, Jaitley and Shah and the ABVP might have demanded that Raychaudhuri be booked under Section 124A of IPC.

So would Rabindranath Tagore. The composer of Indias national anthem was unequivocally opposed to both nationalism and patriotism. Gopal Krishna Gandhi has refreshed public memory vis-a-vis his immortal lines: I will never allow triumph over humanity as long as I live.

The poet emphatically stated in the same essay Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. That two of his songs, Jana Gana Mana and Amar Sonar Bangla are national anthems of India and Bangladesh has very little to do with nationalism as propagated today and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhis obituary to the poet, we have lost the greatest poet of our age ..an ardent nationalist who was humanitarian could have been more appropriately worded.

Tagore, it may be noted, was perhaps the first from civil society to have envisioned the penumbra of humanimalistic feature in sedition or section 124A of IPC.

He did so the day before the rules for applying this nefarious section were promulgated when he read out an essay in Bengali, captioned Kantharodh (throttled voice) at the Town Hall of Calcutta: Today the language in which I have risen to read this essay is the language of Bengalis, the language of the weak, language of a vanquished nation; yet our authorities are afraid of this language. One of the reasons of this fear is that they dont understand this language. And wherever there is darkness of ignorance, there is an eerieness of blinded apprehensions.

This was was when British rulers booked Bal Gangadhar Tilak for Sedition - Queen Empress Vs. Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1897).

In the pre-Independence era, this medieval sub-section was frequently applied by the colonial rulers, mostly vindictively.

The judiciary at times, albeit very infrequently, snubbed the executive for applying the tortuous legal weapon though. One among such cases was the Niharendu Dutt Majumdar Vs. King Emperor (1942) FCR 48. The judiciary (the Privy Council ) cautioned public disorder or the reasonable anticipation or likelihood of public disorder was the gist of the offence.

The judges agreed that sedition means resistance or lawlessness in some form but even they stated that if there is no incitement to violence, there is no sedition.

Tagore was an internationalist, a hard core humanitarian. This was why the motto of Viswa Bharati was Yatra Vishwa Bhabatyekonedam (Where the world resides in a single nest). Like Marx, he was anti-statist. This is the line of thought that todays brand of nationalists need to familiarise themselves with before they fool around with sedition.

However, it is wishful thinking as those who are so overly worried about the threat to nationalism and national integrity are in power.

According to the Dakar-based Marxist economist Samir Amin, the BJP is Hindu comprador right . Intolerance is a weapon for the Sangh Parivar to carry forward the colonial policy of divide-and-rule for polarization along communal lines.

The relevance of Tagore in this hour of crisis of Indian identity is to build a humanitarian barricade in keeping with our history. The Trinamool Congress M.P. Sugata Bose rightly snapped his fingers at the treasury bench for the latters narrow, selfish and arrogant stance towards dissent (implicitly indicting the ruling party and its mass fronts, especially student, on issues like the suicide of Rohith Vemula and arrest of JNU Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar) by reminding it of the patriotism and nationalism of selfless personalities of Bengal such as Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghose.

Even so, the historian erred in branding Tagore as a nationalist. In his famous Lectures on Nationalism, the poet and thinker stated unequivocally: India has never had a real sense of nationalism though he conceded that right from his childhood, he had been taught that idolatry of the Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity. Indias lone Nobel laureate in literature had disapproved of nationalism as a great menace. It is the particular thing, which for years has been at the bottom of Indias troubles.

Almost echoing him, the FrenchAmerican philosopher, novelist and thinker, George Steiner quipped, Nationalism is the venom of history. The poet had sharp differences with his favourite novelist, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, on the method of national struggle such as torching foreign cloth when millions of women in villages did not have the means to cover their nudity.

He raised the issue in two novels: The Home and The World and Four Chapters. The bard was on an identical wave length with Goethe who put humanity above nations. It was natural for the poet to disapprove of terroristic methods of freedom struggle even though he was against colonial rule (reflected in his return of knighthood in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre) in contrast to Gandhi, C.R. Das and such others , who accepted the pseudo-independence of dominion status).

In a short piece in the Economic and Political Weekly, subaltern historian Partha Chatterjee fiercely defends the poet and his passionate critique of nationalism.

He argues: The colonial law was designed to protect a government that was necessarily external to those over whom it ruled. One can see why any word, sign or visible representation that brought into hatred or contempt or excited disaffection, including disloyalty or enmity, towards the government, might have been considered punishable by the colonial state. But how can the same argument apply to a government that is set up through periodic elections within a constitution that the people have given to themselves? Chatterjee takes on the judiciary too.

Our courts, so fond of the modus vivendi rather than clear interpretation, have shied away from pronouncing Section 124A unconstitutional but have, instead, in repeated judgments,

emphasized the distinction between advocacy and incitement and insisted that mere speech unconnected to actual harm caused against the state cannot be punished under this law.

But who cares? The administration in every state has used the law to harass and intimidate the political opposition. There is also the issue of capital punishment to Afzal Guru and others of Kashmiri origin. Not all verdicts on even capital punishment were free from error.

The execution of a poor security guard, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, for alleged rape and killing of teenager Hetal Parekh in south Kolkata, was flawed, based on unconvincing evidence, according to a detailed study by two eminent statistical scholars of the Indian Statistical Institute, Probal Chaudhuri and Debashis Sengupta. This questions the very method of justice at the apex court.

As far as Afzal Guru is concerned, saffron leaders and ideologues are yet to show the guts to challenge the intrepid and rebel former Gujarat cadre IAS officer Harsh Mander who said, in an article in the weekly Janata (21 February 2016) that if Kanhaiya Kumar were charged with sedition, I too should be charged with the same crime. Mandar addressed a meeting in solidarity with the JNUSU leaders, arrested under the infamous subsection and said that the February 9 meeting at the JNU campus was not to uphold separatist politics but to protest against death penalty awarded to Afzal Guru for his role in the Parliament attack of 2001.

Mander quoted from his article that appeared in The Hindu on 9 February 2013:The hanging of Afzal Guru raises a thicket of debates - ethical, legal and political about justice, law, democracy, capital punishment and a strong state. This was reminiscent of Jawaharlal Nehrus chagrin about the modern state: Violence is the very life blood of the modern state and social system, Autobiography p 541).

It is such violence that feeds the saffron threat to the Indian democratic polity that continues to spread. The more the Sangh Parivar faces opposition from increasing number of people, the more it becomes aggressive. The RSS has certainly a game plan.

Do the BJP and other arms of Sangh Parivar plan to prevent the next Lok Sabha polls, scheduled to take place in 2019 when the BJP, going by the prevailing electoral trends, is unlikely to win even half of its present strength of 282 out of 543 seats in the LS? Words of Tagore against Sedition need to be recalled in the current socio-political crisis of India.


TRIBUNE, APR 8, 2016

5 minutes, 100% hike for Himachal MLAs

To be among highest paid in country

The Himachal Assembly took barely five minutes to pass four Bills enhancing the salaries and emoluments of MLAs and former legislators by almost 100 per cent, putting an additional burden of Rs 16.52 crore on the exchequer.

No disruptions or walkouts, the Assembly on the last day of the Budget session saw complete harmony on the issue. The matter was taken up at 12.55 pm and at 1 pm, all four Bills were passed amidst thumping of desks. The state legislators will now be among the highest paid in the country. The salary of the CM and his ministers will be close to Rs 2.5 lakh and that of each MLA about Rs 2.1 lakh.

The MLAs daily allowance has been hiked from Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,800, constituency allowance from Rs 60,000 to Rs 90,000 per month, office allowance from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 per month and computer/data entry operator allowance from Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per month. The travel reimbursement amount has been raised to Rs 2.5 lakh per annum.

The pension of former MLAs has been raised to Rs 28,000 per month and additional pension to Rs 1,000 per month for each successive year after the first term. The limit for travel reimbursement has been raised to Rs 1.25 lakh.

The CM will now get Rs 95,000 a month (excluding perks) and his Cabinet colleagues Rs 80,000. The sumptuary allowance has been raised from Rs 30,000 to Rs 95,000 per month. The free travel reimbursement facility has been raised from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. The Speakers salary will now be Rs 80,000 and the Deputy Speaker Rs 75,000. Their sumptuary allowance has been increased to Rs 95,000 per month and travel reimbursement to Rs 2.5 lakh. The salaries of CPS have been enhanced to Rs 65,000.



DMK manifesto promises prohibition in Tamil Nadu

Jayalalithaa vows phased prohibition of liquor if re-electedDMK joins hands with Congress for the 2016 assembly election in Tamil NaduPermutation, combination of alliance politicsRainfall abates in Tamil NaduTamil Nadu rains: State suffers losses worth Rs 15,000 cr

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Sunday promised total prohibition, setting up a Lok Ayukta, a cut in state-runAavin Milkprice by Rs 7 a litre, revival of the Legislative Council, and implementation of the Sethusamudram project in its manifesto for the May 16 Assembly polls.

DMKdid not, however, announce any populist freebie schemes on the scale of free colour televisions it had made in 2006, though it promised a slew of concessions and waivers, catering to various sections of people.

These include mobile phones for the poor at government expenditure, free Wi-Fi Internet for students, waiver of crop and educational loans, inclusion of free milk in the nutritious meal scheme, and Rs 60,000 assistance to women for marriage.

Currently, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government provides Rs 50,000 assistance and gold for mangalsutra.

DMK said it would dismantle TASMAC shops, which sell alcohol in the state. About 6,700 shops across the state generate around Rs 26,000-crore revenue. The party said employees of the state-run liquor outlet would be provided alternative employment.

The party also promised to waive loans of farmers and micro, small and medium entreprises completely, and said it would pay Rs 3,500 for a tonne of sugarcane.

It assured 'Anna (the name of DMK founder C N Annadurai) Unavagam," in place of Amma Unavagam, a chain of state-run canteens.

Releasing the manifesto, M Karunanidhi attackedAIADMKchief and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa over her promise of implementingprohibitionin a phase manner and dismissed it as "deceitful". He said Tamil will be introduced as "co-official language" in central government offices too inTamil Naduand there would be a separate budget for agriculture.


TRIBUNE, APR 8, 2016

Deprivation amid affluence

S Subramanian

Representations of Americas poverty

ALL too often, the poor in rich countries are excluded from a consideration of the global reach and scrutiny of poverty. For example, the World Bank's 'absolute' poverty line is pitched at US$1.90 per person per day in purchasing power parity terms: this line has been derived as the average of the national poverty lines of fifteen of the world's poorest countries (in terms of per capita income). It is instructive to contrast the global poverty line with the U.S. national poverty line. Poverty thresholds of relevance to the US are provided by the Census Bureau for families of different sizes: the lowest per capita threshold applies to a family of nine or more persons, and is set, in 2012, at $47,297 per year, which works out, for a family of nine, to a per capita requirement of $14.60 per day. Let us take this relatively modest estimate as a working figure for the US poverty line. The latter, by this reckoning, is already more than seven times the global poverty line, which suggests that application of the global standard of poverty to the U.S. would result in a severe underestimation of income-deprivation in that country.

Indeed, it turns out that, for the year 2011, if we take the U.S. poverty line to be $7.30 per person per day a figure which is just one-half of the conservative estimate of $14.60 mentioned earlier then the number of poor people in the US corresponding to this poverty line is 8.3 million. Since high-income countries are left out of the reckoning in the World Bank's global poverty calculations, this is 8.3 million more poor people in the U.S. alone than the bank allows. One can well imagine how the ranks of the global poor would swell if the poor in all high-income countries were to be brought into the count. This is just one instance of the failure to take proper account of the status of the poor when the wealth of a nation is allowed to obscure the deprivation of its poorer members.

Another example is provided by statistics on an important indicator of deprivation mortality. Writing at the turn of the millennium, Amartya Sen noted that the probability of African-American males surviving to relatively higher ages was uniformly lower than the corresponding probability for males in Kerala or males in China. Indeed, the probability of survival to age 40 was higher for Bangladeshi males than for the black male population in New York's Harlem district. Homelessness in rich countries is another aspect of deprivation that is frequently overlooked (notably not, though, by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity). Briefly, rich countries too have a lot of poor folk in them; and both the people and the phenomenon involved are often subjects of neglect.

While it is easier to ignore poverty in a rich country such as the US than in one like ours where the poor are always with us (not that this has prevented our upper classes and castes from having done a reasonably thorough job of turning their backs on their less fortunate compatriots), there have also been distinguished reminders of such neglect and omission. Confining oneself to the US, in the field of fiction one must draw reference to John Steinbeck's portrayal of the Depression years in his book The Grapes of Wrath (in contrast, for example, to the portrayal of the rich and the beautiful in the frenetic 1920s of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby). Material and social aspects of deprivation and disparity in America's Deep South were similarly a distinctive feature of the novels of writer Erskine Caldwell in the 1930s (Tobacco Road, God's Little Acre). By this time, the camera had also begun to establish itself as an instrument of both art and visual communication. It was employed to great effect by photographer Margaret Bourke-White in a pictures-and-text collaboration with her husband Caldwell for the book titled You Have Seen Their Faces, about poverty in the South during the Depression. (Bourke-White, however, has sometimes been accused of sensationalism, and of exploiting the vulnerability of her subjects by portr