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This is with reference to your cover story (The Crooked Public School’s Road, Oct 9). Education is a national mission and, therefore, it is logical to exempt all buildings used for this purpose from property tax and other similar levies. The money saved in taxes can be used for providing better facilities for school children and also on reducing the burden of school fees for parents. The government has to see itself as being responsible for the rising tuition fees in schools due to inflation.
Few years ago Wipro chairman Azim Premji promoted Wipro Azim Premji Foundation — a non-profit initiative to improve elementary education at the grassroots level across the country. More corporates must come forward to help those who have the right to education but lack the means. In an economy where the private sector controls the major share of the market, there must be a reassessment of welfare roles. The government alone cannot cater to the needs of the underprivileged. Many educational institutions have been shut down for want of adequate finances. The government must encourage the corporate houses to follow suit.
Mahesh Kapasi, New Delhi
It is nobody’s secret that private schools are big businesses first and everything else afterwards. They charge mindboggling amounts for the admission of a child even in so-called pre-nursery classes. And how much they care about the educational upbringing and safety of children is clear from the Ryan International school case and the other cases mentioned in your story. The story mentions Delhi’s Sangam Vihar, which itself is an unauthorised colony and is yet a full-fledged Vidhan Sabha constituency. The CAG has estimated the number of ‘budget schools’ in Delhi to be around 1,600, with half of them boasting “provisional recognition”. Nobody seems concerned about the parents who desperately run after these budget schools for their children and willingly submit themselves to get fleeced by the traders of education. The government is unable to provide proper and adequate number of government schools commensurate to the huge population of school aspirants and therefore finds the best way to look the other way.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
At present, the two most lucrative sectors for business in India are the education and health sectors. Schools and hospitals can go to any extent to squeeze money from parents and patients. Since both health and education are basic needs, it’s a win-win situation for those investing in these two areas as they will always have ‘customers’. The mushrooming of schools all over, from playschool, KG, pre-nursery, nursery and so on, has done little to help education as these schools are opened with minimum investment—often with faulty, inadequate infrastructure and poor quality faculty—for maximum profit. Surprisingly, there is no administrative check on such schools. Therefore, they are encouraged to carry on with their unfair practices. It’s time all the private schools mandatorily constitute a safety committee comprising representatives from school, parents and the district administration, which should periodically inspect/review the safety aspect in the school.
Pramod Srivastava, On E-mail
Over a decade ago I read an article on the same subject in Outlook. I vividly remember the words of a wise man on the issue who said, “In case you want to mint money, think of a saint’s name and in that name start a school and write ‘English medium’ below”. How true. Your current cover story only shows that things have only worsened after all these years. Ban all private shops that go by the name of schools. Swachch school abhiyaan...any takers?
I’m a veteran teacher with almost fifty years of experience behind me. And in those 50, I have headed public schools for almost 29. Yes, I have been a member of the most criticised, often advertised and the least paying profession. I dare say that the most important person in society is a teacher. No intelligent person can be a school teacher without realising the massive influence he/she has over the lives of the students in their most formative years. It is all so plain and obvious—the real work of a school, the development and nourishment of human character, depends fundamentally on one thing and one thing only: the relationship between the teacher and the taught. What matters primarily is what the teacher is giving to the students. What the teacher is in the depths of his/her own personal life is what is continuously going over to the student whether he/she likes it or not. If the teacher’s life is consecrated, if the aim is the service of God and his fellows, then we have the most potent force in the world for good. If, on the other hand, the teacher is a self-seeker, working with the eye on the clock; if he/she is sour and disgruntled; if he/she is dishonest and lazy and, if, in any way subversive and lacking in interest in, then we have in this teacher the most dangerous person that the society can know. For the student will become like the teacher who handles him/her. We have to make certain in all our thinking and planning of the selection, education, training and care of the teacher. The first step must be to raise immediately the status, the emoluments and the living conditions of the teacher—the most important person in society. Would your readers now know why many schools are bad?
Vijay Bhatnagar, Gurgaon
One can only dread the quality of the students turned out by the kind of schools mentioned in your story. Not that this is a surprise. Something like this is inevitable in a country whose population is exploding. What schooling can be provided that is sufficient to cater to that kind of nightmarish population explosion, unless one is willing to do as the Chinese do, with enforced schooling, shooting of corrupt officials, and ruthless control of the population?
And what is the use of studying in English medium schools when all that happens is that we get identical semiliterate products, all of whom are equally unemployable in a country where employment opportunities are vanishing like the morning dew?
Bill Purkayastha, On E-Mail
Money, money, money, the only school of thought really left in the world today.
Anil S., Pune
As I did my Master’s from BHU and PhD from JNU, I can tell the difference between these two campuses (The BHU Model, Oct 9). When I joined JNU in 1988, it was a culture shock for me. In BHU, women and men were required to study separately until graduation and the women’s college was like a jail that would shut its gates at 7 pm. In JNU, women would come and go into the men’s hostels at any time of the day or night and there was no ‘curfew’ in their hostels. There was also a co-ed hostel with one wing for men and another for women, with a common mess. We participated in post-dinner discussions that would go until midnight and the library would be open till late in the night. Both men and women had a remarkably fulfilling campus life. Forget groping, nobody ever passed a remark on any woman. Clearly, segregation between adults on the basis of gender is no solution for the threats to “Indian culture”.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Lt Col Sarabjit Khosla’s letter (Oct 9) makes a crucial point about government inspectors never getting charged with negligence. As correctly pointed out, the officials who wrote rosy reports year after year, perhaps without even leaving the Principal’s office, are actually more liable for criminal action than the school authorities, who would in any case have executed the inspector’s orders regarding safety and broken walls-if any such had been given.
This is an eternal problem where government officials, whose duty it is to point out drawbacks that often lead to tragedies, are not even touched by the police, and only builders, contractors, owners, administrators etc. are prosecuted. The reason is the political patronage enjoyed by the erring officials, and the general feeling that a government employee is not accountable to anybody other than his own superiors.
D.V.R. Rao, On E-Mail
This refers to your editorial comment The BHU Model (Oct 9). It does not take much intelligence to figure out that the BHU administration’s pronouncements are exactly like those of the mullahs and the religious fundamentalists, who do not want their women in the streets, unless covered from head to toe and accompanied by a male relative. The truth of what the author says is evident for anybody with common sense, but common sense is anything but common.
T. Nayak, Washington DC
People in Varanasi should feel offended by the editorial comment as theirs is not a city where rapes and molestations happen on a big scale. The columnist, who calls himself a ‘Madrasi’ and describes everyone as he feels inclined to, just wants to express himself in any manner that comes naturally to him. Unfortunately, the majority of journalists in India are like him. Perhaps, he just wants to be one of a crowd. I must remember not to read his articles. I hope he is not the editor of Outlook.
Aditya Mookerjee, On E-Mail
The BHU episode reminds us of what was sadly staged at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) and Delhi University (DU) sometime ago. The nation witnessed the shattering of Rohith Vemula’s dream and the attack on Kanhaiya Kumar in the presence of police. The HRD ministry and the UoH V-C were shockingly given a clean chit by a commission that appended the autopsy report with a finding that Rohith was not a Dalit and chose to end his life for his own reasons. In the same vein, the brutality in BHU has failed to rouse our conscience. The RSS mindset of fretting and fuming over women’s liberty is well known, but the important story is this: students of UoH and DU blazed a new trail in the fight against patriarchy by showing ABVP its due place in the recent union elections.
Chandrasekaran C., On E-Mail
This refers to ‘Police chased us even into our hostel rooms. We want an apology from the V-C’ (Oct 9). It will be an understatement to say that the BHU VC handled the molestation case insensitively and labelled the protests as ‘anti-national’. It shows his conservative mindset that is not ready to accept change. If the chief proctor can take a moral stand and quit, why can’t the VC do the same? At a time when women and their parents are keen to study in this famous university, the administration is displaying its gender-discriminatory attitude and creating fear among them.
Bal Govind, Noida
The BHU incident is not new; earlier too, similar police actions have taken place in prestigious educational institutions such as JNU. The core reasons are administrative, besides political interference. Perhaps, the police overdid their bit at BHU. They should understand that the students these days are more sensitive and that has made the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ dictum seem like a relic from a dark past. Colleges should have their own union without any influence from outside political parties. It is seen that the political parties create unnecessary bottlenecks between the students and the institution authorities. This should stop and no organisation should be allowed to pollute the tender mind of the students.
Lt Col (retd) Ranjit Sinha, Calcutta
Refer to Supervillain in Sin city (Oct. 16). The Las Vegas massacre is a sad reflection of the moral decadence and runaway gun culture that America represents. The number of guns owned by Americans is greater than the votes cast in last year’s presidential election! US President Trump seems ambivalent on the issue. When asked about gun control soon after the incident, he just said “ We are not going to talk about that today”!
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
In the Outlook cover story dated November 16, 2015, a remark (“first Hindu ruler after 800 years”) made by the late Ashok Singhal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was wrongly attributed to Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. Outlook deeply regrets this unfortunate, inadvertent error and apologises unconditionally for the embarrassment caused to Shri Rajnath Singh. The reference to him in the report is retracted.
This is in reference to your article “A Scary Sort of Bliss” (Sept 11). This article is written in a sensational and misleading manner, and fails to properly present the final verdicts of the court cases that it mentions. I hope that your writers will do a better job in future when they go through history, and specifically that they will at least study court cases thoroughly before maligning anyone’s image. As an ardent follower of the ‘Path of Bliss’, I object to the tone of the article, which was probably written with the intention of tarnishing the image of Ananda Marga and of our spiritual preceptor Shri Shri Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. We deserve an unconditional apology from you as editor for printing false articles misleading millions around the globe, and also from the article writer for quoting only sensational allegations and selective information, while concealing the facts as found by various authorities.
A. Chidambaram, Hyderabad
Apropos ‘Backwater Bacchantes’ (Oct 9), A few progressive women in Kerala and the metro cities, by showing themselves to be on par with the alcohol gulping males, can engender some sensitivity in the latter and create a more inclusive atmosphere. Indian women should liberate themselves from the taboos of male chauvinism by becoming bold, assertive and aggressive. The ancient perverse practices and fatwas that pervade this patriarchal society, for the purpose of exploiting the women by imprisoning them as mere home-makers and hypocritically idolising them as goddesses, must be demolished.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
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