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
Refer to The Mints Have To Press Afresh. It’s been a decade since the MBA frenzy took over the middle class mindset in India. This resulted in a rapid mushrooming of B-schools of all kinds—good, bad and ugly, across the country. It’s quite shocking to know that the number of B-schools in India stands at 5,500. It’s time that all stakeholders of the management education field, be it students, faculty, policy makers, ranking agencies, accrediting bodies, woke up and realised that this oversaturation is not going to help anyone. Studies on employability have been warning that the products of the majority of B-Schools do not get a job commensurate with their qualification. B-schools have popped up like shops across the landscape, their only motive being profit making by capitalising on the MBA fad that is far from over.
Chowdari Prasad, On E-Mail
Perhaps from a business perspective, Outlook does well to bring out its special issues on best business schools, best engineering colleges, best medical colleges, best people and so on. I agree that such editions are necessary for the financial health of the magazine. Continue with them by all means, but kindly consider making them supplements to the news magazine, which is the main attraction for us readers. In the week that you publish these special editions, the entire journalistic value of the magazine goes for a toss.
Rajiv Boolchand Jain, New Delhi
Your B-school ranking serves as a publicity pamphlet for those interested in granting degrees to those aspiring to acquire certificates of theoretical expertise in entrepreneurial skills for taking calculated career risks and getting employment. No schools inculcate and hone capabilities to raise resources of land and capital, the prerequisites for any business. RBI’s former governor Raghuram Rajan’s drive in the near past to clean the balance sheets of public sector banks exposed huge bad debts and NPAs—the real stories of successful entrepreneurs, who with their effective networking, siphoned off public funds from the bank coffers on the basis of inflated or imaginary project reports and made them untraceable. Any land is available, almost free, with the courtesy of the government, thanks to the all-powerful Land Acquisition Act. Enforcement Directorate’s seizures of laundered black money are a narrative of loot by business tycoons. Micro analysis of any big enterprise may reveal that entrepreneurial skills function with the philosophy of ‘beg, borrow and steal’.
M. N. Bhartiya, Goa
It’s heart breaking that none of India’s top ranking business or management schools could find a pride of place in the global top 10 or even top 25 rankings. While Spain, a poor nation in Europe, boasts of some top business schools, India, an emerging economic power, lags far behind in the rankings. With proposals to teach Puranas and mythologies in engineering colleges (which may be introduced later on in business schools as well), India’s rankings, I am afraid, will further go down. Business schools in the United States and UK continue to hold maximum space in the top 10 rankings, and it’s not for nothing our bright students continue migrating to these schools. It’s only when we improve the standards in our B-schools and engineering colleges that we can check the brain drain we are so troubled by.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
There is something seriously wrong in your rankings of the best B schools in this issue. The prestigious IIM Bangalore does not feature anywhere, which simply does not make sense.
Ramana Rajgopaul, On E-Mail
That 95 per cent of B-school graduates are unemployable shows the abysmal quality of management studies in India. This goes to show that we are deluding ourselves with phrases like ‘demographic dividend’, ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘innovation’, while continuing to pay scant attention to imparting basics and practical skills demanded by employers. Alternatives to conventional methods of management based on socio-ecological principles may be the need of the hour. These lines from Kris McDivitt (the former CEO of sustainable outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc.), from an article, throw an interesting perspective on the B-school mentality: “They do not teach you anything on real life situations....about business in the context of its profound effects on society...They do not discuss with you your unsustainable habits, which no number of technological breakthroughs can change...”
C.V. Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad
I don’t know about Mars or Venus, but women come from all walks of life on earth (Women are from Mars, Oct 2 ) . Like the stories of businesswomen battling and winning against the odds in your article, they are innumerable stories of the grit and determination of women from rural India. It would be great to hear some of those stories as well sometime in the future.
Examples of successful women are inspiring for readers. Our public space has seen a lot of debate and discussion around women issues in recent years with topics ranging from women’s safety, gender violence in the family and sexism in offices. There has also been a rise in the reporting of cases of atrocities against women. While all these are steps in the right direction, the discussions have been largely restricted to newsrooms and edit columns. In reality, many of these problems are far from reaching a solution. Unfortunately, majority of men still treat women’s issues of utmost importance with either indifference or condescending sympathy. Men don’t lose the chance to proudly announce their superior role to ‘save’ women from a situation, just like in our movies, but exploitation of women goes on unhindered.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, Cherthala, Kerala
The stories of these women are truly inspiring. They refused to surrender to odd circumstances, stood firm, chose their fields and became achievers in their own right. They have established that positive thinking, vision, commitment, and hard work are essential for entrepreneurship. These women are better entrepreneurs than those who come armed with MBAs from big institutes and/or inherited wealth.
Going by the numbers, opening a B-school looks like the best business around.
Anil S., On E-Mail
Outlook’s article on Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rohingya crisis (The Lady Doth Not Protest, Oct 2) omits a few points. Burma’s founder, Aung San, unlike Netaji, turned coat and began supporting the British as soon as it became obvious that the Japanese were going to lose the war. The Rohingyas have been systematically discriminated against since 1962, when the Ne Win regime confined them to Rakhine, declared them ineligible for citizenship and barred them from government employment in a nation with little or no private enterprise. In 1982, the explicitly racist ‘National Races’ policy excluded the Rohingyas. Even the name ‘Rohingya’ was banned—like zionists who refused to believe Palestinians even existed in their promised land. Systematic ethnic cleansing began from the late ’80s. As for the ‘terrorists’ from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, their men assaulted army position with iron rods and machetes to get the few weapons for their ‘uprising’. This fact itself is proof of the ARSA’s state of ‘lethality’. But they will not remain unarmed for long—the state violence against Rohingyas will certainly give rise to radicalism and, inevitably, jehadis will move in with their ideology.
Of course, the West’s great indignation has its roots in Suu Kyi’s major sin—to get ideas above her station. She refused to stay in her designated role of western puppet and moved towards improving ties with China. If Suu Kyi falls back in line, they will cease to notice the Rohingyas. Remember, the snarling western nations have not reimposed a single one of the sanctions on Myanmar that Obama lifted. Lastly, it’s not just the Rohingyas. Hindu and Christian minorities, as well as tribal minorities lik the Shan, Kachin and Karen are all keenly aware of the actual nature of the Buddhist regime.
It is difficult to support the vehemence of the western media in pillorying Aung San Suu Kyi for not being loud enough in condemning the ethnic violence against Rohingyas in Rakhine. Recent history is replete with instances where the US as well as its press has been supporting dictatorships across the world where the regime is friendly. Yet Suu Kyi’s hands are tied—clause after clause of Myanmar’s new constitution is framed in a way that any independent action by her would enable the generals to get rid of her. We must at least appreciate her plan to welcome back Rohingyas from camps from Bangladesh after proper verification.
Mohan Singh, Amritsar
This is apropos Outlook’s story on India’s legal stand on terming the Rohingyas a ‘security threat’ (Law As Last Refuge, Oct 2). One of course couldn’t help noticing Modi’s meekness, while on his state visit to Myanmar, in paying lip service to Aung San Suu Kyi’s decrying ‘terrorist violence’, while keeping silent about the Rohingyas’ forced exodus. PM Modi, instead of giving precedence to geo-politics, ought to have spoken out for the persecuted community. Suu Kyi must stand up and be worthy of her Nobel Peace Prize.
P.S. Kaur, On E-Mail
This refers to your editorial Comment Envy and Greed (Oct 2). Journalists too are part of this dog-eat-dog world. Most have their own biases and prejudices. Since you have mentioned the 2002 Gujarat riots, I have to point out that in the coverage that followed the incidents, many top journalists interviewed only victims from one community and gave less attention to the stories of the ‘other’ victims from a different community. Like our society, it seems that journalism too is communally colour coded. Also, some so-called champions of freedom of expression deny the same freedom to their readers by doing away with ‘Letters to the Editor’. Thankfully, Outlook hasn’t done that yet at least.
Hemnath D. Pai, Bangalore
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