The circus called Admissions DU

June 29th, 2011

The Delhi University admission circus continues unabated. Welcome to adulthood – the first aspiration of the young adult of landing with a seat in a Delhi University college of choice and a course of choice may still be elusive.

Starting from the imbecile 100% cut-off announced by Sri Ram College of Commerce on day one to the possibility of a third cut-off list coming soon, we keep getting our daily dose of entertainment. Like it or not, prime coverage has been accorded to this event both in the national electronic and the print media, giving it a national event status. We are being forced to hear numerous debates – involving politicians, academicians, students, parents etc. Each participant wants us to hear his own view and obviously considers his solution to be the panacea for all ills which plague the system.

To me the entire debate seems to be a waste of time. It makes no sense to debate on a non-issue. On day one the Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal admitted a 100% cut-off was “irrational.” He continued (with his usual habit of commenting without understanding the issue) and said, “In one college, in the commerce stream, the cut-off is 100 per cent. I felt very sad especially for parents whose children have worked very hard and got 97.5 per cent…I want to tell the parents and students that we are on your side and will request the Vice Chancellor and colleges to take note.”

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury sarcastically remarked that the present scenario of sky-high cut-off would have kept even Shakespeare out of college. More recently we had the India Today cover page screaming “95% and Nowhere To Go”. A harassed set of parents wept saying how much more should they expect from their child who had got 78%.

In all this milieu, the main issue has been lost. Absolute marks in today’s competitive world make no sense. Everything in today’s world is relative. Every aspect of life is a race. If you clock better that Ussain Bolt you may be happy, but even with that timing if you are last in the race, who cares about your timing. This holds true for marks also, they are good or bad only when compared with others, else in absolute terms they convey no meaning and hence deserve no respect / condemnation.

There are around 6,000 seats in the Delhi University for pursuing graduation and so it is certain that only the top 6000 candidates, amongst all who have applied, will be admitted. There ends the story. Who cares if the last candidate to get in had 90% or 45%. He still remains the 6,000 ranked among all the applicants. In the various talk shows, I keep hearing participants saying that even after getting above 80% they have no college to go to. And I find in discussions across the cross section of the society that such candidates get a lot of sympathy. But the truth remains that these candidates are not within the top 6,000, the system does not care if they have 80% or 85%.

The crux of the matter is the less number of seats at the Under Graduate level as compared to the applicants - and no body seems to address this issue. The authorities who matter are not realising that if this issue remains unaddressed for long, the entire DU will loose its relevance in the near future. Good students who are being forced to pursue the graduate course from Open schools outside the DU will finish graduation soon and will take on the DU graduates in the post graduate / professional courses. Very soon the honour associated with being a DU graduate will be lost. It is a wake up call for the DU authorities, if they want to continue to remain on the top they better increase the seats and allow a larger cross section of the students to be benefitted or else very soon the entire DU would be pushed into oblivion.

So dear Mr Kapil Sibal if you actually want to live up to comment (mentioned above) and be on the side of the students, a more serious correction in the system is required than merely assuring that you would request for a lowering of the cut offs. Please take note - start delivering and stop the lip service of assuring. The future of the country is at stake.

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Offence is best defence — Govt vs civil society

June 24th, 2011

What was most feared is about to happen. A ray of hope that was built up in the form of a civil mass movement against corruption is on the verge of dying even before the “mass” could be added to the movement. It is interesting to note that this death is not due to the lack of effort made by the civil society leaders or the inclination of the masses, but is because of some deft and shrewd political moves by the members of the ruling party. They have cleverly involved the civil society groups in various forms of debates and discussion but have not even touched the core issue raised by the groups – CORRUPTION. In cases where such moves have failed to deflect the heat from the issue of corruption they have used force to silence the critics and have justified the use of force even in the Supreme Court.

The debate on whether the civil society groups have the right to raise issues on which the Parliament is allowed to legislate has just begun. This is a classical political move. If the opponent is raising pertinent questions, duck the questions and engage the opponent in a verbal duel over his powers, the methodology of raising issues, his ignorance about how the government functions, etc.

The civil society groups, whether they are headed by Anna or Ramdev, are quite unaware of this side of politics in which the likes of Kapil Sibal and Pranab Mukherjee are veterans. As a result of this political naivete, we are now being made to hear televised debates regarding the rights of the civil society. The print media is no different and has started giving it cover-page stories. So we have Manish Tiwari telling us that the civil society groups are trying to hold the government to ransom, Pranab Mukherjee comes up with an even better one –- the groups are trying to frame legislation which is the domain of the elected parliamentarians. As usual, the civil society groups have started to explain their position on these technical issues and are now on the defensive. The government has applied the principle of -– “Offense is the best defence” and for the time being it seems it has been fairly successful in it.

But this is surely a short-sighted approach. The ruling party leaders need to realise that the government functions within a democratic framework and will have to face the electorate again. While the nation’s majority may feel helpless for a while, being at the receiving end of the mauling caused by corruption, this helplessness will gradually give rise to resentment and anger. This will have serious repercussions at the ballot box. The nation’s majority will turn away from the parties constituting the government in case the wounds inflicted by corruption are not healed in the remaining period of governance of the ruling party.

Wake up, dear leaders, and stop basking in short-term glory. The wrath of the people is building up. If you want your party to have a long life in governance, do something to save itself from the wrath of the people.

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Agree with us or face the music

June 7th, 2011

The common man has no voice in the present government. This has been proved again (and decisively), by the turn of events surrounding the Swami Ramdev saga. The issues raised by Ramdev are nothing new and have been raised on numerous occasions in the past. And, as is usual, the government has turned a deaf ear to them. However, when Ramdev raised them this time, the government came out on bent knees and appeared to give all sorts of assurances.

This changed attitude on the part of the government is understandable since Ramdev has the power to make the people rally around him. However, as the moves to placate him were not successful, the government did what it is best at – use force to ensure the issues aren’t discussed at a public forum.

As of now, the government has used the police department, now we will see it use the other weapons at its disposal. It has ordered an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income-Tax Department into Swami Ramdev’s affairs. It is very funny that these high-sounding departments realised the need for an investigation only two days ago.

This brings me to another conclusion – agree with the government or it will send various departments on your trail. This has become the hallmark of the present government – either agree or face the consequences. I wonder what would have happened had Swami Ramdev agreed with the government. Maybe the ministers who now are abusing him would have continued to salute him and sing his praises and the law enforcement departments would have remained in slumber.   

It is high time that the government realises that the various government departments are not its personal bodyguards who retaliate every time the master is attacked–and if the master is not attacked, remain on vigil but do not act. The departments are the personal bodyguards of the nation and should act every time the nation is attacked. The nation is the master, not the government or party in power.

 

 

 

 

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