Editorial 1 / Jointly vague
Editorial 2 / Vive la boheme
Where is your money?
Fifth Column / Second in command, but only in name
Unsettling a matter
Document / How to cook up the figures
Letters to the editor

A joint parliamentary committee probe was set up to examine the stock market crash of 2001. The report is not ready, but two draft reports have been leaked to media. Since several sections of the final report are yet to be written, the JPC chairman is understandably peeved at these selective leaks, presumably indicative of lobbying and designed to ensure that some individuals and corporates are not indicted. Hence the citizen has every right to be sceptical of such JPC probes. What has happened to implementing the recommendations of the earlier probe that went into the Harshad Mehta scandal? From the circulated draft reports, the JPC will probably castigate the Unit Trust of India (in the US-64 episode) for not switching to net asset value-based pricing, not implementing recommendations of the Deepak Parekh committee and undue emphasis on equity. Castigating the UTI means lambasting the chairman, the executive committee and the board, apart from some banks such as the State Bank of India, which may have had insider information before the final crisis surfaced. The proposed merger between UTI Bank and Global Trust Bank will also come in for some stick, since procedures were not followed. The former finance minister is likely to receive a clean chit. He did not know about the US-64 crisis on July 2. Indictments are reserved for the former finance secretary and the joint secretary in charge of capital markets. They did know about the US-64 crisis.

The securities and exchange board of India will also come in for a lot of stick. The watchdog has been slack in investigating stock exchanges, fund flows or insider trading. There have been few prosecutions for insider trading or unfair trade practices and even rarer instances of registration and cancellation. Model rules and by-laws for stock exchanges were not formulated. The draft JPC report proposes to give Sebi more teeth. The threshold of monetary penalties Sebi can impose will increase and the regulator will have the power to seize documents during raids. Granting more powers to a regulator is fine, especially when capital market activity seems to be picking up and the retail investor must be attracted back. But what use has Sebi made of the powers it already has? In many cases, the securities appellate tribunal has ruled against Sebi and so have high courts, when Sebi appealed against SAT rulings. Does Sebi have adequate manpower to carry out investigations? Sebi is now ten years old and this track record does not offer scope for optimism.

However, such nitty-gritty may be outside the JPC’s purview. Instead, in addition to indicting Sebi, there will be indictments of the Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank and the City Cooperative Bank. There may also be criticism of the Reserve Bank of India’s lax regulatory mechanisms. By December, the final report should be ready. Soft targets will be chosen for indictments and hard targets avoided. The 30-member JPC will have performed its appointed task. And, as with the case of Harshad Mehta, so with Mr Ketan Parekh. The citizen and retail investor will be left wondering what it was all about. Who were the guilty ones and will they ever be punished?


Prudishness is always unsavoury. Making it officially part of an institution’s ethos is particularly unpleasant, especially if that institution happens to be involved with the fine arts. Calcutta’s Rabindra Bharati University has been the scene of a series of disturbances at the root of which is a truly vicious combination of puritanism, conservatism, social prejudice and sheer mean-mindedness. This dreadful mix of attitudes has been expressing itself as both hooliganism and authoritarianism — the obverse and reverse of the same fascist coin. West Bengal usually likes to attribute these tendencies to the bigoted fringe of the sangh parivar. But time and again, hallowed institutions and individuals from the other end of the political spectrum have shown disconcerting similarities, in the state, to their opponents in the right.

A set of students from the visual arts faculty has violently protested against another set of students because of the bohemian ways of the latter. Female students have been wearing shorts and smoking, thereby violating the spirit of the place. Hence, some students and faculty have been assaulted, and at a more official level, a dress code has been imposed on them all. No liberal arts institution could possibly do well what it has been set up to do if it flexes its disciplinary muscles so mindlessly. Having two sets of rules for men and women regarding clothes and smoking is the worst form of discrimination. Invoking Tagorean values or some vague notion of “tradition” cannot redeem the benightedness of such an attitude. To make matters worse, the vice-chancellor has also prohibited the exhibition of a piece of sculpture created by one of the students. It has been considered “obscene” and the funding granted to the student for its execution has been gracelessly withdrawn. Philistinism trying to assert itself as morality is perhaps the most pernicious quality to be embodied in an educationist who holds the reins of power within an institution. It is only to be hoped that the beleaguered students of this faculty and their sympathetic teachers will manage to preserve the robustness of their creative energies. The spirit of aesthetic freedom has often proved to be more resilient than either hooliganism or authoritarianism.


It is no small irony in an age promising information of all kinds on tap for people living at the very nerve-centre of the global network society to find themselves in the role of victims of disinformation on a staggering scale. The old question once sported on an office window of Merrill Lynch — “It’s 2 pm. Do you know where your money is?”— has of late begun to give many Americans the jitters. Many of them just do not know where their money is gone. It seems to have dissolved into thin air.

That some companies, small and big, go broke every year in a market economy is no news. It is a different story altogether, however, when two powerhouses of the global system, like Enron and WorldCom, collapse one after the other. If they had been in the red for some time, the investors would have been on their guard. Their sudden descent into bankruptcy set alarm bells ringing not only at Dow Jones but also in all major stock exchanges of the world because they were supposed to be in excellent health when they were in fact terminal cases.

This explodes two myths about the network society as well as global capitalism. The first concerns the new ease of access to correct data about economic and political life when, in fact, the truth is often buried under a load of junk or manipulated information. The second myth has a bearing on the so-called openness or transparency of public life and private business, particularly in free enterprise societies, when the realities on the ground daily rebut this claim. At best what the public gets are occasional glimpses into the shady goings-on in the corridors of power and the boardrooms or executive offices of the big corporations.

How did two mega-multinational corporations, whose executives, like most of their peers in the United States of America, knew all the rules of the game of cosying up to powerful men on the Capitol Hill and in the White House, come to so abrupt an end? The full story of what happened would be known only when those investigating the two cases have finished their job. All the same, it is safe to assume that as members of the exclusive club running America’s economic empire, these two overreached themselves in transgressing the limits which even global capitalism sets on how far one could go in fudging accounts, cheating the tax laws and taking their shareholders for suckers.

Even for a society for which, as Thomas Jefferson said almost at the start of its career as a republic, “money, and not morality, is the chief value”, the cover-up of huge losses to make them look like big profits and keep the prices of junk shares at highly inflated levels, giving inside traders the opportunity to earn vast sums of crooked dollars, was too hard to swallow. The moment of truth came when the two transnational organizations just could not get the credit they desperately needed to continue the deception. It was too late to salvage themselves and they had no choice but to file for insolvency.

It is hard to believe that fudging of accounts to keep stock prices artificially high was peculiar to these two MNCs. What made their recourse to this dubious practice self-defeating was the scale of the swindle they masterminded. It was indeed the general belief that to some extent such fraudulent accounting is quite widespread. This is what forced the congress to rush with legislation to place more stringent curbs on manipulation of accounts and prescribe much severer penalties for executives who fall foul of the law.

How far the new laws would affect the operations of MNCs, whose business often extends to fifty or more countries is, however, a question hard to answer at this stage. It would certainly make chief executives and their aides as well as accounting corporations, often with a global spread themselves, more wary of subverting the very notion of integrity in accounting procedures. At the same time it would not be too unreasonable, considering the track record of global capitalism, to expect more diligent search for loopholes in the new legislation which allow them to invent new ways of manipulating accounts to their advantage, at least on a much less audacious scale.

The larger the spread of the tentacles of an MNC to different parts of the world, the bigger are its stakes in inward trading of stocks, manipulating markets and concealing shady deals, and the more remote the chances of achieving what public rhetoric calls transparency. Indeed, transparency has paradoxically become the first casualty with the new advances in technologies which have made it possible for many Western corporations to attain a worldwide spread and evolve new games of juggling with public money.

The turbulence in the currency markets and stock exchanges of the world keeps the field open to rigging by smart operators. So complete is the lack of transparency at times that the public often discovers the truth when it is too late. A more piquant result of the devious ways in which global capitalism works, aided and abetted by the on-going technological revolution, is its malign impact on an indigent society like India’s, one-third of whose population still lives below the poverty line. The poor indeed are often unwitting victims of the changes convulsing hi-tech societies.

It is no accident that the two biggest scandals which shook the financial world in India occurred during the decade when it was exposed to the globalization processes. This is not to say that over three decades of economic stagnation, the desperate shortage of investment capital and the difficulties, under the old order, of access to new technologies, left the country with any other choice. Those who presided over the troublesome transition to a market economy, however, did not take the necessary care in managing the financial sector. Far from making things more transparent, all kinds of behind-the-scenes pressures were allowed to influence key investment decisions. In two major scandals in which Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were the central players, banks advanced huge sums for speculative purposes.

For weeks none of those supposed to keep a close watch on the goings-on in public financial institutions even cared to ask from where the reckless operators, who were jacking up stock prices to levels which had no relationship to their real value, were getting such huge sums to gamble with. The same story was repeated in the case of the Unit Trust of India, by far the biggest mutual fund in the country which most people considered as safe a place to invest in as public sector banks. Gross mismanagement of its affairs has resulted in a meltdown of a large part of the savings of hundreds of thousands of families.

The former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, has told the public by way of an alibi for what happened that he was informed by the head of the UTI, only a few days before the decision to freeze the repurchase of units, that everything was all right with the fund, and that when the shocking news was conveyed to New Delhi, the then finance secretary withheld it from him for two days. This does not, however, answer the question: what could he have done even if he had been given the bad news a week earlier? What the crisis revealed was no momentary lapse or a sudden development permitting effective remedial action or even a quick fix. The crisis in the UTI’s affairs was the cumulative consequence of wrong investment decisions over a long period.

If all the assurances given by those managing nationalized banks or other public financial institutions were to be accepted at their face value, there would be no need for keeping a more alert eye on their working. And the government would not be wringing its hands in despair over the dire straits in which public sector banks find themselves today, with accumulated non-performing assets, a euphemism for bad debts, of over Rs 80,000 crore. It is easy to understand the chagrin of the new finance minister, Jaswant Singh, at having to cope with this evil legacy and his sense of outrage implicit in his tart remark that “this is loot, not debt”.

This country may count for very little in the new global economic order. But the skill of some of the managers of its public financial institutions in manipulating credit and investment policies already matches those who mastermind the doctoring of accounts in some of the giant MNCs. Indeed, the way millions of poor and middle class families have lost their savings in recent years lends a new poignancy to the Merrill Lynch advertising gambit: “Do you know where your money is?” Those who are at a loss to know where it is are apt to answer the question with a lump in their throats.


With the vice-presidential elections round the corner, the gaps in the Constitution with regard to this office are becoming apparent. The first draft of the Constitution did not provide for a vice-president — it was created so that in the absence of the president, the vice-president would be available to perform his duties. Yet many loopholes remain in the area of the functioning and election of the vice-president, undermining the importance of this position.

While the Indian vice-president is modelled on the American one, there are differences in their manner of election. The American president and vice-president are both elected by the same electoral college. In India, however, the president is elected by an electoral college consisting of all elected members of parliament and state legislatures (Article 54), while the vice-president is elected only by the members of the two houses of Parliament (Article 66). Thus, the presidential elections is an all-India affair, while that of the vice-president is limited to the Parliament and fails to attract as much importance.

In the American system, the vice-president takes over in case the president is absent or has resigned and remains in office for the remainder of the latter’s term. In a similar situation in India, the vice-president fills in as acting president until a new president assumes office after an interim election (Article 65). Since he takes over the president’s duties in his absence, shouldn’t the vice-president be elected by the same electoral college as the president?

Qualifying clause

Clause 1 of Article 65 stipulates that in the event of the president’s death, resignation or dismissal, the vice-president shall act as president, while clause 2 says that when the president is unable to perform his duties owing to illness or other such reasons, the vice-president shall fill in for him until he resumed office. But who is to decide whether the president is unable to perform his duties? There is an ambiguity in these clauses which can only be cleared by making changes in them.

The Constitution does not take into consideration that both the president and the vice-president may be indisposed or unavailable at the same time. In 1969, when the acting president, V.V. Giri, resigned to contest the presidential elections, the positions of both president and vice-president became vacant. Parliament had to pass the Presidential (Discharge of Functions) Act, which allowed the chief justice of India to perform the duties of the president. But bringing a member of the judiciary into the executive is not a very wise solution.

For the period in which the chief justice carries out the duties of the president, his salary and allowances are the same as those of the president. But when the vice-president officiates as president, his allowance is decided upon by Parliament, and until it does so, he receives the allowance allowed him under the Second Schedule. This discrepancy is inexplicable.

Stopgap president

Also, the method of impeachment of the president and vice-president is very different. A resolution, passed by a majority of the members of the Rajya Sabha and agreed to by the Lok Sabha, is enough to dismiss the vice-president. Thus, a ruling party, that has a simple majority in both houses, can easily dismiss the vice-president. It is also not clear whether such impeachment can be done even when the vice-president is discharging the functions of the president.

As second man in the executive pyramid, it is strange that the vice-president does not have any executive powers. When the vice-president is doing duty as stand-in president, he is also expected to carry out the latter’s executive functions. Should he not then be allowed some executive powers of his own in order to ensure that he knows his way around at such times?

The vice-presidential position has a lot of potential. The office must therefore be given due importance and dignity. Although, the vice-president is associated with a number of cultural institutions in an ex officio capacity, the Constitution must elevate the vice-president’s position, ensure him a stable tenure and grant him executive powers of his own.



The hearths of thousands of settlers and industrial migrants, who made the state their home after Partition, are crumbling in a whirlwind of confused emotions.The chief minister, Babulal Marandi, has just played a masterstroke. A notification issued by the state government has set the 1932 survey record of land rights as the cut-off date for the domicile criterion in class III and class IV state government jobs. A person whose name or whose forefather’s name figures on the list can qualify as a domicile of the “resident” district and get “priority” in “classified” government jobs.

The whip, modelled on the lines of a 1982 Bihar labour department notification which said that the last survey record of land rights would be held as the baseline for domicile status in class III and class IV jobs, has led to a storm of protest. While the tribal groups and original settlers or


comprising backward groips, schedul/id castes and tribes, and minorities are supporting the domicile criterion, the bulk of the non-tribal settlers from Bihar, Orissa and Bengal feels betrayed. The tenuous ethnic unity is under severe strain.

The events over the past week have been disturbing. Ranchi erupted in flames as the rival groups clashed. The inferno singed the streets, residential colonies, industries and business centres, crippling normal life. Police crackdown on the rioters claimed five lives and resulted in dozens of casualties. It even paralysed the administration and the judiciary. In an unprecedented action on July 24, even the chief justice of the Ranchi high court is reported to have been prevented from attending office along with several cabinet ministers.

But the conflagration failed to cast its shadow on the sprawling residence of the chief minister. It remained smug in its new-found glory. The social churning has bequeathed Marandi the cult status of a tribal hero, and has ensured a permanent votebank for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The notification, adopted and passed in September 2000 by the cabinet, seeks to accord priority to local residents in “lower category” jobs in the true tradition of a “tribal welfare-oriented state”. But the fact that the issue has been raked up nine months after the official sanction suggests a more sinister motive.

Though the chief minister maintains that the policy is nothing out of the ordinary and is within the framework of the Constitution, it has surfaced at a time when the Marandi applecart was wobbling under the impact of a dismal performance. Marandi had earned the high command’s wrath by losing Dumka to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha heavyweight, Shibu Soren, and was faced with internal dissent over the Rajya Sabha polls. Two key National Democratic Alliance partners, the Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United), made public their resentment at being sidelined. Five Samata Party members even tendered their resignation in protest, only to take it back following New Delhi’s mediation. Though a split in the coalition was averted, the resignations came as a blow to Marandi’s image and exposed his ineptitude in running a coalition. As the chief minister struggled to rein in his disparate flock, there were rumours about a possible change of guard. A slew of names did the rounds and old foes like Karia Munda descended on Ranchi to test the party’s pulse.

A beleaguered Marandi played his final card: the emotive homeland issue. By digging up an old job notification issued by the cabinet secretariat, the chief minister razed the united opposition. The JMM, which was mobilizing the Sarna tribals in the Santhal Pargana backwaters, was stumped.

In an essentially cosmopolitan Jharkhand, the “domiciles” form a numerical minority in contrast to neighbouring Chhatisgarh, another tribal-dominated state. Statistics cite that only 27 per cent of the population fits Marandi’s homeland bill. Of this, only 12 per cent are tribals and the rest moolvasis, or settlers, who came to the state before 1932. But this 27 per cent has always been a deciding factor in the state. Traditionally a JMM votebank, this segment was partially instrumental in catapulting Soren to the political centrestage in the Dumka Lok Sabha bypoll. To dent the JMM support base, Marandi had to dangle a carrot. Nothing served the intent better than paying lip service to the long-pending demand for domicile status.

The move, if put under a microscope, is inspired by none other than Laloo Prasad Yadav of neighbouring Bihar. But for the first time, the minorities, the backward groups and the tribals have closed ranks over a single agenda. Muslims, residing in the state since the late 19th century, had always been relegated to the fringes by the dominant tribals and the moolvasis. For them, this is a kind of delayed justice and a vindication of the right to self-determination. The new tribal-Muslim axis, which is now swearing by Marandi, bears shades of Laloo Yadav’s Muslim-Yadav combination in Bihar, which forms 26 per cent of the total votes.

As a result, the gimmick has not gone down well with the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief. The domicile issue has directly pitted the tribals against the settlers from Bihar, most of whom are post-1932 migrants. They corner the lion’s share of class III and class IV government and public sector unit jobs in the state. The fact that the protests were concentrated in the urban industrial pockets of Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur indicates that demographic polarization has been maximum in the industrial sectors dominated by Biharis.

As a counter-move, Laloo Yadav is stockpiling his rhetoric to take the domicile battle deeper into the Marandi heartland, ostensibly to protect his brethren since the move threatens to marginalize the RJD and other secular, left and democratic forces in the industrial hubs. The left-democratic combine, along with some JMM splinters, controls the trade union movement in the mines and PSUs. Laloo Yadav’s rallying cry is that the circular has been “misinterpreted”. Even Congress heavyweight and former Bihar chief minister, Jagannath Mishra, during whose tenure the circular was issued, concurs.

But Marandi is armed with clinching evidence to the contrary. Says Birender Jha, the chief minister’s private secretary, “The labour department circular was ratified by the Bihar cabinet in 1987 and that makes it official and applicable to all government jobs.” Moreover, the Bihar state reorganization bill states that until the new state formulates its own domicile rules, “it can adhere to the existing one”. Armed with constitutional and legal gunpowder, Marandi is ready to wage a battle royale. He is bracing for a stormy all-party meeting on August 1 on the issue. A suitably impressed New Delhi, too, has given him the go-ahead. Despite a hue and cry in the state party unit, which is unable to reconcile itself to Marandi’s machination (as the bulk of its members and field workers are non-tribals), the Centre feels that the “young and astute chief minister” has hit upon a political goldmine. It would feed the electoral machine till the expiry of the house in 2004 and then, fresh elections would decide Marandi’s fate. Only time can tell whether the domicile salvo has managed to hit the bull’s eye but as for now, it’s advantage Marandi all the way.


Non-formal education programme, which is an integral component of universalization of elementary education, was conceived by the government of India in 1979-80. The aim of the NFE is to provide elementary education, comparable to the quality of formal education to children in the 6-14 age group engaged in their domestic works.

The government of West Bengal took up the programme in 1979 but discontinued it from 1990-91. Since then the programme was implemented by NGOs with 100 per cent Central assistance. The state was thus deprived from availing the Central assistance for programme on eradication of illiteracy. No NFE centre was set up under the government sector between 1995-96 and 1999-2000 during the period of continuance of the scheme in the state. The state government, the Mass Education Extension Directorate and the district offices were totally unaware of the activities of the NGOs and did not monitor their activities.

Adequate NFE centres were not set up in the districts with lower percentage of literacy and population of backward classes of hilly and tribal areas.

Implementation of the programme suffered due to ineffective or non-existent inspection, supervision and monitoring. Test-check of performance of 3 NGOs revealed that 79 per cent of the targetted group of learners remained outside the ambit of education and only 12 per cent of the successful NFE learners could take admission in formal education.

GOI released Rs 34.07 lakh to one NGO in Uluberia-I Block, against 100 non-existent centres. One NGO in South 24 Parganas district furnished fictitious figures of learners. Three NGOs could not produce 1,439 attendence registers...indicating doubtful existence/functioning of the NFE centres.

Irrigation and Waterways Department is responsible for creation and maintenance of irrigation facilities and management of flood control in the state. West Bengal having a total geographical area of 88.75 lakh hectare has cultivable area of 53.25 lakh hectare. As of March 2000 the department could create irrigation potential of 14.30 lakh hectare (53 per cent) through major and medium irrigation schemes although the maximum irrigation potential of the state was 27 lakh hectare. Poor financial discipline, weak budgetary control and unreliable estimates led to persistent and significant savings on capital account. Letter of credit system was not effective and expenditure control system was virtually non-functional. Rush of expenditure in the last months of the year was endemic. Due to deficiencies in planning, execution and ...management of protection and drainage schemes, the problem of inundation and water-logging of the flood-prone basins and sub-basins had not been mitigated. Huge manpower was idling. Procurement of stores was budget driven and every year huge quantity of hume pipes, steel rods and cement were procured unnecessarily.

The department could spend Rs 106.88 crore and Rs 509.71 crore... under revenue and capital heads during 1997-2001. The controlling officer had to prepare budget estimate without input from field offices and could not submit the budget estimate to the finance department within the prescribed time. Absence of control in preparation of budget and monitoring of allotment of fund vis-à-vis budgetary provision led to huge savings.

The existing scheme of LOC provides scope for diversion of funds from capital to revenue head by divisional officers as the LOC is not released scheme-wise and the expenditure of schemes are not monitored as per LOC releases.

Expenditure control mechanism was non-functional as monthly statement of expenditure and liabilities were not submitted by the divisional officers. The controlling officer did not reconcile departmental expenditure figures with those maintained by the principal accountant general (accounts and entitlement) and thereof departmental figures were not reliable.

To be concluded



Another identity crisis

Sir — If J. Jayalalithaa is angry, then it is a good idea to let her be. Although events in the past have proved that she does not take kindly to snubs, real or imagined, sulking for not being invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the president surely is a bit much (“Advani regrets Jaya miss”, July 29). If L.K. Advani does not tolerate the tantrums of Mamata Banerjee any more, there is no reason why he should put up with those of Amma. The chief ministers of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir were present at the function for the simple reason that they were in Delhi on that day. If Amma were so eager to witness the swearing-in of an illustrious son of her state, she could have arranged for an engagement in the capital on that day. Finally, since she thinks that A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s being a Tamil should have got her an invitation, she should remember that the president is first an Indian, and later a Tamil, Bengali or Punjabi.

Yours faithfully,
Sumit Saran, Guwahati

Last crusaders

Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, in his article, “The new tournament” (June 23), attracts readers’ attention to a turning point in the social history of Bengal. One can accept Datta-Ray’s contention or arrogantly dismiss it, but the truth remains that the nouveau riche are now busy conquering the vacuum that has been left by Bengal’s fast-vanishing aristocratic intelligentsia.

History progresses according to its own logic, and that logic is sometimes difficult to understand. For example, one cannot really comprehend one alarming aspect of the development taking place in Bengal — the degenerate culture of the newly emerging class which is a far cry from the high standards of the “anglomaniacs”. That these standards were indeed something to reckon with is evident from the fact that they found appreciation in the literary works of such intellectual giants as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. It is unfortunate that this culture is being lost forever.

Yours faithfully,
Indranil Chaudhuri, Calcutta

Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray’s “The new tournament” and Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s “Remains of the past” (July 7) touch upon the same subject — Bengal’s elite. While Datta-Ray whines for the “world that we have lost”, Mukherjee cleverly avoids sounding snobbish while commenting on the “values and virtues” of the rapidly depleting stock of Westernized Bengalis. Datta-Ray, however, does not mince words while coming down on the new social developments in Bengal. What both writers provide in the end is a lot of social gossip. But one must be careful while pigeonholing. There might not be “ingabanga knights” left, but there is nothing really wrong with “kni-ghted Bengali NRIs”.

Yours faithfully,
Gabbar Singh, Shillong

Sir — Since Sunanda K. Datta-Ray adopts a derisive tone while describing the actions of anglicized Bengalis in colonial India, I presume the allusions to his own genealogy were purely for the purpose of journalistic disclosure.

Yours faithfully,
Supriya Guha, Therwil, Switzerland

Resultant worry

Sir — The Part II results of the bachelor’s degree examination of the University of Calcutta were once again dismal this year. Brilliant students of various colleges have reportedly got a low second class or have merely managed to pass. Inconsistency in marking and untoward haste in correcting answer scripts have led to such ridiculous results. It would have been better had the university taken 100 days instead of 71 days to publish the results. Some more time at the disposal of the university would have meant less pressure on examiners, and thereby a more balanced assessment. Despite complaints from students about incorrect marking and the enormous demand for re-evaluation of answer scripts, the Calcutta University seems blissfully unaware of the fact that its erratic marking is ruining the future prospects of innumerable students in the state. Until the university improves its evaluation system, students will continue to leave for other states in droves.

Yours faithfully
Huzeifa Khyrullah, Calcutta

Sir — If the West Bengal higher education council goes ahead with its decision to introduce new subjects such as computer science and microbiology, it will benefit colleges in the state (“Forget history, it’s time to get modern”, June 28). Apart from improving the job prospects of students, such a move will also help colleges develop their infrastructure. Since colleges will be able to charge higher fees for the courses, the proceeds from these can be used to improve facilities for students and teachers. This will also stop the brain drain from West Bengal.

Yours faithfully,
Rila Halder, Siliguri

Bad patch

Sir — The stretch of road beneath the Dum Dum railway bridge and those on both sides of it contribute in a big way to traffic snarl-ups in the area for the major part of the day. Long queues of vehicles, autos making dangerous turns, blaring horns, local people acting as traffic controllers, helpless constables are a perfect recipe for madness. The situation has been like this for years now. Can we not expect a better deal?

Yours faithfully,
Somnath Lahiri, Calcutta

Sir — Pavements in our locality are encroached upon by hawkers and sundry other traders who pile their goods or garbage there. On Northern Avenue, a grocery store dumps garbage like empty cartons and oil cans on the pavement. Repeated requests have yielded no result. Why can’t corporation inspectors fine these errant elements for violating municipal law?

Yours faithfully,
Swapan Kumar Banerjee, Calcutta

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