Sir — I went to Priya recently to watch Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy. On reaching the ticket counter 45 minutes before the start of the show, I found that it was closed. As I stood wondering if I ought to return home, I heard a voice asking me in a hushed tone whether I needed a ticket. Looking around, I saw a few dubious looking people were engaged in selling tickets at exorbitant prices. The staff stood silently as the touts made a killing selling tickets. I wonder if the authorities at the cinema hall are in cahoots with the touts.
Susobhan Sarkar, Sonarpur
Like chalk and cheese
Sir — It is unfortunate that the Planning Commission, in its wisdom, has ended up clubbing together students in private, unaided institutions and those studying in public-funded educational institutes (“Rethink on ‘regressive’ low fees in colleges,” Dec 25). The difference between the two groups concerns merit. Toppers choose public-funded institutions whereas students who fail to get admitted to these colleges but have rich parents throng private, unaided institutions.
Everyone has a right to education, but that right is limited to elementary education. Higher education is fiercely competitive. No one joins private institutions by choice; they do it only when they fail to make it to public-funded ones. The Planning Commission is perhaps unaware of this.
The British set up institutions like the Presidency College (now university) and a newly independent India followed suit by founding the Indian Institutes of Technology with a social purpose. The aim was to open the avenues of education to the meritorious sections so that students can contribute towards the upliftment of society in later years of their life. Terming such conventional wisdom ‘regressive’ is unfortunate.
More worryingly, a hike in the fee of public-funded institutions will lower their appeal to students. Guardians will be reluctant to pay higher fees for non-vocational courses that take a longer time to finish.
It is important to remember that if we are to sacrifice greater social good in our desperation to make educational institutions self-reliant, we will miss the wood for the trees.
Tapan Pal, Batanagar
Sir — The argument that the Left Front won successive elections in West Bengal in spite of its non-performance is not only contrary to the facts but also an insult to the people of the state (“Growth wins”, Dec 21). The performance of a state government cannot be gauged on the basis of the number of industries set up by private investors. Gujarat has always attracted considerable private investment. Narendra Modi’s tenure has not seen a remarkable improvement on this count. Some of the major achievements of the erstwhile Left Front government included land reforms, decentralization of power through panchyats, and the development of satellite townships.
The performance in the industrial sector was not up to the mark on account of several factors, some of which were beyond the control of the State. Nonetheless, apart from Haldia Petrochemicals and other ancillary businesses, a large number of small-scale industries were started in the state. However, the most remarkable achievement was the maintenance of communal amity. The people of West Bengal voted for the Left Front for its successful policies.
Prabir Chatterjee, Calcutta