Toppers bypass IIT for Jadavpur
Students in, director not
Bengal swims against tide
Act I, scene I: Stalwarts show the way
Dark, dry days at Medical College
Bihar police threaten mutiny
Hospital probe

Calcutta, July 25 
Move over IIT, back off Presidency. Jadavpur University is the choice of the champions. Higher Secondary toppers are headed for Jadavpur, bypassing opportunities to study in IITs and steering clear of College Street.

At Presidency, college sources said no one from the Higher Secondary (HS) merit list has collected forms for any undergraduate course. Principal Nitai Charan Mukherjee said the authorities will get a clearer picture once the applicants start submitting their forms. “However, considering last year’s trend, I don’t expect more than two students from the HS merit list to enrol,” he added.

The main reason why Jadavpur University (JU) is attracting the very best: Nearly all its departments have been announced centres of excellence by Central government agencies. “The facilities at JU are in no way inferior to those at IITs. That’s why I didn’t even take the IIT entrance examinations,” said first boy Sayak Ray, who wants to study computer science at Jadavpur University.

Like Sayak, Barna Saha and Priyanko Mitra, who came second and third, respectively, have chosen JU for further studies. While Barna, who had sailed through the IIT entrance, has taken up pure chemistry, Priyanko prefers electronics and information technology.

The most sought-after departments on the Jadavpur campus are electronics and information technology and computer science, followed by electrical and civil engineering. JU has been chosen a nodal agency in the Centre’s countrywide project to promote computer education funded by the World Bank.

Several hundred students like Barna have spurned opportunities to study at IITs, according to state education department officials engaged in placement of students in the various engineering colleges of the state.

Says Manoj Mitra, senior teacher in JU’s metallurgy department and member of the state team engaged in counselling engineering students: “The craze for studying at JU is increasing every year, simply because the standard of education, as well as research facilities, here are of international grade.” He added: “It’s not as if standards at the IITs have fallen. But, at the same time, institutions like JU have caught up with them.”

Soma Sarkar, Ajay Ray and others who fared exceedingly well in the HS and have already secured berths at JU, felt that unlike five years ago, the craze for getting into the IITs has waned. “The choice now depends more on what subject the student chooses,” said Soma.

The total number of seats in the 15 engineering and technological departments of the university is nearly 880 and “all the seats are taken on the very first day of counselling,” said Pradip Ray, co-ordinator of the central counselling team and a senior teacher of Bengal Engineering College.    

Calcutta, July 25 
The first government tech school in the city is open, the students have been selected, but the director’s chair remains vacant.

The first batch of candidates selected for the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Calcutta (IIIT-C), set up in May this year, was announced on Tuesday.

Classes will commence in August. But the “prestigious institute” remains headless.

“I know that the chief secretary is meeting candidates for the director’s post over lunch in a few days’ time,” said state technical education department minister Bangshagopal Chowdhury.

“Six or seven highly-qualified persons” are scheduled to meet Manish Gupta, who heads the governing body of the institute, the minister added.

Chowdhury dubbed the results of the entrance examination “very good”, with 25 per cent of the 60 seats going to students from West Bengal.

One student from the city and two others from Asansol figured in the top 10 of the merit list. Only two women figured in the first 60.

Over 10,000 candidates had appeared for admission tests held in 12 centres across the country.

Educational Consultants India Limited (Ed.CIL) put up a list of 239 candidates at its office and at Globsyn’s Technocampus in Salt Lake.

Anxious students and parents gathered to check the list.

“All candidates beyond rank 60 are in the waiting list and will be called serially,” an Ed.CIL staff member said.

The first 60 have been called for “admission counselling” on August 1.

“I found the admission test pretty fair and competitive,” said Arnab Banerjee, rank 41, who completed his Madhyamik from Patha Bhavan and his Higher Secondary from DPS School, Ranchi.

IIT-C, being set up according to recommendations of the Union government’s task force on information technology, will soon move into its temporary home, Technocampus.

The minister said that a permanent site will be earmarked “soon” and work on the campus will start as “soon as possible.”    

Calcutta, July 25 
As state-funded educational institutions across the country increasingly look for private support to survive, West Bengal is going the other way. Jyoti Basu’s government has decided to expand state role in education.

In an extreme measure aimed at checking mushrooming of “illegally-run” private computer education centres, the government will set up 200 such institutes by 2001. For this, the state youth services and technical education departments will tie up with two “leading US-based organisations” for technical assistance.

The aim is to provide computer education to “50,000 aspirants throughout the state”. The first centre will open at Kankurgachhi in a couple of months, said officials. “Our plan is to set up 54 centres in and around the city by the end of the year. The charges will be moderate and the quality of education will help the youth get jobs,” said youth services minister Manab Mukherjee.

A recent survey by the technical education department had revealed that several private computer centres, with neither official recognition nor proper infrastructure, are charging exorbitant fees and yet attracting students through “false promises” of “lucrative jobs”.

“We have asked the All-India Council of Technical Education for the names of the institutes approved by it. After we get the list, we shall initiate a move to close down the illegal centres,’’ said technical education minister Bangshagopal Chowdhury.

According to the government plan, training at the new centres will be provided by “renowned computer experts” and “professionals”. The course material and syllabus have been finalised by a panel of experts with an eye on employment potential. A separate wing will be created in the youth services department to help students with placements.

There will be three kinds of courses: Providing basic computer education to school and college students; job-oriented training; and higher studies on software. “The state’s decision is part of its attempt to directly participate in e-governance and e-commerce. There is immense job potential in both private and public sectors and our aim is to provide computer education to youth wishing to enter this field,” said Mukherjee.    

Calcutta, July 25 
Girl 1: Thank you for all your help. But my guests will be here any moment! You must leave! Girl 2: After everything I have done for you... Victor Banerjee stands up: “What about doing it this way? You grab her hand and spin her out of the room... remember, you want her Out!” Victor takes Girl 2 by the hands and spins her out... “See, like this!”

A theatre workshop, involving five ‘trainers’ and 29 city schools is in progress at the British Council. They have all come together for the annual School Drama Festival, scheduled for this weekend. Only this time, before the curtains go up on the competition, the students have the opportunity to interact with some of the leading names in the field of drama.

From June 19, five facilitators — Victor Banerjee, Jacqui O’Hanlon and Joseph Smith from the Royal National Theatre, UK, and Ujjal Kar and Gitanjali Alagh Jolly — have been conducting workshops on acting, lighting and costume design.

The acting workshops are an interactive process with Victor and either Jacqui or Joseph working on style and technique with each school.

Says Naiyya, a Class XII student of La Martiniere For Girls, “It is an immense help to have them work with us to improve our performance. We have learnt so much in the past few days.”

“Mine is a highly specialised field which students don’t know much about,” says Ujjal Kar, ‘lighting designer’. “But these students have responded so warmly to the use of computerised lighting that I feel the next generation of theatre technicians will be more progressive.”

Working with the students has been like “soul-food” for set and costume design veteran Gitanjali Alagh Jolly. Her mission: “trying to make them understand that everyone is a part of an integrated dramatic process”.

That drama should not be a “passive study” is emphasised by Jacqui: “Drama is a fantastic tool for learning. As long as drama is only read, you will never understand it fully. As soon as you perform it, you begin to understand characters emotionally, not just intellectually.”

Jaqui and Joseph, who conduct theatre outreach programmes, hope to be back in Calcutta next year, with “workshops for teachers, as well”.

Surrounded by 16-year-olds, eager to pick up the finer points of performance, Victor concludes: “Drama performances should be encouraged as an extra-curricular activity in all schools to help students understand literature better.”    

Calcutta, July 25 
Patients at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital continued to suffer for the third day on Tuesday over a disruption in both electricity and water supply at three important blocks of the hospital.

Though power was restored in the evening, the taps were still dry, and patients’ kin had to fetch water from home to enable the sick to at least swallow their medicine.

Power supply was disrupted on Sunday after cable faults at two places in the hospital compound, hampering normal functioning of important units like the emergency department, ICCU and operation theatres situated at the Emergency, David Hare and the Green blocks.

No operations were held for at least four hours on Monday in these three blocks, as no back-up power supply existed. “Such a disruption is extremely rare here and we have no arrangements for a generator,” said a senior technical staff of the PWD (electrical) department at the hospital.

Hospital staff said a good number of patients from far-off places had to be refused admission because of the non-availability of electricity and water.

However, hospital superintendent Sachidananda Sinha denied that any patient had been refused admission on these grounds. “A group of people, engaged in tarnishing the image of this century-old hospital, are spreading rumours,” he said.

Two major snags in the cable within the hospital compound led to the problem, said Madan Mondal, senior technician in the PWD electrical section attached to the hospital. The CESC was not involved as it was outside its area.

“Such a disruption in supply has never occurred before. We did our best to restore normalcy as early as possible,” Mondal said.

Meanwhile, the patients had a trying time. Jiban Das, who faced the ordeal on Sunday and Monday, said: “It was a horrible experience. Moments after I was brought to the emergency department with a head injury, the power went off.

“I was bleeding profusely. My wife Suparna and brother Sanjoy were running around to lay their hands on some candles as nothing could be seen,” he recounted.

Patients, in the meantime, were coming in from different areas and the doctors were requesting them to return, as treatment was quite impossible in the dark, Das said.

An employee of the emergency department said: “It is quite surprising that a hospital like Medical College was without power and water for such a long time. Patients in the surgical ward and intensive care units suffered the most.”

Ward master Sanjoy Das said: “Now, everything is normal and there is nothing to worry. The past two days’ scenario was quite different for no faults of ours.”    

Dhanbad, July 25 
The Bihar police association today warned that their ongoing agitation could turn violent if the dismissal of general secretary of the association K.K. Jha was not revoked immediately.

While Jha has been dismissed from service, at least 200 officers, upto the rank of inspectors, have been suspended all over the state by director-general of police K.A. Jacob. Police officers have gone on mass casual leave from midnight Sunday in support of their demands. Those suspended include nine circle inspectors and eight officers-in-charge of different police stations of Dhanbad.

Spokesman for the association R.B. Rai today said keeping in view the “unresponsive” attitude of the government and particularly the police chief, the members of the association may extend the weeklong mass casual leave.

The association has called for a general meeting of all the members on July 30 in Patna to chalk out a course of action in the wake of the dismissals and suspensions of the officers on strike.

Rai said if the government continued to turn a deaf ear, then the members would be forced to immolate themselves in front of the state police headquarters in protest.

Earlier this month, the association launched an agitation in four phases to press for their demands which include status at par with Delhi police officials and time-bound promotions.

Taking mass casual leave was in the last phase of the agitation to which the government has taken strong exception to and decided to deal with the situation with an iron hand.The government is also contemplating cancelling the registration of the association.

In a statement, president of the association, Lal Mohar Singh said the agitation was taking a turn for the worse. He also charged Jacob with having a bias towards the members of the association. Altogether 18,000 members are on strike. The police stations are being manned by head constables in the absence of the officers in-charge.    

Jamshedpur, July 25 
An independent inquiry has been instituted by East Singhbhum district police to investigate the mysterious disappearance of eyeballs from two bodies kept at the morgue of the Tata Main Hospital here.

Superintendent of police A.K. Verma said a team has been for-med to look into the matter. “We have not filed any case as nobody has filed a complaint and the bodies have been disposed off. We are working without evidence, but if a criminal offence is established, a case will be filed,” he added.    


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