Hu is somebody
Sir — Damien Mcelroy leaves us in no doubt about how much he likes the Chinese vice-president, Hu Jintao (“Who is Hu' Man from nowhere to lead China”, Nov 4). He is shown to be ungrateful and ruthless through his alleged unconcern for an old aunt who brought him up. Mcelroy also implies that Hu has been unable to break the ice in his diplomatic dealings with the West, as also within his own country. The first is understandable, the second is not. Hu could not have achieved a position of eminence within the highly competitive political world of the Chinese communist party without any ability. The communists obviously like his ruthlessness, a quality that scares Jiang Zemin’s men as also the West, speaking through Mcelroy. If Hu has not been a success with the West, it is probably because that is how he wanted it to be. Mcelroy mentions the reason in passing — Hu’s anti-Americanism. Which in effect explains both Mcelroy’s dislike and the communist liking for Hu.
J. Acharya, Calcutta
Sir — The recent decision of states in the Northeast to conduct their own state level eligibility test for the appointment of lecturers is disappointing. Justifying SLET in view of the University Grant Commission’s recent failure to provide forms for the national eligibility test at convenient locations is like putting the cart before the horse. Non-availability of forms is a temporary problem, and cannot be a valid reason for conducting an alternative test.
If the UGC is blocking the access of Northeast students to NET, a public interest petition is in order. The UGC must be compelled to forsake its present method of supplying forms. If it wants greater accountability in the system, which was one of the reasons for conducting the eligibility tests countrywide, it must immediately allow students to photocopy the application form or download it from the UGC’s home site or alternatively, establish a NET centre in each university.
The decision is unfortunate as students in the region were gearing up for the NET. The success rate in the exam from the region has also increased over the years, which is a welcome sign. The test not only establishes the credentials of a student from the Northeast, but it also prepares him for the competitive job market. The way in which SLET is being planned also leaves a lot to be desired. There has been little state-level debate or discussion on the issue, either to decide on the framework of reference for the tests or to constitute boards of studies to frame the syllabi for the tests, or to thrash out such tricky issues as type of questions.
Since full information on the SLET is not available, the student community in the region can neither accept nor reject the apprehension that SLET would be a handicapped version of NET. In Assam for example, I know of quite a few NET-holders queuing up for jobs in different colleges! So we are not even addressing shortage of NET-holders. I fear that SLET would only legitimize the rejection of NET-holders for reasons that may not be academic. By pleading for SLET, we are only ignoring the merit and achievement of these bright students.
B.K. Danta, Dibrugarh
Sir — The Supreme Court’s order in connection with minority educational institutions clears a lot of misconceptions (“State sway on minority schools”, Nov 1). State-control over the institutions will not only help maintain educational standards, but also make admissions into these institutions more democratic. Which means, applicants will also have a say over the issue of capitation fees which are often exorbitant. State-control will also help reduce corruption. What we should aim for however is a gradual end to the division between between minority- and majority-run institutions. After all, the division is a creation of the vote bank politics in our country.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — The full page advertisement in The Telegraph (Oct 18, page 8), issued by the ministry of human resources development, says that, “Indian education is not in a single colour”, and that, “It has several colours”. The colour division in education probably indicates the divisions of caste and class that rule the roost in Indian schools and colleges. In the ad, the words “Indian education” are depicted on the saffron half of the Indian flag, which probably indicates its saffronization.
If anything, the ministry should be ashamed of its non-achievement. More than 50 years after independence, the pious wish of making education free and compulsory at the primary level remains a distant dream. While school textbooks issued by the National Council for Educational Research and Training contain glaring mistakes, subjects like vaastu and astrology have been promoted to university courses. Given all this, one fails to comprehend the logic of spending so much public money over an advertisement which says nothing.
S. De, Sodepur
Sir — It is a pleasure to see the editorial, “Old story” (Oct 31), castigating the Centre for increasing the dearness allowance of all its employees, thus doing a volte face on its own resolve to defer the hike in view of the shortage of resources. This is a clear case of populism. Evidently, the government does not care for the millions of others who live off the interest on their life’s savings, kept in post offices and in banks. At least their savings could have been protected from the erosion in the ever-plummeting value of the rupee.
Banikumar Banerjee, Madhyamgram
Sir —The DA hike may have enthralled government employees, but the country has to pay over Rs 1,070 crore for it each year. The earlier decision to freeze DA should have been revoked only with economic improvement. But this has not happened. The monsoons have been erratic, causing a slump in agricultural production. Industry is going through a bad phase. But for the Bharatiya Janata Party, politics obviously comes first.
Rajat Bakshi, Dumka