With a little help from guilt
Sir — What can be better proof of the power which Indian political leaders wield than the suspension order handed out to S. Jeyaprakasam, a senior professor at the Madurai Kamaraj University (“Professor pays for Jaya parallel”, Sept 18)' True, J. Jayalalithaa is not the first touchy politician we have got, but one would have thought — given her shrewd political moves — that she was intelligent enough to realize that such gestures prove one’s guilt rather than innocence. A university professor (and of Gandhian studies at that) could hardly have spoilt her show, but a little guilt is a dangerous thing.
S. Bhattacharya, Calcutta
The right model
Sir — There was a time when good students opted to study medicine and doctors commanded respect from the people. This is not so any more. Even undeserving candidates under the reservation umbrella can become doctors.
The huge cost of educating medical students was getting too much for the government to bear. It is not possible to re-introduce loan scholarships which were in vogue during the Seventies, because few would care to repay the loan.
Instead, the government can introduce the idea of sponsorship or educational loan for medical students, restricted to those who have passed the Joint Entrance Examination or those selected through various private nursing homes/ hospitals/ health centres. Certificates could be withheld from students till the loan was repaid. The money could also be deducted from their salaries after giving them employment in government hospitals. The amount should, however, be tax exempt. The idea is to help poor yet deserving students pay for their education.
Hara Lal Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — Dipankar Dasgupta’s idea of fund-generation both by research institutions and universities is based on American models which in turn depend on conditions currently alien to India (“For whom the bell tolls”, Sept 6).
The distinction between research universities and teaching universities does not exist in India, although most universities here lack basic research facilities. Most American universities, extremely well equipped, receive huge grants from corporate houses.
The American private sector also invests in basic research projects. The reason is that the American economy, although essentially market-driven, also uses knowledge and technology. The industry receives well-trained men and basic research inputs from the universities which go into the development of technology. In return, the universities receive funds from the industry which helps them provide quality education. This symbiosis has proved to be extremely productive for the United States of America.
Indian industry, on the contrary, is commerce-driven. It would rather receive foreign technology than develop its own. The Indian businessman would rather open an ill-equipped college in his grandfather’s name than fund research in universities. The general feeling is that educating the masses and supplying them to the industry are the government’s responsibility.
More Indian businessmen need to emulate the Tatas who have contributed significantly to research and higher education. However, with the emergence of a new class of industrialists, perhaps better days lie ahead.
Raja Sen, Dhanbad
Sir — I would like to put forward some points against the introduction of the American system of making medical students pay for their education in India. First, I understand the problem in encouraging doctors to practise in small towns and villages. However, will a newly-qualified doctor who is in debt ever be encouraged to work in rural areas'
Second, this system cannot be applied to medical students alone. It would then be expected that higher education yield a financial return. But that is not what education should be.
The US is the last place where one should look for ideas on public service. It may be a rich and developed country, but it cannot ensure a decent healthcare for those who are unable to afford medical insurance.
John Arnold, Calcutta