ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by J V DeshpandeSubscribe to J V Deshpande

UGC and Higher Education

The UGC is the apex body for higher education in the country, responsible for shaping the academic activities of universities and colleges. Its role vis-a-vis a university is not that of a patron and a supplicant. For the smooth implementation of its programmes it is necessary that the UGC works more openly and with greater accountability and is seen to be more transparent in its dealings with educational institutions.

Higher Education : AICTE as Politicians' Handmaiden

Some recent decisions of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in regard to engineering courses in Maharashtra make it clear that it is as easy to bring pressure on so-called all-India bodies as on state ones. Further, any set of rules can be readily subverted to suit the interests of those who matter and officials of bodies like the AICTE and universities and colleges who are responsible for maintaining standards in higher education willingly default on their responsibilities to accommodate the powerful and the influential.

Education: Teaching Is the Last Priority

Even in the first week of September most engineering and professional colleges in Maharashtra have yet to begin their academic work. This is because admissions to these colleges have not been completed. However, there is not a whimper of protest from anyone in authority against such gross indifference to the interests of the students.

Maharashtra : Education as Business

A number of decisions taken by the Maharashtra government relating to higher, especially technical, education have no educational merit. They are intended only to swell the coffers of the privately-controlled educational institutions. The latest among these decisions is that to raise the so-called NRI quota in engineering colleges from 5 to 15 per cent.

Bihar : Wages of Vote-Bank Politics

Rule of law can be established only when laws are seen to be strictly enforced and the guilty brought to book expeditiously. This will not happen so long as vote-bank politics continues to rule the roost. There can be no better proof of this than Bihar with its successive rounds of caste violence with the administration reduced to the role of a spectator.

Election Commission: Separating Basics from Frills

In the light of some of its recent actions, there is a strong case for a dispassionate review of the Election Commission's role in the electoral process.

Higher Education: The Ones That Get Away

The malpractices and criminal activities which have been revealed to have been going on for many years in Nagpur University have led the governor of Maharashtra, as the university's chancellor, to appoint an enquiry committee. It is very unlikely, however, that this pavlovian response will at all address the ills of our seats of higher learning, of which the shenanigans at Nagpur University are a concentrated manifestation.

A Nine Days' Blunder

To expect the many regional, highly personalised parties forming the opposition to come together and stick together to fight for the somewhat nebulous cause of secularism was unrealistic in the first place. To expect them to do so by supporting a government of Sonia Gandhi 'from the outside', without sharing the spoils of office, was to expect our ruling classes to act completely at variance with their known character.

Reforming the Electoral System

J V Deshpande The reforms suggested by the Law Commission to improve the electoral system are unlikely to achieve their objectives. But that does not mean that nothing can be done.

Law Enforcement Talking and Doing

L K Advani see in him a latter-day Sardar Patel, Without getting into any comparative study of the two, it has to be said that on occasion he also sounds a lot like Jawaharlal Nehru. Not in all respects of course. Advani himself would readily admit to not even wishing to compete with Nehru in his cosmopolitan elegance or in his version of secularism. Yet when he promises to amend the law of the land to punish rappists with the death penalty, there is an uncanny echo of Nehruvian rhetoric. Soon after he became prime minister of the country, Nehru went on to declare in public speeches that black marketeers should be hanged from the nearest lampposts. He was all-in-all in the country then, the numero uno of India, a darling of the masses and charmer of the elite opinion- makers and the educated classes. Yet no blackmarketeer was ever discovered by him or later by his successors in all the past 50 years, let alone anyone being hanged from a lamp-post. When he visited Bombay in the early days of his stewardship (it was called Bombay then) and saw the ill-famous slums of Dharavi, he declared that such 'busties' ought to be burned down. Since then. Bombay has changed its name to Mumbai, the slums of Dharavi have grown far worse and have spilled over the railway lines. Similar 'bushes1 have multiplied, There are a dozen others in Mumbai alone and hundreds in other parts of the country which can compete with Dharavi in squalour and in degradation of human existence- Echoing moral indignation which became Nehru so well and which also does Advani credit no end, the latter wants death penalty for rapists in the country; presumably that is his response to the rape of nuns in Madhya Pradesh. No one doubts the- intensity of feeling and the sincerity of purpose behind Advani's outburst, just as no one doubled the existence of these estimable qualities in Nehru in the old days. Yet one may, with some trepidation, enter a caveat or two on the subject Let us forget for the moment the conventional judicial dictum of titling the punishment to the crime. If a rapist deserves death, how do you deal with a rapist who also kills his victims? Or with a paedophile? How about the adulterators who added poison to mustard oil only recently and caused many deaths? Or persons who by consciously using substandard cement and other material hastened the collapse of buildings and buried to death many innocent people? Any number of such examples can be given.

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