Archive for May, 2014

Lose Elections? Point Fingers!

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2014 by swatiaiyer

One more election is behind us.  The results are out.  Good, bad, ugly, indifferent – the voice of the people has prevailed.  That is what the spirit of democracy is all about.  The point here is not to talk about the results or the merits or demerits thereof.  The question here is the attitudes which dictate the results.

Our erstwhile UPA has received a drubbing of a lifetime.  Who is responsible?

Rahul, PM, govt, silence, tickets, campaigning … Congress blames them all

reads the news on page 2 of today’s Indian Express.  So the blame game has begun.  Do we see a read “Congress = Gandhi family and Gandhi family = Congress” in this statement?  Who or what constitutes the Congress party?  There is no denying the fact that these are the people who have dictated everything and the party workers have as usual fallen into a feudalistic pattern of saying “Jee Huzoor”.  “Soniaji and Rahul Baba” have been shamelessly kowtowed to.  Sadly and shamefully enough, our erstwhile PM – an economic guru in his own right, who could have done miracles for our country if he had chosen to stick to his expertise without agreeing to being a puppet – did the same.  A man of his stature was reduced to (and chose to be reduced to) a mere caricature with no voice of his own.  Put it down to a phase of losing one’s capacity of discrimination or good judgment.  Happens to all.  So who is to blame?  Rahul, the PM, the govt (read Sonia) alone?  When will the Congress ever learn to get over this mentality of being serfs to the feudal lords?  Or will they ever?  Do they not see the fingers pointing at themselves while they point at the above persons?  (Or is that why they make sure that most fingers point at someone else)?

Pleasantly and surprisingly enough, Rahul and Sonia have shown the grace (at least publicly) of accepting responsibility for the drubbing.

“Congress party has done pretty badly. There is a lot for us to think about. As vice-president I hold myself responsible for what has happened,” Rahul told reporters.

Sonia too accepted blame.

“This mandate is clearly against us, our party. We accept politely this decision of voters and respect it. But at the same time, we also hope the next government will not make any compromise with the unity of Indian society and the interests of the nation,” she said. ……

Are they going to do anything to change their style of functioning?  Are they going to adopt a more mature, responsible and democratic way of running their party as well as style of governing?  Only time can tell.  But if history has to be believed …...

 a shell-shocked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi took personal responsibility for the drubbing.

What is so shocking?  Did they not feel the mood of the people?  Probably not.  They were so blinded by power that they either did not see or chose not to see what was happening or believed that the people would be stupid enough to bring them back to power no matter what because “the people did not have a choice”.  They did not believe it possible that the people would opt for some other party, no matter which one.  The wake up call came too late – after the AAP won the Delhi elections.  That was the first sign that people were looking for better options.

Here is evidence of that arrogance – from the mouth of our esteemed PM coming as recently as Jan 2014.

Corruption issues which have come to light during UPA-2.

Most of these charges relate to the period of UPA-1. Coal block allocation as well as 2G spectrum allocation were both in the era of the UPA-1. We went to the electorate on the basis of our performance in that period,and the people of India gave us the mandate to govern for another five years. So,whether these issues which have been raised from time to time by the media,sometimes by the CAG,sometimes by court,one must never forget that they belong to a period which was not the period of the UPA-2,but the period relating to the previous five years,and the people of India entrusted us with new responsibilities. So the people of India do not seem to have paid heed to all these charges of corruption which are levied against me or my party.

The AAP – a party for whom I had great hopes.  A party who threw away the advantage they had.  The people had had enough of the corruption (no matter what our erstwhile PM thought) and brought them to power.  What did they do?  Resigned within weeks of being brought into power.

Surprisingly enough, our public which has been so patient with the two main national parties and their shenanigans (despite the fact that they have had decades to pull up their socks) did not show the same patience with a fledgling party which has not had even a fraction of the time the other two had, to learn their lessons.  Has a gross injustice been done?

no sooner had the first results started trickling in, there seemed more trouble for AAP internally with Ilyas Azmi, its political affairs committee member, blaming Arvind Kejriwal’s “autocratic style of functioning” for the rout …….

What they refuse to acknowledge, however, is how the party spread itself too thin contesting 443 seats with a Rs 37 crore kitty against the better judgement of Kejriwal and how it may have paid the price of diluting its original Assembly poll plank of corruption to start talking about communalism as an equal if not greater menace.

Mamata Banerjee is one more example of blindness that is hitting our political leaders.

Mamata, however, refused to make any reference to BJP’s rise but hinted at money power. “If you have money you can render an election one-sided, from the national to the regional,” she said. “This election had many lessons to give. The biggest question out of this outcome is if we will have value-based politics or valueless politics.” She said TMC will play a constructive role as an opposition party.

No one can deny the role that money plays in politics or elections.  But to assume that that is the MAIN or SOLE criterion that dictates victory at the hustings is being obtuse to say the least.  Is this a case of selective blindness or outright refusal to see the truth?  Here is a politician who is intolerant of contrary views, a politician who brooks no criticism, walks out of interviews when anyone who questions her policies after branding them as “Maoists”.

I have a simple question.  How long are politicians going to continue bribing people, think they can buy their loyalties, be blind to their own short-comings and go on the assumption that the electorate is stupid and bank on short public memory?  Is it not high time for them to wake up?



Schooling Woes

Posted in Education with tags , , , on May 9, 2014 by swatiaiyer

I have been feeling pretty disturbed. ‘I will come late. I have to go pick up my son’s report card”.

A week later – “I need to take him for an entrance exam”?

“Entrance exam? Why do you need to change the school again”?

“No, Akka, his school is only till Std. VII and now he goes to Std. VIII, he has to go to the other branch of the same school, but they take entrance exams”.

A week later. “He failed the test and he has to take a re-test”.

He fails this test too. So he can no longer go to the convent school she had moved him to last year. She tries another school where he needs to know Hindi. He fails that to. She takes him back to the school from where she moved him last year because the fees were nearly double those charged by the convent. They refuse to take him back.

Now she is in a fix and does not know what to do. Other schools in the area are very expensive.

I do not understand this logic. Why should kids going from Std. VII to Std. VIII of the same school have to take an entrance exam?  The Std. VII reports of this child show he has done reasonably well for his circumstances.  So which of the evaluations is false – the annual report card or the entrance test evaluation?  How does a kid who has done well enough to pass (according to his teachers) suddenly fail the entrance test to the next class of the same school? Kids go to school to study and to learn. Is the fact that they are weak reason to throw them out of school? What about all the reservations and talk of bringing up people from the underprivileged classes by giving them equal opportunities? If this is one kid I know about, I am sure there must be millions all over the country. They belong to homes where the parents are labourers and aren’t educated enough to help them at home. This lady spends her hard earned money to send her kids to private tuitions too. What more can she do? The kid is around 11. He is too young to work So what should parents of such kids do? Why can’t opportunities to come up in life be given at this level instead of reserving positions in jobs? Why not give them the fullest opportunity to study (at least till the age of 18) and then take them in jobs they truly merit? What happens if this kid neither goes to school nor goes to work? He already loafs around in undesirable company (according to her) in the holidays. What will he do if he is left rudderless?

Smart kids will get through any which way. Isn’t it the weak ones who need help? What are schools there for if not to pull up the weaker ones? On a suggestion that she needs to find someone with a knowledge of RTE, I try to search the web to find out if there is anyone we can approach.  There is a huge amount of stuff about RTE in Bangalore.  It is a real eye opener.  While I am no expert on this topic – in fact, I am struggling to understand the various aspects that I read about – there seem to be just too many complicated conditions, exceptions and legalese involved.  There are some schools which are supposed to implement the RTE.  There are many who claim to have been granted “minority” status.  What exactly is the definition of “minority” schools?

The Supreme Court put minority schools outside the purview of RTE. The state government, however, through an executive order, imposed conditions on what a linguistic minority school meant, to bring them under RTE.    …….    The Advocate General, appearing for the state, said that many schools were claiming minority status after the SC ruling that kept them outside RTE. The court said it shows mala fide intentions.   ……    The court asked if linguistic minority schools taught the minority language to its students. The advocate said that it was not necessary. It was enough if the management was composed of linguistic minorities.    Source:  HC makes fun of money focus of private schools  By Shyam Prasad S, Bangalore Mirror Bureau


So now we have schools who say they are minority schools, hence not under the purview of RTE and yet don’t teach the minority language to its students.  What is this if not a mockery of the law and any simple logic?

Interestingly enough 25 schools in this very area where we live have claimed they are exempt from RTE and this is the area where there are huge populations of people who are underprivileged in terms of financial status or educational backgrounds.  What do these people do?

What happens to laws regarding compulsory education, law banning child labour and various laws which are made much of?  Where is the much needed implementation?  One can go to court.  How much time is the child going to lose in the process?  Where is the continuity in education which a child who is already not doing well needs?  What should the child do – considering he/she is not legally allowed to work – during this period of no schooling?  How are parents who are labourers to protect these kids from getting into trouble when they are out working most of the day?

I wonder if anyone could suggest a competent authority for this lady to approach.  In the process, I too get educated about “education” in India.


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