Unclear on the concept?

Where is the concept of ‘conflict of interest’ in public life? Nitin Gadkari, our transport minister, participated in a meeting convened to take important decisions on the sugar industry. Gadkari is heavily involved with the sugar industry, being the chairman of the Purti Sugar Mills Ltd. Any decisions taken at such a meeting would be of great interest to him. Needless to say that all the decisions taken at this meeting are loaded in favour of  ‘sakhar karkhanas’ (sugar mills.) The effect of these decisions on the aam aadmi is to shell out Rs 3 more for a kilogram of sugar.

Dr Mookhi Amir Ali

Overstayers must pay market rates

Kapil Sibal rents out a 1,250-square yard bungalow in New Delhi at Rs 16 lakh.  The market rent for a much larger government bungalow is just Rs one lakh per month! So once occupants lose their entitlement to official bungalows, the amount that these overstayers must be charged should be in the vicinity of the amount Sibal is paying. At least now, decision-makers at the Union Ministry for Urban Development should re-structure the market rents charged by increasing it at least 20 times, citing the Sibal instance.  Or else, this is an ongoing loot of public resources, giving out huge government bungalows at throwaway rents in Lutyens’ Delhi to those not entitled.  Bringing the rents in line with market rents will result in immediate evacuation of government bungalows upon having to relinquish office.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal

FYUP: Idea that’s overdue

The University Grants Commission (UGC) may have ordered a rollback of the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) at Delhi University (DU), but people wonder what role it has played over the past year?  Why was the UGC was supporting the programme till the Modi Government came to power? Actually, no institution in India is completely free from political influence, where the word ‘autonomy’ means ‘hidden government hand.’ If not, then how come Ambedkar University and other universities also offering the FYUP remain untouched? After the UGC officials please political masters to curry favours, now it wants the 54,000-odd students, who have already completed a year, to switch over to the three-year format. Whatsoever, the introduction of FYUP is long overdue in Indian universities, but when the education policy is to be decided by the students’ union or by the teachers’ union (like DU), which is not their duty, then how it will succeed?  We should not forget that to compete with world standards in education, Pakistan and China have started four-year undergraduate courses in most of their universities.  When Indian students seek admission to a master’s programme in leading British or US universities, they have to do a one-year bridge course. Then why, or how is the four-year course bad for students? It seems that most of the students have not understood the necessity and advantages of such a course, as they are more concerned about the extra one year they have to study and pay, rather than the additional advantage they can get. And this is one of the main reasons our academic standards are falling and Indian universities fail to figure in world rankings.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee

An idea gone to seed

‘Experience is the best teacher of a man’ goes the time-tested proverb. However, this proverb seems to have eluded the BMC.

From 1966 onwards until 2014, the civic body has been experimenting with the cloud-seeding exercise over the catchment areas of Mumbai whenever the advent of the monsoon in the city is delayed. And, without exception, all these artificial rain-inducing methods have proved to be a total failure; sending crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money down the drain or should one say, up in smoke?

Arun Malankar

Intrepid law breakers

When only law-abiding citizens fear the police, and not criminals and extortionists, what is the use of increasing the number of police stations? A hotel owner in the vicinity of the Howrah Station lodged a complaint against two men for continuous occupation of a room in his hotel for unlawful activities. But the criminals, even after getting information of the complaint against them, continued threatening the owner and carried on their nefarious activities from that room.

The hotel was not far away from the Golabari Police Station. The Thana, instead of taking action against them, divulged the information to the culprits. They started threatening the hotel owner with dire consequences and he succumbed to a coronary attack.

So, what fear of the law are we talking about? It is not only the proximity of the criminals to the ruling party, but the fact that the culprits know the details of all the dens which dole out kickbacks to the police. So, what is the use of increasing the number of police stations, particularly when even the smallest and laziest of police station requires the same number of staff for maintaining a basic ? A law-abiding citizen obeys the law however far he may live from the police station, but one cannot say the same about the others.

N  K Das Gupta

Word for God in Arabic

This has reference to your news dated June 23, 2014. ‘Allah’ is Arabic for God and has been so long before the existence of Islam.  It has been reported that the highest court in Malaysia has rejected a challenge from the Catholic Church seeking to overturn a ban on non-Muslims using the word ‘Allah’ and has ruled in favour of Muslims, for the reason that if others use ‘Allah’, it would confuse Muslims and lead away from Islam.  One can only recall that Rafi song, ‘ Ishwar Allah Tere Naam/ Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan/Saara Jag Teri Santaan..’  ‘Allah’ belongs to one and all.

Vijay D Patil

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