A couple of telling anecdotes about the state of the educational system in India. A few weeks ago I was in Nagpur at my sister’s place. One evening, a friend of hers showed up. She (the friend) was struggling with her daughter’s admission to a medical college. She would have a fairly decent shot at getting admitted into this particular medical school if she got 180 marks or above. However if she did not get that, but got 160 or better, the school was demanding Rs 600,000; and, if she only got 140 marks or better, the price for admission was Rs 1,200,000. For Rs 3,000,000 (Rs 30 lakhs), she would have a seat even if she fails the qualifying exam.
People cope, somehow. When faced with severe shortage, they are willing to pay seemingly impossibly high prices. The monumental struggle to somehow gain access to the limited seats in educational institutions that middle-class Indians have to face is stunning to behold. The pity is that this shortage is entirely man made, a manufactured shortage. The persistence of this shortage can only be explained by understanding that those who have engineered it gain immensely from it. It is a bureaucratic and political racket that has its own logic and compulsions. All sorts of shady businesses have evolved to cater to its needs. Academic corruption is one such business, as illustrated by the next anecdote.
Sramana Mitra has been pondering Concept Arbitrage: Summary Trends. She requests reactions.
Junk mail is a part of (modern) life as much as death and taxes. I imagine there is a special circle in world.wide.hell where those who forward idiotic emails end up in. Here is one that infected my mailbox, screaming capital letters, misspelling, and all. Continue reading
Prof MS Gopinathan’s guest column (OBCs should throw away the demeaning crutches offered) in rediff.com is worth a read. Like all sensible observers of the issue, he points out that the problem has to be addressed at the school level.
It is interesting to note that the author himself is a member of the OBC group.
The Hindu of 27th May carried a news item ( “Tell all job scheme is Congress brainchild“) which crystallizes the idea of India like nothing else I have come across of late.
It quotes Dr. Singh: “I request that you should carry the message across to people that this right [to employment] has been given to them by Soniaji. This right has been given to them by the Congress party… If you assist in implementing this law in a proper manner, you will be able to lay a strong foundation for creation of goodwill for our party and our beloved leader, Ms. Sonia Gandhi.” [Emphasis mine.] Continue reading
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who resigned in protest from the National Knowledge Commission, quoted Tom Paine that “We pity the plumage, but forget the dying bird.”
Mr Mehta, the plumage don’t enter into it–it’s stone dead. This parrot wouldn’t voom if you put four million volts through it. This parrot is definitely deceased. It is no more. It’s bleedin’ demised. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s shuffled off this mortal coil. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. All statements to the effect that this parrot is still a going concern, are from now on inoperative. Visavis the metabolic processes, this parrot has had its lot. This is an ex-parrot.
[Rarely, if ever, does one get a chance to quote Monty Python and do so with such devastating accuracy. 🙂 ]
Swami Vivekanand’s immortal words have the power to inspire and motivate. He should be required reading for the truly educated Indian. It is sad that too many of our “brothers and sisters” (to use his words) are incapable of reading.
Subhas Reddy, a visitor to this blog, was kind enough to send me some excerpts from this site.
“If you wish to be a true reformer, three things are necessary. The first is to feel. Do you really feel for your brothers? Do you really feel that there is so much misery in the world, so much ignorance and superstition? Do you really feel that men are your brothers? Does this idea come into your whole being? Does it run with your blood? Does it tingle in your veins? Does it course through every nerve and filament of your body? Are you full of that idea of sympathy? If you are, that is only the first step.
Why the long hiatus in blogging, you may ask. Don’t really know. I guess that I was ready for a break. For the last couple of weeks, I have been on the road. After leaving Pune, I spent a few days in Mumbai. On the 24th of May, I was briefly interviewed on BBC World TV for their live program “China and India: Emerging Giants.” The interview was at the Taj Palace Hotel with the Gateway of India in the background.