School education

Published : Nov 03, 2006 00:00 IST

Justice Sampath's report on safety in schools should be read with the report of the Dr.S.V. Chittababu Committee on matriculation schools ("Schools in malls"; October 20). It presents a horrendous picture of school education. However, the committees have not gone into the administrative practices, methods of classroom instruction, disciplinary methods and other factors that make children's lives miserable. The Yashpal Committee at the Central level and the Sivagnam Committee in Tamil Nadu have recommended measures to reduce the burden on children and provide them joyous learning environments. In spite of the emphasis laid on infrastructure, one finds school playgrounds empty, libraries unused and laboratories without the required equipment. As the Justice Sampath report says, the Education Department has failed to monitor and administer schools.

S.S. Rajagopalan ChennaiSEZ and farmers

THE formation of special economic zones (SEZs) will affect farmers (Cover Story, October 20). Thousands of agriculturists will be displaced by SEZs and the country's food security could be compromised. It is ironical that a government that hesitates to extend subsidies to impoverished farmers is now prepared to provide all kinds of tax concessions to corporate houses. The SEZ Act should be amended to protect farmers.

V. Rajendran Paramakudi, T.N.* * *

THE approvals for SEZs by various State governments have evoked an intense debate across the country. The objective of building infrastructure for industry and creating jobs is surely commendable. However, it is shocking to find that farm lands are being acquired to set up SEZs and that governments are involved in the acquisition process. This has produced insecurity among the people in rural areas. The government should suitably change its policies to ensure that industrial development does not take place at the cost of farmers.

Vineet Bhalla Bhilai, Chhattisgarh* * *

MANY development schemes introduced by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will not benefit the common man. A majority of the Indian population are farmers and policy initiatives should take that into account.

K.M. Suheil Unneen, Malappuram, Kerala* * *

IT is the duty of the government to take care of the poor. SEZs will rob village residents of their livelihoods. Ignoring the interests of weaker sections cannot lead to true `development'. Indiscriminate acquisition of land from farmers can lead to social unrest.

Resmi Asokan Kollam, KeralaPublic health

IT is ironical that the dengue outbreak has not even spared the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ("The dengue patient", October 20). No doubt the Health Department's lackadaisical approach has led to this mess. Had it taken essential measures such as spraying insecticides, the disease might not have claimed so many lives.

Arvind K. Pandey Allahabad* * *

THE outbreak of dengue is not limited to Delhi; it has spread to other States ("Virulent outbreak", October 20). The civic authorities should be held responsible for not keeping the national capital clean.

The people's poor civic sense is equally responsible for the crisis. Residents' welfare associations do precious little to ensure hygienic conditions in most neighbourhoods. The civic authorities must launch an awareness drive immediately to guarantee a healthy city for its residents. Being the National Capital Region, Delhi and its satellite towns must serve as an example for the rest of the country.

Mahesh Kumar New Delhi* * *

THE epidemics of chikungunya and dengue, both spread by the same species of mosquito, brings into limelight the pathetic state of the nation's health. Most appalling is the fact that both these infectious diseases have wreaked havoc in Kerala, which has the best health indices in the country, and Delhi. Is this not a reflection of the poor health and sanitation infrastructure of the nation?

Public health consultants should take this outbreak seriously as the aedes mosquito is also the vector of yellow fever, a fatal viral fever that is endemic in South America.

Public health has taken a back seat in our country. The people still remain entangled in the web of communicable diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and now, chikungunya and dengue.

The prevalence of communicable diseases and the emergence of risk factors for non-communicable diseases highlights the need to strengthen the public health system. The present emphasis is on the curative aspect alone, which would do no good in the long run. Even in curative medicine, the poor do not have much of a choice.

The current outbreak serves as a stark reminder of what our priorities should be.

Jeevan Kuruvilla Vellore, T.N.* * *Afzal

PRAFUL Bidwai says the case against Afzal is premised on grey areas, which may be arguable. But his statement that the attack on Parliament was not worse than the Dalit Panthers' burning of a copy of the Constitution in the 1970s is not correct ("Afzal must not hang"; October 20). Books and flags may be cherished symbols, but they are, after all, replicable objects.

What the Dalit Panthers burnt in the symbolic act was a copy of the Constitution, one among thousands of others, and the higher judiciary rightly judged that the act did not warrant hanging.

Parliament House, on the other hand, is a unique building with officials, staff and elected representatives of the people of India.

Its destruction would mean not just the loss of many lives, but the loss of a vital organ of the state.

Vasantha Surya Chennai

A PRESIDENTIAL pardon for Mohammed Afzal would set a bad precedent. The controversy over capital punishment is highly regrettable, leading to perversion and chaos in the name of values. India cannot afford to be soft on terror.

R.R. Sami Tiruvannamalai, T.N.* * *

PRAFUL Bidwai has made out a case for clemency for Afzal for the wrong reasons. What is important is that the Afzal case gives a great opportunity to the Indian state to set an example of compassion and forgiveness.

Sambi Reddy Endreddy Hyderabad

IF Afzal does not deserve the death sentence, does Monica Bedi deserve a five-year jail by that logic? It is a good thing that the Supreme Court has ruled that the powers of the President or a Governor for granting pardon, reprieve or remission of a convict's sentence are subject to judicial review.

J. Akshobhya MysoreU.S. and Russia

THE article "Cold War clouds" (October 20) has failed to highlight that Russia cannot afford to antagonise the United States in view of the pressure that both countries face from international terrorism. The tension created by North Korea and the problems in Iraq, Iran and West Asia ensure that the White House cannot afford to adopt a rigidly tough line on Russia. Global leadership is one of the goals of U.S. foreign policy. Russia may be able to win in the near future nations like Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova to its side. China will redouble its efforts to dominate Asia. In this context, Russia is unlikely to revert to Cold War hostilities with the U.S.

Prof. Thomas Edmunds ChennaiShashi Tharoor

THE rejection of Shashi Tharoor's candidature for the post of United Nations Secretary-General is not surprising ("Setback in New York", October 6). Tharoor lost the race because he was India's candidate. He has proved to the world his efficiency during his long tenure in the U.N. in various capacities, but that did not help him.

It is clear that the negative vote was cast by the U.S. Then what is this "special strategic relationship" we are talking about? As for India's bid for permanent membership of the Security Council, the writing on the wall is clear.

Titus George DubaiPope's blunder

THE Pope's controversial speech, which hurt the feelings of Muslims, and his subsequent apology are really sad considering the position he occupies in the world ("Pope: Quoting trouble"; October 6).

The Pope is not just the head of Vatican City; he is also the religious head of Catholics. A man of his stature should not have made such provocative statements.

E.V. Mohan Kozhikode, KeralaJudicial activism

THE article "Limits of judicial authority" by A.G. Noorani (September 22) rightly points out the growing judicial encroachment on the executive and the legislature. What started out as judicial activism about a decade ago has now reached a stage where it needs to be reined in. To borrow Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's words, "the Supreme Court is not a third house of correction".

What has not been pointed out is that in both the Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand cases, the complainant was the Bharatiya Janata Party. Vajpayee even went on a fast when Jagadambika Pal was sworn in. National Democratic Alliance leaders went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to present a memorandum and to the Supreme Court on the Jharkhand issue.

The Supreme Court, which passed orders on the functioning of the Jharkhand Assembly 18 months ago, refused to entertain the petitions of the independent Jharkhand legislators during the recent crisis, stating that judicial review is possible only after the Speaker's action. The same MLAs were part of the BJP-led coalition 18 months ago.

C. Balachander ChennaiAnnouncement

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