Attention Please: COVID-19 and Exams

When the entire nation is struggling to survive/revive from the COVID-19 pandemic attack, it is essential for all of us to plan for our future and to educate our next generation. The country is in series of Lockdown and Shutdown since mid-March 2020. Hence all the educational institutes are also completely closed now. And all the Students are confined to their homes. Many have been struggling with on-line classes, without knowing the final outcome. While on-line classes are good as a temporary measure, classroom education is essential. Low networking speed, inadequate number of smart-devices (phones, laptops, desktops, etc.), insecure software and power outages are some of the major hindrances which we all are facing as we quite simultaneously arrange for the on-line classes, work-from-home and home-based services.

Now we have reached a stage where we have to take some bold decisions for our Migrant Workers, Young Generation, Industries, Farmers, Small Scale Industries, Hotels and Tourism Industries, etc.

However, the biggest responsibility for us now is carving an overall uniform policy for our Young Generation. Their current academic year is yet to be over! Without any respite from COVID-19, starting of new academic year is also getting delayed. Today, almost all the Students, Parents/Guardians, Teachers and Academicians do not have a clear picture about the present and future of education in India. While different States are coming up with different plans, it looks like the Central Govt (MHRD) is in a mess. One should sincerely think about the mindset of our young Students, when there is either no news about classes or exams, or when there are multiple contradicting news regarding the exams!!

Is this what we all want in India and our plan to become a superpower? Why cannot we plan the exams and academic years in a considerate and thoughtful manner? Our plan should consider the difficulties being faced by the Students from rural and suburban areas as well!

Here are some observations/ suggestions based on the current situation, both for the passing out and non-passing out Students.

1. For non-passing out Students, it is not clear whether normalisation will be done for all the streams. Their schedule is also not clear. Why cannot we have an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities) ?

2. For the passing out Students in non-professional categories (without any research project), there is no clarity here too. For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

3. For passing out Students in professional categories (with research project), “extra time” should be given to Students to complete their projects (survey, experiments, slides preparations, documentations, etc.). For them, normalisation or/and exams can be considered, depending on the overall situation. Unfinished practical classes and exams are also important for these courses. Authorities concerned should plan out an alternative way, without compromising the essence of the professional courses!!! Since lot of internal exams /quizzes/ assignments are there for professional courses, normalisation process can differ on the courses and even across Boards/Universities. But there should be an uniform policy across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

For passing out Students, “end-date” of the current academic year is significant for their further career plans- job, higher studies, competitive exams, entrance exams, etc. In my opinion, with the prevailing situations, the “end-date” should be extended at least until September-2020. This will ensure smooth completion of their research projects & gradations.

4. Both Central & State Govts. should consult Academicians, Teachers, Students & Parents without any bias, and come up with an overall uniform plan across the country (all the Boards & Universities).

5. While the Central Govt. notifications are largely directed towards Higher Education, there must be a plan for vocational courses too including ITI, Diploma, Polytechnic, Skill Development, etc.

Recently as per the notification of MHRD, they’re taking inputs for the “next” academic year, while the “current” one is in an utter mess!!!

It is highly concerning for the Students passing out this year. Students-Teachers-Parents are obviously very worried. It is causing psychological stress too, especially since COVID-19 is peaking now. Today in utter desperation, Students are trying to reach out to authorities concerned through various social media posts- Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. But still there is no assurance for a clear-cut plan from our otherwise able Govts. !!

Request the Authorities concerned to take up this matter seriously and immediately. Right to Education is a fundamental right. So also Judiciary should intervene, if necessary.

Migrant Workers Need State-supported Counselling

It feels terrible to see Migrant Workers walk in the scorching heat on roads built by them where we drive our luxury AC cars..where we live in luxurious homes built by them. And they are doing it for hundreds of miles, with their kids in arms amid hunger, exhaustion, mistrust & uncertainties!! Some have even pawned their last remaining or little jewelleries to survive and travel back to their homes!!!

In the Maharashtra train accident case, do you know the 4 Survivors were put along with the dismembered bodies of the 16 Dead, in the same special train they attempted to board after walking 36 kms? There were no reports anywhere of any Govt Official accompanying them. They all hailed from two very remote villages in MP. And 8 among them came from Tribal communities.

It was absolutely heart-wrenching and unfair!!! 💔 What makes us believe that only the rich or the educated ones have psychological issues??

Money is not everything always. Central & State Governments should also counsel them by sending Officials /Psychiatrists /Social Workers for direct interactions with them, to assure them, win their trust back and heal their wounded souls.🙏🏼

Hope things don’t further haunt us in months to come…..

How Odisha may Excel post Lockdown 4.0

Namaskaar

These are some top points that came to my mind for rebuilding and expanding growth of ODISHA state. Pls share your inputs as well.

  1. Ration & Other Essentials Management : with the influx of native Migrant Workers, the distribution quantities and supply chains intra & inter States need to be reshuffled.
  2. Employment Issues :
    • Native Migrant Workers who are going to stay back need to be given jobs. For same type of job, it will be a competition between them and their counterparts already living in Odisha.
    • Skill-sets need to be sharpened or redefined or reshuffled.
    • All these shall apply to both the organised and unorganised sectors.
  3. Space Issues : may not be substantial, wherever the native Migrant Workers’ ancestral or/and self-acquired properties are already in place and litigation-free; and with most of offices going online now, in any case, Real Estate prices must be lowered now; Waste Management and Afforestation to be duly maintained.
  4. POSCO and Vedanta like mega-projects : let’s try to win them back!!
  5. Explore the Bay of Bengal (BOB) : for research on global climatic changes and how to better forecast the weather.
  6. Seafoods : catches have to be done without disturbing natural habitats; explore advanced preservation techniques, marketing and increase exports.
  7. Food Processing Units : pickles, juices, jelly, dry snacks (baddi, lia, papadd, amba-saddha etc. ) – explore advanced preservation techniques, marketing and exports.
  8. Farming & Fruits : explore advanced techniques, graft varieties lawfully, better preservation against pests, bacteria & fungi, and increase exports; ensure direct reachability with Farmers & Fruit-cultivators.
  9. Dairy Products and Odisha Sweets : apply the GI tags as soon as possible; better preservation, marketing and exports.
  10. Deep-Sea Mining, Minerals & Natural Gas : explore BOB and its adjacent Seas but with due regard to the oceanic environment.
  11. New & Renewable Energy : start windmills, install more solar power panels and explore other alternative energy sources.
  12. Defence :
    •  increase presence of Navy and Coast Guards along the Odisha coastline.
    • root out Maoists with “sustained” efforts – allow them to surrender and get rehabilitated, or let them face the bullets!
    • increase R&D facilities in DRDO, Chandipur and also build similar new centres elsewhere in Odisha; these centres should be at least supportive in nature to the existing DRDOs in the country.
  13. ITI and Diploma Trainings : increase various practical sessions for the youth in the state, so that they find at least some good job after they reach the age of 18; also the industries will need their tremendous support. Redefine their work rates, allowances, bonuses, pension plans, volunteer retirement plans, accident coverages, foreign training options, academic exchange programs, etc.
  14. Academia :
    • implement Vedic ways of life in all Schools to enhance discipline, strength, focus and harmony in children i.e. irreligiously!!
    • encourage “fundamental” Sciences, Arts, Humanities & Commerce degrees at par with Engineering or Medical degrees; build more R&D campuses and invite foreign academia, tie-ups, etc.
    • build necessary academies like Law Academy, Music and Film Academy, etc.
  15. Hospitals : increase number of quality Government hospitals throughout Odisha; do not limit things only to Bhubaneswar & Cuttack; there should be all departments including special treatment for Acid-Attack Victims, Intellectually Disabled and people affected with Rare Diseases; information databases must be maintained with other good hospitals in the country.
  16. Make an all-inclusive Society : build proper & permanent shelter-homes, and good job facilities for Transgenders, Acid Attack Victims and other members of similar category.
  17. Panchayats /Sarpanchs : empower them at the grassroot levels; provide them all latest information and adequate support to operate best with transparency.
  18. Sea Tourism across Bay of Bengal (BOB): secure fine-weather cruise expeditions to South East Asian countries.
  19. Art & Artisans (including Textiles mills) : enhance their work reachability and regularize their due sources of sustainability (including pension, allowances, etc.) from both Odisha Govt and Customers.
  20. Historical Revival : of century-old temples, monuments and museums across Odisha; name or rename certain places after the state Freedom Fighters and other personalities e.g. Netaji Nagar, Baji Rout Museum, Mohd. Mohsin Music & Theatre, Ranganath Mishra Law Academy, etc.

National Policy for Lockdown 4.0

POSCO and Vedanta were disallowed in the last decade in Odisha due to environmental, land acquisition and labour issues. That would have given Odisha a cutting edge in growth and retention of its labour force, in addition to incidental advantages.

I fully agree that the environment has to be conserved. But when the wheel has started rolling, you can’t stupidly press the brakes either!! Just look at the optimum balance factors.

The fall out of all such one-sided stupid cries, wherever, was that the educated, unskilled, organised & unorganised sectors migrated to other parts of the country. It not only created vacuum at their home States but also overloaded resources at their places of work. This also resulted in imbalanced growth in the same country. While the native State Governments continued to retain power mostly by declaring pro-poor schemes at the Taxpayers hard expenses. It made the poor more indolent and demanding!! And the continuing stagnancy of development in such States has been stifling the chances of “willing Returnees” to move back. What are they going to do after arriving back at their native State ? They have also learnt progressive things, and are better off in other States offering ample opportunities and socio-economic empowerment.

This is where we need a NATIONAL POLICY on the now “expected reforms” : land acquisition, changes in labour laws, environmental conservation, decentralisation chapters, empowerment of Panchayats/Sarpanchs, litigation episodes, etc. However, there can be few exceptions in every State or UT, with due regard to very specific Constitutional provisions.

Otherwise within 2-3 years, we are going to witness huge discrepancies in any kind of Resources Management – natural or man-made. And that will be an overall negative blow to the country, despite all the fabulous chances and our hard efforts!!! We are also aiming at welcoming foreign companies – so things have to be clearly defined and well-distributed. No lobbying unlike earlier times!

So let’s call for “uniformity” and “collective” actions. 🙏🏼

Trade Unions are of course on their way to the ILO, funded by Congress, Communist parties and unknown foreign agents (pls refer attached link). It depends on our own intelligentsia and rapport with progressive World Leaders to negate every move of theirs but lawfully.

And before that, yes, we must compensate them for their losses during the Lockdown. None of the Governments handled their issues proactively. Unfortunately, even the Hon’ble Supreme Court failed to take a ‘suo moto’ cognisance of the same and issue timely directives!! They should have been duly taken care of by the host State Governments, with substantial assistance from the Centre.

But the chaos set in, though it was much avoidable. And then, it was at best, an unclear and passive response by the respective State administrations. Some of the stranded Migrant Workers and jobless Daily Wage Labourers survived only due to the generosity of some individuals, groups, NGOs and their Benefactors.

Therefore, it is my humble request to Central and all State Governments to duly compensate the Migrant Workers and Daily Wage Labourers, before queuing them up for their next tasks as per expected new scenarios.

Let us please keep everything fair and uniform, and leave no room ever to be morally or politically questioned on any platform.

Jai Hind 🙏🏼🌿🇮🇳🌿🙏🏼

Trade Unions to move ILO against dilution of Labour Laws by BJP-ruled States

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