Azadi – is my right or responsibility?

I completely condemn the anti-national sloganeering at JNU campus ! Particularly, it being an iconic university and the way political parties such as Congress, Leftists and AAP supported it. Ultimately it turned out to be another political agenda of non-BJP parties / supporters just like the ‘awardwapsi‘ !!

A lot of ‘tamasha‘ and ‘dramabaazi‘ – inside and outside the Parliament, in the court rooms, in the news studios, in the main stream media as well as in social media. Just wastage of our time, money and intellectual discourse. Media houses are divided completely based on their political inclinations, not on facts. People on the social media are too divided mostly as a result of their frustrations, political inclinations and common sense.

Surprisingly after 67 years of Independence we are debating over ‘Azadi‘. Like ‘garibi hatao‘ sloganeering this will only become another slogan; only to fool people for votes. ‘Dissent’ and ‘Freedom of Speech’ are being misused only to achieve political goals. It is not being applied where it should be or can be.

Recent acts of certain media houses certainly opens the debate whether the media houses act for the country or against the country !!! Do they only see these events as opportunities to score their political or business mileage in the name of’Free Speech’ and ‘Azadi’ ? Many like me certainly cast serious doubt on this.

Disgusting editorials, opinions and front-page news items only reflect that the self-proclaiming ‘intellectuals’ are ‘intolerant’ and jealous of the development India is witnessing these days. The spirit and language of the so-called elite /educated /intellectual mass has sometimes made me think that I  would perhaps prefer to be uneducated, but dedicated towards the uplift of the society, and preserving the pride and dignity of my country.

However, I am also concerned with the Central Government’s response on this JNU row.

It is not yet a matter of being right or wrong; soft or harsh. But why was this hotchpotch approach and seemingly ‘no-control’ over even basic law and order ?!? Who were these ‘lawyers’ and why did their action repeat even after the SC order ?? Initially why was there no quick and solid directive? Why was a delay in taking action?  Why was then no specific /consistent statements from the Police (under Union Home Ministry) and the Ministry ?  There should have been quick and proper investigations and actions.

All these so contrary… so disappointing, especially when the supporters of the present Central Government are expecting a constitutionally justified, strict and non-sympathetic response… and additionally, some strong provision which will deter such nuisances in the future !

These nuisances and ‘dramabaazi‘ erupting often nowadays, only prove that though this country has a glorious history and unmatched legacy of brave hearts, kind hearts and geniuses, it has got miserably infected with the ignorant mass, the ‘chamchagiri‘ public, the utter selfish, the ‘satta‘ hungry and the traitors !!!!

What worries millions like me is the unwanted, disrespectful dragging of our Armed Force. Media houses, political shouting in the streets of JNU and other so called liberal universities are only pointing their frustration towards our Armed Forces. By calling them rapists, and comparing them with Maoists, these people not only show their low mentality, immature brain, selfish agenda against the nation, but also bring chaos in the society and spread hatred in many sections of it. How can they dare to insult the heroes of our Armed Forces? Is this called ‘Free Speech’ or ‘Azadi’? Are we all stupid to allow such kind of nuisance in the society?

Surprisingly, the same India where the Parliament used to get united against any external complications or aggression as well as internal turmoils, is now getting divided over silly political reasons and selfish attitude of some ‘netas‘ and their supporters. While RaGa has shown his true color after losing election, AK has shown his after winning election.

I am afraid that the BJP may again lose the next state elections – bad for the states, bad for the country – just as desired by its useless opponents, and the new breed of ‘anti-nationals’ who have been otherwise happily sleeping for the last decade over crores of corruption, appeasement, goonda-raj, and non-development chapters !!!

The ‘Make in India’ week lost the lustre on media columns. A rocky Budget Session has already started struggling in order to pass major bills and laws so awfully needed.

Again repeating what I said some months ago : absolutely high time for the Central Government to refocus, reorganize and act differently !

Aamjunta – it is your time to judge the right and wrong. Your action is needed ; not the golden silence.

Jai Hind.

Indian Engineering Education – a Critical Look

After 10+2, Engineering stream is considered to be a lucrative choice for most of the Indians. This is mainly due to the prospect of software jobs in India. However, getting admission in the top institutions is a dream for many with a tough competition between coaching classes, students and parents. More than the students, sometimes the parents get more concerned and tensed. It will not be inappropriate to mention here that there are only a few institutes in India which can provide competitive and qualitative engineering studies. With the increase in population, the demand for such colleges has also increased in an alarming way.  One will not disagree to the fact that we need more number of colleges which have basic infrastructure and a strong faculty. This big concern for many became an opportunity for some to open private colleges. Though new colleges are supposed to cater to the demand of Engineering education in India, it became a distant reality in practice.

Private colleges are mushrooming in every part of India. This makes the admission process better and easy but sometimes complicated.  Though there are caps to the capitation fee (which is paid for the admission through management ) in the private colleges, there are open deals under and above the table. Some say, the capitation fees decided by the government is just the minimum fee; pay more and get an admission to a department of your choice, irrespective of your 10+2 percentages or score in the JEE tests. Taking admission through management quota is as usual a big loop-hole in the entire game. Many a times, colleges allow admissions hoping that a few will leave after a month or so, leading to another admission through management quota to fill the vacant seats. There are few cases in which the students are also involved in this kind of scam; they too get a pie from the capitation fee while leaving the college.

So far we have been discussing the admission process. Let us now move towards the advertisements/claims each and every college makes during admission process, campus interviews and JEE tests. Though their list contains many such points, let us look at some of the usual ones.

(i) Excellent facilities available

In a majority cases, the colleges do not have minimally-equipped laboratories and a central computer network. There are even colleges offering Electrical Engineering degree without permanent electricity supply and Computer Science department without a single computer therein. Yes, they do have laptops :), but only to see movies and play games.

(ii) Excellent faculty (from IITs/IISc and abroad) strength

More than 90% colleges do not have a PhD in the faculty and one would not be surprised to find only fresh BTechs as faculties taking higher semester classes. It does not stop here, most join as faculties when they do not find a job of their choice; a very few join with a passion for teaching. There are ample instances where one will find a list of visiting faculties only (no regular faculty !!). Another interesting point worth mentioning here is the list of faculties submitted to AICTE/UGC during academic audits. Many of the names submitted are fictitious, they do not even exist in this world. In some cases, names are shared between more than one department and even more than one college. Do not think that the officials (AICTE/UGC) do not have an idea about this. Yes, they do have this information and mostly it is bargained for some good amount of money or kind; some get very good posts in these colleges/universities as Chancellors, Pro-Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, Registrars, Pro-Vice Chancellors etc. after their retirement, and some even get honorary posts such as advisors, board members, directors etc. including honorary PhDs from these institutes.

(iii) Excellent R&D activities

Except a very few private colleges, others hardly do research work. However, many private colleges mention that they provide world class R&D facilities/activities on their campus. And about publications…  forget about students, even most of the faculties do not know how to write a paper. That is not their fault though; most of them have not gone through the rigorous process of paper writing and even have not attended a single conference of repute. In addition, their academic background also matters a lot. A majority of  them do not even do a post-graduation. What do we expect then? The faculties need to be taught first and then the students. Another interesting point is that of the quality of undergraduate/post-graduate thesis work. In many organizations these do not even qualify for submission/acceptance. However, most of them get excellent grades and the rest get good grades in their colleges. At least 60% students simply copy from Internet (some time entire report and some time in parts) and submit as their own thesis. There are instances even, students buy projects at a cost anything between Rs 8,000/- to Rs 20,000/- depending upon the complexity of project. It turns out to be a very good business for some people.

And surprisingly those thesis are accepted without being cross-checked. If someone does evaluation, then students argue unnecessarily (as they have paid capitation fees and hence are customers of the college/organization) and others criticize. Copy (ctrl + c) and Paste (ctrl + v) goes well with the faculties as well as the students in paper writing, thesis and in internal reports. On a positive note, yes… there are a very few good thesis and research work in some of these colleges. But that percentage is very low, most of the time it is even less that 10%.

(iv) 100% campus placement

This is a very tricky area, one has to go into the deeper root of the system to know the facts; many companies that come for placement  select and dump the selected employees after a 3/6 months training session. Reason – very low performance. But the truth in some (guess what is the percentage of this “some” !!!) cases is that these companies get a sizable amount of money from the parent college per student during selection. And they pay this salary from that money only. In fact, these students pay a considerable amount (sometimes even Rs 200k/-) for sitting in the campus interviews and colleges make a descent profit out of these. Both the colleges and the companies make win-win pacts with the students’ money and future at stake. Again, on a positive note, yes… there are some good and genuine placements happening in some private colleges; but mostly confined to software industry.

Having said all the above, let us now analyze the situation and attitude of students into such colleges. It will be incomplete and in-appropriate otherwise.

One would not be surprised to know that hardly any student comes to class/laboratories in their final semesters; be in 7th or 8th Semester. There are instances where students are allowed to pass (with good grades) even without attending a single lecture in any of the subjects in the semester. The reason is “Mass Bunk” – they have strong unity for it ; no one is allowed to attend the lecture. Those who get job (through campus placement or  other channel) sometimes do not attend; their reason – ‘how is this course going to help in our job ?’. Those who do not get job also do not attend lectures; their reason – ‘we are very busy in finding a job’. But if one verifies (either by going to their hostels/mess or by checkingir their day-to-day activities) irrespective of whether or not one gets a job, the attitude is not to attend lectures/labs; it is usually rather ‘enjoy — movies, treats, parties and datings’. Neither their parents  nor the authority in the college bother to know about these. Sometimes a few students come to class – out of courtesy, or by getting bored in hostels and home i.e. to time pass… not to study. These are just some of the general observations irrespective of the college type. It will not be 100% correct to blame only the students for this. Faculties, college management as well as the society at large are more or less responsible for this sorry state. Some faculties enjoy – no work and pay; some get frustrated… and find alternatives. A very few raise this issue with the management. Management usually keep their eyes closed… because in most of the cases, they do not have quality faculty or do not intend to hire better ones. For others, the organization is only a profit-making account.

With all the above developments in the education sector, especially in the Engineering stream where mostly we have below-standard academic ethics and rigor, how do we expect the country to grow in technology, research, infrastructure development and academics ? How can we compete at the global level ? Remember, software is not the only area where development is required for a country like India. It needs all round growth and development. Moreover, the craze of software jobs and mushrooming private engineering colleges have quite discouraged or stopped students from taking admissions into B.Sc., B.A. or B.Com. degrees. In many old colleges/Universities, seats are lying vacant for these courses. This is definitely an alarming issue to be dealt with. But how and who will initiate – you/ me/ Govt/or the Supreme Court ? We need educated, skilled and committed people in every field – be it in engineering or literature or medicine or  business or production.

Aamjunta – please think over it seriously and do share your thoughts/solutions (methods), if you have any. Do not hesitate to take some action if appropriate at your level. As a faculty or as a student or as a management trustee or as a government official or as a journalist – every one has to support for this cause and then only we can hope for the best, qualitatively and quantitatively. Keep it in mind that our job does not get over by sending our wards to these colleges or by opening new colleges or by taking a lecture or by recruiting young engineers for our companies. It is just the beginning; a beginning for a future – no one knows what exactly lies there but at least we can attempt for a better and firmer one. There is bubbling potentiality in our men and youth. But to build a strong and self-reliant India, we all need to seek genuine ways out and work with integrity.

Jai Hind!

Note: For the benefit/reference of interested readers, this article is a sequel to the following other articles published by aamjunta on the theme “Indian Education System“.

1. Qualitative Expansion of Indian Education System – Need for a Strong and Better India

2. From Single-Seater to Multi-Seater: Vision of Higher Education

3.A Roadmap for the Future of Research in IIT Bombay

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