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PREAMBLE
Today, especially in Bengal, there are many things going wrong. Many people believe it is because of the moribund bureaucracy - government, institutional, private ... whatever - that is responsible for the unacceptable state of affairs ...

Our Objectives:
The objective of 'Stop'n Look!' is simply to throw the searchlight on the problems created by those people who are thriving in an obsolete bureacratic system - at our expense. We will compile information from the media, as well as first-hand reports from our correspondents, that show how callous our elders have become.
You will be the ultimate judge of our succes.
Viva la vox populi!


EDUCATIONAL NEWS REPORTS: Volume 1
Bloopers & Capers
If the article you wish to read has been archived (due to paucity of space), please contact us/mail to:sankalpatrust@hotmail.com
#
SYNOPSIS OF CONTRIBUTIONS:
(Click link to see the full contribution)
01 RKM School & District Council: published in 'Letters to the Editor' appearing on page 9 of The Statesman, date not known (but probably around Sept. 12, 1998) 
Appeal to the public for support from teachers at the receiving end of the state government's vindictiveness.
02 Plea for protection to RKM schools The Statesman, September 23, 1998; page 5 
Appeal by 42 eminent signatories of Vivek Chetna to the government to ensure the protection of RKM institutions
03 Colleges fail to make up for lost classes: The Statesman, October 12, 1998; page unknown 
The promise of the AIFUCTO to make up for classes lost during the strike they had called in August has remained largely unfulfilled.
04 West Bengal leads nation in defying teachers' training rules: The Statesman, October 14, 1998; page 7 
The National Council for Teachers Education - the stutory body for ensuring quality teachers' education, is concerned about the "dismal" response it has had from West Bengal, where most institutions have been defying the NCTE Act ... In stark contrast is the situation in otherwise "backward" Rajasthan. All of the state's 109 teachers' training institutions applied, and were given recognition. In West Bengal, several universities have been refused recognition for their B Ed courses because of a ridiculously low staff strength. In one case there were two teachers educators for 160 B Ed students ... The government of West Bengal, unlike other state governments, has failed to provide resources required to maintain the laid-down minimum teacher-student ratio of 1:10
05 WBCUTA admits failure to keep Calcutta colleges open: The Statesman, October 13, 1998; page unknown 
WBCUTA admits its failure to keep most Calcutta-based colleges open during the Puja vacation
06 Keen voices die in empty classrooms: The Statesman, October 13, 1998; page 4 
Teachers at Chandernagore Government College who stayed away from classes due to the strike a few weeks ago are now attending college in force, but find approximately 95% of their students missing from the classrooms.
07 First-year students flee hostel after ragging: The Statesman, October 21, 1998; page 3 
At the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, boys were beaten till they bled from the mouth, or had seizures.
08 Visva-Bharati ragging victim yet to recover: The Statesman, October 30, 1998; page 3 
Reports that Amit Sarkar, a fresher at the undergraduate social work department of Visva-Bharati, was allegedly ragged brutally bu seniors, until he fell unconscious
09 Amartya a bore, let Joshi take the floor : The Statesman, November 14, 1998; front page 
Prof. Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winner this year, was snubbed even after he accepted an invitation to deliver next years's Radhakrishnan Memorial lecture - which only scholars of world eminence had so far been invited to do - at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla to make way for Murli Manohar Joshi, a BJP politician and minister in the Vajpayee government
10 Toppers keen on seeking future abroad; news report dated Sept. 4, 1998, on the front page. 
This year's Higher Secondary Exams toppers are dissatisfied with the educational facilities for higher studies; they want to go abroad, in the face of complacency and hypocrisy of the education establishment towards this preventable brain drain.
11 Brain Drain: See no evil, hear only music! : Editorial in The Statesman, December 1, 1998; page 8 
It is news to Jyoti Basu, chief minister of West Bengal, that students of West Bengal have been, in a steady trickle, migrating to other States for higher education.
12 Bengal Engineering College closed after violence: The Statesman, dated December 10, 1998; Front page 
Classes have been suspended in the Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University), Shibpur, till 16 January, after violence in the campus yesterday.
13 India should focus on people, not commodities: Sen : The Statesman, dated December 10, 1998; page 5
Professor Amartya Sen chided the top economic planners of the country for "thinking in wrong terms" and instad asked them to get their objectives right.
14 'BJP pushing education backwards': The Statesman, dated November 15, 1998; Front page
The state education minister, Mr Kanti Biswas - addressing the delegates at the triennial conference of ABTA's Calcutta district committee - accused the BJP coalition of pushing back the country's education system by 1,000 years, by introducing Vedas and Upanishads in syllabi and politicising textbooks, which contain material about the number of "kar sevaks" killed at Ayodha. He accused the Kalyan Singh government of abandoning "Operation Blackboard", a central scheme to install blackboards in all primary schools; instead supplying harmoniums and tables to facilitate the recital of Saraswati Vandana by students. While Indians comprise 16% of the world's population, a third of the illiterates in the globe were Indians. He said no other country had appointed as many commissions on education, which were all useless. The Commission recemmended 10% budget allocation, but this year it was only 2.2%. The outlay for adult literacy had been reduced by 30%. While the world spent $1403.3 billion a year on education, India's share was only $11.8 billion, or 0.8%.
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Educational News Reports: Vol 1
01. RKM School & District Council;: published in 'Letters to the Editor' appearing on page 9 of The Statesman, date not known (but probably around around Sept. 12, 1998) 
Sir, 

The Baranagore Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, having decided to amalgamate its three school units, took a unanimous resolution and sent it to the chairman of the District Primary School Council, North 24-Parganas on 25 September, 1995 for his approval. The chairman sent it to the Director of School Education who, in turn accorded his "no objection" and asked the DPSC to go ahead with the proposal. 

The DPSC, after a long silence, turned down the amalgamation proposal. The Ashram authorities thereafter went to the High Court. The High Court heard the matter on 7 January 1998 and cancelled the impugned memo against amalgamation. The secretary and chairman, however, did not carry out the court order. They also stopped our salaries from January 1998. 

The school authorities now filed a writ petition before the High Court, challenging the validity of such action. The High Court granted an interim order in favour of the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama. This interim order was challenged before a Division Bench by the chairman of the DPSC, North 24-Parganas. The Divisuon Bench ordered on 29 June 1998 that teachers' salaries be paid on a regular basis till the final hearing of the case. This time again, the DPSC, in spite of receiving monthly returns and all relevant papers, did not disburse till 10 September our salaries for August 1998. The State Bank of India, Cossipore Branch, confirms this. 

In the meantime, guardians of our students, sensing that the motive behind the unjust and unlawful attitude of the chairman, DPSC, North 24-Parganas, is to see the collapse of the esteemed institution, have filed a case in the High Court. 

Yours etc., RAMENDRANATH BHATTACHARYA and four other teachers of Baranagore RKM Ashrama Jr Basic & Primary Schools 

Calcutta: 12 September, 1998.

DISCUSSIONS:  
Comment # 1:  
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02.  Plea for protection to RKM schools: The Statesman, September 23, 1998; page 5
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 

CALCUTTA, Sept. 22. - Vivek Chetna, a Calcutta-based organization comprising eminent educationists, has appealed to the government to ensure protection for the inmates of the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Vivekananda Vidyabhavan and the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission Shiksha Mandir. 

Their appeal follows a report published in The Statesman last month which described how the college was targeted by groups of dacoits during the admission season over two consecutive years, and the attempt to create trouble at the school by a section of teachers and guardians. 

The 42 signatories, who include Mr Nemai Sadhan Basu, Mr Aurobindo Bose, Mr Santosh Bhattacharya and several other eminent educationists, suspect that the attacks on the mission schools could be part of a "wider and deeper" conspiracy.

Discussions:
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03. Colleges fail to make up for lost classes: The Statesman, October 12, 1998; page unknown 
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 

CALCUTTA, Oct. 11. - The promise of the All-India Federation of College Teachers' Organizations (AIFUCTO) to make up for classes lost during the strike they had called in August has remained largely unfulfilled. Most colleges in and around the city haven't shortened the Puja vacation. Others have cut down the vacation by almost two weeks to make up for the 26-day loss. 

At least nine governmental colleges in the state will not have a single class to make up for the lost inflicted on the students by striking teachers. Two of them are in Calcutta and the rest in the districts. Presidency College had only one week of extra classes before the Durga Puja. Some departments are holding a few classes, but most others are expected to have only another week of extra classes. Bethune College and Barasat Government College are expected to hold extra classes but not enough too make up for lost classes, teachers say. Goenka College has cut short its vacation, but half the students are away. Maulana Azad College is expected to reopen in November. Lady Brabourne College too hadn't held any classes during the vacation.  

Some private colleges in the city have reopened but students' attendance is well below normal. Besides the University of Calcutta, no extra classes have been reported from most other universities of the state. 

The National Forum for University and College Teachers, which had opposed the strike as "politically motivated", has taken the AIFUCTO to task for not fulfilling its promise to students. The All-Bengal State Government College Teachers' Association, which too had opposed the strike, has criticised the AIFUCTO's failure to compensate students ...

Discussions:
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05.  WBCUTA admits failure to keep Calcutta colleges open: The Statesman, October 13, 1998; page unknown
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 

CALCUTTA, Oct.13. - The West Bengal College and University Teacher's Association today admitted its failure to keep most Calcutta-based colleges open during the Puja vacation. It claimed, however, taht it successful in keeping most colleges outside Calcutta open, admiting, nevertheless, that even there some colleges had remained closed. 

For those colleges which remained closed, WBCUTA today made a fresh appeal: keep open on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to make up for lost time. The WBCUTA, after vthe end of the 26-day strike on 5 September, had promised to compensate students for classes lost during the ceasework. Accordingly, it had asked the universities and colleges to remain open during the Puja vacation. But Mr Anil Bhattacharya, general secretary, admitted that he organization had failed to do so. 

Many colleges which did not respond to the WBCUTA's appeal were trust-managed institutions like the City group of colleges, he said. "They do not function democratically and, therefore, principals and teachers failed to keep them open," he said ...

Discussions:
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06. Keen voices die in empty classrooms: The Statesman, October 13, 1998; page 4
SUNANDO SARKAR 
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 

CHANDERNAGORE (Hooghly), Oct. 12. - Chandernagore Government College is now a college with a difference. Teachers who stayed away from classes due to the strike a few weeks ago are now attending college in force, but find approximately 95% of their students missing from the classrooms. The reason: most students are not interested in returning to college soon. 

Most other colleges - which may go in for extra classes to make up for the time lost during the strike called by the All-India Federation of University and College Teachers (AIFUCTO) - have opted for resuming extra classes after Kali Puja and, therefore, may not face this problem. 

Chandernagore, however, has a unique festival calender. Jagaddhatri Puja is celebrated for over four days, just like Durga Puja elsewhere in the state. Teachers knew bringing students to class during the Jagaddhatri Puja in the last week of October would be impossible. They, therefore, decided to do the next best thing: keep college open throughout the vacation and take as many classes as possible before that week. But - when the teachers of the college met on 15 September and decided to do just that, they had not bargained for what they are seeing now. Barring classes for some of the Science subjects, all other classes are near empty. 

A notice (no. 27) was put up on the college notice board on 16 September, informing students of the teacher's decision. Students were asked to get in touch with their teachers. The students did so. But on September 18, another notice (no. 34) informed the students that the college was going to remain closed "on and from" 21 September to 31 October on account of Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Jagaddhatri Puja and Bhatridwitiya. Teachers explained that the last notice had to be put up as a government order - the college is a government college - enumerating the holidays in the academic year. It had been released at the beginning of the year and could not be changed without a proper government order. 

And the confusion caused by this, combined with the general students' disinterest, has resulted in only about 100 of the 2,000 students turning up for the extra classes till now ... Teachers, many of whom live in Calcutta, come to the college everyday and go back home in the afternoon. More often than not, without taking a single lecture. 

"Nothing can be taught when there is only a student or two," a teacher said. "That way, the other students will be deprived," she explained. Classes are therefore being held only for the Science streams. But even for these classes, students were coming "only under duress", a teacher said. The expalanation: some marks in the practical papers in the University examinations depend on internal assessment done by college teachers. "We are forcing them to come for the practical classes and then take some theoretical classes according to necessity," the teacher added.

DISCUSSIONS:  
Comment # 1:  
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07. First-year students flee hostel after ragging: The Statesman, October 21, 1998; page 3 
SUNANDO SARKAR 
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 

MOHANPUR (Nadia), Oct. 20. - If you are a fresher at the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, chances are that you will be ragged every night throughout the first week of your stay. And if you have joined as a nominee of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, you might be picked out for special treatment and denied medical help even if you bleed helplessly. 

Praveen Kumar, a teenager from Bihar, could have told the story from a hospital bed. But he was never allowed near a doctor. Santanu Jha, another teenager was more lucky. He was admitted to a local hospital after he was beaten up on the night of 14 October. Their crime: they failed to carry out the orders of the 'seniors' satisfatorily. Their punishment: more beatings till they could not take it any more. 

Santanu and Praveen weren't the only ones to leave. All the first-year students have followed them, and none returned. The college is closed now for Diwali, but students say that few outstation students went home last year during the brief vacation. The "introduction" between the freshers and seniors was more nasty this year than ever before, students say. The reason: a particular group of students was trying to scare the freshers into submission ahead of the college elections. 

Praveen Kumar was one of the 20-odd ICAR nominees this year. He came to the university on October 8. After a few days of "soft assignments" - such as having to crawl under the bed and stay there for most of the night - began a more humiliating and painful lexperience on the night of 14 October. He was taken to a ground-floor room late in the evening. There were several seniors there, some drunk. Praveen was told to hold his ears and do 50 sit-ups. Praveen had hydrocele and there was no way he could have completed the task. And anyway, to carry it out, he would have had to do several thousand sit-ups: for the counting began from "0.01" and continued in fractions of a hundred. Praveen submitted for a few minutes; then he protested and told the seniors about his illness. 

But none of them was in a mood to listen.He was beaten till he bled from the mouth. He was not allowed any treatment, his fellow students said. The boy was sent back to his room, where his friends tried to comfort him saying the ragging period would soon be over. But Praveen went back home the next day. 

At almost the same time that Praveen was being ragged, Santanu was taken to another room. He was asked to get under the bed and mimic the trains that run underground in Calcutta. Santanu too couldn't take this for more than a few minutes and crawled out, his class mates said. He told the seniors that he had asthma. He too was beaten up, and taken to a local doctor only when he began having convulsions. The doctor refused to treat Santanu saying that this was a "police case" ...

Discussions:
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08. Visva-Bharati ragging victim yet to recover: The Statesman, October 30, 1998; page 3 
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 

SANTINIKETAN, Oct. 29. - Amit Sarkar, a fresher at the undergraduate social work department of Visva-Bharati, was allegedly ragged brutally by senior students on Saturday, the day he got a room in the hostel. He managed to bear it the first day, but when the same "treatment" was repeated the next night, he fell unconscious. 

He was admitted to the univesity hospital, and later shifted to Bolpur sub-divisional hospital when his condition deteriorated. Amit was released from hospital yesterday morning. He continues to be in a state of shock. He cannot recount exactly what was done to him. 

Amit's father, Mr Rajendranath Sarkar, rushed from Kaliaganj, North Dinajpur, to see his son. He is upset; undecided if he should ask Amit to continue studies at Visva Bharati.

Discussions:
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09. Amartya a bore, let Joshi take the floor: The Statesman, November 14, 1998; front page 
BALDEV S CHAUHAN 
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 
Amartya SenMurli Manohar Joshi

SHIMLA, Nov. 13. - Who cares if Amartya Sen has won the Nobel Prize. Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is a fitter man to deliver an academic lecture to researchers and scholars. Or so thinks the Indian Instutute of Advanced Study, Shimla. It recently scrapped a lecture Prof Sen was to deliver early next year at the institute - after the economist had accepted the invitation. 

It has now asked the union education and human resources development minister to deliver the Radhakrishnan Memorial lecture - which only scholars of world eminence had so far been invited to do. Some of the past speakers were K N Raj, the eminent economist; Simon Blackburn, the world-renowned philosopher; Richard Sorabjee, Professor of Greek at the University of London; and scientist M G K Memnon, who delivered this year's lecture. To this list will be added the name of Dr Joshi. 

Prof Javed Alam, who teaches at the IIAS, and is a member of its editorial board told The Statesman the Prof Sen's name was scrapped by the insitute's newly formed governing body. The new chairman of the IIAS, Prof G C Pande, is a staunch supporter and a close friend of Joshi since his Allahabad days, an institute insider said. The vice-chairman, Dr M D Srinivas, who is from the Gurumurthy Institute of Mylapore, reportedly also has RSS links. So has another member of the governing body, Dr Yoganand Kale, who is from Nagpur. The other two members, former IAS officer, Mr Kireet Joshi and Dr L L Mehrotra, too, are BJP supporters, the source said. Many of the members were nominated by the centre. 

There is now a growing fear among the fellows and officials of the institute that its working may soon take on a saffron hue. The chairman has been camping at the IAAS at Summer Hill for more than three weeks, and has suggested various measures to overhaul the institute, the source said. The new governing body has reportedly been sitting on the list of research fellows for next year, finalized nearly a month ago by an independent body. The governing body has withheld the letters to the selected scholars because it wants to review each case. 

Many former fellows say such a thing has never happened before, and amounted to a blatant interference in the affairs of the institute, which had till now functioned in a highly independent manner. Besides, they say, the governing body is not authorized to review selections.

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 10.   Toppers keen on seeking future abroad; news report in The Statesman dated Sept. 4, 1998, on the front page.
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 
The 1997 Higher Secondary Examination toppers: 
(From left) Pampa Datta, Sanghamitra Niyogi, Subhashish Chakraborty and Arijit Ray Chaudhuri at Rabindra Sadan on Thursday. 
 

CALCUTTA, Sept. 3 - "This place has only a few good engineering colleges and still fewer number of good universities. Educational infrastructure is not good, with hardly any facility ...", said Arijit Ray Chaudhuri, the 1997 Higher Secondary topper. He could have gone on and on to justify his decision to pursue higher studies abroad. 

And so would have the other rank holders of last year's HS Examinations, who came to be felicitated by the Higher Secondary Council today at Rabindra Sadan. 

They only needed the cue. 

A medical student, Satyajit Chakrabarty, who stood 13th in the examination, minced no words to say that the state with its law and order problems does not merit a decent living, let alone education. 

"Why should I come back?" he shot back straight to the correspondent's face, when asked if he would like to serve the state as a doctor. "A doctor's primary duty is towards mankind and not any particular country. Besides, can you give me one solid reason why we should come back here?" was another salvo form Satyajit. 

There is no laboratory facility, no infrastructure. The ambience is also not conducive for academic and career growth, the students echoed, referring to the recent spate of doctors' and teachers' strike that has come to paralyze medical and educational institutions. 

This was a scene off the podium, sans the flashlights, the adulation and the rosy dreams that the education ministry was trying to sell for the budding careerist. A little earlier, on stage in the midst of the award-giving ceremony the education ministry's think-tank was trying to drill better sense into the students' heads. 

Forget the lure abroad, stay here and work for the state. It is your commitment and responsibility to serve the state, that has taken care of you: this was the running theme of all speakers, waxing eloquent on how the students should focus their career hre and not abroad. 

The former Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati, Dr. Pabitra Sarkar, made it clear that easy, attractive alternatives, meaning the lurings of abroad, do not pay in the long run. Whereas those who manage to grow in the midst of odds and adversaries (meaning here) actually win. 

The primary education minister, Mr Kanti Biswas, who reportedly faced a lot of flak in the recent state committee meeting for a deteriorating education standard, was at his best explanatory self. 

"This is for those who try to malign our state of education. Take the statistics of colleges and universities abroad. You will find at least 50% of the student population represents our state," he said. He went on to add that most of the students who left a mark in the international realm, studied in vernacular medium and learnt English from class VI. 

For Mr Biswas, this was another opportunity to prove that the stand taken by him on the issue of the study of English was correct. 

Unlike the higher education minister, Mr Satyasadhan Chakrabarty, or many of his colleagues in the Left Front, who want re-inrtroduction of English from class I, Mr Biswas is in favour of a late baptism in English in the government educational instituions. 

All said and done, for ambitious students, a flight abroad can only fulfill their dreams, aspirations and knowledge.

DISCUSSIONS:   

Comments received from S. Mukherjee on October 22, 1998: 
Having read this article, coming just after three of Prof Amartya Sen's explosive indictments of the country's - and particularly the communists' - indifference to education, makes me think, how many more Nobel laureates shall we lose before the people of this state and country wake up to the harm that selfish politicians and bureaucrats are inflicting on the people? 

And somebody should tell Mr Kanti Biswas (Hon. State Minister for primary education) that he should probably stop sitting on his brain, for what else could prompt him to think that his logic (that "50% of the student population (abroad) represents our state") makes the communists look good? If that is at all true, it must be the most damning indictment of the state of education in West Bengal, for why else would there be such a massive student exodus? 

And finally, to address Mr Biswas's illusion that his educational policies have illuminated the people, he should know that many intellectuals in the state fear that after Prof Amartya Sen, there will be no more Nobel Laureates from Bengal. They are all probably resigned to the scenario that the communists will rule West Bengal forever. And to quote the last paragraph of this link (which underscores Mr Biswas's blissful state of ignorance)  : 

    Ignorance may be bliss. At least it helps foster the hope of glory. The city has produced a Nobel laureate about once every 25 years. A quarter of a century is time enough to dream.
The author of this piece also says "... The aging Bengal tiger Jyoti Basu seems to be the only one who basks comfortably in the glow of international arc lights."  What poetic justice ... if not Charlie Chaplinesque ... The last limelight of West Bengal also presided over the dropping of the curtains ...  

But the show must - and will - go on, whether our current breed of politicians and bureaucrats like it or not. Anybody remember Romania and Nicolai Ceausescu ? ...

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11. Brain Drain: See no evil, hear only music! : Editorial in The Statesman, December 1, 1998; page 8 
MR Jyoti Basuís capacity to be surprised seems endless. He has been in West Bengal politics for more than five decades and Chief Minister for twenty-two years - "except when Iím sleeping Iím always a politician and Chief Minister" and yet it is news to him that students of West Bengal have been, in a steady trickle, migrating to other States for higher education. He was struck with wonder when a questioner at a meeting of the Ladies Study Group a few days ago wanted to know why students were leaving. Were they indeed? He did not know, nobody even told him, but, never mind, he would talk to academic experts and get to the bottom of it. The Chief Ministerís naivete is touching but his show of concern may fail to impress. 

The indisputable fact is that this "brain drain" has been going on for decades. What began in the wake of the Naxalite upsurge of the early seventies when parents - those who could afford it, that is - sent their children away to safer States, soon caught the imagination of the Bengali mind. Jyoti Basu himself had at one stage sent his son to Jammu and Kashmir when he wanted to train the boy as a doctor. Surely he has not forgotten that. That Junior did not stick it out and decided to try a different tack is of quite another story. 

West Bengalís loss is the gain of other States. The best talent migrated to, for example, JNU, Delhi School of Economics and Bangalore Law School. The drain has been particularly glaring when it comes to technical education such as medicine and engineering. A study report estimated five years ago that as of that year at least Rs 200 crores was siphoned off from West Bengal on that account alone. It is understandable if a student wants to go to the United States or England, but it certainly does not redound to the credit of the Left Front that he wants to move to another State for the simple reason that he gets there greater opportunities and a better academic atmosphere. There are many reasons for the rot that has set in in West Bengalís educational institutions - overcrowding, corruption, poor work culture, you name it. However, these are nothing compared with the latest bane - political interference. There is hardly a school or college which can flourish without toeing the CPI-M line. The consequence is for everybody to see, except the Chief Minister. Would Anil Biswas, the behind-the-scenes arbiter for years of West Bengalís education policy, be able to explain?

Discussions:
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12.  Bengal Engineering College closed after violence: The Statesman, dated December 10, 1998; Front page
Statesman News Service 

HOWRAH, Dec. 9. - College authorities have suspended classes in the Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University), Shibpur, till 16 January after violence in the campus yesterday.The Master of Computer Application and the under graduate examinations have been postponed. Students have called a hunger strike in front of the Vice Chancellorís office to protest against the decision. 

Six first-year students were beaten up by fourth-year students yesterday. Two students, Ujjal Talukdar (mechanical) and Samaresh Nandi (electrical), had to be admitted to hospital. No arrests have been made so far. 

Trouble began on Monday after some fourth-year students allegedly demanded Rs 150 from each first year student for the annual welcome festival for freshers. Some freshers refused to pay, and the seniors allegedly threatened them. The freshers alleged that yesterday seniors beat up one of their class mates in front of Dr Sparshamani Chatterjee, the Vice-Chancellor. 

At about 11.30 p.m. last night, about 30 fourth-year students raided hostel No. 14, occupied by first year students. Ujjal and Samaresh were beaten up mercilessly. The seniors allegedly threw bricks at the window panes of the hostel. 

Members of the B E College Students Union alleged that the college authorities did not provide any security even though tension had been building up in the campus since Monday. No security guard was found at the gate of the hostels during the attack, they alleged. 

Yesterday when the students informed the director of the situation, he asked the studentsí union to deal with it, the union members alleged. In a circular issued today, the acting registrar, Mr P G Bhattacharya, asked students to vacate the hostels immediately. The studentsí union elections were also postponed. 

Panic stricken first-year students had already begun leaving the college hostels last evening. 

The circular said classes were suspended because of the law and order situation in the hostels and the college campus after yesterdayís "unfortunate" incident. 

Dr Chatterjee said classes were suspended because college authorities wanted to first bring back normalcy after holding talks with the students. He admitted that no written complaint was lodged with the police. He denied that any student was injured.

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13.  India should focus on people, not commodities: Sen : The Statesman, dated December 10, 1998; page 5
Agencies

STOCKHOLM, Dec. 10. - India should reset its economic priorities to make them "people-oriented rather than commodity-related", Professor Amartya Sen said today. "The people related to (economic polices) will have to particularly focus on those who are the worst off in society," he said in an interview to All India Radio. This alone would help the country meet the challenges of globalisation.

What would he tell the Union finance minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, if he met him? Prof. Sen, who received the Nobel Prize for economics here today, replied: "I will tell him to stop thinking in wrong terms and ask him to get his objectives right."

Raising economic growth is important, he said, but the ultimate objective is to expand the ability of most people to earn a decent living, to have the opportunity to lead a worthwhile life. For this, growth is not important on its own but of great instrumental significance.

Can India meet the challenges of globalisation? Prof. Sen said neglect of basic education has been a major lacuna. There is no way any economy can escape the rapid process of integration with the world economy. To compete in a globalising world, "you have to produce competitive products according to specifications that require education, that require the ability to read, write and do basic calculations..."

How relevant is welfare economics, which has won him the Nobel Prize, to Indiaís liberalisation process? Prof. Sen said welfare economics cannot be identified with Indian liberalisation. Welfare economics being a theory, can only serve as a broad tool of a societyís well being.

Is it true that he would not accept an offer to become Indiaís finance minister? Prof. Sen quipped: "That is because I am not a politician and not in ministerial business. I am very happy with academics. I like teaching. I like to be with students. Why should I like to be some other and do something else?"

Is he embarrassed at being regarded as the intellectual hero of India after winning the Nobel? "I hope I am not regarded as the intellectual hero of India. I do hope that people still read Rabindranath Tagoreís writings; and there are many other people I can think of. So I hope this thing about being an intellectual hero is an exaggeration, and that way I feel very happy."

What sort of influence has Santiniketan had on his personality and academic pursuits? He said it was a wonderful place to grow up in, especially to imbibe the right values, though some people felt it did not groom students for academic success.

What was his childhood dream? He had none, Prof. Sen said, for he was not organised enough in his thinking then. "Actually, I was not clear (about) what I wanted to be. But it was quite clear to me that I wanted to be an academician in some form - be it economics, physics or mathematics."

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