The path to knowledge is made smooth for those in positions of power

Thirst for knowledge, it appears, does not cease even after the thirst for power is satiated. The case of Minister of State for Kannada and Culture Umashree and BJP MLA C.T. Ravi writing the entrance test conducted by the Karnataka State Open University in the hope of doing Ph.D. in Political Science is a case in point. However, it appears that the administrative machinery is forever ready to make sure that the path to knowledge is made smooth for those in positions of power. The KSOU’s decision to decrease Ph.D. entrance exam eligibility marks from 50 to 40 per cent is being seen as an effort to help Ms. Umashree acquire the coveted “Dr.” prefix to her name since she had scored only 43 in the entrance exam. According to the old guidelines, this would have meant that she is not eligible for viva voce which is the next step. Predictably, officials have denied that it is an effort to help the Minister and gone into complicated bureaucratic explanations. But the fact that the decision on lowering the eligibility marks came after the entrance exam results were declared makes this claim hard to swallow.

Bus crew outwits technology?

The bus crew, especially those operating State road transport corporation services, are known for skipping trips, deviating from the original routes, not halting buses at designated stops etc., Needless to say, this inconveniences passengers. To put a leash on them, their employers have resorted to technology; but the crew, it appears, has outwitted the bosses and their technology deployments. While the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has already implemented the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) in Mysore with World Bank aid, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is in the process of implementing it in Bangalore. The ITS includes equipping buses with global positioning system (GPS) device, GPS-enabled electronic ticketing machines to get real-time revenue collection details and real-time passenger information system display boards at bus-stops — all connected to the control room. A pilot project is under way at the BMTC’s Yelahanka depot, which has about 250 buses. The strict vigil must have caused severe heartburn among the crew who, at many times, used to ply buses on high-revenue earning routes instead of the designated ones to earn more incentive. But, it appears, sections of employees have found a way to outwit these tech controls. One fine day, depot authorities and those managing the ITS were surprised to find that data from four buses was not being gathered at the control room. On inspecting those buses, they found that the GPS units were not functioning. Further, they found that the GPS units were dipped in water before being kept at their original position!.

Wait continues for teacher-couples

The partial relaxation of the model code of conduct (MCC) by the Election Commission of India has brought cheer only to Ministers but not to 16,000 teacher-couples who have been seeking postings in the same place in the next academic year. Though polling was held in the State on April 17, the EC has barred transfer of officials and fresh recruitment till the completion of the election process. The State government formulated a transfer policy last year to transfer teachers and other officials in April–May. As the poll code will be in force till May-end, the government is now planning to undertake teachers’ transfers during the Dasara holidays (in October). Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar says 50 per cent of the 6 lakh government employees come under his department. Enforcement of the MCC has hit the process of transfer, particularly that of teacher-couples. Distribution of bicycles, textbooks and uniforms has been delayed owing to the MCC and the process is expected to be completed by the middle or end of June.

War of words among wordsmiths

There’s nothing new in litterateurs taking political stances based on the ideology they believe in. But division among top litterateurs in the State was more evident than ever during the Lok Sabha polls.

While one group openly opposed BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the other supported him by canvassing for BJP candidates in Bangalore.

Citing Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s welfare policies, Jnanpith award recipients U.R. Ananthamurthy and Girish Karnad supported the Congress and criticised Mr. Modi and the Gujarat model of economic development. Sahitya Akademi award recipient S.L. Bhyrappa defended Mr. Modi and the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who is facing CBI probe for corruption charges.

Prof. Ananthamurthy had kicked up a storm long before the polls when the BJP announced Mr. Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, by saying that he would not like to live in a country with Mr. Modi as its Prime Minister.

Later, Prof. Ananthamurthy dubbed Mr. Modi a “dictator” and considered him a threat to India’s pluralist culture. Dr. Bhyrappa dubbed Prof. Ananthamurthy an “opportunist”.

Claiming that he is honest and never received benefits from politicians, Dr. Bhyrappa accused Prof. Ananthamurthy of taking benefits from the political class. The war of words between the two writers is likely to continue as the election results are awaited.

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