Why January tests?

Mandira Nayar in her "Campus Jottings" (December 29) wrote that for Delhi University students the New Year would open on a bookish note with most colleges having scheduled examinations as soon as they reopen after the winter vacation. These "January tests" -- as they are popularly called -- are part of the new "Internal Assessment" (I.A.) system under which 25 per cent marks in each examination paper are to be decided at the college level -- 5 per cent on the basis of attendance, 10 per cent on the basis of performance in tutorials, and 10 per cent on the basis of the January tests. Unfortunately, there are wide discrepancies in the way I.A. marks are allotted by the 81 colleges of Delhi University, and every year the University's final examination results get delayed as these discrepancies are sought to be ironed out in the Examination Branch through "moderation".

When I led 15 members of our Collegiate Commonwealth Group of India-cum-Current Affairs Group of Delhi University to meet the new Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr. Deepak Pental, on October 20 for a 90-minute interaction on "My vision of Delhi University", he was asked by the Student President-Emeritus of our Group, Hari Om Dahiya (III B.A. Pass, St. Stephen's) as to how the "Russian roulette" nature of our current examination system, and especially the I.A. system, was to be tackled. The Vice-Chancellor said that the Kiran Datar Committee on Examination Reform, due to report in early 2006, would look into this. One hopes this is a promise which is indeed kept in the New Year. Students and teachers would then be able to say "Thank you very much indeed" to Dr. Pental.

Vinod Chowdhury,

Senior Reader in Economics,

St. Stephen's College,

Delhi University,

Delhi - 110 007.

Mayur Vihar calling

Residents of 22 large group housing clusters near Samachar Apartments in Mayur Vihar Phase-1 Extension are facing instant death every day on the roads in the area, thanks to indifferent ways of the Delhi Traffic Police.

It was brought to the attention of Joint Police Commissioner Qamar Ahmed on September 20, 2005, by the Federation of Group Housing Societies Mayur Vihar Ltd., the apex body of local residents, that due to high density of traffic flowing from Mayur Vihar Phase-III, Vasundhara Enclave and Noida which takes the Club Avenue road near Samachar Apartments to approach U.P. Link Road on the way to Akshardham/Nizammuddin bridges, the roads in the area have become death traps. It has become almost impossible for residents, especially senior citizens and school children, to cross the roads in the Society area and several major accidents have taken place.

Now with the opening of two bridges on the Hindon cut near East End Apartments on December 25 by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the entire traffic from this huge cluster of group housing societies, Ashok Nagar and Noida has also started flowing along Club Avenue, Samachar Apartments, to go towards Akshardham Bridge. This has resulted in chaos, posing a grave threat to the life and limbs of residents. One four-lane bridge built by DDA near Glaxo Apartments/Mayur District Centre is lying unutilised as the Traffic Police are not permitting a right turn from Club Avenue to move along U.P. Link Road. The Delhi Government is reported to be proposing widening of UP Link Road from six lanes to eight lanes and construction of two "clover leaves" to make this stretch signal-free. But this will take at least three years.

When Mr. H.C. Joshi, Patron of the Federation of Group Housing Societies Mayur Vihar Ltd., and I -- a former Chairman of the Federation -- met Joint Commissioner Qamar Ahmed three months ago, he promised action. The area A.C.P. Traffic (East) did visit the area once but there has been no action on the ground. The Federation has demanded just two speed-breakers and three blinkers/red lights so that traffic can be regulated and it acts as a deterrent against over-speeding by vehicles. A large number of school buses take this route every morning and afternoon. One wonders whether the Traffic Police will wake up only when another tragedy occurs. The local Traffic Inspector Nanak Kataria switches off his cell phone every time we ring up to find out the fate of our representation.

Can the harassed residents of Mayur Vihar Phase-1 Extension expect some help now from the Police Commissioner of Delhi?

A.K. Chakraborty,

214, Samachar Apartments,

Mayur Vihar Phase-1 Extension.

Delhi - 110 091.

Right and wrong

In the nitty-gritty of the much talked about Right to Information, there is much debate on divulging file notings. The Government's preference is not to make file notings public, making truth the casualty. For what is the guarantee that the file notings reflect the truth? Speaking from experience, where I was involved in an arbitration case, the arbitrator (for reasons that can well be surmised) marked the opposite party present at every hearing when, in fact, they were mostly absent. It was only by fluke that I discovered the truth. To have any meaning, the right to information must guard well-meaning citizens from such falsehood.

Arthur Monteiro,

N-11, Xavier Apartments,

Saraswati Vihar,

Delhi - 110 034.

Stuck in Gurgaon

There are a large number of old, retired people living in Sector 17-B of Gurgaon from IFFCO and other organisations. An I.A.F. Colony is adjacent to this colony on both sides of the road leading to Sector 17 market. This road beyond IFFCO Colony is controlled by IAF security with a gate. Earlier, this gate was open to pedestrians and vehicles from morning to 10 p.m. The IAF Colony has a boundary wall with sub-gates to enter. This road is used by people daily to go to the market, doctors, etc. People from the other side of the colony beyond the gate used to come to IFFCO Colony where a community centre and a temple are situated.

After the serial bomb blasts in Sarojini Nagar market and elsewhere in Delhi recently, the Air Force authorities closed the gate for all vehicles in the name of security. Now they want to close the gate to pedestrians as well. It would be open exclusively to Air Force personnel and their vehicles. This is a thoughtless decision. It is not comprehensible how the security of the residential colony will be affected when there are boundary walls with separate gates on either side of the road.

If the gate is closed, people will have to go round both IFFCO and IAF colonies, a distance of a few kilometres, wasting precious time and energy. If pedestrians are also stopped, old people like me -- 73 years -- will be put to a lot of hardship to go to doctor, market, temple or community centre. The same goes for women and children.

The authorities concerned are requested to reconsider their decision and open the gate to vehicles as well as pedestrians.

G.M. Ramarao,

C/o G. Kumar,

C-1199, IFFCO Colony,

Sector 17-B,

Gurgaon-122 001.

Not by slogans

When Sanjay Gandhi tightened the noose around the uncontrollable to control the population, the slogan was: "Do ya teen bas." Then came "Hum do, hamare do". Now it is "Hum do, hamara ek". But the population is still soaring like the Sensex. I wonder what the next slogan will be. Maybe "Hum do, hamara koi nahin"! It simply shows that slogans do not always work. We have got to find a pragmatic solution to halt the population explosion as no development project or economic initiative can bear tangible results without that. We can be a superpower only if we control our population.

Here is one suggestion. Anyone having more than two children henceforth should be deprived of his voting rights. Naturally this will also debar him from contesting any election. And politicians who depend heavily on the poor people for votes, will go out of their way to make them aware of the value of their votes: hence indirectly educating them not to have more than two children. Let us hope it works. National interest must always come first.

Colonel R.D. Singh,


213 Transit Camp,

Jammu Cantt (J&K).

(Letters for this column may be sent by e-mail to wsins@thehindu.co.in. They must carry the full postal address of the writer and should be marked "Reader's Mail".)

Senior Reader in Economics,

St. Stephen's College,

Delhi University,

Delhi - 110 007.