It is ironic that democratic principles are compromised in the universities in our country, which is the world’s largest parliamentary democracy. Accountability of those in power is the most distinctive feature of democracy and there is no provision in any University Act for impeachment or removal of the Vice-Chancellor if he/she misuses his/her powers and violates provisions of the University Act and statutes. While judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts can be impeached if they misuse their powers, Vice-Chancellors have no such provisions to fear. A case in point is Aligarh Muslim University, where the V-C is running the show using his emergency powers. Under the University’s Amendment Act of 1981, the University Court is the supreme governing body of the institution and the annual budget and report of the University has to be passed by the Court. The V-C, like his bureaucrat predecessor, has been bypassing the Court and sending the budget directly to the Government. Months have passed and no meeting of the executive council has been called by the V-C.

During the tenure of the bureaucrat V-C, the campus was converted into a police camp. An unfortunate incident was made the pretext for undemocratic actions of the V-C. In September 2007 the V-C lodge was ransacked and burnt in a deplorable incident by some rowdies. A surveillance system and a central monitoring system were set up as preventive measures. Iron gates were erected inside the campus. The University gives the feel of a military camp.

Not long ago the University boasted of a close connect between students and teachers. No longer. University hostels have been turned into prisons. Visitors to the hostels are humiliated by security guards.

In Aligarh or elsewhere, the V-Cs must be made accountable to university bodies.

M. Hashim Kidwai,

Ex-MP, C-501, Rosewood Apartments, Mayur Vihar Phase I, Delhi – 110 091.

Changing tracks

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has decided to introduce narrow gauge tracks for its upcoming Inderlok-Mundka, Central Secretariat-Badarpur and Airport Express routes under Phase II. DMRC Managing Director E. Sreedharan had opined in favour of standard gauge from the very beginning of the Metro Rail project. The standard gauge system has numerous technical and commercial advantages. It is the most widely used system globally, thereby enabling the user to choose the most economical imported machinery, mainly coaches, with their spare parts available easily. The standard gauge also has more flexible turning of coaches. Its coaches with 2.9 metres width are only slightly smaller than the broad gauge coaches with 3.2 metres.

Dr. Sreedharan’s idea was turned down by senior officers in the Railway Ministry because of personal rivalry with him. The dissenting officers had an irrelevant argument that the metro rail should be run on broad gauge because the main rail system in India runs on broad gauge.

But for the Delhi Metro now to run two systems would not be in public interest. For example, it will not be possible to link the Badarpur-Central secretariat route with the Central Secretariat-Jahangirpuri route as they would be operating on different gauges. DMRC should have stuck to broad gauge now even if it was not the correct choice to begin with.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal,

1775 Kucha Lattushah, Dariba, Chandni Chowk, Delhi – 110 006.

DU’s ways

I am pursuing a Masters course in East Asian Studies from Delhi University in the 2008-10 batch.

I was hospitalised with severe pneumonia during my first semester exams in November. I had informed the authorities about my illness and submitted the required medical documents. I failed the examination as I took only two of the four papers though I had had a good academic record.A student has to pass in 75 per cent of the papers in each semester in our department. In all other M.A. courses at Delhi University and JNU, promotion is on annual basis wherein the student should pass in 50 per cent of the papers in a year.

In our department, if a student falls ill or cannot take a semester exam, he/she is out of the course wasting the entire year.

All this while, I was attending the second semester and was constantly reassured by the authorities that they would do something about my case. Now I am informed that I am not eligible for promotion under the existing rules.

The authorities maintain that if the university permits one genuine student, it will open a floodgate of fraudulent medical certificates. I would like to draw the attention of the university authorities to such incoherent rules which are hampering the students’ careers. Also, there should be consistent rules across departments. There ought to be a provision to reappear at the exam if the absence is due to illness. I request the authorities to let me take the exam again.

Simi Thambi,

Aishwaryam Apartments, Plot No.17, Sector 4, Dwarka, New Delhi.

Calling CBSE….

My brother is appearing for Class X examinations of the Central Board of Secondary Education. Students have faced some problem or the other in three question papers so far. In Social Science, a four-mark question was related to the image of a plantation. The image, however, was not clear and confused examinees whether it was rice or wheat or sugarcane.

In Mathematics, a question was wrong in Set III. Many students wasted their precious time over this question.In Urdu’s Paper B, the pattern was changed without any prior information. The paper had a fill-in-the-blanks section instead of short one-mark questions as in the sample paper. Also, there used to be a pool of words to choose from in this section, which was absent in this year’s paper.

Choices were not given in questions 17 and 18. Prose and poetry were always asked separately but this time they were asked together.

I request the CBSE to be lenient with the students while checking the papers this year.

Syed M. Aman,

Kabir Colony, Jamalpur, Aligarh – 202 002.

Calling CBSE….II

I wish to draw the attention of the CBSE authorities to question No. 22 in the Political Science paper for Class XII held on March 9. The question pertains to information given in the “plus boxes” of the textbook, and is not meant for examination. It is by way of additional information for the student. The Preface, written by Kanti Bajpai (Principal, Doon School, Dehra Dun) in the NCERT textbook “Contemporary World Politics” validates my argument.

The question carried four marks and each mark is important for a student taking the board examination. I request the CBSE to address the matter, for it will affect lakhs of students and their future prospects.

An aggrieved Student,

Delhi.

Note of thanks

We are thankful to The Hindu for publishing the grievances of railway passengers (“Hello, Railways…”) in these columns on March 2. Northern Railway has promptly accepted our demand and made Vivek Vihar a stoppage for the 376 Down passenger train during night.

M. B. Dubey ‘Bijnori’,

Secretary, Dainik Yatri Sangh, Shahdara, Delhi – 110 032.

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