NEW DELHI

Readers's Mail

No, Vice-Chancellor

Sir, -- Apropos of Ms. Prabha Dixit's letter in these columns (July 26) about the whirlwind tour of some Delhi University colleges by the Vice-Chancellor on the opening day of the current academic session, I quite agree that the manner in which the exercise was undertaken left much to be desired. The "inspection tour" had no room for any democratic interaction.

On his visit to Hans Raj College the Vice-Chancellor apparently made sweeping statements about classes not being held in the college, without bothering to enquire about the actual situation. I did not personally hear him make this statement because I was taking a class when the V-C supposedly delivered this verdict in the staff room of the college. I do hope that the next time the V-C visits the college he will have the time and patience to discuss with us problems such as shortage of rooms and inadequate facilities.

For instance, in the absence of departmental rooms most of us have no option but to hang around in an overcrowded staff room during "contact hours" which are meant for teachers to attend to students individually. This is one of the reasons why any casual visitor to the college during peak hours would get the impression that a large number of teachers are just whiling away their time.

Amar Farooqui,

Reader in History,

Hans Raj College,

University of Delhi,

Delhi-110 007.

Testing time

Sir, -- I am a 22-year-old Psychology graduate from Delhi University. My friends' and my own experiences with the admission procedure for the postgraduate course in Psychology have been really unpleasant due to the lack of an efficient admission system. There are two campuses -- North and South -- which offer the postgraduate course in Psychology.

Though both come under the aegis of DU, they hold separate entrance exams. The exams consist of a written test, a group discussion and interview.

Though the course orientations on the two campuses differ in that the South is more applied in its orientation and North more theoretical, the entrance exams on both campuses are very similar. The questions for the written exam follow the same pattern, cover the same area and similar questions.

The panel for the group discussion and interview on the South Campus is the same as that for the interview on the North. Since more or less the same students clear the two entrances, the last interview becomes a complete farce, since it is the same panel interviewing you again and they have already made an assessment of you. To cite an example, my interview on the North Campus lasted 30 seconds flat since the panel members had already met me twice before, in the group discussion and interview of South Campus. The two entrance exams began on July 1 and ended on July 9. Most of my friends are outstation students and they have had to really suffer because of this long procedure.

They have been forced to put up for more than a fortnight in homes of friends, relatives and acquaintances waiting for the North Campus results. They were not in a position to go back home because as soon as the results are out, they would be expected to complete the admission procedure within a day or two since the classes begin on the 16th.

The hostel forms for the campuses are still said to be under print and the admissions to the hostel are expected to begin only in August -- a full fortnight after the classes begin -- and the proxcedure is again expected to be a long drawn one. No one is willing to give accurate information about the hostel admission. To make matters worse, no P.G. is willing to take students for only a fortnight. Most P.G.s take a decent amount of advance and in case students leave after a month, they would not get their refunds. Students have no clue where to make the arrangements for the time being.

Surely a less complicated entrance system can easily be adopted:

1. A single entrance exam for the two campuses, comprising written, group discussion and interview.

2. As is the norm, faculty from both the campuses can constitute the interview panel.

This process would consume less time and other resources, since instead of calculating two sets of results for the same students, only one would be required. It would do away with the wasteful procedure of drafting two very similar sets of question papers, or the same panel having to interview the same set of students twice. Students figuring on top of the entrance exam can get to choose their preferred campus. It would also relieve the students of the hassle of taking admission in a non-preferred campus till the results of the other are out, unlike the scenario today where we are forced to secure a seat on the South Campus even if we prefer North because the result of only one campus is out first. A little attention to the students' concerns and problems can go a long way in making the system student-friendly.

Shivani Nag,

Flat No.51, Kalyani Apartments,

Plot No.31, Sector 4, Dwarka, New Delhi.

Robbed by

Air-India

Sir, -- A return journey from America to Delhi by Air-India has left me and my wife poorer by 100 dollars for no fault of ours.

The return tickets issued to us by the Chicago office of Air-India bearing PNR H 4 C 6 W and H 4 C M L (N.S.Kapur & S.Kapur Ms) carried a 100-dollar penalty for us on the ground of change of dates. The return tickets are dated August 1 with a stopover in London and arrival at Delhi on August 7 by the Air-India plane. Our tickets were open, which was clearly mentioned on the tickets, and no return date was endorsed on the return coupons. This was pointed out to Archana of the Air-India office in Chicago and reiterated to Rumy Khariwala, the Sales Manager. It was also explained to them that there is no written statement anywhere on the tickets that penalty will be charged for date change as is common with other airlines. We were told that Air-India knows its rules best. We were dismayed that it chooses to keep these rules a secret known only to its employees.

Besides, it was highly bothersome to get the tickets endorsed by the Air-India office in Chicago followed by numerous phone calls coupled with an outdated procedure of actually mailing in tickets--unheard of in other airlines. Our travel agent in Delhi refuted the argument of Air-India in a faxed message which was shown by us to the Air-India officials who chose to brush it aside.

Harassment of passengers and deficiency in service are the hallmarks of Air-India.

N.S. Kapur,

K(U)-6, Pitampura,

Delhi - 110 088

Rich and poor

Sir, -- While claims and counter-claims over ownership of assets bequeathed by the late Priyamvada Birla will be decided as per existing laws, the big question mark over the fate of such a huge business empire throws up some broader issues for reflection over a meaningful alternative to the institution of inherited property.

Pressing problems raised by the present controversy which call for some deliberation are: the predicament of elders caught in fierce rivalries over inheritance, the legality of wills registered in secrecy and the fate of hundreds, at times thousands, of employees dependant on businesses trapped in uncertainties created by long legal battles in such cases. From a more radical perspective, however, the very sanctity of inherited wealth, especially of huge sources of unearned income accruing to those already born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth, is a fundamental issue to reflect upon.

At a time when respect for markets and "free" enterprise seems unassailable and the Left itself appears to be promoting ``liberalisation'' everywhere, a radical call for abolition of inheritance and State takeover of major inheritances or sources of income including factories, shares and deposits (but not residential premises, small farms or petty businesses) and their subsequent sale to the highest bidder may be useful in rivitalising the democratic forces in the country presently deflected towards populist demands for job reservations and contradictory policies of courting multinational corporations and opposing foreign direct investment, etc.

The State takeover and sale of bequeathed business empires may not only provide a new resource for supporting a comprehensive scheme of social security for everybody but also introduce greater professionalism in the running of businesses by bestowing them on most efficient bidders (again, for a single lifetime only) besides addressing a fundamental form of social injustice whereby many are born poor and work hard for sheer survival while a few are born rich and may or may not ever exert themselves in life beyond the initial labour of arriving in this world.

Dr. Devesh Vijay,

Reader in History,

Zakir Husain College,

New Delhi - 110 002.

A nightmare

Sir, -- With reference to the report "Dream turns into nightmare for medico" (The Hindu, July 14), it is very pathetic when you think of the trauma that Priyankan Sharan underwent. Instead of encouraging our future generations to serve the nation, the Services are discouraging them with their outdated selection procedures and rules. Because of this, many brilliant aspirants will shun the opportunity that the Government offers them in return for their service. Even this year, during MBBS-2004 admissions, the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, has sent back many brilliant young aspirants who figured within the first 50 ranks on the Merit List after the all-India written examination and interview, the reason being flat foot, knocking knees, elbow twisted more than 15 degrees, neuro problem, and so on. In some cases, the candidates have been told that they are obese though in fact they have normal weight corresponding to their height. (The acceptable weight for AFMC for a boy of 174 cm is 58 kg, which is impossible).

The medical standards for medical and technical officers should be different from the standards set for regular officers and jawans who have to be in the forefront of action. As per the present procedure, 960 candidates are being called for interview after the written exams, and the final list is declared followed by medical test stretching for three to four days before the final selection. It would be better if AFMC conducts the medical test and interview together and then declares the results.

This will help avoid unnecessary trouble for the candidates and parents. As it is, youngsters today are reluctant to join the Services because of the 7 year / Rs. 15 lakhs bond they have to execute. If in addition such an approach is adopted by the Services towards such brilliant youngsters, no meritorious student will opt for joining AFMC. It is high time the mind-set of the officers on the AFMC selection board changes for the better.

R. Sreenivasan,

4/303, Vidyut Vihar,

Shakti Kunj,

Sector 62,

Noida.

Licence to kill

<15,9p,0p>Sir, -- There have been reports that the Delhi Government plans to issue more licences for liquor shops in Delhi to make the stuff freely and easily available to the public.

The authorities are clearly ignoring the fact that most crimes and driving offences are committed after drinking. We should not encourage drinking in any manner. Even now many liquor shops are located near schools and religious places in violation of the law of the land. The Government should look into the matter and order closure of such liquor shops in public interest.

Radheshyam Gupta

BW-107-B, Shalimar Bagh,

New Delhi - 110 088.

Reader in History,

Hans Raj College,

University of Delhi,

Delhi-110 007.

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