Thursday, April 30, 2015

Waiting for a Disaster ....

It was a scary experience! The sight of the damage created by the earthquake in Nepal, as seen through our Television Channels was a pointer to our helplessness against the natural disasters. Immediately one wonders what if such a disaster strikes the city of Delhi ?According to a report by Times of India dated 27th April 2015 ( ) , eighty percent of the Delhi buildings will not be able to withstand the tremors if a high magnitude earthquake will strike Delhi. Yet Delhi has not addresses the issue of preparedness for disaster adequately. One of the recent measure by the government is a pointer to this approach. A city that is already short of the amenities for the existing households has been given the mandate for further expansion. The Ministry of Urban Development has hiked floor area ratio (FAR) norms for residential plots in the Capital. Delhi is known for its dense population and the quality of most structures is not good, making it highly vulnerable to disaster like earthquake. As per the 2002 Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) map, Delhi fall in seismic zone 4, which means that if an earthquake with intensity measuring 6 or more than 6 on Richter scale strikes the city, it will not be able to withstand the tremors and there is a possibility of a large scale destruction of property and loss of life. 
How can the government ignore the hazard that it is prone to . Look at some of these pictures ...... 

Irrespective of the Party affiliation, all leaders chose to ignore disasters. Their only concern is the Votes. They are not concerned about long term safety and sustainability of cities.It is high time we stop any further expansion.Can any party dare to say that they do not support the mushrooming of illegal colonies in Delhi because it may lead to a disaster situation. Rescue vehicles and relief Team can not move inside the streets of such clusters.Who will save them ? They are filled with illegal electrical lines. Buildings will crumble and it will be so difficult to offer any help. Increase in FAR would again mean higher density of population. We do not even know if the existing buildings were designed to be earthquake resistant or not.Retrofitting is not an expensive solution but are the builders ready for it ? As per the Delhi government data, around one lakh fire incidents have been reported since 2007 and 93 structures collapsed in 2013 alone . I do not know if it is mandatory to have the structural safety  certificate for all buildings in Delhi .It is indeed a difficult situation and unfortunately no agency or government seems willing to take tough measures for the safety and sustenance of our cities.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A research on RESEARCH

Suddenly focus in teaching profession has shifted towards research. AICTE and UGC have incorporated a model of performance management for faculty that rewards scholarly research in their area of expertise or interest. So far so good. But it is time to reflect what are we promoting in the name of academic research.In social sciences including management a new breed of professionals have come up who specialize in creating relationship even when none exists, proving universally known and accepted facts null,generating principles of management bases on perceptual survey without referring to the organizational processes and results.Statistical modelling is named as research.There are research syndicates that can offer to collect data about anything from anywhere.So there is every possibility that we end up with a new piece of wisdom that proves that pricing decision is a critical factor for commercial success of a product, after a survey of a sample of 1000 respondents spread over 200 towns of India comprising of 500 males and 500 females representing 4 age group i.e. between 18 to 28 , 28 to 38, 38 to 48 and 48 to 58 that can read and write any of the Indian languages.We can also test the hypotheses that father's age is more than that of the son by taking up another such representative sample.

I do not wish to say that research should not be encouraged. However overemphasis on a set of methods and tools is what is undesirable. Tables and graphs that researcher draws using computer packages add to the volume of knowledge no doubt but what about the depth of knowledge ? Whose concern is this? How about mounting cases of plagiarism ? Does it have anything to do with the kind of rat race that we are promoting in the name of research ? I believe we need to investigate these issues. Oh ,my God, that calls for literature review on the subject to begin with........??

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why be whistle blower....

I remember one of the Newshour Debates featuring the revelation of Justice Katju . Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju  alleged that  three ex-Chief Justices of India allowed a judge in Tamil Nadu to continue in office even after being informed of his corrupt deeds. It had among the Guest Mr. Ram Jethmalani and Mr. Soli Sorabjee who were of the opinion that Justice Katju should have followed his complain to its logical conclusion as and when he came to know of it.If no heed was paid to his complain , he should have resigned rather than allowing that Judge to continue when he knew of the adverse Intelligence Bureau reports .It is easier said than done. In this country where corruption has become a way of life, one will land up with more number of friends and associates if he or she will pursue corruption than the other way round. He acted like a whistle blower but who pays attention to such allegations !!!

It is easy to romanticize the heroic act, standing up for what is just, righteous and even legal but the path is not easy. You will be left alone,  ridiculed and victimized. Tagore in his poem said "  Jodi tor dak shune keu naa aase tobe ekla chalo re", and yes , indeed one has to walk alone. When Mr  Ashok Khemka pointed to irregularities in land deals involving businessman Robert Vadra, he received a threat call. The call, made to Mr Khemka's office was extremely obscene, vulgar and intimidating to his family members (  .The Haryana government , under Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda served him the chargesheet for “having caused damage to the reputation of Robert Vadra and that of DLF”, and also for "illegally" cancelling the land deal. It also started an investigation into Dr Khemka’s role as the MD of Haryana Warehousing Corporation. This is nothing but  harassment and intimidation.Not just that the state government also ordered an audit by State Auditor General in an attempt to ensure he is not able to get central government deputation as well.

Some people say with change of regime i.e. Mr. Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister things will change for better. It is too early to pass any judgement but even after Parliament passed the Whistleblowers Protection Act, the rules required to implement the law have not been framed so whistleblowers have no protection. So what do we infer from these examples ? We should remain a silent spectators to all acts of corruption, injustice, impropriety, falsehood and dishonesty ?????

Monday, March 10, 2014

Satyamev Jayte

The wait is over...but had it not been for the 49 days of AAP rule , the matter (DTU-Faculty Recruitment Scam ) would have gathered enough dust for it to be  buried for ever.The case relates to a 2012 recruitment round at Delhi Technological University. Vacancies for various faculty positions were advertised in December 2011 and the selection took place in 2012. There were many irregularities and people who didn't fulfil even the minimum eligibility criteria were screened, allowed to appear for interview and even selected.When Ravindra San raised these issues he was constantly humiliated and harassed by the Administration. The irony is that these things are common in higher education field and the price that whistle blowers have to pay is so high that people are reluctant to wage a war against this form of corruption . This was a rather  lonely war that  Ravindra San had undertaken with support from a small section of the like minded teachers , yet he was always hopeful of victory of truth.In spite of the intervention of the then Lt.Governor Mr. Tejendra Khanna , he was not reinstated as Dean and HoD ( ) . Judiciary refused to admit the case on some pretext or other.Even when Mr. Prashant Bhushan himself took up the case, Judge did not find it a fit case for examination. Then came the AAP government and files were reopened.Soon AAP Government resigned and all hopes were dashed but it had ordered for inquiry before it vacated office. Credit must  go to the present Lt.Governor Mr. Najeeb Jung who took action .Prof. Pankaj Jalote , Director IIIT Delhi has been given additional charge of Vice Chancellor  Delhi Technological University while the inquiry is conducted.
More on the irregularities  and the inquiry...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Teacher's Dilemma ...

I always thought teaching was a noble profession...yet the events of the past few months are forcing me to wonder if that is true today. I read a letter written by a distinguished academician, Prof. K. L.Chopra, making an appeal to Shri. Tejendra Khanna, Ex. Chancellor of my University  (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi ) to look into the alleged lack of grievance redressal mechanism, protection of  people with charges of plagiarism, irregularity in recruitments and many other issues, blaming the Vice Chancellor for the situation.Yet the same person chose to overlook similar charges against his good friend, Vice Chancellor of another University when students, faculty , Alumni and other staff raised voice of dissent towards policy decisions and the conduct  of his friend.

And then you have University of Delhi, supposedly a democratic institution that forces the faculty to follow Four Year UnderGraduate Programme without adequate process of consultation.The administration is not to be blamed completely though. The attitude of confrontation rather than academic dialogue and discussion  shown by DUTA can force anyone to follow the path of authoritarianism. I am not in the position to comment on the merit of the  move yet what baffles me most is that the even though the Vice Chancellor kept talking about abolishing the current three-year course from 2013 and initiating the four-year undergraduate programme, there wasn't  any voice of dissent.Suddenly there was an outpour of voices of opposition .One thing is sure though , the Four Year Programme got started as teachers' associations had lost their credibility and no one took them seriously. The step to appoint an Advisory Committee to look into the implementation of the four year programme is a welcome step. Let us welcome the new initiative as we enter a new academic year. Even so we need to reflect on a few issues.

There are a few fundamental courses in the Engineering / Technology domain such as workshop and Engineering Drawing .B Tech has been introduced but workshop is not developed. As if this was not enough Delhi University also has in its list of Programmes B Tech Humanities and B Tech Psychology. What will be the career path of the students who pass out with such Degree ? What would happen to the students who come with a three year Degree Programme seeking admission in Postgraduate Programmes in University of Delhi ?  Let us hope some good sense prevails and we do not make a mockery of academics in the name of experimentation and innovation !

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reflection Trail-1 
I am back on reflection after a long break ..     .reflecting on the the unfolding of events in the year 2012 Significantly the year was marked by career progression and success in professional arena but equally traumatic on the personal sphere.The affairs of nation did nothing to assuage the feeling of despair rather added to the element of helplessness and gloom.

Where to begin the account ....the year began with the news of brother in law's sickness.Then there was Aman's tryst with a new place at Manipal . The realization that his heart was into something else and studying Engineering was perhaps a mistake came a bit too late. The worst part was that we did what a normal parent does...forcing him to rejoin B Tech  at Delhi again. I fear the worst but hope and pray for him to succeed. ..I was hopeful that I would be able to be with him and see to it that he develops interest in studies but as luck would have it...I got additional charge of Director -Development in the University ....left with hardly any time to pay attention to him. 

My brother in law eventually gave up his fight and left us. A traumatic time for Ravindra San who was already dealing with his professional issues ...fighting against corruption in the recruitment process at Delhi Technological University ( ). He was removed from the position of Head almost coinciding with beginning of my tenure as Director-Development.Watching his almost... lonely fight against the System , knocking at all pillars of our democracy without any success made me sad but his never say die attitude had to be backed by my support ( . I tried my best to be his pillar of strength but failed most of the time. My fear and apprehensions were far stronger than conviction of truth that he is fighting for !

The question is why do we fail in practicing what we preach ? I have been counselling people on career choices, giving sermons on being supportive parents,  Why did I fail do be the example of a considerate mother then ? I supported Anna not because of the person he is but out of respect for the ideals he stood for  and in spite of that pleaded with Ravindra San to give up the fight and focus on the bare minimum duty that he gets paid for.; reinforcing that the fight against this system that is thriving on  connections,corruption , collusion and connivance is fruitless and a futile exercise...what does it reflect ? I have no answers....