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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reservation in Higher Education and Jobs

"Reservation in Higher Education and Jobs in Private Sector"...Yes or No? There has been lot of debate on this subject across the country. People are agitating...people are on hunger strike; Students have different views...professionals have different views. As per the interview with Cabinet Minister, (Human Resourse Development) Mr. Arjun Singh...on CNN-IBN, he is not willing to accept any facts and fingers. In short, after the interview he looks like a confused person...might be an effect of his age. Lets start from the very beginning, on the 27th of June 1961 Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru (First Prime Minister of India) wrote to the Chief Ministers: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster.
Lets have a look at some other figures..."Learning from Past Experiences"...
NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference? A study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working. Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes says that "looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled."
Sukhdev Thorat, the Chairman of the UGC. He points out that today, at higher education levels - that is all universities, IITs and IIMs - there is already a 1.2 lakh vacancy number. 40 per cent of these are in teaching staff, which the IIT faculty themselves point out that they have shortages of up to 30 per cent.
Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.
In short, reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalized for being upper caste.
Why Quota? Why Reservations? Will this help "underprivileged" communities to come at par with others? I don't think so. If the foundation is not cannot make strong building on it. If you really want to bring everyone on same platform...strengthen the Primary Education; Improve the course material; provide teachers at that level and make people strong enough to compete with each other...provide the platform for institutes and corporates to choose the best.
Mandal Commission...A regretful step...First Major Step towards reservation and quota system...beginning of caste based politics...
1) The Mandal Commission was officially called Second backward Classes Commission.
2) It derives its name from parliamentarian BP Mandal, who chaired the Commission.
3) The Mandal Commission was constituted by the Morarji Desai government in 1978 to consider action politics for backward classes, aimed at redressing caste discrimination.
4) The Commission Report was submitted in Dec 1980. It sought reservation for 27 per cent of all services and public sector undertakings under the central government and 27 per cent of all admissions to institutions of higher education for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
5) The percentage was over and above the existing 22.5 per cent reservation for SCs/STs.
6) In Aug 1990, the then Prime Minister VP Singh assured its implementation in government jobs.
7) It led to widespread protests, which finally led to his resignation.
8) There were many self-immolations attempts, including that of Rajeev Goswami, a DU student.
9) In 1993, the Supreme Court upheld 27 per cent reservation for OBCs.
10) But it was subject to the exclusion of socially advanced persons/sections from amongst the OBCs.
11) Children of Class I officers with income of Re one lakh were also excluded.
12) The exclusion-income limit was revised to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2004.
13) The reservation came into effect in Sept 1993 after the recommendations were accepted.
14) In Aug 2005, the SC abolished all caste-based reservations in unaided private colleges.
15) On Dec 2005, the Lok Sabha passed the 104th Constitution Amendment Act 2005, rolling back the SC judgement.
16) The new clause allowed reservations for SC/ST and OBCs in private unaided educational institutions.
17) The latest controversy erupted over the government's proposal to introduce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in central government-funded higher educational institutes like IITs and IIMs.
Earlier Mandal Commission identified 11 indicators for providing reservation and quota is higher education. They were:
Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others.
Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.
Castes/classes where the percentage of married women below 17 is 25% above the state average in rural areas and 10% in urban areas; and that of married men is 10% and 5% above the state average in rural and urban areas respectively.
Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 25% above the state average.
Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5 to 15 years who never attended school is at least 25% above the state average.
Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25% above the state average.
Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25% below the state average
Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25% below the state average.
Castes/classes where the number of families living in kachcha houses is at least 25 % above the state average.
Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50% of the households.
Castes/classes where the number of the house-holds having taken a consumption loan is at least 25% above the state average.
We have seen even during those years that "Reservation" is just not acceptable. Even if after Close to 60 yrs of Independence (we will be celebrating our Diamond jubilee year of Independence between 15th August 2006-15th August 2007), we are saying that we have not done anything to bring up the social status of people then we are just nullifying all the achievements. Had this been done 5 yrs or 10 yrs after the would have been acceptable but not after 55 yrs of independence.
Need is to improve the standard of education at "Primary Level", make people competent enough to fight in "Open Competition" and not to reserve the seats or provide any type of quota. The vociferous protest against reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the growing unease about reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes reflects the sharp conflicts which are erupting in Indian society over the distribution of a limited number of Government jobs and educational resources. It should be noted that the vocal opposition to the reservations for OBCs goes hand in hand with a more disguised resentment against reservation for the scheduled castes and tribes. One has only to recall to the Gujarat anti-reservation movement of 1981 and the recent December, 1989 U.P. agitation against the Parliament extending the reservation of seats in legislatures for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes for another ten years.
The movement against reservations in the present Indian context is definitely retrograde and objectively serves the interests of those who seek to preserve the dominance of the upper castes. The plea against reservations is advanced on the basis of equality of opportunity and merit. In an unequal society like India, where scheduled castes, tribes and shudras (the bulk of whom are the OBCs) have been discriminated against in choice of occupation, social mobility and control over the means of production, all talk of equality, without taking into account this reality, reduces equality to the concept of formal equality.
As for merit, it is perfectly possible in India to discriminate in recruitment and promotions, on the basis of caste prejudices or preferences, militating against merit. Further, merit, as the Mandal Commission and a host of other commissions and Supreme Court judgments have pointed out, must be seen in the context of achieving real equality of opportunities, social environment and compensatory discrimination to ensure social justice.
I sum up my feeling through the lines of following poem by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) about accumulation of State power by the targeting of specific groups one at a time captures the slippery slope of the law very well:
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Before I conclude, here are views of Mr. Sam Pitroda (Chairman, National Knowledge Commission), on reservation in Higher Education and Jobs:
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the quota system as long as it is applied judiciously and at the right levels. It cannot become a blanket solution for all time to come. It is my considered position to reject labels on the basis of anyone's birth. It is an outdated, antiquated thinking to keep talking about caste based disadvantages. The first step for me is to reject all such labels in the 21st century and focus on equality for youth. In my case, hard work, good education and focus on technology helped me a great deal to overcome any disadvantages that I had because of what people still obsessively describe as caste.
Technology gave me an equal footing for everything I have done in my life and career. I have said this before. Technology is a great leveler, second only to death. I have always negotiated challenges on the basis of my whatever little intrinsic merit quality and perseverance. I have never taken the route of quota or reservations. I hope this shows that it is possible.
What we need is to create opportunities for everyone of equal merit to have proper access. On this subject there are many views and many sentiments. At times people look at this in terms of black and white while there are many shades of gray.
Proper primary education is the key to building a sound foundation for higher education in the university. I wish we focus on this first. I also believe that every child must have opportunity for good education without worrying about caste or income levels. If the student is qualified we must find funding to support them in colleges. It is time to go beyond labels that stigmatize an entire group of people. I believe now in the early part of the 21st century we should make fundamental changes in the way we approach the concept of education, employment, equality and empowerment. But the point is it is time for a whole new approach in the 21st century. We cannot build the nation in the 21st century with the 19th century mindset.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Two Super Secrets

Up to 90 per cent of stories in newspapers and on the TV news appear because
someone sent out a press release. Can you imagine what that means?
What would happen to your business if you appeared on Oprah? Or if a major
magazine did a feature story on you? Or a major newspaper? Your business would
never be the same again. No amount of paid advertising can match free publicity.
And yet, very few small businesses ever bother sending out a press release. (The
terms "press release" and "news release" are interchangeable, but I prefer "news
release" because it reminds me that the release must contain news of some kind.)
=> Super Secret #1: Send out news releases regularly, to your local media, national
media, and post them online too.
This means educating yourself as to what constitutes a news release. And that
education is VITAL. Nothing ticks off a reporter more than receiving a blatant ad
masquerading as a news release. I'm a computer journalist, and I receive news
release every day that are nothing more than blatant advertising. My editors'
attitude is: "If you want to advertise, buy an ad. If you want free publicity, give us a
story in return."
Here's a brilliant resource which tells you everything need to know about crafting
news releases that not only get read, but also get used:
=> Super Secret #2: A lack of response doesn't mean NO response
A point to keep in mind ---- most releases you send out seem to go nowhere.
"Seem" is the operative word.
Let's say you've spend four hours sweating over a news release. You send it out. To
coin a cliché, the silence is deafening.
However, all is not as it seems. The more often your name crosses a reporter's desk,
the more familiar you become. When I'm wearing my journalist's hat, I appreciate
marketers who send me releases: after the third or fourth release, their names are
familiar. I might not use their story, but if they keep sending me releases, they WILL
get some response.
In my copywriting practice, I send out news releases for clients regularly, on a set schedule, because news releases which aren't picked up do have an effect. Send
your releases out, and sooner or later, if you persist, you will get the publicity.
A big benefit of sending Web news releases is that the releases are indexed by
search engines. This sends traffic to your site painlessly.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Key Lessons From Education Grants That Get Rejected

If your proposal seeking education grants gets rejected, what do you do? How are you going to cope with and move on from such heart-breaking news that can possibly linger in you for a few days?
In one way or another, we all experience rejection. Moreover, it is really painful that after all your hard work and dedication in brainstorming, researching, and writing your proposal, your application gets rejected in the end. You wonder what went wrong and how did this thing ever happened.
You are Not Alone
After feeling bad about the news, you begin to think of how you are going to break the news to your supporters who helped you in every step of the way to get your application done on time.
You're not alone in this predicament. Many have tried to apply for education grants but failed due to one issue or another. All your efforts didn't really go out to the drain because, in the process, you have definitely learned something especially in the writing process. Moreover, your supporters may have seen your hard work as you take an extra mile to reach your target to improve the quality of education of school children in your city or county.
Don't Take it Personally
Generally speaking, both public and private grant-giving organizations review a specific application for eligibility, funding interest, relevance to the community, and technical merits. This process takes place within a month or a quarter.
Reasons why grant proposals are rejected varies. It may range from serious issues such as fraud in documents and information to petty matters like incorrect document format submission and failure to follow directions. Even simple grammatical inaccuracies can sabotage your chances of obtaining favorable results from your application.
If your proposal gets rejected, you don't need to worry yourself over it. Instead of throwing your proposal away, take the opportunity to politely ask for feedback from the funding source. It will be helpful if you get to know the things that should be improved in your proposal. Find out the mistakes and weaknesses in your document and try to further improve the areas you did exceptionally.
Be Hopeful
Read the funding organization's letter again, but this time read it carefully. Does it say your proposed educational program matches their criteria, but their funds have already been allocated? Does it say your non-profit organization is fit for funding, but the itemized budget plan looks confusing?
Like any other ordinary people, funding sources, too, experience crisis and downturn. Under these conditions, donations and other means to raise funds are affected. The key to stay on top is to diversify your fundraising options and strategies.
Even if you don't get funded, your increased knowledge of the grant-making process will prepare you for future battles that lie ahead of you. At the same time, it would help you develop a new game plan for your next grant application.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012 Trends - News and Textbook Formats for the Future

There are quite a few new trends in the news and news media industry in 2012, we see new pay-walls, and custom tailored web news for those with eReaders, Tablet Computers, and accessing their news on their mobile tech devices such as; Android, iPhone, or some other smart phone model. It seems also that the eBook and eReader are also evolving, allowing for more multi-media version and new models of eReaders to allow for eTextBooks too. Okay so let's talk about all this for a moment, as I have a few forward looking thoughts on all this new technology.
The weekend Wall Street Journal Nick named; "WSJ Weekend Edition" seems to be taking a note from The Popular Mechanics Magazine format with its; "Ideas Market" section which appears on page 3 of each week's weekend edition. Not surprisingly, also Bloomberg is moving towards this type of fast-paced format for their tech topics. Why you ask? Because it works, it's been proven, and folks like to get their information with quick bites of information and pictures. They can read it fast, and they very much enjoy that format.
Okay so, if humans like the uptake of information in this way, then why don't we create the new eTextbooks in a similar format with multimedia? Well, it just so happens that it appears that Apple is attempting to do just that, and I believe that's a good thing, rather than giving students a large textbook which reads like an encyclopedia. In that case they don't really need to memorize the information, they just need the textbook for later reference, do you see my point?
Further, there is some information which we need to know, and some which we don't, having it all spread out nicely with quick little important pieces of information, which is about all a human being can really remember anyway, is probably the proper way to do it for informational uptake and rote memorization. The other day, I was discussing all this with a retired educational psychologist on the different ways that people learn. Custom tailoring information for faster learning, imprinting, and individual preference sure makes a lot more sense than what we've been doing.
Of course, I suppose that's nothing new really, just new technology enabling us to get there faster and allow us to make it happen. Ronald G. Corwin in his book "Education in Crisis" written in 1974 stated in Chapter I - Bureaucracy in Education notes; "Each person tends to interpret his experiences from the unique vantage point of his own background" and goes on to say that they will learn in different ways and choose different styles of the information they choose to commit to memory. Certainly we all agree on that.
Thus, it only makes sense to deliver the information is such a format which suits the human mind and lay out all that information, and apparently in 2012 the personal tech vendors, eBook purveyors, and even the old media is quickly re-learning these genetic realities of human nature. I'd say "bravo!" it's about time. Please consider all this and think on it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Education in the US is Self-Destructing

It doesn't take an engineer of the private space industry to figure out that we have a problem with education in the US and whereas, it isn't as bad as folks claim, it's also not as good as it could be either. So, rather than condemning our schools, laying off teachers, and closing some perhaps we need to re-think our schools going forward in the age of instant information. Is the Obama Administration doing that? Well, they are trying, I can agree with that.
For instance they have established a research arm for education modeled after DARPA Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, and why not, it's worked for the Intelligence Agencies with IARPA and for the DOE with ARPA-E ("E" for energy), so there is no doubt it will work too to assist in education. Still, we need to expedite these new technologies if we are to save our schools, otherwise they will fall behind the needs of this future generation of leaders. After all, a nation is only as strong as it's schools were 20-years the prior right? I think we can all agree with that as well.
Not long ago, an acquaintance mentioned to me after reading an article in "Yahoo! News" titled "Barack H. Obama Elementary to close" and she stated who knows; "Maybe this is a good sign of the future of the anointed one. Close the school named after him and closes his chances of impressing anyone in the future with his political nothingness." As we discussed the irony of this situation, she lamented that although this is surely a coincidence it is also a foreshadowing of things to come with President Obama's legacy, chances for re-election, and promises for hope and change.
Indeed, I thought about the closing of this school, and the many others around our nations, perhaps for budget cuts, or due to lack of performance, and I thought, yes, we have problems and challenges in education. And yes, this particular school closing, well, it's part of a major round of budget cuts, but you have to admit it is a nice piece for the news, due to the fact it is rather ironic, as Barak H. Obama has been so adamant about the need for education and his fever in devising a plan to fix it, using the (purported) greatest minds in academia to devise a plan.
In fact, I thanked my acquaintance for sending me this news, and our follow-up dialogues and said; "I think I'll do an article on this. Thanks," which led me to write this piece. Still, it's all part of a much bigger picture isn't it? Sure it is, we have a terrible problem with education in this country and nothing really seems to be working - and I think everyone knows it too. Yes, this is a controversial topic, but it is one we discuss rather often at our think tank. So, sound off with any comments, questions, and or concerns you might have in this venue. Think on it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Deployed Troops Have Online Educational Opportunities

According to Georgia-based newspaper The Times-Herald, Army specialist William Ward is pursuing a criminal justice degree online while stationed in Iraq. Ward, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, has completed 28 of a 67-credit associate's degree program. He told the news provider that he expects to be halfway finished with the requirements by the end of his Army tenure, of which he has three more years.
Ward, who is enrolled in a web-based college out of Texas, was an electrician before joining the Army. He decided he wanted a new challenge, and now his ultimate goal is to become a police officer.
Many distance learning institutions offer online bachelor's degree education that is catered to members of the armed forces. According to The News-Leader, a community college in Missouri recently reached an agreement with a four-year university in Maryland that allows associate's degree recipients to transfer their credits and pursue the bachelor's degree through the larger school's online program.
The junior college's president said that the main focus of the agreement was to better accommodate military personnel, who can be deployed at any time. Students who are stationed overseas have many different career paths, such as pursuing a general business degree online or enrolling in human resource management courses. Soldiers who are interested in continuing their quest to protect Americans from outside threats may consider a cyber crime justice degree online.
And it's not just male soldiers who are taking advantage of distance learning opportunities. According to ABC news affiliate KCRG 9, Army specialist Emily Keating is studying to become a personal trainer while she is stationed in Afghanistan. She told the news source that her military schedule is conducive to academic success because she works better on a strict deadline.
Keating added that apart from the weapons, the military is not that different from a college setting in terms of camaraderie. Just like a graduate returning from college, Keating hopes to return to America with plenty of job prospects.
While they may be thousands of miles from a college campus, deployed military personnel can still follow their dreams while helping preserve freedom. At the very least, some individuals can at least take the first steps toward a promising career. Many general education classes are available for those who wish to earn a degree in teaching.
Soldiers who are computer-savvy may consider enrolling in e-commerce training.