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EDITORIAL

Fanning tentacles of terror

Karnataka police have arrested eleven persons for alleged links with premier Pakistani terrorist organizations, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harakatu'l-Jihad-i- Islami. Disclosures made by the arrested persons are significant. Firstly, they have revealed that vital nuclear, naval, army and industrial installations in the country were the targets they had identified for their planned attacks. Secondly, they have revealed that terror sponsored from across the border is designed to spread its tentacles far and wide in Southern India. Their accomplices have been picked up from Naded in Maharashtra and from Hyderabad in Andhra for interrogation and further investigation.
Northern India, particularly Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, have had their share of terrorist depredations. Effective counter terrorist action by the security forces brought down the menace and restored law and order. Pakistani strategists and policy planners failed to make any headway and, consequently, . . .
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Luckless GCET

Despite its inception eighteen years ago in 1994, the Govt College of Engineering and Technology (GCET) has had little or no luck to receive due recognition and corresponding privileges to develop its potential and become a vital institute in the region. The benchmarks of an institute, such as recruitment rules, career advancement rules, salary structurization, qualified faculties, regularization process of non-faculty staff etc. remain either unaddressed or have been given only quasi status. In its meeting of August 30, the cabinet deferred adoption of the All India Council of Technical Education Revised Pay Scales and Career Advancement Rules . . ...more

On true and practical success

Prof Javed Mughal

Look at thousand and one students celebrating their sky-meddling success in examinations by the dint of good percentages, success in competitive exams and so on and let's have a glimpse of many drooping their heads, lamenting, rubbing their hands, beating their heads and sometimes committing suicide simply for their dreams to succeed the way they liked did not come true... . .....more

Is NAM struggling for survival?

K.N. Pandita

Much water has gone down the river when NAM was founded and propagated as a conglomerate of nations professing independence from two blocs of cold war era. About 20 heads of states from a total of 120 of its members, and the rest of them the representatives, met in Teheran on Thursday to deliberate on matters relevant to it. Iran took over the chairmanship from Egypt, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Egyptian President Morsi took their seat on the podium in their privileged capacity as founder members. Indonesia did not attend, and Yugoslavia remains fragmented.
The session proved .
..more

Olympics and India's medal hunt

Zafri Mudasser Nofil

India's best-ever medal haul in Olympics could ensure us a position as low as 55th in London. That's what we as a cricket obsessed country of over 1.2 billion people achieved in the world's biggest .. ...more

EDITORIAL

Fanning tentacles of terror

Karnataka police have arrested eleven persons for alleged links with premier Pakistani terrorist organizations, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harakatu'l-Jihad-i- Islami. Disclosures made by the arrested persons are significant. Firstly, they have revealed that vital nuclear, naval, army and industrial installations in the country were the targets they had identified for their planned attacks. Secondly, they have revealed that terror sponsored from across the border is designed to spread its tentacles far and wide in Southern India. Their accomplices have been picked up from Naded in Maharashtra and from Hyderabad in Andhra for interrogation and further investigation.
Northern India, particularly Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, have had their share of terrorist depredations. Effective counter terrorist action by the security forces brought down the menace and restored law and order. Pakistani strategists and policy planners failed to make any headway and, consequently, have come under severe public criticism. Therefore to avenge their failure, both on operational and political fronts, they have now focused on Southern India. Most of our critical infrastructure is located in Southern India, like nuclear plants, vital industries, chemical plants and scientific and technological research institutes etc. Above all, Mumbai is India's commercial hub and 2008 attack was essentially meant to inflict serious set back on our financial health.
Obviously, it will be the effort of Pakistan-based terrorist organizations entrusted with the mission of conducting subversive activities in India to forge linkage between their local activists in the north and south of the country. Spade work for a grand alliance of sorts has already been done. Many Pakistani terrorists captured in Kashmir have, in a number of cases, revealed their organizational links in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi. This linkage has been facilitated by the existence in South India of a large number of technical colleges and institutes to which students from all parts of the country and especially from the north block for admission. Some of these institutions, especially those structured along minority or sectarian parameters, have become fertile ground for breeding the ideology of subversion. We should not bring the onus of indoctrination only to the religious seminaries called madrasas. Government authorities in affected southern states are in possession of full intelligence in this regard but there is lack of decision and action of how to curb anti-national elements. Politics of vote bank is the bane of elected Governments in states, and, unfortunately, it has overshadowed the substantive importance of critical national interests. Therefore while we appreciate the alertness of the police in Karnataka or Maharashtra to have busted the terror module, we need to take a deeper and more intensive look at the entire anti-national scenario with its roots in history. It is not a subject for exclusive consideration of one or the other mainstream political party in the country; it is a major national issue in which proxy war is now carried to the very core of Indian nationalism. Hence Indian nationalism shall have to be re-interpreted and re-discovered. When besides vital objects like nuclear plants, naval and military installations, airports, railway stations and metros, critical factories, rare chemical plants etc., MPs, MLAs and media persons are also identified as targets, is it not time that we sit back and re-interpret Indian nationalism and our national interests. The question is this: should secular democracy allow proliferation of anti-national subversion under cover of protecting human, political and minority rights cliché? Comprehensive debate on the proposition should ensue in the Indian civil society. The subject cannot be pushed under the carpet and actors should not be allowed to buy time.
Any attempt of minimizing terrorist activities in any part of the country is undeniably fraught with serious and far-reaching consequences. The recent incident in Kashmir in which more than a dozen heavily armed terrorists--- an assorted group of militants swooped on the labourers working at Wullar barrage, dismantled and vandalized the structures and forbade the labourers continuing work on the barrage should be an eye opener. The contractor of the project said in very loud and clear words that the militants did not ask for money but they would not allow the work on barrage to continue. True, the work will not stop and the Government will deploy force to resume the project. But the message from the terrorists is loud and clear. All that one can say is this: stop politicizing terrorism and uphold national interests supreme in all conditions.

Luckless GCET

Despite its inception eighteen years ago in 1994, the Govt College of Engineering and Technology (GCET) has had little or no luck to receive due recognition and corresponding privileges to develop its potential and become a vital institute in the region. The benchmarks of an institute, such as recruitment rules, career advancement rules, salary structurization, qualified faculties, regularization process of non-faculty staff etc. remain either unaddressed or have been given only quasi status. In its meeting of August 30, the cabinet deferred adoption of the All India Council of Technical Education Revised Pay Scales and Career Advancement Rules for this institute. Why the GCET should be singled out for non-implementation of the 6th Central Pay Commission recommendations when it has already been implemented in respect of Medical Colleges? Promulgation of the revised pay rules for the GCET should have come along in the process. The Government has to be just and equitable. It should give no chance to the critics to accuse it of any discriminatory policy. We would remind the Government that there is a serious effort on the part of the Union as well as the State Government to provide skills and technological knowledge to larger and larger number of youth in the country and the State. This objective can be reached only when we have adequate infrastructure. Institutes like GCET have to be patronized, supported and encouraged in a big way. The Government should even go out of way to ensure that such vital institutes are made fully functional and regulated in accordance with the highest institutional norms available in the country. Starving the GCET for recruitment and service rules or career advancement process or pay structurization or other requirements is a negative step detrimental to the larger interests of society. Government should revise its lackadaisical attitude and take bold step to equip the institute with all requisite wherewithal.

On true and practical success

Prof Javed Mughal

Look at thousand and one students celebrating their sky-meddling success in examinations by the dint of good percentages, success in competitive exams and so on and let's have a glimpse of many drooping their heads, lamenting, rubbing their hands, beating their heads and sometimes committing suicide simply for their dreams to succeed the way they liked did not come true. These two diametrically opposed spectacles actually hold a mirror to the common approach of the people in general and our students in particular to define success in their own style. Here lies all the difference. At a time when even 70 per cent marks are not good enough for admission into some of the most sought-after institutes, since different institutes have their own stipulated percentage of marks for admission, imagination boggles at the thought of the pitiable condition faced by the second and third divisioners.
The problem is that our students attribute success only to those who can qualify MBBS, IIT, Civil Services or some other prestigious tests but most of them have ignored those who could do even better for the society despite failing to qualify the prestigious competitive tests. If we look to and fro in the society we live in, we will find that very less number of politicians sitting on the pedestal to decide the fate of the nation are not even graduates what to speak of being highly qualified but the fact remains that what they can do is impossible for an IAS officer to do. All executive and even Judiciary can't transcend the position of Parliament seethed of not so many degree holding ministers.
Hence mere qualifying the tests is not the only success in life. I have read somewhere that in a major and famous US university; the president-elect of the university was given this parting advice by his predecessor: "Treat your 'A' student well, because some day he will come back and be a professor. But treat your 'B' and 'C' students equally well, because some day they will donate you a million-dollar lab."
The advice is not funny, because it has a deep and poignant implication. We might also add that someday a 'B' or 'C' student may join politics and perhaps become a minister, making some handsome allowance to the institute where he once studied but could not fare well. Just like many of our politicians with only one difference that our ministers do not donate but get donated. In our country, we applaud and idolize the candidates who secure brilliant marks and achieve distinguished positions in their respective examinations.
In diverse places, felicitation functions are held to honour these achievers, and gifts are showered on them. Then, of course, they get computers etc from the government in recognition of their brilliant performance. But the way I think is that if the second divisioners are eligible for these gifts, then why not the third divisioners as well? Here gifts, bouquets, citations etc are showered on a section of students who have done well in their respective examinations. But in European countries or in the United States, such felicitations for the brilliant achievers are unheard of.
As a result of such extravaganzas some of the brilliant achievers might acquire a bloated ego, which will harm them in the long run. What about those who do not qualify? They fall short of the highest category. Some of them fall into deep depression at the thought of a possible dark and uncertain future. The pitiable condition and sad plight of these unsuccessful candidates is a matter of grave concern. There are some who pass their graduate and postgraduate examinations with far less than 50 per cent marks.
They constitute the majority of our educated young people. Only a very small minority can be placed in the category of so-called brilliant achievers. Then what kind of future the majority can expect? It is soothing to hear that cliché "failures are the pillars of success", but in the practical field it does not much work.
The families accuse such non-achievers for whiling away their time or look down at them with contempt, and the others consider them a failure as well as a liability. Actually we display an appalling lack of sensibility and imagination in considering these young people who are unable to do well in their respective examinations. We should note that there are many educated young people with a wide range of interests. Some may be interested in art, some may prefer music, some may be interested in photography, some may like to do social work, and so on. The possibilities are enormous. It is unfortunate that parents often impose their will on their children and force them to choose a course which might be totally against the will and interest of the young person.
Parents should note that their children are not their extensions, but that they are individuals with their own interests and desires. Perhaps if they were allowed to pursue their own interests and inclinations, they would have succeeded magnificently in their chosen line; but as it is, they had to tread the path chalked out by their parents, and hence resulting into calamity.
These young people may lack the knack for securing brilliant marks in the examination. So what is their future? The distressing feature is that our education system uses harsh measures to close every door of opportunity to those who do not possess a certain degree of academic achievement. Yet the final selection is made entirely on the basis of the performance in competitive examinations without giving the least importance to the marks obtained in board and university examinations.
Then it does not seem reasonable to insist upon a certain percentage of marks in Board or University examinations. If we do that, we are depriving our educated young people of an opportunity to prove them by not giving them a second chance. There is another problem. Can we claim that our boards or universities are consistent in their standard of evaluation? Can we say that 95 per cent marks of Class XII in CBSE is comparable to 95 per cent marks in the HS examination conducted by, say, the JK State Board of School Education? Even if we assume that board and university examinations are a reliable index of measuring the ability of a person, the question remains: What sort of ability do they measure? Do they measure a person's intelligence, ability, creativity, imagination, or the capacity of critical thinking? According to Emerson, a person's ability can never be measured. Psychologists use intelligence tests but to them only a certain level of intelligence can be measured by these examinations, though they may not be accurate. These tests assess only academic intelligence, and not the general intelligence of the person concerned.
There are many examples of persons who could not do well in board and university examinations but did very well and distinguished themselves by brilliant performances in their chosen fields. Therefore, fewer marks in board and university examinations do not in any way imply the lack of intelligence and creativity, since these examinations cannot correctly measure the ability of a person. A person's intellectual ability is not a static phenomenon and cannot be judged finally, since it is a dynamic process. A man's intellectual ability grows and develops with the passage of time and through hard work and dedication. Hence getting fewer marks in board or university examinations does not imply lack of ability or intelligence.
There are instances galore to prove that a person may earn distinction in some job, though academically he could not fare well in some examination. Possibly the real reason for stipulating minimum marks for taking some entrance examinations is to eliminate the majority of the candidates and to make the conduct of the examination process easier. But it is not fair to destroy the future of a large number of young people for selfish motives, since it deprives a large number of our educated youth of job opportunities. If a young person with only 40 per cent marks in board or university examination can succeed in the entrance test for admission, then he should certainly be applauded.
There is no adulation of toppers in Western countries, nor is there any evidence of indifference or insensibility towards those with average results. Due to the callous attitude witnessed in this country towards those with poor results, the life, career and happiness of lakhs of students are put in jeopardy. These unfortunate young people need to be treated sympathetically. We all deserve a second chance, even a third chance. If a student gets a few chances, he may go a long way in the path of success.

Is NAM struggling for survival?

K.N. Pandita

Much water has gone down the river when NAM was founded and propagated as a conglomerate of nations professing independence from two blocs of cold war era. About 20 heads of states from a total of 120 of its members, and the rest of them the representatives, met in Teheran on Thursday to deliberate on matters relevant to it. Iran took over the chairmanship from Egypt, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Egyptian President Morsi took their seat on the podium in their privileged capacity as founder members. Indonesia did not attend, and Yugoslavia remains fragmented.
The session proved somewhat embarrassing for the host country Iran because Egyptian President made a direct and threadbare statement against the Syrian regime accusing it of letting loose the engine of suppression and tyranny against the freedom movement in Syria.
Wile the Arab countries were appreciative of the statement of the Egyptian President; Iranian delegation walked the thorny ground very cautiously and almost circumvented the subject. She has stakes in Syrian regime. Even Ayatollah Khamenei, the religious pontiff and supreme leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, steered clear of Syrian juggernaut when he delivered the inaugural address.
It will be recollected that in its guidelines, the NAM had agreed in principle not to open bilateral issues and disputes for debate and discussion in its meetings and deliberations. But this norm has not been strictly adhered to. Opening of Syrian issue for general discussion would not have broken the norms but the harsh statement of Egypt about Syrian ground situation did not go well with the tradition of the NAM.
India adopted the middle path, indirectly defending the peoples' movement in Syria but warned against foreign intervention. However, the Syrian conflict was not the substantial theme on which India was prepared to lay emphasis.
Iran certainly managed to derive some political mileage from hosting the 12-member country NAM organization. This was reflected in Ayatollah Khamenei's address in which he, more than once, tried to take somewhat new position of his country vis-a-vis the much hyped Iranian nuclear weapon tantrum. He said Iran's stand is that she has no intention of making nuclear weapons but she will not forego the right of peaceful use of nuclear power. Adding a new dimension to the entire debate on Iranian nuclear strategy, he proposed a nuclear free Middle East.
Though on its surface it appears a pious wish but the harsh and rather undiplomatic idiom which he used in characterizing Israel diluted this somewhat pious slogan. Iran will have to tone down its animus against Israel if she wants Middle East a peaceful and nuclear free region.
The quality of deliberations of Teheran NAM summit did not reach the level of its previous and more celebrated sessions. Member countries were more concerned either about their respective national interests or regional issues and did not bother to delve into more important and pervasive issues either concerning the non-aligned nations as a group or the world at large.
It fell to the lot of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to touch upon these subjects. Focusing on 21st century issues of global governance, technology and skills development, he said," The deficit in global governance is perhaps most stark in the sphere of international peace and security and in restoring just and fair economic and financial mechanisms."
The one question contemporary political fraternity in the non-aligned world will be vigorously debating is whether NAM has much relevance in contemporary times. When it came into existence in Bandung in April 1955, the world at that time had left behind the World War II ambience and entered another depressing phenomenon of Cold War in which it was divided into two blocs with conflicting and contradictory ideologies. Essentially, Bandung marked the end of formal colonialism and unleashed forces of nationalism as in Algeria for example.
Not to dilute the function of the UN, NAM did not establish a secretariat and the host country not only played host for three years but also provided secretarial facility as the NAM has no secretariat. The outgoing host- country, viz. Egypt was so much embroiled in her domestic conflicts that she could not pay desired attention to NAM. Now that Iran is chairing it for three years, will she be able to move NAM's cause as she is no less shoulder deep in domestic and international controversies?
We have yet to define if the address of Ayatollah Khamenei has global reach and is not willy-nilly confined to the interests and policies of Iran alone. We have already found that NAM platform is not the proper place to spit venom against the enemies or dole out eulogies for friends.
Another challenge before the NAM is that at the time of origination, the world was divided between two major nuclear blocs. But today within the NAM we have members with nuclear capability. Apart from India and Pakistan--- the two sub continental nuclear powers--- Iran, another Asian power and not too far away from the subcontinent, is also gradually plodding to attain nuclear capability. In this situation, will NAM be able to maintain equilibrium of interests and strategies? This question will have to be address by all NAM members but more critically by Iran herself. Moreover, "the NAM states are members of regional, intergovernmental organizations and therefore look less to NAM leadership to structure economic and cultural cooperation."
Having said that, the fact remains that for a large group of 120 countries, most of them having thrown off the yoke of colonialism, has the only secular platform in NAM to address the world community how new set of relationship among the nations of the world can be drafted and pursued.
In all probability, the NAM may have to respond to the imperative of restructuring its assemblage, terms of reference and methods and methodologies of dealing with new situations thrown up by a world where there is mad race for technological advancement at the cost of international peace and human welfare.

Olympics and India's medal hunt

Zafri Mudasser Nofil

India's best-ever medal haul in Olympics could ensure us a position as low as 55th in London. That's what we as a cricket obsessed country of over 1.2 billion people achieved in the world's biggest sporting extravaganza by spending over Rs 250 crore on the preparations and sending an 81-member delegation.
We are at present basking in the glory of our 'best show ever'. Our medal winners have no doubt done us proud but why do we feel so satisfied over such a feat? Why are we satisfied with mere participation? It's time that we think beyond Nehru's philosophy "Participation is more important than winning'', something that has been ingrained in our psyche.
Why can't we do what countries like Kenya did immediately after the Games were over ? As the African country finished 28th in the overall medal table with two gold, four silver and five bronze medals, compared with 13th in Beijing four years ago, when it won six gold, four silver and four bronze, its sports minister said an independent committee would be set up to give a report on why the performance was poorer than expected.
Questions were raised as foreign athletes who trained in the country fared much better. Mohammed Farah, the British double Olympic distance champion and Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich, who won the men's marathon, trained at the Iten High Altitude Training Centre near Eldoret, known as the world's capital of distance running.
All we get to hear from our ministers is that we hope to fare better at the 2020 Games.
"By 2020 we can get 25 medals, and this is an achievable target. Out of it, it can be 5 or 10 golds. We cannot specify the number of gold,'' says Sports Minister Ajay Maken. But, at the same time, he feels India cannot expect to win more mdeals as it has a poor Human Development Index and low Per Capita Income.
And what about improving infrastructure and providing more funds for development of sports at the grass - roots level?
Maken, in a newspaper interview, admitted that we do not have a sports culture in the country. "We do not enocurage sports even in schools. Then, we lack sports sciences and sports coach training centres, which are required to produce excellent sports trainers, specialists and coaches''.
He also admitted that there is lack of transparency and efficiency in our sports federations. "I agree that politicians running sports associations, for several years at a stretch, is not in the interest of sports.... we could not win a medal in hockey because of two warring associations. The players were affected by this squabble, which reflected in their poor performance''.
But for India to achieve something at a competitive level as the Olympics, a lot of things need to be done. Transparency must be ensured in sports federations, no politician should be made head of these federations, private academics and corporate sponsorship encouraged, qualifying standards for big events raised and a proper calendar chalked out so as to provide maximum chances to hopefuls among other things.
India's performance in the events where there was much hope was below par and the medal hopefuls flopped after failing to raise to the occasion. The big names like shooters Abhinav Bindra and Ronjan Sodhi, archer Deepika Kumari and Beijing bronze medalist boxer Vijender Singh returned empty handed. All of them were serious medal contenders. The archers too were major let-downs. They went into the Olympics with good form behind them and the men's team had qualified for the Olympics with a great show.
The men's hockey team sank to its new low, finishing at the bottom of the table. This was the worst show in the Olympics in which the country had won an unprecedented 11 medals, including eight golds between 1928 and 1980.
Besides these, the hockey management needs to understand that we are no longer playing on grass, when the game was all about dribbling, wristwork and tic-tac stick work. Now it has become a power play where the role of fitness experts and diet specialsits is as important as that of coaches and strategies.
Let us go through one instance about the plight of Indian sportsmen, the way we treat them. India's top athletes P Kunhumohammed and Joseph Abraham were not able to compete in the qualifiers for the London Games, due to lack of funds, that too something as meagre as Rs 30,000. Kunhumohammed was seen as India's best bet in the men's 400 m while Abraham is an Asian Games gold medalist in the 400m hurdles. We certainly need to do more for our athletes.
True it's not easy to produce Michael Phelps and Usain Bolts overnight but with proper vision we can dream to achieve. After all, China had won its first gold medal only at Los Angeles in 1984 and the rest is history. (PTI)



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