Reality Check India

RTE meets creamy layer in TN

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 17, 2012

An interesting judgment was delivered last week in the Madras High Court by Justice K Chandru in Priyanka Rajkumar vs Rajaji Vidyashram. While disposing of this particular case, the judgment brings into focus glaring anomalies with the quota system.

The brief

A professional couple earning about Rupees 30Lakhs per year approached Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram located in Kilpauk Chennai. They were seeking admission for their 5 year old son in LKG class.  They had applied under the “disadvantaged” group stating that they were members of a Mudaliar community which is currently classified as SEBC (OBC) in the state of Tamilnadu.  They were claiming benefits against Sec 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act. The school conducted a lottery in the presence of two members of the School Management Committee and AIADMK MLA  Mr P Vetrivel. The couples child did not win the lottery, so they approached the court questioning the basis of selection.  The court did not allow their petition and also made a crucial comment on Tamilnadu’s notification of RTE. You can read the entire judgment here. Times of India story here.

The fact that weaker section was defined by the State as the annual income of parents or guardians is less than Rs.2 lakhs, in the absence of the State prescribing any creamy layer under the list of social economical backward classes, the same income ceiling should also apply to SEBC categories. Of course, such an income limit cannot be prescribed for SC and ST as noted already by the judgment of the Supreme Court. It is left to the State to specify the creamy layer under which certain members belonging to SEBC categories will be excluded from getting the benefit provided for the said class.

Judgment: Pp 26

What about the poor ?

As I have blogged in the past, critical clauses in the RTE Act were papered over by the media and almost the entire pool of columnists.  It was portrayed as a program only on economic grounds.

But as we watched the quota policy get horrendously trapped in competitive politics, didn’t we say we would rather have an economic criterion for reservations than it being caste-driven? Well here, for the first time there is such a basis.

NDTV Journo writing in HT “Writes of passage”

Now the facts tumble out of cases like this :

The number of vacancies for LKG was only 216 for the academic year 2012-2013. Out of 216 seats, 54 seats were assigned for admission under 25% category under Section 12(1)(c). There were 91 applications under the RCE Act category, of which 5 belonged to Scheduled caste, 2 from the economically weaker section and 84 applications were received under the backward class and most backward class category. They have allotted two seats for economically weaker section and 5 seats for SC and ST. In respect of 47 seats meant for BC and MBC, there were 84 applications and that lots were held

So out of 54 reserved seats a grand total of TWO were allotted on the basis of poverty. 52 seats were allotted purely on the basis of caste.

Fallout of case

One should keep in mind that the couple approached the court only because they failed to secure an admission under RTE.  If they had won the lottery, we would never had heard about this case. So it can be surmised that there must be others of similar wealth who did win the lottery and are enjoying free tuition.

While analyzing this case it is important to keep a calm head. The reality is that Tamilnadu does not exclude the creamy layer  from seeking benefits under its various reservation programs.  So the couple can be said to have nursed a legitimate expectation with respect to RTE. The text of the central government act as well as Tamilnadu’s notification did not exclude the creamy layer.

The judge has now said that both the “disadvantaged group” (vertical quota) as well as “weaker section” (horizontal quota) now have the same income limit of 2L/yr.  If you look a bit closer this isnt a very robust position.  In the absence of a sub quota, it just means all communities earning below 2L /yr qualify. It just merges the two categories together with the exception of SC.

It is also a moral hazard to provide free tuition for wealthy SC and ST students. The cross subsidy will be borne by students of far lesser means from other communities. This give them an economic boost which isnt even the original basis for readdress. A simple quota without free tuition is a better option for SCs.

 

Conclusion

This case brings out the grand anomalies which fall out of poorly thought out or deliberately divisive laws like RTE.   It is easy to outrage over the couple but since we are going back to the era of controls and socialist shortages they did what was in the best interests of their child. Once the child is in, will we not forget and forgive this little maneuver ?  Arent children and grandchildren of doctors taking advantage of medical college admissions ? Does the fact they pushed over a more meritorious child get in their way once they start their practice ? Do you ask your doctor how much they paid as donation ?  Winners of socialist policies, in this case literally sweepstakes  wink at these trifles but will not even acknowledge the presence of  heartbroken  losers.

We cant have anything other than a low grade democracy pulling us deeper into third world squalor.  Unless the whole of social justice is placed under a doctrine of strict scrutiny.

 

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Tatkal or the art of mastering pervasive socialist shortage

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 10, 2012

A new Tatkal scheme was announced today amidst much fanfare by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Muniyappa. It features clever and innovative checks to thwart misuse.  Keep in mind that “misuse” in this context means, purchasing a train ticket to go from City A to City B paying above normal rates.

  • Can book from 10AM instead of 8AM
  • Separate counters for Tatkal, or some counters will exclusively accept Tatkal from 10 to 10:30
  • Agents only allowed after 12PM
  • Bandwidth increased from 325 to 424 MBPS
  • Only 2 tickets per IP address, this is to thwart many people from same company booking or internet cafes.
  • CCTV Cameras will be installed at all booking counters to check agents
  • No cellphones allowed near booking counters.
  • If someone is booking on your behalf, your self attested ID as well as a Xerox and original or the person booking has to be produced.
  • Cash card stopped between 10AM-12PM
  • Single session per login has been implemented. If you use your ID once and book a ticket you are done for the day. Read this in conjunction with IP Address check, you cant go to another desk and book again.
  • IT Anti Fraud squad has been created at major centres, constant network surveillance is put in place to detect misuse.

Source : Desh Gujarat

This just blows my mind.  Lost in this hairball is the fact that these people are not trying to do anything illegal. They just want to go home. Essentially this is a massive failure of the state run Railways to live up to the demand of the people. The whole Tatkal scheme is an machine designed to place a logistical and monetary hurdle and discourage people from even trying to travel by train. Even if many say “f** it I am taking the bus”, the overflow numbers are so huge that Indians are forced to innovate to get a ticket. Touts are mere vehicles that provide the much needed service for a markup.

The socialist state does not  even recognize an equilibrium state of demand and supply. The supply is  the plan and bizzarro schemes like Tatkal complete with CCTV cameras are used to squeeze out the demand.  Fit the plan, not plan the fit.

It has gotten so bad that people sometimes look at me crazy when I say I came by Train on 2 weeks notice. How did you manage a ticket ?

 

Are you fit to live in society ? UPA’s new value edu experiment

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 5, 2012

Under the cover of a phenomenal media shroud, the most outlandish social experiments are being not only planned but actually insidiously put in place. Without further ado – let me introduce the latest scheme. Value Education

CHENNAI: From this academic year, the Central Board of Secondary Education exam will not just tell students whether they are eligible for higher studies. It will also test them if they are fit to live in the society. In the Class 10 and 12 board exams 5% of marks in each of the core subjects will be allotted for value education. The idea is to prepare students to live in a multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious country.

What this means to kids at XII level no less.

In each subject, 5% weightage will be given at the summative assessment level or board exam to answers to value education questions integrated with the content. The questions will be for five marks in a 100-marks paper and 3-4 marks in a paper of 70-90 marks.

A potential question in economics is: a father in his will gives 40% each to his son and daughter and 20% to his servant who has been with him for long. Why has he done it and what is the value addition?  Answer: Gender equality and charity.

Source : TOI   ( I didnt believe it until I grabbed the letter sent by CBSE to schools  PDF 22_2012_Value_based_qs_XII)

 

Those who read my previous post on CCE will recall that each student is evaluated in two parts – a formative assessment (40%) and a summative assessment (60%). We also read about the types of life skills and behaviour patterns that make up the formative assessment. The summative assessment was a non standard internal test. This “value skill” wants to chop of another 5% from the summative part although the 40% in the formative part is all about this too.

Needless to say this is extremely disturbing. They want to assign marks to desirable types of social outlook. Watch this example from a Physics board exam.

Three astronauts are descending from a space station to earth when, suddenly, one of their air tankers bursts. Now, this may seem like a developing question to test the knowledge of a physics student – specifically how much force the astronaut will have to maintain for preventing a direct fall, or how it will affect his body mass – but the actual focus lies elsewhere.

Through this, the student will be ‘tested’ with regard to the values embedded in him. He will, instead, be quizzed on what the other astronauts should do in such a situation, and how the experience could weave a life-long camaraderie between the three. So, though the subject is fundamentally that of physics, the question would be more on the lines of value education.

Source: HT

Got it ? Even though this is a Physics exam, the value question will be about how astronauts free falling with “air tanks” build friendship. There is another example in Biology about how the stomach digests food, the answer is again different “particles” working together.  Various intellectuals are now preparing a question bank  as  I am typing this.

I dont know where to begin. Inter alia other terrifying things, the school punishes kids who think differently. If I were an astronaut free falling from 300km with an air tank – I would certainly not try to make a friendship. But that would be penalized – just like a naughty student will be under the FA part of CCE.

So how bad are we ?

India is bad in educational standards today. How bad ? You need to read about the PISA assessment scores in 2009. This is an exam conducted under the auspices of OECD.  64 countries were given a well designed test to measure basic aptitude and reading skills (in native language) to 15 year olds. India sent what they considered to be the two best states (TN and HP). Guess what happened ? We came in second last. Only the tiny central asian state of Kyrgystan was worse. Shanghai province of China topped the list. I have some great links I will post shortly,  but this was a national shame.

I repeat myself but the only way we are going to get out of third world squalour is by leveraging our human capital.  The official government response might well be “lets not do PISA tests anymore or even a lecture on how important social skills are compared to such tests “. Reality is that our window is closing rapidly where we can take advantage of our demographic curve. In 15 yrs, it is game over.

This gift of the UPA is going to leave a permanent scar unless checked.  Unfortunately the country is still in a slumber.  Cozy as ever in the conventional wisdom they gather everyday from the papers.  All izz well.

 

 

 

RTI activist killed but

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 4, 2012

53 year old  RTI activist Mr Rajmohan Chandra was brutally hacked to death yesterday in Tiruvannamalai, a temple town in Tamilnadu.

Police officials said it was a pre-planned murder. The assailants intercepted Chandra and sprayed chilli powder on his face. The gang then hacked him with a sharp weapon, killing him on the spot. “A deep cut was found on his throat and cheek. He died on the spot,” said a police officer. The deceased was also carrying a knife along with him for his safety, he added.

Source : NIE

But what is curious about news reports on RTI deaths these days is an attempt to make sense of these deaths. How can a law the media unanimously hails as groundbreaking spill so much blood ?  In many recent cases, the deceased / injured is sought to be portrayed as someone “pushing it” or “taking enimity with the powerful”.

Sources said Chandra harboured enmity with government officials, politicians and realtors for his repeated complaints, public interest litigation (PIL) cases and petitions against them. It was learnt that he filed PILs and lodged complaints against many police officials in the rank of SP and Deputy Superintendents of Police and even against judges in Madras High Court and Human Rights Commission.

“Chandra had a shady character. He was also imprisoned a year ago relating to a cheating case. There were several cases pending against him,” a police officer said, adding, “He used to file petitions for his personal benefits and also make money assuring innocent people that he will help them in civil disputes.”

If he made enemies with the police and courts, it is not inconceivable that cases against him were a reaction to his activism.  Does it mean Mr Rajmohan Chandra  is the ideal RTI activist until he makes enemies ?  Isnt this was the RTI was supposed to encourage ?

But there is a story of hope even in this depressing murder.

All information sought by Mr Rajmohan will now be revealed suo moto by the authorities on a website no less.

CIC said if it received “a complaint regarding the assault [on] or murder of an information seeker, it will examine the pending RTI applications of the victim and order the concerned department(s) to publish the requested information suo motu on their website as per the provisions of law.”

Source : Morbid clause in RTI

THAT should teach the murderers a lesson.