I understand the idea behind your editorial, “Salary rises that don’t pay”, Mint, 21 March. But, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Think: You are an IAS officer, as brilliant (if not more) as another graduate from a prestigious institute, and earn peanuts, why won’t you take suvidha shulk (bribe) and let your decisions be guided by those who pay it? Or you have been working for the government for 25-30 years with the same take-home pay as your 24-year-old son. Or you are on the border, protecting Indians who own home theatres, and you can’t afford a 21-inch colour TV. It’s about the right stimulus to get the best response: the pay commission is doing that.
- Simar D. Singh
Re “As biofuels catch on, next task is environmental, economic impact”, Mint, 25 March. Recent scientific studies have shown that biofuel crops degrade the environment by emitting more than they save by powering vehicle engines. The reason is the relentless cutting down of tropical forests, which would have absorbed carbon dioxide, to make space for biofuel crops such as palm, maize and sugar cane.
It’s not that governments aren’t taking steps, but some of them seem to be more serious. The EU, which was all set to pass a Bill mandating vehicle owners to blend 2.5% biofuel with petrol, has now deferred it and plans an investigation into the environmental impacts of biofuels. But the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered that 9 billion gallons of ethanol be blended with petrol this year. The US produces more than 50% of ethanol with most of it coming from sugar cane and maize grown near the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the Gulf has been transformed into a “dead zone” as a result of eutrophication (depletion of oxygen) leading to loss of marine life.
We must not be carried away by promising new technologies without studying their long-term effects. Even if biofuels seem to be the cheaper of the currently available clean fuels, there must be a cap with eventual phasing out when solar energy and fuel cell technologies become affordable.
I agree with Mitra Kalita’s “IIT’s new social networking”, Mint, 21 March, but only to some extent. The primary reason for the ban on the Internet was to avert gaming, not online social networking. The routers installed in our hostels are incapable of blocking specific activities such as gaming and our computer centre does not have enough staff to change them. So, the easy way out: switch off the router at designated timings. But gaming still continues using wireless routers and ad hoc networks that all new laptops are equipped with. And, what about gaming during the daytime? True, the ban has forced students to “socialize” physically but at the cost of reduced academic rigour. The Internet is also the main source of information for almost all IITians.
We participate in several national and international competitions, which have online submissions and crazy deadlines. Having no Internet access in room blunts our competitive edge against other institutes to a large extent.
As the author said, the Koreans educate their Internet-addicted youth. Being a premier seat of technology learning, a similar approach could be expected from IIT administrators. Nothing so far on this front. Finally, one doesn’t expect such major decisions being taken with neither due diligence nor consultation with student representatives.
- Arpit Agarwal, (management student, IIT Bombay)