Your turn to talk
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As reported recently, around 25 million cases are pending in lower courts and those in the high courts and the Supreme Court number 3.7 million and 40,000, respectively. There is an urgent need to reduce the backlog. The Delhi high court offered hope recently when it said that criminal proceedings could be quashed if the parties were to compromise. This needs to be taken forward. Cases are already classified as criminal and civil. We need further classification and mechanisms to deal with them. We need a management approach. Consultants could be brought in. The judiciary would have the final say. This approach may also be applied to detenus in judicial custody to ensure they are not kept in prisons without trial within a specific time frame.
—O. P. Gupta
In the article “Fund schooling, not schools”, Mint, 20 September, Amit Varma suggested education vouchers for the poor, so they can send their children to private schools, which are supposedly better run. This could spawn new scams. In the corrupt corridors of the government, these vouchers would be put ‘on sale’ and the poor would suffer as usual. I have seen down-market private schools with semi-literate teachers teaching nonsense.
One of my relatives is a principal in a government-aided school in the backwaters of Orissa. He told me how he and his teachers spend 60% of their time on preparing mid-day meals for children. My relative has a poor grounding in English, maths and other subjects. I shudder to think what children might be studying in his school.
The way out is to privatize education. Let there be a regulator and leave the rest to the market forces. I agree with Varma when he says the poor know which schools perform better. Let the army of government teachers join private schools and show that they can deliver. The government has no business to run schools or, for that matter, hospitals or sports bodies, too.
One may ask how the poor can afford private education. My answer: If the vegetable vendor can buy a cellphone, there is no reason why he can’t buy a decent education for his children. Let a single regulator decide the fee structure and other parameters, and wind up the department of education.
Re “Trade unions may be fighting a losing war”, Mint, 19 September, how can a newly-formed employees union, the State Sector Bank Employees Association, claim to represent all the seven associate banks employees? The unnecessary noise by a handful of people will end in the same way as the NTC union’s 1990 move. SBI and associate banks’ officers and employees are recruited by the same board, the Central Recruitment Board. SBI introduced fast-channel promotion for two years in 2003 and advised the associate banks to do the same. But the short-sighted Association of Associate Banks has opposed this. This leads to a difference of about four to six years among the officers of the associate banks and those of SBI. The officers of the associate banks are happy about mergers, provided SBI weeds out the anomaly in the promotion policy and pension issues. SBI should understand that if the anomaly is not removed prior to the merger, it may destroy any synergy effect intended by SBI from the merger.
The union should understand that the merger is the order of the day and should understand why ABN Amro is in bid for by the Barclays bank, and why American Express is being purchased by Standard Chartered bank. In both cases, Amex and ABN Amro were doing well, which is why they are being purchased. The same is true with the associate banks, which is why SBI wants to merge. They should do so in the interest of both the nation and employees.