Land or development?
In his column (“Of land and livelihood conflict”, Mint,22 June), Himanshu has highlighted what is perhaps the single-biggest political and economic problem today. This is the issue of land snatching in the name of state development, which is but a crude cover for benefiting private developers. The lack of education and the consequent vulnerability of farmers make them lose the most important asset they possess: Land. It is important that just and appropriate compensation should be paid for this. I agree with the possible solutions such as skill development and alternative income generation proposed by the author. But at the same time we have to consider the imbalance that this deviation from farming can bring in our country, which is already fighting against food inflation and an erratic demand and supply pattern.
The idea of using private schools to impart education to the poor and disadvantaged children is an enthusiastic proposal, but one that, in my opinion, lacks feasibility. (“Education via PPP for street children”, Mint, 4 July).
First, schools selected for this purpose will be a thriving ground for discrimination against poor children and without proper monitoring. This in itself would be very difficult for private schools to implement and for the government to carry out effectively. Supervisory bodies to monitor progress are likely to be ineffective as the possibility of class prejudice in them would be very real. It is utopian to expect that that would not be the case.
Second, as it was pointed out in the article, parents of well to do households would never allow their children to be branded as ragpickers and beggars. This, it was argued, would prevent false reporting. But how many parents would be willing to send their children to those schools along with these ragpickers and beggars?
Third, it is quite doubtful that schools will opt for such an option just for monetary benefits. If some of them do decide to opt for it, it will divide private institutions into two categories for the parents, one where their child would be studying with not-so-fortunate classmates, and other where he will make some “worthy” friends. It does not require much thought as to which schools parents will choose to send their children.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s problems appear to emanate from a disconnect between the aspirations of the people and the priorities of the government (“The PM’s invisible hand”, Mint, 1 July). Perceptions can change only if the elected “rulers” seriously address the issues that are uppermost in the minds of the voter. Leave aside the lack of communication skills of the top leadership, the government does not even appear to be genuinely interested in listening to the worries of citizens. Consequently, an impression has gained ground—rightly or wrongly—that the Prime Minister is answerable to only one individual, his party leader. The process of decision-making in the government ignores facts, disregards reasoning and relies purely on self-serving viewpoints or opinions of those who make these decisions. Strategy has become synonymous with intrigue leading to poor decisions that require extensive defending later on, using carefully worded phrases. Consider some examples: Corruption is tolerated in the name of “compulsions of coalition”; the selection of the chief vigilance commissioner, without consensus, is termed an “error of judgement”; a midnight crackdown on sleeping protesters is justified by saying that there was “no other option”. In the end, the truth becomes the ultimate casualty.
In the final analysis, the thoughts, utterances and actions of leaders at the top have to be in harmony for the success of any communication strategy. Intellectual honesty is a prerequisite for effective image management.