There may be more explanations for Tamil Nadu’s educational success than were suggested in “Look back to go forward” by S. Mitra Kalita, Mint, 11 April. It’s assumed that 69% reservations led to a boom in education, aspirations and possibilities. The link between the two is not simple. The result obtained could have been due to the privatization of engineering colleges. A plausible mechanism could be: In the first place, the supply of such colleges increased more than the number of eligible candidates. This led to the lowering of fees charged by these colleges; that, in turn, led to parents being able to afford education for their children. What we need to learn from this is that if you want a boom in education, increase the number of educational institutions.
The series on science education in India (Mint, 7, 9 and 10 April) was well-rounded and covered all possible perspectives on the topic. I found the various points put forth to be very concrete, and supported by facts and figures.
The series really piqued my interest about the lack, or gaps, in the promotion and facilitation of better pure science education and research facilities/opportunities in our education system. I think research is crucial if India wants to become a real leader on the world stage. Without research and development, it will be impossible to own the end-to-end solutions.
Inflation has become a serious problem for everyone in this country. Galloping inflation has made the life of ordinary citizens miserable and it has become very difficult to make both ends meet.
Prices of foodgrains, oils, milk, vegetables and other essential commodities, which constitute an average of more than 50% of the family budget, have hit the roof. The situation has become alarming.
The main reason for this state of affairs is the fall in agricultural production in the country and all over the world. The government has adopted various fiscal and monetary measures to curb inflation by restricting exports of essential items and by permitting imports and reducing duties thereon to augment supply. These are only temporary measures. In the short term, not much can be done on the supply side. But, that is so on the demand side, too. Irrespective of inflation, the demand for essential commodities is relatively inelastic and is unlikely to come down at any time in the future.
More needs to be done in respect of demand management. The fact is that India has been a net importer of foodgrains, pulses and oil for many years. While the rate of increase in agricultural production has reached a plateau, population growth has galloped.
The thought of the Malthusian theory of population being applicable to India seems a frightening reality. It is an accepted fact that an inflationary situation arises when the supply falls short of demand. The strategy, therefore, calls for effective reduction in the demand for these commodities by addressing the growth of population. The Chinese model of adopting a one-child or two-children norm is worth serious consideration and emulation. Not only will this stabilize our population, it will also solve major problems that we are facing.
Denial of credit by banks based on one’s residence (“Loan approvals depend on borrowers’ address” Mint, 8 April) is just one of the dubious practices carried on by banks.
Another such practice is that of floating interest rates for home loans— these banks always raise interest rates whenever the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raises the cash reserve ratio or the prime lending rate. However, they never cut this rate when RBI lowers its rates.
--Ravi Shekhar Pandey
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