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Pratibha Patil and political complacency

Pratibha Patil and political complacency
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First Published: Wed, Jul 25 2007. 12 48 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Jul 25 2007. 12 48 AM IST
Re Amit Varma’s “Celebrating Pratibha Patil”, Mint, 19 July. I believe that all educated Indians are individually and collectively responsible for the mess our political institutions are in. The levels to which our political parties have sunk is a cumulative effect of alienation of the educated class and its complacent attitude. We, who belong to the educated class, make little effort to ensure that honest and efficient politicians are elected. Happy in our financially comfortable lives, we are content with reading such columns! But, let us not lose hope. If Patil’s election is a disaster, it also holds out hope. Some day in the near future, many among us will wake up and elect our representatives with a greater sense of responsibility.
- Narendra M. Apte
Niranjan Rajadhyaksha’s article “No liberal political party”, Mint, 11 July, which I read with much interest, has set me thinking. My battle with the Election Commission has been kept alive these last 13 years not merely because I do not subscribe to socialism, but on a matter of principle. In the 1960s when the Swatantra Party was at its active best, there was a debate as to whether communists who do not believe in parliamentary democracy should be allowed to participate in the democratic process, knowing fully well that, in the unlikely event of their being elected to power, they would seek to subvert the system. We decided that Indian voters must have the right to choose even communists! In a similar vein, we opposed the banning of the RSS. Moreover, the “absurd legal requirement”, as Rajadhyaksha so rightly puts it, was a cheap populist move to meet opposition to what Rajiv Gandhi planned in the direction of loosening the state’s grip on the economy even while proclaiming his party’s “socialist” credentials. If communist China could talk of market socialism, why not India?
This also explains reforms “by stealth”. Remember private airlines came in as “air taxis” very much as private inter-state bus operators came in as “contract buses”, where passengers had to pretend that they were part of a group travelling from one destination in one state to a single destination in another state in what came to be known as “point to point” travel. State capitalism is managed by India’s “new class”of corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen who are not giving up control easily. The leash is longer but it is still there.
The writ petition against “socialism” is an attempt towards snapping this leash.
- S.V. Raju
The unethical practices followed by B-schools highlighted in your article “B-school ads: half truths and white lies”, Mint, 16 July, by Premchand Palety presents B-schools in a poor light. In short-sighted pursuit of higher revenues, they are unwittingly harming themselves apart from hurting other stakeholders such as parents and students. It’s a matter of relief that consultancies such as the one run by the author are monitoring business school behaviour.
There are other issues as well, especially on the opening of business education to the private sector. In the name of competition and introducing innovative curriculum, strange things are happening. Two years ago, a Mumbai business school publicized its programme for imparting knowledge of government procedure to its students. Even a cursory reading of that proposal indicated that the emphasis was on telling them the “short-cuts” for winning government contracts (read how to “influence” decision makers). Last month, another school publicized the deputing of its students to Andhra Pradesh legislators. The students are to visit assembly constituencies and advise legislators on steps needed for ameliorating the living conditions of the people. Aren’t local politicians better endowed than greenhorn students advising them after a quick visit to a constituency?
- S. Subramanyan
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First Published: Wed, Jul 25 2007. 12 48 AM IST