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Delhi Univ Fracas


By Insaf

 Seats of learning are sadly turning into political battlegrounds. Nation’s capital Delhi yet again confirms this nagging trepidation. The ongoing ABVP-AISA students’ clashes in prestigious University’s north campus have further stoked the raging debate between right to free speech and nationalism. Be it Delhi’s JNU, Hyderabad University or the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), the issue of free speech has overshadowed academia. Raising the big question: where are our Universities heading? It would not be wrong to say that India’s public educational institutions are slowly and dangerously becoming laboratories for political propaganda. Worse, in this quarrel the political dispensation chooses to get involved, rather than keep away. Ministers have joined the fierce debate, giving sermons on nationalism and even supporting restrictions on freedom of speech and expression! The growing uneasy trend has even reached Rashtrapati Bhavan, wherein President Mukherjee has been constrained to advice: students and faculties must engage in “reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagating a culture of unrest.” Is anyone listening? Remember, political control over seats of learning is not the syllabus.

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Karnataka Govt Bows Down

Citizens’ power tasted victory in Karnataka. Congress Government of Siddaramaiah’s adamant posture to go ahead with the steel flyover project in Bengaluru crumbled against the residents and various citizen groups’ protests. The project which had got the go ahead of the State Cabinet in September 2016 envisaged decongesting the roads to the capital by building a 6.72-km long six-lane flyover at a cost of Rs 1,791 crore. However, the people were dead against it not only because there would be a massive use of steel but would entail felling of over 800 trees. The protests grew stronger as activists refused to buy the government’s assurance against environment concerns saying 60,000 saplings would be planted in other parts of the city. Further, questions were raised over short sightedness of the authorities, who were promoting private sector instead of looking at a comprehensive mobility plan for future. Will this be a lesson for the Government? It will do well to keep in mind the adage: Once bitten twice shy.

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Manipur Gets Attention

Manipur has New Delhi’s attention after all. Big promises are being made by the ruling BJP at the Centre to usher in hope that the alienation, as complained about would soon disappear. With the State going through the first phase of polling today, the BJP has gone all out to woo the people to give it a chance and throw the three-term Okram Ibobi Singh’s Congress government out. It has promised putting a halt to economic blockade, which Imphal has been reeling under for over a month, no territory will be taken away to the Nagas, there will be fast development et al. Will the people be enamoured or give Ibobi another chance? The Congress CM may not be worried about the BJP as much as he would be with Irom Sharmila. The activist-turned politician who broke her 16-year-old fast has thrown a challenge and is contesting against him. However, he is confident his development work will sail his party through for the fourth term. Will New Delhi’s interest in this north eastern State turn out to be short lived?

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Bihar’s Paper Leak Scam

Bihar is bitten by the malpractices bug again. Leakage of Bihar Staff Selection Commission examination paper leak has led to a face-off not just between the Nitish government and the Opposition, but the IAS lobby too. The latter has said it will no longer take oral order, not even from the Chief Minister. This after their demand for a CBI probe into the scam and release of the BSSC chairman has been met by stoic silence. In fact, the NDA Opposition too has been demanding a CBI probe into the case, which involves recruitment to 9,600 government posts. In the Assembly, members created a ruckus and demanded sacking of Ministers allegedly involved. The Government has refused to budge. The BSSC too has denied any paper leak and asserted that the recruitment process shall go on. The pressure looks far from ebbing, but with Nitish refusing to relent, there is fear that those recruited may eventually have to go back to square one. Forgotten is the adage, a stitch in time saves nine.

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Fresh Hope For Punjab Govt?

Hope of a comeback may be rekindled for the SAD-BJP government in Punjab . With the fate of the combine in the State Assembly polls sealed in ballot boxes, the results of the election to the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee may ease nagging tension. The SAD (Badal) group has emerged on top for the second consecutive term, winning 35 of 46 seats. While its Delhi President said the results are ‘a trailer of the upcoming municipal polls’ in the city, SAD President and Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister viewed these as ‘a curtain raiser to the State polls.”  It so happens that its main contender here too was AAP, which under a group Panthak Sewa Dal fielded 39 candidates. It failed to win a single seat. However, AAP claims that it has no connection with these polls. Seven seats were won by SAD (Delhi), which has Congress support. The ballot boxes in Punjab will open on March 11 and the big question is will the Badals manage to sail through here too, despite the odds against them?

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Thumbs Up For Kerala

It is thumbs up for Kerala. Capital Thiruvananthapuram has given both the country’s political and financial capitals, Delhi and Mumbai a run for their money. In a survey of 21 cities in 18 States for rankings in urban governance –quality of policies and institutions for better quality life– the city in ‘God’s own country’ topped the list. Pune and Kolkata made it to position two and three respectively, whereas Mumbai was 4th and Delhi 7th (two notches up from last year), Bhubaneswar 10 from 18th, Bengaluru 16th, while Ludhiana, Jaipur and Chandigarh retained 19th, 20th and 21st positions respectively. However, all have a terrible low score between 2.1 and 4.41 on 83 parameters, as against London and New York with scores 9.3 and 9.8 respectively. Indeed, the survey by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy reveals that our cities are not poised to handle urbanisation and must strengthen their systems. While Thiruvananthapuram could gloat over doing one better than the others, can it and perhaps even the others give a thought to having competition with the outside world?—INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

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