Thursday, 18 January 2018

JUDGES REVOLT: THE LAST NAIL ON THE COFFIN OF JUDICIAL CREDIBILITY?

JUDGES REVOLT: 
THE LAST NAIL ON THE COFFIN OF JUDICIAL CREDIBILITY?

Law makers without any prescribed qualities, qualifications or experience, their men Fridays (popularly known as bureaucrats, who are required to help them in decision making by collecting and collating data and maintaining records)  without any accountability and a judiciary which has the scope for the most whimsical decision making being held not only without accountability and beyond criticism but also protected by a totally illogical and weird armor called contempt of court, are the essential features of our Constitution, the Bible for our governance!

Amoung the three organs of our Constitution the law-makers are controlled by the people, bureaucracy (yes, bureaucracy, because without the active support of the bureaucracy no politician can do any wrong!) and finally the judiciary; the law-enforcers are also controlled by the law-makers and the judiciary. And then there are the ears and eyes of the people- the media waiting to sensationalise every news involving the misdemeanor of these authorities. In spite of such strict supervision and control all that we can hear these days are about politician-bureaucrat-underworld nexus even though the fact remains that none, worth the name, from this unholy nexus have ever been punished by the holier-than-thou judiciary.So now think how bad a system can be which is not only NOT subject to supervision but also kept beyond critical observation. Well isn’t our judiciary is just that? And do I need to recapitulate that quip: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

First things first. So the answer to that question in the title is a big NO. The judges revolt is only the last but one nail on that coffin. So what will be the last nail? Just wait to read through this whole critique.

Even as a child one had heard elders exclaiming that it is a blessing to pass through this life without entering a police station or a court. Though one was too young then to understand what it meant it was in the first decade of this millennium that Transparency International came out with their survey results which clearly indicted the police and judiciary to be the most corrupt institutions in India. And I understand that TI is facing contempt of court proceedings for publishing that report!

Even by its own admission the judiciary is a failure in our country based on the principle of justice delayed is justice denied. And the only reason the ‘learned’ judges are seen suggesting is the poor judge to population ratio which any rational human being can see is meaningless. The population figures, particularly in our country where a significant percentage is living below poverty line and are even illiterate, are irrelevant and what matters is the number of cases filed and this is significantly low leading to a fairly high judge to docket ratio. Sample data for U S of A vis a vis India is as follows:

Cases filed in one year (1999):           India - 13.6 Million;    USA- 93.81 Million
Dockets per judge:                              India - 987;                  USA- 3235


One doesn’t need these statistics to prove this point. One needs to just visit any court to see how poor the docket management is, leading to criminal waste of time in everyday functioning of the courts. Almost half the time is wasted in a process called mustering where hundreds of cases listed for the day are called out and, after ensuring that the concerned parties are present, most of them are adjourned without even being taken up for any hearing! Here are two observations by H D Shourie ('How long before justice comes?' The New Indian Express of 04 Dec 2004)

'It is not possible for a judge to seriously hear and decide more than two or three cases a day....no judge should have more than 30 matters listed before him/her on a given day.'

'Lawyers are accused of employing delaying methods, but no lawyer can succeed if the court refuses an adjournment.'

In this context it needs to be highlighted that no institution treats the free citizens so shabbily like our judges because they summon you, even under threat of arrest, and then order you to come back on a later date without progressing your case even by a minute step! Taareeq pe taareeq is the hall mark of our judicial process!

Even at the end of preposterous delays do the justice seeker get justice? Even here the answer is a big NO, when whetted on the touchstone of ‘justice should not only be done but seen to be done’! And this is what the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution, a judiciary-headed, judiciary-heavy body, has stated in its Report submitted in 2002:

'Judicial system has not been able to meet even the modest expectations of the society.  Its delays and costs are frustrating, its processes slow and uncertain.  People are pushed to seek recourse to extra-legal methods for relief.  Trial system both on the civil and criminal side has utterly broken down.'

Also, 'Thus we have arrived at a situation in the judicial administration where courts are deemed to exist for judges and lawyers and not for the public seeking justice'.

The Supreme Court itself had admitted in 2009 that it had wrongly sentenced 15 people to death in 15 years! In 2012, 14 retired judges had reportedly written to the President, pointing out that since 1996 the Supreme Court had erroneously given the death penalty to 15 people, of whom two were hanged! –‘You were wrong, My Lords’ http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150802/jsp/7days/story_34917.jsp#.VcJWsjNH27x.facebook

And if this is the case in the matter of capital punishments where it is awarded in the rarest of rarest cases in a country which unequivocally states that even if a thousand criminals escape one innocent shall not be punished, does one need to elaborate further?



The judiciary always has the following specious logic to justify its wayward decisions:

One, they can decide only on the facts and laws brought on record in the circumstances of the case; and

Two, since there are two contenders in any case and the verdict will be in favour of only one the other party will of course feel discontented!

I would like to counter this by highlighting the following issues.

In the Right to Information case involving judges’ assets, where the then Chief Justice of India had claimed that his office was out of purview of the RTI Act, what were the facts and laws that were needed to be brought on record? The law has been and is absolutely clear that the office of the Chief Justice is very much within the ambit of the law. And it has been upheld not only by all the information commissioners of the Central Information Commission but also by a single judge and division bench of the Delhi High Court! And why is the apex court sitting on this appeal for so long?

And even while claiming to be transparent in its functions merely because of the open court hearings it conducts why have the courts excluded the judicial functions of the courts from the purview of the RTI Act?

There are many cases reported in the media of serious crimes by judges (Mysore sex scandal, Rajasthan sex for favourable verdict, Non-bailable warrant against the then President and CJI etc) where not only the alleged offenders where not punished but the journalists had been hauled up for contempt of court! It is impossible for a rational citizen to believe that national media would publish such reports without any basis and with clear intention or even conspiracy to defame the judiciary. And what has happened to the case of illegal encroachment of land which led to P D Dinakaran being almost impeached? Of course he resigned at the last moment but was that sufficient punishment, if at all it could be considered punishment? Atleast has the encroached land been retrieved? Or should one presume that the judiciary has no responsibility to ensure that public trust is protected?

There are judges who while holding the office of the CJI or on retirement from that office have gone public with observations that 20 pc of judges are corrupt or even reportedly advised foreign governments not to file cases in India because it will take an unduly long time to get a verdict. Did they not amount to contempt of court?

Isn’t it also a fact that advocates who take to streets to protest are also proclaiming only one thing unambiguously: their lack of faith in the judiciary itself?

We, the people, are also aware of a senior advocate having submitted a list of 16 former CJsI, 8 of whom were allegedly ‘definitely corrupt’!



While a citizen like me has been holding the Contempt of Court provisions of the Constitution and the laws made under it to be totally anti democratic and the only context that justifies them to be cases where the orders of the courts are not complied with, what one has been noticing is the brazenness with which real contempt of court cases are not pursued, leading to litigants who have favourable decrees running from pillar to post to get them executed, and those who criticize the judiciary for genuine reasons being hauled up and dragged over the coals!

It was also appalling that a constitutionally enacted legislation like the National Judicial Appointments Commission has been arbitrarily thrown out by the apex court. The judges seem to forget that we, the people, the only sovereign entities in a democracy, have shared part of the sovereign powers-that of law making- only with our political representatives and the process laid down is fairly broad based to ensure objectivity that a few judges dumping it like so much trash can only be considered preposterous, to say the least! While checks and balances is a much bandied term what we see on the ground is the judiciary behaving like it is a god sent, or in other words god’s only gift, to the rest of the population!

So we come back to the four judges who have revolted against the person holding the highest office in the judiciary of the land. Obviously, it falls in the category of crime under the Contempt of Court Act, as it stands now. While judge Karnan’s case had merits in the allegations because they were more substantial and specific these judges have cast aspersions on the Chief Justice of India merely on perceived wrong doings. Do they mean to say that the CJI is so incompetent that he cannot even assign cases to the appropriate benches or are they alleging that he has biases and vested interests? As an ordinary human being with rationality still intact, I find their claim that the the CJI is only first amoung equals contradicting their own claim to decide certain cases simply because they are senior to the others!

And since judge Karnan’s case has set the precedence in that it is not only impeachment that is possible with judges of courts of records for their deviant behavior, there is the urgent need for the CJI to constitute a bench consisting of himself and any 6 judges of his choice to try these judges for criminal contempt. And the last nail on the coffin of judicial credibility will be the one if they are allowed to go scot free!








'The highest office in our democracy is the office of citizen; this is not only a platitude, it must translate into reality.’- National Commission to review the working of the Constitution


Saturday, 6 January 2018

EQUALITY, FREEDOM & FRATERNITY: INDIAN UNIVERSITY EDUCATION SYSTEM – A CRITICAL APPRAISAL

EQUALITY, FREEDOM & FRATERNITY: INDIAN UNIVERSITY EDUCATION SYSTEM – A CRITICAL APPRAISAL
Veteran Major P M Ravindran

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: -
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
- The Preamble, Constitution of India

Introduction

Equality, liberty and fraternity- three terms made popular by the French Revolution are now recognised the world over as the touchstones of a welfare society. They have of necessity found their place in our Constitution also though only in its preamble. On 2nd September 1953, while making a statement in the Rajya Sabha (Parliament) Dr. Ambedkar gave this following clarification: “People always keep on saying to me, so you are the maker of the Constitution. My answer is I was a hack. What I was asked to, I did much against my will. I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it. It does not suit anybody.” Earlier, on 19 November 1949, Seth Damodar Swarup had said in the Constituent Assembly of India itself that 'this Constitution … may be heaven for the lawyers, and may even be the Magna Carta for the capitalists of India, but so far as the poor and the tens of millions of toiling, starving and naked masses of India are concerned, there is nothing in it for them.'
Almost 70 years down the road, does anybody need any validation for Seth Damodar Swarup’s assertion?

Interestingly, the Preamble of the Constitution is considered only as a legitimate aid in the construction of the provisions of the Constitution. And, rightly so! But those who have been given the authority to interpret the laws, to be specific, our judges, had introduced ambiguity even in the interpretation of this simple concept. Two factors have been introduced: one, that if an enactment is itself clear and unambiguous, no preamble can
qualify or cut down the enactment*1 and two, the Preamble of an Act, is not recognized as part of the Act because it is not enacted and adopted by the enacting body in the same manner as the enacting provisions. The second factor was wrongly applied to hold that the Preamble of the Constitution was not part of the Constitution by our apex court in the Berubari Union case in 1960*2.  But in 1973, when the constituent history of the Preamble was brought to the notice of the court in the Kesavananda Bharati case *3 it held that the preamble to the Constitution was part of the Constitution and the observations to the contrary in Berubari Union case was not correct!

The Part and the Whole

Equality, liberty and fraternity being the objectives of governance in any and every welfare society, its analysis in the context of a limited sphere of activity- Indian University Education System- can be considered as an effort to understand only a part of the whole. And it cannot be done without at least conceptualizing the whole.

Equality, liberty and fraternity in the Society.

To understand to what extent the concepts of equality, liberty and fraternity have taken roots in our society let us start from where Seth Damodar Swarup left.

Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative index for measuring the state of development in a country. It combines factors like life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living. India stands at 133rd place amongst 195 countries as per the list published in 2008 based on data of 2006. In comparison China is at 90th place, Sri Lanka at 104th, Iran at 84th place, Egypt at 116th place and Congo at 130th place.  As per 2016 HDR
 



*1. Powell v Kempton Park Race Course Co and Attorney General V HRH Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover ([1899] AC 143 at 153 and [1957] AC 436, 467-68)

*2. Berubari Union and exchange of Enclaves, AIR 1960 SC 845, 856

*3. Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225; AIR 1973 SC 1461
(Page 200) India stands at 131 with medium human development. In comparison Vietnam is at 115, Iraq at 121, Bangladesh at 139 and Pakistan at 147*4.

 We are told that we are the third largest economy in the world (behind the US of A and China). What we were not told is that our per capita GDP (PPP) is only $1709.4 per year against the world average of $10,150.8. In comparison the U S of A has $ 57,466.8, China has $ 8,123.2, Vietnam has $2,185.7, Iraq has $4,609.6, Bangladesh has $1,358.8 and Pakistan has $1,468.2*5. Interestingly, as per a similar report by IMF *6 India does not figure in the list of first 50 either in the nominal or PPP rankings for 2016 or the projected figures for 2020. Luxembourg and Qatar are at the top positions on nominal and PPP basis, respectively in 2016. With per capita income of $105,829 Luxembourg is 10.26 times richer than world's $10,313. But in PPP terms, Luxembourg is only 6.24 times richer than world's $16,329. In PPP terms, Qatar has GDP per capita of 129,727, 7.94 times higher than world. It is at 6th position in nominal ranking.

Our infant mortality rate is 55 per 1000 live births. In comparison the rate is 23 for China, 11 for Sri Lanka and 53 in Nepal. The world average is 48.8 per 1000.

Our literacy rate is 65.2% and places us at 159th out of 195 countries. The rate is 93% for China, 90.8% in Sri Lanka and 71% in Egypt.

As per UNDP list India has 28.5% people below the poverty line. In comparison, China has 4.6%, Egypt has 16.7%, Malaysia has 15.5% and Sri Lanka 25%.

Is there anything in the above figures for us to be proud of?




*4. Human Development Report 2016, United Nations Development Programme

*5. World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files accessed at https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD

India became independent in 1947. No doubt the colonizers had looted us thoroughly before they left and to be sure they did not leave us in any better shape than when they had come as is touted by some quarters. China became independent in 1950. China had been devastated by Japanese occupation from 1935 to 1945 and 38 years of civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. Yet China is far ahead of us in every sphere. Why is it so? The answer is simple. China has had more effective governance than what we have had. The Chinese leaders were more nationalist than ours. Our people in government have rarely been able to put the interest of the nation above that of self, dynasty or the party. My interventions using the Right to Information Act have convinced me sufficiently to assert that all our public servants are idiots or traitors unless proved otherwise!

To quote theirreverent1 *7 ‘We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, our banks destroy our economy, our citizens live in willful ignorance and reek of cowardice.’

Justice gone missing.

Of all coincidences, this is one coincidence-‘Justice’ missing from the subject here and in real life too (as I believe and can vouch for)- that caught my attention right from the word go. Yes, that’s right. Justice, ensuring which is the fundamental duty of any government, is really missing in our society. While equality, liberty and fraternity go hand in hand, they can do so if and only if they are founded on the factors that can be identified as social, economic and political justice. What prevails in our country is only a shadow of political justice in that the electorate gets to vote periodically for a candidate of their choice, to represent them in the government. However, after the vote is cast whether any of these representatives really represent the interests of those who elected them is a big question. If I were to answer that question honestly, it would be a big NO!




*7. Comment at http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/why-does-the-u-s-government-treat-military-veterans-like-human-garbage
Of social and economic justice one would be justified in doubting if they exist at all. Even in a fully literate and politically conscious state like Kerala where the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have led the government every alternate 5 years, reports have appeared in the media of certain sections of the society being treated as untouchables even as late as in the last six months!

On the economic front, there have been reports that in India more than half of its GDP is with less than 1 percent of the population!

Aravind Kumar, Jurist and lawyer, rightly wrote*8 thatJustice is an intrinsic human need. We suffer much privation but we cannot suffer being wronged. Absence of justice, we must not forget, is one of the causes of crime.’

And Renuka Narayanan, journalist, wrote*9 that ‘When we transformed from subjects to citizens, we forfeited our rights it seems, since what happens in our country now in the name of law is often rank injustice.’

The National Commission to review the working of the Constitution, a judiciary-headed, judiciary-heavy body*10, which submitted its report in 2002, has stated that 'Judicial system has not been able to meet even the modest expectations of the society.  Its delays and costs are frustrating, its processes slow and uncertain.  People are pushed to seek recourse to extra-legal methods for relief.  Trial system both on the civil and criminal side has utterly



*8. 'Needed high speed legal redressal'-Aravind Kumar, Jurist and lawyer, Pioneer, Kochi,01 Aug 2006

*9. 'Human rights, the genesis of justice is from religion' under 'Faith Line' by Renuka Narayanan, The New Indian Express of 20 Dec 2004

*10. A 11 member Commission (including the chairman) of whom 4 (M.N. Venkatachaliah, the Chairman, B.P. Jeevan Reddy, R.S. Sarkaria and Kottapalli Punnayya) were judges of the Supreme Court/High Courts, 2 (Soli J. Sorabjee and K. Parasaran) were advocates, 2 (P.A.Sangma and Sumitra G. Kulkarni) were political nominees, 2 (Dr.Subhash C. Kashyap and Dr. Abid Hussain) were bureaucrats and just one (C.R. Irani) was a representative from the media!  A citizen’s review of the Report is available at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2011/03/report-of-ncrwc-citizens-review.html
broken down.' Also, 'Thus we have arrived at a situation in the judicial administration where courts are deemed to exist for judges and lawyers and not for the public seeking justice'.

The above quote would be incomplete without reproducing here what Dr.Subhash C Kashyap has written in his Notes to the above Report: 'The Chapter 7 of the Report is titled 'The Judiciary'.  This chapter particularly is seriously flawed and distorted. The much needed Judicial Reform issues have not been even touched or these got deleted in the final draft.'

Thus, ‘the whole’ can be summarized in the following words:

Law makers without any prescribed qualities, qualifications or experience, their men Fridays (popularly known as bureaucrats, who are required to help them in decision making by collecting and collating data and maintaining records)  without any accountability and a judiciary which has the scope for the most whimsical decision making being held not only without accountability and beyond criticism but also protected by a totally illogical and weird armor called contempt of court, are the essential features of our Constitution, the Bible for our governance!

The Educational System Muddle

Muddle? It is certainly not an approved manner of approaching the main topic. But then why should one beat around the bush? Apart from enforcing law and order, health and education are the only services that the government of a welfare state should have taken upon itself to deliver directly to the people. But how has it been India? Right from telephone and gas connections to road, rail and air transportation the government has had its fingers in every possible commercial activity and, I may add, with disastrous consequences!
There are, or may be there should be, three objectives to higher education: one, fine tuning the art of learning (by self and as a continuous process), fine tuning social skills and acquiring competence needed to earn ones living, or in other words, finding a job. And in the context of the subject being discussed, there is a need to ensure that there is equality of opportunity to access higher education, the liberty to choose any subjects of one’s choice and to interact freely with each other as members of a fraternity.

Education as a Right.

It was only 62 years after independence that this country got its Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act. The Act, notified in the Gazette of India on 27 Aug 2009, provides for free and compulsory education for all children in the age group 6 to 14 years. The National Education Policy is still in embryonic state. While the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was set up by the UGC in 1994 to accredit universities and institutions of general higher education as well as to certify for educational quality and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) was established by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in 1994 to accredit programmes and institutions, themes and questions for Policy Consultation on Higher Education were released only on 21 Mar 2015*11. But while we wait for policies let us look at what has been happening on the ground in the past.
Access to Higher Education- the admission process
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) was made compulsory for admission to MBBS and BDS courses with effect from academic year 2016. This was a step in the right direction but due to the last minute promulgation of the orders resulting in opposition from various quarters it was made mandatory only from the academic year 2017 with the final seal of approval coming from the apex court. But in Tamil Nadu, a student, S Anitha, who had got 1176 marks out of 1200 in the Plus 12 committed suicide because her dream of becoming a doctor had been dashed to the ground. Tamil Nadu had been using the marks of Plus 12 as the only yardstick for MBBS admissions. But in neighbouring Kerala the problems arose from a different source- the apex court decision empowering private medical college managements to charge Rs 11 lakhs as fees per year for 85 percent of the seats and Rs 20




*11.  Annexure –II, Themes and questions for Policy Consultation on Higher Education,
 Consultation Process for New Education Policy, Departments of School Education & Literacy and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. Can be accessed at the website of MHRD
lakhs for the remaining 15 percent seats reserved for NRI students! But that is not the only issue. There are confusions galore there. But it is nothing new because ever since self financing colleges were introduced in 2002-2003 by the AK Antony led UDF government admission time has been harrowing for both the students and their parents. Antony had permitted such colleges with the promise that two self financing college will be equal to one government college, implying that 50 percent seats in each college will admit students with fees as in government colleges. But the managements of such colleges renegaded quoting apex court orders that there cannot be two different fess structures in the same college as it would amount to cross subsidy! Soon a Committee was constituted with a retired judge of the high court heading it, to fix the fees and monitor the admission process. Now there were four different fees- General merit quota, General non-merit quota, management quota and NRI quota in the same college and not a murmur of protest has been heard. The disputes at every admission stage thereafter have been on the distribution of seats and rate of fees.  And here, since we are on the topic of equality, freedom and fraternity in Indian University Education System there are two questions that need to be addressed- why have AIIMS and JIPMER been excluded from NEET? And why have similar common entrance examinations not been introduced for other professional courses?

Quality of higher education- Ranking institutions and disciplines.

After entrance examinations comes the quality of education in our institutions of higher learning. A 16-member Core Committee, appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, under the chairmanship of Secretary (HE), evolved the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) over a period of one year during 2014-15. And the Department of Higher Education under MHRD has come out with their rankings for 2017. Prakash Jawedkar, Minister for HRD has expressed the intention of the government to divide the universities in three categories - A, B and C -on the basis of various criteria including their NIRF rankings’*12. NIRF however covers not merely universities but also colleges and




*12. India Rankings 2017, National Institutional Ranking Framework, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
even discipline wise ranking is provided. Right now getting the ranking is a voluntary process and hopefully it will be a necessary factor for educational institutions to even survive in the competitive world of commercialized education.

Cost of higher education-prohibitive.

While standardizing admission criteria and ranking of institutions/disciplines provide a level playing field as far as having access to education of one’s choice is concerned, the issue of affordable cost remains to be addressed. In this context the decision of the apex court to allow private medical colleges to charge Rs 11 lakhs per annum as fees is a blow to the aspirations of students hailing from amoung more than 90 percent of the population. At the same time it has been reported in the media that amoung the top 20 rank holders in the All India Civil Services Examination of 2017 nineteen are engineers and also that engineers constitute half of all those who cleared the exam*13! While there may be nothing objectionable in individuals changing tracks but the current figures really question the logic of selecting the right person for the right.  The skill set required for pursuing a profession like engineering and conducting the business of administration are definitely not comparable. So the present situation offers a new perspective on our education system and available job opportunities. One perspective is that for engineers the available job opportunities in the field of their expertise are less lucrative than being a administrator with the government. But think of the administration in government and the skill set required for it and one feels compelled to question the selection process and the compensation offered. Suffice to say that the babus in government, led by the members of the Indian Administrative Service, primarily need a skill set- making briefs and answering comprehension questions that one acquires in the high school- to enable decision makers to make the right decisions with the least effort. And the cost to the exchequer for such a mundane job should be definitely enviable to make engineers opt for it ditching their first love!




*13. 19 of 20 UPSC toppers engineers, constitute half of those who cleared exam: Govt, India TV, 3rd Aug, 2017.
Reservations- murdering equality, liberty and fraternity in one stroke.

I have read reports about foreigners mocking India for its Hindu rate of growth and now we ourselves are acknowledging that we have become a country where everyone is competing to be backward. Whether politically correct or not there is no gainsaying that reservations only breed incompetence. In a fast and competitive society it would be fatal to compromise on competence to perform whatever one is required to perform. Equally true is the fact that there is a need to provide support to those who had been on the fringes of the society in the past and need to be brought into the mainstream. And the only way of doing it is by helping them acquire the competence they need to perform the tasks they would like to perform. To illustrate, if an adivasi boy or girl wants to become the Collector of his/her district, train him/her to qualify in the Civil Services Exams on his/her own steam. Reserving a few posts of District Collector for an incompetent person will be a sure shot way of ruining not merely the district administration but the whole district!

Campus Politics or breeding ground for criminals for political parties?

Campus politics is sought to be encouraged with the view of grooming the future citizens for fulfilling their responsibilities in a democratic society. But on ground it can be seen to have got reduced to a recruiting ground for criminals in political parties. The destruction of public property can alone suffice to brand the campus politics as an irresponsible and anti social activity and ban them. Students can b seen going on rampage for reasons like increase in concessional bus fare, tuition fees and of late even for their right to destroy the country! How many times has anyone seen or heard students protesting vehemently for regular updating of syllabus, better libraries and facilities for extracurricular activities, regular classes and timely conduct of exams and announcement of results?






Education vs Employment Opportunities.

As per a report*14 13.3 per cent of India’s population in the age group of 15-29 years were unemployed. Yet, as our unemployment figures continue to rise, almost every industry, be it manufacturing, technology, hospitality or corporate, is facing a shortage of skilled workforce. The same report continues: 47 per cent of Indian graduates are not qualified for any industry job and more than 70 per cent of our engineering graduates are not employable! According to Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, which is based on a study of more than 1,50,000 engineering students who graduated in 2015 from over 650 colleges, 80% of the them are unemployable.

Interestingly, Kerala, with it’s higher than national average literacy rate, has an unemployment rate of 7.4 per cent, which is much higher than the national average of 2.3 per cent. According to Labour Bureau's "Third Annual Employment & Unemployment Survey 2012-13" released on 29 November 2013, unemployment rate amongst illiterate youth is lower than educated youth.

3 Reasons Employers Say They Don’t Hire Youth. *15

Youth Seem Too Entitled. Employers frequently say that whether they’re high school dropouts or college graduates, youth today seem too entitled. No matter their station in life, they think they should have rewarding work, ideal workplaces, fair pay, good benefits, and substantive advancement opportunities. In return, they don’t want to work as hard, as long, or as meaninglessly as their parents or grandparents did.




*14. Unemployed or unemployable? By Ketan Kapoor in the Hindu dated 22 Dec 2013 at http://www.thehindu.com/features/education/careers/unemployed-or-unemployable/article5486730.ece#!
*15. Why Youth Are Unemployable   Posted by Adam at https://adamfletcher.net/why-youth-are-unemployable/
Adam Fletcher is a speaker on engaging young people in business, education, and communities. He is also the author of several books, including Ending Discrimination Against Young People. Learn more about him by visiting adamfletcher.net.
Youth Are Too Apathetic. With their obsessive amount of piercings, tattoos, and poor clothing, employers say youth constantly show that they are indifferent to common workplace expectations for appearance. Reflecting that indifference, youth today don’t respect the predominant Protestant Work Ethic that has dominated successful businesses around the world for more than 400 years. Many bosses say that young workers’ apathy shows in monumental ways when they simply don’t exert the energy needed to get the job done.

Youth Just Aren’t Ready. Despite all their education and education reform, tutoring, youth programs, and other entitlements youth enjoy today, employers consistently report that youth aren’t showing up for work ready to get the jobs done. Instead, they’re under-skilled and less-than-willing to learn what they need to in order to perform the most menial labor.

Learning to Earning…

In order to create employment opportunities for blue-collar jobs, to begin with, the National Skill Development Council (NSDC) has planned to target 25 million youth for training in various skill-based jobs over the next 10 years*14.

While government still needs to work out to remove hurdles to economic activity by not only merely simplifying regulations but going for smart regulations, the quality of public education must be enhanced and licence raj should be totally dismantled to enable entrepreneurs exploit fleeting opportunities that they come by. The increase in wages in China had opened the door for export-led garment industry and other labour intensive industries of India to generate millions of jobs. According to a report of World Bank “Stitches to Riches?” even a 10% growth in garment price of China will create 1.2 million jobs in the Indian garment industry*16.




*16. Youth want jobs not quota, it will not remove frustration of unemployed people

8 Steps to Youth Employability*15

Accept Responsibility. If you actually believe youth are unemployable, you are actually responsible for that condition, as well as for addressing it. If just 10% of all adults everywhere accepted responsibility for doing something different, youth unemployment would become rare around the world. No matter if you are a parent, a teacher, a police officer, business owner, politician, store manager, or simply a neighbor, you have a role to play. Read on to learn what that is.

Teach Young People About Mindsets. From birth, teach all young people everywhere to be willing to learn. Build lessons in how we think into early childhood development programs, and mandate all educators teach about learning styles and mindsets, and more.
Promote Practical Hopefulness. Many adults have largely given up on young people today, whether they recognize it or not. Instead of piping false hope across social media and television, we have to promote practical hopefulness that engenders real action.
Create Partnerships. As they enter their teen years, actively engage every young person in every community in an equitable partnership with an adult, whether as a mentor, in an apprenticeship, or otherwise.

Build Connectivity. Throughout their youth, continuously connect and reconnect every young person throughout their community through active learning, volunteerism, and otherwise.

Redo Education. Re-envision the core curriculum of schools to focus on practical, applicable skill-based and knowledge-building learning, rather than large topical swaths that are seemingly devoid of practical applications to students themselves. Student voice should be at the center of ALL education.

Promote In-person Internet. Weave together online identities with in-person identities. With the ubiquity of the Internet today, its increasingly vital that young people move seamlessly within their social networks, whether on the Internet or in real time.

Foster Entrepreneurial Lifestyles. Entrepreneurship is about more than work; its about life. More commonly than ever, society accepts that change is the only constant. Teaching young people to make the most of that is one of the best ways to make youth employable.

Stop Fighting Change. There’s so much resistance to diversity, to people who aren’t white or wealthy or male or straight or educated or accessible to the mainstream. We must stop fighting the impending changes our world inevitably holds for all of us, and instead embrace them ALL. We can guide and move some change, but at the least, we must simply accept it.

Make Lifelong Learning An Accessible Expectation. There is a lot of value to teaching oneself and learning what you want to, when you want to. However, in our increasingly commodified societies we’re making lifelong learning more and more expensive and inaccessible. We should throw the doors everywhere open for everyone, all the day. Andrew Carnegie knew the value of this; we should acknowledge that’s more important today than ever.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do is the first thing on this list: Accept responsibility, because from that place we can change the world.

Conclusion

Equality, freedom and fraternity are not merely some ideals to be touted by opportunists when it suits their convenience. They are mindsets to be imbibed from the day one starts interacting with the society. We are not living in an ideal world and that is why we have set up a system of governance with well defined tasks and empowered and equipped to fulfill those tasks. The cost to the citizen for sustaining the government is considerable. The accountability and transparency required in government functions are practically nonexistent. The subversion of the Right to Information Act, the only pro-democracy, citizen friendly law of the country, could be a case study for how every public servant in this country continue to treat the citizens as subjects, quite often worse than the way they were treated even by the colonists! The youth of today, in our educational institutions, have the onus of retrieving the situation for themselves. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar*17, Hindi poet, essayist, patriot and academic, had once said that when youth walk, the ground beneath should tremble.  But it would be important for them to also understand that everyone’s freedom ends where the other man’s nose begins. And also about what Jesus Christ said about doing unto others what you expect others to do unto you! And lastly, lest one is totally mistaken for a pacifist, here is our poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore guiding us through an exhortation: "Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not look for allies in life's battlefield but to my own strength. Let me not cave in."

(4996 words)












*17. His poem ‘Singhasan Khaali Karo Ke Janata Aaati Hai’ (Vacate the throne, for the people are coming) was used by Jayaprakash Narayan to inspire the people during his fight against the Emergency. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramdhari_Singh_Dinkar


Monday, 2 October 2017

Mr Prime Minister...

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

I am laboring to write this to you because I still consider you to be the best ever PM of this country. The only other person who has earned as much love and respect is Lal Bahadur Shastri who had rightly identified the national priorities through his slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. Unfortunately the dark forces working against the nation succeeded in eliminating him before he could make an impact.

Gujaratis are successful banias no doubt and hence your thrust on economic reforms can be appreciated in that context. But to believe that better economic affairs will translate to better quality of life for individuals is a myth. (Even for arguments sake if one agrees with it, there cannot be any doubt that such economic prosperity and equitable distribution of such wealth will remain a myth for a long, long time to come!) Closer home, in Kerala, I remember a talk show where the impact of declaring Kottayam as the first fully literate district in the State was being discussed. One of the participants had said that the number of complaints had increased! But more than two decades down the line I can vouch for how complaints are being treated by the authorities in Kerala-as trash!

I believe that a citizen who is seriously aggrieved can only do two things to get the grievance redressed- approach the courts or the police. But as per a Transparency International Report these are the most corrupt institutions in the country! (By the way, TI is facing contempt of court charges for publishing that Report!) But long before TI started publishing its reports or social media became an effective tool for reporting events live, I have heard older generations pray for passing through this life without having to enter a court or a police station!

By the very fact that justice delayed is justice denied, it can be concluded that our judiciary is an absolute failure. But the worse thing is that even after preposterous delays most of the decisions do not pass the test of logical deductions and just conclusions. My own study of certain court decisions tells me that the introductions are flowery and appeal to the gallery, the facts are generally non-disputable (though the complete facts may not be there!), the deductions are hazy and the conclusions?............. Preposterous!) I feel offended when the judges quote the poor judge to population ratio as the reason for the unacceptable delays. This itself is a lie and needs to be viewed as something like throwing one’s garbage into the neighbor’s plot! Here are some figures to prove them wrong:

Cases filed in one year (1999): India -13.6 Million (1,36,68,073); USA- 93.81 Million!
Docket’s per judge: India -987 per Judge; USA-3235 per Judge.

Suffice to say that judge to population ratio is irrelevant and what matters is the judge to docket ratio and any judge who doesn’t understand this logic should be considered incompetent to be a judge at all!

Further, whether it is the then CJI K G Balakrishanan declaring his office to be out of purview of the RTI Act or a former judge being compensated with Rs 100 cr in a defamation case or sending a sitting high court judge to jail for contempt of court, our judiciary has proved that it is a law unto themselves and the biggest threat to rule of law!

Of course under the circumstances you cannot do anything about it. I wish you had the wherewithal to impeach a few judges in quick succession so that democracy prevails instead of judicracy!

But if judiciary is bad, the quasi judicial organizations, intended to address limited areas of conflicts with simpler procedures are worse! Whether it is consumer disputes redressal for a/commissions constituted under the Consumer Protection Act or the plethora of ombudsmen and commissions like Human Rights Commissions and Information Commissions, they have all become rehabilitation centers for the worst public servants, after their retirement from regular employment, at tax payers’ cost! Though they are all directly under the Executive arm of the Constitution, complaints against them are simply dismissed on the ground that they are autonomous authorities! It may be due to incompetence or may be simply shirking responsibility taking advantage of the abhorable state of our judiciary. You may go through my blog at http://rithica2016.blogspot.in/2016/10/the-rti-act-is-dead.html to have a first hand feedback on how, right from the word go, the information commissioners have been subverting the RTI Act!

Coming to the administration in government, the less said the better. To put it bluntly, these are the people who are breeding criminals in the country. Journalist Taveleen Singh, writing for the Indian Express on Feb 21, 2010 (India’s bureaucratic albatross, http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/582409/) had stated ‘Every time I deal with Indian officials I become so depressed that I almost need therapy.’ After all she was a lady and can be forgiven for not wanting to thrash the hell out of them! (Now please do not ask me why I do not do such a thing. As a man out of uniform, the feeling is like a wild animal domesticated and left back in the woods!)The state of implementation of the only citizen friendly and pro-democracy law of the land-the Right to Information Act-has proved beyond any iota of doubt that most of the so called public servants are not only worse than the worst criminals known to mankind they are also forcing ordinary, hard working, honest, law abiding citizens to take law into their own hands!

Having said all that, I must blame you squarely for two things- ill treating the soldiers and illogically enforcing the UID. Going for civilian sahayaks, doing away with free rations for officers in peace time and tasking soldiers to clean garbage can all be seen only as illogical, petty and intended to purposely hurt the ego and morale of the soldiers. The veterans protesting at Jantar Mantar do have a more comprehensive list of grievances, all genuine, for sure.
The concept of UID is no doubt good but it is a hard fact that developed countries like the U S of A, UK and Australia, with a fraction of our population and many times per capita GDP,  had given it up on issues of cost and privacy! And in our own country, in spite of its use for over 6 decades, our public servants have not been able to issue even ration cards without mistakes!

Regards

P M Ravindran
02/10/2017

raviforjustice@gmail.com

Monday, 25 September 2017

Ms Nirmala Seethaaraman- be Raksha Mantri not Kaamwaali Mantri

Attention: Ms Nirmala Seethaaraman, Raksha Mantri, Govt of India

Shame on you! With the first order you signed you have reduced (!) yourself from the Raksha Mantri of this nation (also known as a sub continent!) to a Kaamwali (to borrow a term from my Hindi speaking friends) Mantri! If you were really not interested in the security of the Nation and matters military you could have said that to the Prime Minister who could have created a new ministry for Swatch Bharat to be headed by a Cabinet Minister and installed you there!

I had seen and heard you a few times as the spokesperson of BJP and had been impressed with your understanding of the subject you were speaking on and the way you articulated them. But you reinforce the fact that juggling with words as an armchair expert is a different game from putting your shoulder to the wheel and working to produce tangible and perceivable results.

I have no doubt about the need for and urgency in a mission like Swatch Bharat. I have no idea either of how much taxpayers’ money has been squandered on the project and how much of it has really been spent on producing results. But in the township I live in, the only municipality in Kerala headed by the BJP, I know some effort had been made to earmark places for dumping garbage and signposting them but ultimately what has happened is that the Municipality has declared its intention to withdraw from its primary duty of keeping the town clean! The last date for their employees collecting segregated waste from homes (on payment, of course!) has been extended from 31 Aug 2017 to 01 Oct 2017! If they have created practical alternate arrangements for waste disposal I am not aware of it! By the way this local self governing body has been directly responsible for polluting fresh water sources like ponds by routing storm water (cum sewage!) drains to ponds and more than once the Ombudsman for Local Self Governing Bodies had directed it to clean them up without any effect! To be honest, this is not a problem with this Municipality only.

Coming back to matters military, do you know that it is the man behind the machine and his morale that is the ultimate battle winning factor? And when I say that this factor- morale - has been on slippery slope for years believe me as the voice of the voiceless. Yes, over the years, since the day we are told we got independence, there is nothing that the governments of the day have done to give him the justice and honour that is due to him. Worse, all of them have only worked towards exacerbating his plight! Even by the simple principle of equal pay for equal work one can say the Sepoy of the Indian Army deserves better pay and perks than the Cabinet Secretary of the Union Government. And to quote Aravind Kumar, Jurist and lawyer ('Needed high speed legal redressal', Pioneer, Kochi, 01 Aug 2006): Justice is an intrinsic human need. We suffer much privation but we cannot suffer being wronged. Absence of justice, we must not forget, is one of the causes of crime. Fortunately our soldiers are not inclined to crimes and the simplest of those that are committed are punished with a heavy hand. In fact they are in the most unenviable situation because their official tasking demands either they do or die. But that does not give anybody the liberty to task them with any and every errand in the world. By the way, can you ensure that your babus, led by the IASwallahs and wallies, the ones who have reduced government administration to a synonym for corruption and treason, keep their offices and premises clean without the help of safaikaramcharis?

I rest my case here for now. You may also read my blog at http://raviforjustice.blogspot.in/2014/02/for-whom-soldiers-sacrifice-their-lives.html
Yours truly,

(P M Ravindran)

raviforjustice@gmail.com /   25 Sep 2017