We are making no-detention policy an emotional issue, almost an article of faith. On one side are the people who want to do away with policy because they think it has an adverse effect on learning. On the other are those who ask an irrelevant question loudly: "Will failing children make them learn?" Well, no one claims that. What the antagonists of the policy are saying is that passing without learning helps no one.
However, both misdiagnose the problem. The real problem is that our definition of completion of elementary education is dependent on learning a grade-wise organised curriculum. This is the rigid authoritarian structure of school and curriculum. On the other hand, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and no-detention policy can succeed only in an ungraded school and curriculum planned as a learning curve, rather than as a staircase. Neither party is paying attention to this. Till we gather courage to dismantle grade-wise school structure continuous and comprehensive evaluation and no-detention policy can never succeed. – Rohit Dhankar
We will all go the great American way, from where these hare-brained ideas originate, with an almost 100% school coverage combined with abysmal results (“India will grossly fail its children if it revokes the no-detention policy”). Learning is not possible in the absence of motivation and pressure. Motivation is a nebulous notion impossible to achieve on a any reproducible scale, pressure is easy to create. On our copy of the Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine was a quote handwritten by my roommate, attributed to perhaps the great William Osler, which effectively said examinations offer us the chance to cover the gaps in our knowledge. By doing away with objective examinations, we're just mucking up the future of the kids in the name of nebulous hare- brained concepts. – Dr Sachin Lohra
I love your site, but I was terribly disappointed with this article about India's detention policy. It failed to present a balanced argument and read like an unsubstantiated opinion piece. Since the RTE Act was introduced, the proportion of rural third graders that cannot read basic words has increased from 25% to 40%, while no noticeable gains have been made in enrollment, according to Annual Status of Education Report data. Performance in practically all indicators has fallen sharply since the act was introduced. However, the author completely dismisses these findings. The data, as well as countless conversations I have had with teachers, Teach For India fellows, and non-profits in rural India show that there is clearly some merit to the idea that the RTE Act might have led to the fall in learning outcomes. While it is difficult to conclusively prove that this decline was caused by the no-fail policy, the author's explanation seems like a significantly less satisfactory hypothesis. – Rishabh
As a former reporter who used to cover the education beat and a research scholar who also teaches college students, I seriously differ with the opinions voiced in this article. The problem with policy makers and critics of our education policy is that they are, like the author, researchers, fellows, or scholars, and not your average schoolteacher who knows the actual situation. If you ask a teacher who teaches at the high school level, you will realise how much the no-detention policy has failed. I have also come across several post-graduate or even research students who cannot write a single sentence correctly. The no-detention policy has forced our (already over burdened) teachers to evaluate the answer sheets in a ridiculously liberal manner. The end result? These teachers (in many parts of the country) are forced to take extra hours of teaching even after class hours, but this has at best produced students who have impressive marks but know nothing. Punishment and fear, is an essential aspect to instill academic discipline. If not, we will continue to have a significant portion of the educated generation knowing nothing. – Arun P Mathew
The Rajya Sabha is often referred to as the House of the Elders as well as a Council of States (“Fake federalism: How 'national parties' turned the concept of 'rajya' in Rajya Sabha into a farce”). But, as Garga Chatterjee rightly points out, it seems to have lost its essence. The Rajya Sabha has become a replacement house for those politicians who could not win a Lok Sabha election, or are very important in the political party. For instance, former Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, was first included in the Union Cabinet and the BJP also sent him to the Upper House from the State of Uttar Pradesh. As rightly pointed out by the author, few of such politicians seem to truly represent their states. – KB Dessai
I can’t understand how, after so many goof ups and frequent manipulation of facts, Narendra Modi is still considered capable enough by the middle class to solve the problems of this vast country (“'Modi is confusing Madame Tussauds for Konark Temple': Twitter gives prime minister a history lesson”). Modi’s and his party’s contention that we had discovered and invented all things used in modern world long before western world is laughable, but the right-wing still swears by it. Either they have a warped vision or they chose to ignore these gaffes and ideology in the hope that the BJP will correct themselves. Party bhakts are in for a rude shock because BJP will never change and will go on doing these type of goof ups.
This is not the first time that our worthy prime minister has made India and Indians the laughing stock of the world. This is not only about his peculiar knowledge about the country or history of the country but also his habit of manipulating facts and fabricating information. Recently, BJP president Amit Shah said it is India’s fortune that it has a PM who speaks. But Shah too has the same habit of spreading cooked up stories. The prime minister says the fact that he’s an Indian makes him hold his head up high when aborad, but when he will realise that here in India, people shake their heads when he spreads artifices? – Arun
Finally, a decision (“Why the BJP decided to finally dump Eknath Khadse (but is also backing him)”). The people of India voted the UPA out because of corruption, apart from stark inefficiency. Now that people know for a fact that the BJP is also steeped in corruption, the political equation between the UPA and the NDA is finally evening out. In due course, one can expect more cases of corruption implicating BJP ministers to tumble out of the closet. – Venkataramana
Control the damage
EP Jayarajan messed up the condolence message for Muhammad Ali by calling him a great Keralite and later tried to defend his buffoonery (“Muhammad Ali was an eminent sports personality of Kerala, according to state sports minister”). How can a sports minister of India’s most literate state react like? It’s shocking, even more so because a tall leader of progressive left party, representing an ideology that has always taken a strong stance against American imperialism, seemed not to know Ali, who was not only a boxing legend but also someone who took a strong stance against racism and war. I hope Kerala’s sports minister takes not that the only Olympic medal winner from the state, Kannur-born Manuel Fredericks, has no home till date in his native town despite winning the bronze medal in the 1972 Munich Olympics. He is still living in rented home in Bangalore, even though the government had promised him land – which was later denied to him citing legal issues. By giving recognition, rewards and a home to Fredricks – which is 44 years overdue – the sports ministry can somewhat salvage the situation. – Devdas V
Although I agree with most of the points raised in this article, I disagree with the celebration of Brilliant Tutorials and other such ventures in the country (“How Indian science stopped being fun and turned into a formula”). A tutorial centre cannot replace academic institutions, since it limits the dissemination of knowledge to the blackboard (or, these days, the whiteboard). This whole coaching-class frenzy in the country is condemnable and stems not only from the near failure of our schools but from the lack of confidence of parents in the strengths of their children and their eagerness to have them outdo their peers. This is partly responsible for the death of culture of inquiry, scientific or otherwise, as is the monolithic idea of science pointed out by this article. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time experimenting in my school's chemistry lab than have my head full of the idea of cracking the JEE. Who knows, that may have led me to pursue a BSc – and I'm sure I'm not the only one with that regret. – Vinay
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is in itself insufficient as a redressal for all discrimination against women (“The debate on triple talaq and Muslim women's rights is missing out on some crucial facts”) For example, say I’m a Hindu woman who leaves her husband as he is abusive, but I decide not to get a formal divorce. Should I die without making a will, my self-acquired earnings will go to my abusive husband and his heirs, according to section 15 (1) of the Hindu Succession Act.
Also, although the Domestic Violence Act covers all women "relationships in the nature of marriage", the Supreme Court in the D Velusamy vs D Patchaiammal case in 2010 held that in order to fall within this category "[the couple] must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried." This leads to situations where women who don’t fall into these paradigms are unable to invoke the Domestic Violence Act against their partner if required. Personal laws must be reformed to bring about truly gender-just laws. The fact that a man can divorce his wife by saying talaq three times is absolutely unfair, especially if men are more allowed to have multiple spouses, while women are expected to remain faithful to only one man. – Gayatri Sharma
The article touched on an important issue that has regional ramifications (“Why South Asia can't afford to be glacial in its response to climate change”). Mr Muniruzzaman cited devastating floods, cyclones, river erosion as the effects of climate change and the consequent human impact such as displacement. All natural calamities are not due to human-induced climate change, which there is still some scepticism about. The article said that military services are usually the first to respond in crisis situations. While they may be best equipped to deal with such calamities, civil resources should be employed as a first step. The government's civilian machineries and the NGO sector can play a vital role in dealing with any crisis situation. Governments can play a key role in making sure a country is ready to tackle the impact of climate change; co-operation among South Asian countries may not be seamless, as long-lasting and deep-seated mistrust and exists between some countries from a political standpoint. Political will is the key – though that is probably the toughest nut to crack. – Abdul Quader
The good fight
Kalpana Sharma’s article on women’s status and position in Naga society is a timely report and assessment (“In politics and property ownership, there’s no space for Nagaland's women”). Others can see this much more clearly than we manage to! As a Naga man actively wrestling with our uprooted and dislocated society, trying humbly and bewilderedly “to be the change”, the article helps me see a crucial area and issue I have not given adequate attention to. I know it is going to be a tough battle for Naga women and men to bring about the change and legal status that women should be entitled to enjoy and exercise. I am glad my wife, son and I have passed on a prized site in our village to a niece of ours, because she has an inspired plan for it. I know that this is just a small step at this stage.
The mention of my sister Rano Shaiza in the article moved me. She was the first Naga woman to become an MP and was a great human being and fought fiercely for the things she believed in. – Niketu Iralu
Missing the boat
Sorry, this is one of the dumber pieces I have read in a long time. One of the greatest thriller writers in the world was a woman: Patricia Highsmith ("How India’s women writers are storming the ‘male’ bastion of action thrillers"). She literally re-invented the genre. She was also a homosexual and wrote The Price of Salt, a gorgeous book that was recently made into a fantastic movie: Carol. The fact that Adite Banerjie doesn't even mention Highsmith in her gallery of influences and successful writers shows that she missed the boat early on. I would suggest that she start with The Talented Mr Ripley (first filmed as Purple Noon, then as The Talented Mr Ripley), go on to Strangers on the Train (made into one of the great classic thriller movies of all time), and fan out from there. – Perry Brass
There's another little-known Beatles songs that could fit in there - at least "The Inner Light” ("Six lesser-known spiritual songs of George Harrison, the Hindu Beatle"). I'm glad you mentioned "Brainwashed." I host George Harrison Tributes and we have often ended a set with a medley of "Brainwashed” or “My Sweet Lord.” It's very powerful and uplifting. – Ky Hote
I enjoyed reading Nate Rabe’s article on George Harrison. Rabe was two years my senior at Woodstock School. I remember the day that the Beatles arrived in Mussoorie. I gave them directions to Zigzag House, where the Hunters lived. I was playing on the pushtah at Woodstock Villa as they walked on Tehri Road towards our school. Mr Hunter was a well known British psychedelic artist. – Teri Skillman-Kashyap
The violence in Mathura points to the failure of politico-administrative machinery in ensuring law and order (“Mathura violence: Akhilesh Yadav government transfers district magistrate, senior police official”). The land had been encroached upon for many years. Owing to political patronage, the activities of the said religious cult group were allowed to remain there and a blind eye was turned to them. It needed Allahabad high court’s intervention to have the land cleared. The rule of law must prevail over the whims and fancies of these cults and the political parties to which they are affiliated. Accumulation of arms and lethal weapons by any organisation must be declared unlawful.
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has definitely done a commendable job in keeping the inflation rates and fiscal deficit low (“This could be Raghuram Rajan's last monetary policy statement”). However, arguing that he is the 'only economist' or governor to have achieved such a feat is both illogical and incorrect. There are many sane voices within the RBI that are equally qualified for the post of governorship. It is the government's own prerogative to select the best man for the RBI. The debate on whether Rajan should be retained or not is unnecessary. The focus must be on insulating the institution of RBI from political pressures and instilling growth in the economy. It doesn't matter who mans the post as long as the job is well done. – Gaurav Singhal
India should get rid of Sadhvi Prachi (“It's time to rid India of Muslims, Sadhvi Prachi says in communal strife-torn Roorkee”). And if no other country agrees to take this hate monger in, a long time in jail might help. – Preetijit
The dark horse
I have been a German football fan for the last 25 years – ever since I started understanding the sport (“Why World Cup champion Germany is not the favourite on current form to win Euro 2016”). The concerns raised in the article are true, but I still hope this team has the ability to clinch Euro 2016. I will certainly root for them
It’s a pity that when the BJP has someone capable of galvanising votes on their side, they are chosing to dilly-dally (“Every survey picks Varun Gandhi as BJP's face for UP polls – but there's a problem”). They'll miss an opportunity yet again. – Chandra Vijay Singh
The chief ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh polls should be someone from UP. Forget the views of the people in power and come down to the commoners and what it is that they want. Abolish the parampara of sycophancy because if you fall at someone’s feet, you can't criticise him later This means the voice of the masses shall never reach at the top. Remember, in the last election, it was Rahul vs Akhilesh, which the top brass of the Congress had never speculated. – Charanjit Delhi
This is the typical RSS response (“Swaminarayan idol made to wear RSS outfit at Surat temple, both Congress and BJP disapprove”). Do the deed. If it goes unnoticed, all the better. If noticed, disapprove. – Tani Bharghava
I saw him in glorious shape in the mid-’50s, already a legend among the youth in Calcutta then (“India's first Mr Universe, Manohar Aich, proved his mental and physical strength by living to be 102”). Hercules would've been proud of his pocket edition. His stint with the British Royal Air Force during the War is another revelation. Thanks for the news. May he be the inspiration for our younger generations. RIP. – Asit
I am an ardent follower of your website. But your recent one on the tribal protest and your encouragement to them has left me disappointed. (“Dilli chalo: A protest that began in Manipur has found a new epicentre in the capital”). Meiteis, who constitute 60% of the population, are confined to only 4% of the land area in the Imphal valley due to absence of settlement rights in the hills (the percentage of the land area has been calculated as the settlement area of the valley after taking away the area occupied by Loktak lake in the valley).
The three bills were passed to help lessen the congestion in the valley and allow valley people to settle in the hills. But the tribals are blocking it saying that it harms their interests. The tribals can buy land in the valley, which the Meiteis cannot buy back. So the 4% land area of the meiteis is getting engulfed by tribals, who enjoy two-way rights over both the hills and plains while simultaneously protesting against equal settlement rights to the valley people on 90% of the area of Manipur. The protest by the tribals is meant to deny rights of the valley people to settle in the hills. Every Indian citizen is allowed to settle anywhere in India, but Meities are being kept away from settling in 90 % of their own state's area. – S Sanjeev Kumar
I am neither the custodian of Manipur society nor defender of the Meitei. The article should be called “Tribal’s voice in Delhi” or “Mouth piece of Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi”. On what basis have used the word “peaceful” protestors? Were you present at the spot of lathi-charge? Did you ask the Delhi Police to reconstruct the event?
The delegation had gone to Delhi to meet the prime minister and his council of ministers. Who authorised the Manipur Tribal Forum Delhi to represent the joint action committee of so called anti-tribal bills? Why wasn’t the Churachandpur joint action committee ready to talk to the government back home? Have you asked the agitators in why, instead of discussion the three bills, they are demanding a separate administration for the hills? Or separation from Manipur Valley?
The Meitei are being harassed and discriminated against by tribals. Manipur is composed of 90% hills, 4% valleys and 6% percent water bodies. Meiteis are living along with all these tribes in as little as 4% valley land only. These lands, once purchased by the tribals, cannot be sold to a Meitei without the approval of the deputy commissioner. And the Meitei cannot buy lands in the hills. More than 2 lakhs Meitei voters do not get the privilege to contest elections, but just cast their votes. Where in Indian will you find such discrimination against particularly community? – Naorem Mohe
Thank you for a positive write-up on Dhoni's skills as a captain, winner, player and mentor (“At 34, why is MS Dhoni bothering to lead youngsters to Zimbabwe instead of getting some rest?”) This is the travesty – lose a few matches, and you are considered history. This, along with politics in the BCCI, makes matters very tricky for cricketers. How easily everyone forgot the many victories MS Dhoni brought to the nation. Dhoni is one of the greatest captains Team India has seen and he has done the country proud. – Canta
Aarefa Johari's report on Muslim women coming together to oppose the obsolete practice of triple talaq is an encouraging one ("Meet the ordinary Muslim women fighting an extraordinary case against triple talaq in India"). Hopefully, it will not be just unfortunate victims, or only women, who will raise their voice to get this absolutely unfair and inhuman interpretation of the Quran done away with. Bodies like the Bharitya Muslim Mahila Andolan must get both, progressive men and women to support their cause and make it into a gender-free fight against a social cancer that has been festering for far too long. – Alpana Chowdhary
For talaq, the woman’s consent should be made mandatory and there has to be a provision for asset sharing/alimony. In case the wife does not voluntarily agree to dissolution of marriage, such matters should be referred to court of law and if laws are not there, the country’s laws should be applied. The insistence by All Muslim Personal Law Board that such practices are a non-issue that affect only a fraction of the community is technically correct, purely on a statistical ground, but such divorces can ruin the lives of women and their children and families. If the Muslim Personal Law Board has not worked towards getting halala (a rule that states that for a divorced couple to remarry, the wife must first marry another man, who has to divorce her) banned, they should be made to remove word 'All' from their name because halala is discouraged among Shia Muslims. And Shias are counted as Muslims. – Feisal
Guadeloupe is not a country but a French overseas department, or county (“For France, winning Euro 2016 will not necessarily mean becoming champions”). People born there are French and there is no Guadeloupe national team. We have had quite a few superb Guadeloupean athletes on different French national teams. To say that "France was never really industrialised" to make a very debatable point in the next paragraph is either awkward or misinformed as well. Apart from that, this piece meets Scroll.in's usual high standards. – Jean-Francois Le Ruyet
I am very happy to see that Manmohan Singh is leading Congress in responding to and refuting all the negative publicity that the BJP government has been creating against the UPA government ever since they came into power ("Speech excerpts: Modi's policy U-turns are a tribute to my government's work, says Manmohan Singh"). It is important to emphasise, with evidence that is clear to see, that all the initiatives launched by the BJP are nothing but repackaged and renamed programs already initiated by the UPA. – Vijay Tonse
Your review of the Bhupen Khakhar show at the Tate Modern is most insightful and intelligent review ("Bhupen Khakhar: A great painter of little lives"). The reviews in British newspapers were curiously ignorant and vicious or a bit bland, albeit positive. – Brian Weinstein
Women in power
We here In india have already had a female president as well as prime minister ("Three female scholars react to Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination"). We want Clinton to be the next president of the US. She is intelligent, qualified and most deserving for the post, and, as is rightly said, if women are secure, succesful and educated, the nation prospers. I wish her best of luck. – Nandini Gore
I loved the manner in which Kalpana Sharma has articulated her viewpoint in response to the Mid-Day item on Tarun Tejpal ("Yes, it's time for a re-think – by people trying to deflect charges of sex crimes by their friends"). Look forward to more such articles from Scroll.in – Kushan Sarkar
Law of the land
Thank God we still have a strong judiciary that tries to uphold the Constitution ("Asking the Centre to fulfill its obligations under laws it passed is not judicial overreach"). Had things been left to the whims and fancies of the government, the country would not progress. If the makers of the law followed their own laws, it would not need the honourable judiciary to point out their weaknesses. – IK Howard
It is matter of regret that India's public funds are being utilised for the children of the privileged elite ("Civil servants run poor quality schools for India's kids, but want premium schools for their own"). Such a step would give children a poor perception about society thereby limiting their cognitive abilities and understanding of diversity. It is against the basic ethos of what idea of India stands for. Wealthy children, if educated in such exclusive set-ups, will never see or empathise with the lesser privileged. The public education system, with a mix of the elite and the underprivileged, can nurture good citizenry for the country. Bhasker Pegu
You started this article really well and almost had me believe it was genuine ("5 things you must do to become a proud patriotic Narendra Modi chamcha"). But alas, a few words later, I realised that it's just a mockery! The only victory for you is that you were able to convince Google to suggest this article to me – so thank the SEO team for that. I am an educated man and I think I can use my brains to spot the difference between an article that can help shape opinion and that which is just nonsense. I spent four minutes on your piece, but understood nothing, because I didn't want to. If you want to bash Modi, do it – freedom of speech, after all. An article, in my opinion, should educate someone, pronounce the matter clearly and help clear a doubt. This does neither. – Giri