Times of India | 1 month ago | 01-12-2022 | 09:01 am
The candidates in South Gujarat did not just fear the backlash from angry villagers when they visited tribal areas. What scared them more were the mobile phones that tech-savvy tribals wielded with great efficacy to scuttle campaigning. It had become common in villages for someone to pick an argument with the candidate. Another person in the crowd would shoot the scene and posts it on social media. Before the candidate reached the next village, the video went viral. This forced candidates to discuss issues with the village leaders before setting foot there. “We reached the village an hour early and called up people. We developed a rapport with the crowd so that the meeting ended peacefully,” said a political worker in Valsad. From Bharuch to Valsad, the districts have 12 Scheduled Tribe (ST) seats. Ignoring these areas was not an option for candidates. That Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Kaprada to begin his poll campaign proved the importance of these seats. Historically, the tribal votes have been loyal to the Congress for decades. However, after losing seats due to the Patidar quota movement in the 2017 assembly poll, the ruling BJP decided to compensate for it by winning the tribal seats. The ruling dispensation appointed tribal leaders like Surat Mangrol MLA Ganpat Vasava, Gandevi MLA Naresh Patel, Kaprada MLA Jitu Chaudhary and Umargam MLA Raman Patkar as ministers. It is also hard to miss the BJP government’s devotion towards improving Kaprada’s lot in the past five years. Located at the southernmost tip of the state, Kaprada is a remote hilly terrain that feeds on rainwater and stays mostly arid around the year, despite receiving the highest rainfall in the state. Women here brave long distances to fetch their daily quota of potable water from 35ft deep wells in the region. The situation has improved in a few areas with the Astole group water supply project that is touted as an engineering marvel that lifts water from the Madhuban dam up to 1,800ft to be distributed to 174 villages. Kaprada is where Congress MLA from Vansda, Anant Patel, campaigned heavily against the Par-Tapi-Narmada riverlinking project. The project has widely impacted seats with the tribal majority, including Dang, Dharampur, Gandevi, Vansda, Mahuva and Vyara. Multiple protests were held in all these areas and to counter the impact, the BJP decided to drop the project. Mobile connectivity is another major issue. Kaprada villagers have to climb up the hills to stay connected to the rest of the world. In contrast, the Dharampur and Umargam seats of Valsad have urban pockets with good roads and mobile connectivity. Yet, campaigning activities are limited in Valsad. A taluka panchayat member explains, “A major chunk of the tribal population that make a living as farm or industrial labourers drown out candidates with questions on inflation and lack of hikes in wages. ” Meanwhile, in the Tapi district, the migration of labourers in search of work, lack of schools, and colleges, and jobs for educated tribal youth are the key issues in Vyara and Nizar seats. The scenario is different in Vansda and Gandevi of Navsari. Chikhli, a crucial centre in the Gandevi constituency, plays a key role in determining political trends on the seat. In the Surat district, caste factors will play a key role in Mahuva and Mandvi tribal seats. In Dang, the BJP has repeated Vijay Patel as its candidate, who will challenge Mukesh Patel of the Congress and Sunil Gamit of the AAP. Jhagadia is a vital seat owing to its industrial development and proximity to Bharuch, from where the BTP founder Chhotu Vasava is fighting as an independent. The BJP has been showcasing the 182m tall statue of India’s first home minister Sardar Patel in Narmada district as a project that changed the lives of tribals in Narmada district for the better. However, Kevadia residents feel burdened with the cost of living, especially as they allege that SoU has done little to ease their hardships. Chandu Tadvi, a resident of Bhumaliya village in Garudeshwar taluka, says, “The government istom-tomming about development in Kevadia. But where are the jobs that the tribals were promised? They hired non-tribals from outside!” Another tribal, Vanji Himmat from Jher village, alleges that the officials razed his roadside food stall. “First, they took our land and now they won’t allow us to earn a living,” he says. In neighbouring Chhota Udepur constituency, a Congress stronghold, is all set to witness an intense family battle between the Rathwas. Mayank Rathwa, a local activist, working for tribal health and education in Chhota Udepur, says, “Voters are angry with Mohansinh for quitting the Congress and may resort to revenge voting against the BJP. ” For tribals in Sankheda and Pavi Jetpur, scarce irrigation water and lack of employment are significant concerns. In the tribal heartland of Dahod district and parts of the adjoining districts in central Gujarat, where most of the electorate is poor, the poll campaign revolves around freebies. If the Congress and the AAP are promising free electricity, education, and other services, the BJP is stressing how it had given a lot to the electorate, and it was payback time by voting for the lotus. Dahod district has six seats, of which five are ST candidates. The neighbouring Panchmahal and Mahisagar districts have one ST seat each of Morva Hadaf and Santrampur. The North Gujarat region with three ST seats — Danta in Banaskantha, Bhiloda in Aravalli, and Khedbrahma in Sabarkantha — has been a Congress bastion. Danta has 2 lakh-odd voters, of which nearly 50% are tribals. Mustu Khan, a social worker, says, “Lack of health infrastructure, schools, and employment are major issues, but tribal votes can be swayed by booze and money power. ” Khedbrahma seat, which has a decisive 1. 2 lakh tribal votes, nearly 63% of 1. 92 lakh total voters, will see Congress’s Tushar Chaudhary, a former union minister, fight to gain the seat.
Nashy Chauhan,Director, Anand Niketan group of schoolsAs educators we have to understand when to educate kids about sexuality. Class 1 and 2 are ages when children have to be taught more about their surroundings rather than introducing them to body parts in a way meant for pre-puberty age. We teach children of age 11-12 about the body parts in a scientific language only. I have attended national, international seminars on the subject but have not come across the concept of introducing them to it at such a young age. For class 1-2 students, we stick to good touch and bad touch education, without using anatomical references.PrashantBhimani,Consulting PsychologistAt the age of 6 or 7 children’s cognitive, social and psychological development is underway. It is too early an age to introduce them to human anatomy. I have a simple question to educators who endorse it: ‘Do you take your kids to the moon when they ask about the moon?’ Naming the organs may create other issues of sexual orientation. I am not denying the fact that sexuality education is important and grades 5-6 are the right age to do it.Dhvanit Thakar,ParentAs a parent, I would not want my children to get exposed to subjects that are not appropriate to their age. Through these market-driven and commercial agendas, we have created a world of adults and are snatching away the innocence of children. It is unnatural to expose them to sexuality at such a young age. I believe in sexuality education to children at a right age, when their bodies are going through hormonal changes.Minal Desai,Director, Gems Genesis International SchoolIn our school, we teach the concept of good touch-bad touch without naming the organs. They are only taught to raise objections when touched in an inappropriate manner. At our school, body parts are named and introduced in grade 5-6. We impart such education to students of younger classes only when they raise queries and not push it under the carpet. We also include parents in the process and conduct sessions with the help of counsellors.Jaison Manjaly,Parent, faculty at IIT-GnI support the school (Redbricks) and feel it is a good practice to introduce education of body parts from the beginning. When my son came to us asking questions like: Where did I come from? We introduced him to the process in a responsible manner. His curiosity was addressed and he hasn’t asked the same question again. However, the means of introducing the kids to the subject of sexuality is also important. It’s best to take along the parents in the process.Prof Prashant Das,ParentI would want my kids to be sensitised about sex education and want them to be informed. I wish the narrative on the subject is normalised rather than being scandalised. It is unsettling at a young age to be introduced to sexual jargons. As a parent, I am not qualified to decide the right age and leave that to experts to decide. We need to sensitise young people via school curriculum in a responsible manner to set the tone for their future social behaviour.
The ATLAS International Faculty Week organized by ATLAS SkillTech University marks a new wave of ‘Internationalization at Home’ in India. It presents the young learners of India with a never-seen-before opportunity to access the best in world-class education from top-ranked universities on their very own campus in Mumbai. Throughout this week, ATLAS SkillTech University will host over 25 distinguished and eminent faculty members from 14 leading UK universities including Imperial College London,University of Bristol, University of Bath, Royal College of Art, University of Arts, London, University of Westminster, Nottingham Trent University and Manchester Metropolitan University. Emphasizing on the significance of this initiative for creating global leaders of the future, Dr. Indu Shahani, President and Chancellor, ATLAS SkillTech University said, “At ATLAS SkillTech University we are committed to empowering the ATLAS students as leaders who can fuel global innovation and impact. The ATLAS International Faculty Week is a reinforcement of our vision of creating meaningful collaborations with highly distinguished faculty to bring in the best of international practices in teaching, learning and research on the ATLAS campus”.During this power-packed week, the international faculty visiting the ATLAS SkillTech University will deliver nearly 400 hours of teaching across 175 credit-bearing sessions at the intersection of Design, Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management. Masterclasses, lectures and workshops have been designed to reflect the international curriculum, coursework, pedagogy and culture from universities that are considered the Ivy-League of UK. Highlighting the global impact created by the initiative taken by ATLAS SkillTech University, Dr. Veselina Stoyanova from the University of Birmingham said “The International Faculty Week by ATLAS SkillTech University will serve as a fundamental building block to add onto synergies between the East and the West. It lays a strong foundation to teach, learn, share and exchange knowledge that will enable us to collectively address global challenges around climate change, urban living, rising world population and various other issues”.Nearly 3000 ATLAS students will have the opportunity to be a part of this initiative and explore a diverse range of subjects such as Digital Finance, International Business Dynamics, Data Visualization, Sustainable Fashion Futures, Creative Entrepreneurship and Interaction Design. These new-age subjects have been very specifically curated by ATLAS SkillTech University to meet industry demands for jobs of the future and to enable the ISDI & ISME students with a global perspective on the most pressing topics being discussed globally.During one such interaction, Professor Iwona Abrams from the University of Westminster said, “It is impressive to see the level of conversation the students of ATLAS SkillTech University have been able to engage in and the personal connect they have established with us in such a short span of time. It clearly demonstrated that this initiative is a two-way exchange and while it will enable the students with international academic experiences, it will also be a unique opportunity for us faculty to find great takeaways from these young and bright ATLAS students”.The success of this landmark global initiative has established that ATLAS SkillTech University is on the forefront of reimagining the globalization of Indian higher education.Get in touch for more info.Abhinav Madan, Director – Strategy & Growth Operations+91 99309 25993, firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for not taking action regarding an earlier commission direction, issued on December 8 last year, in which it had asked the state government to investigate allegations that Hindu children were being taught at madrasas. The commission had also written to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary to map the unmapped madrasas in the state.In his letter to the special secretary of the minorities department of the UP government on Friday, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has said that while directions to the chief secretary had been forwarded to the department for “necessary compliance”, no action has been taken so far. “…no action taken report in compliance as sought by the commission has been received from your good office in the matter,” the letter says.The NCPCR has asked the UP government to take “urgent appropriate action in the matter”. It has also directed the UP government to submit an action-taken report to the commission within the next three days.Kanoongo has further raised the issue of the UP State Madrasa Board chairman allegedly saying that children of other faiths would be taught at madrasas.“Besides, the commission has come across various media reports wherein the chairman of UP State Madrasa Education Board Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Javed has given irrelevant and divergent statements in various media, advocating the continuance of children of other faiths in the madrasas. The commission totally disagrees with the statement of the chairman of UP State Madrasa Education Board which not only violates the constitutional rights of the children but also shows disrespect to the commission’s mandate,” it has said.“We have been receiving reports and complaints from UP that Hindu children are being taught at madrasas in the state. Why should this be? The UP madrasa board was set up to ensure that children studying at madrasas also receive some kind of formal education to make them employable. But this has not been the case. The medium of instruction, as prescribed by the board, is Arabic, Persian and Urdu – how can children build their careers based on this and without appropriate knowledge of English or Hindi? Besides this, the instructions imparted at these madrasas is religious in nature and about Islam – why should Hindu children learn this,” said Kanoongo, speaking with The Indian Express.
Two days after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came down heavily on alleged interference in the affairs of the elected AAP government during his address in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, asking “Who is the LG, where did he come from?”, Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena wrote to him, asking him to refer to the Constitution for the answer.In his letter, L-G Saxena termed Kejriwal’s statements against him both in the Delhi Assembly and outside it as “substantively misleading, untrue and derogatory”.Questioning his alleged interference in matters of the Delhi government over a range of issues, Kejriwal had accused Saxena of constitutional overreach during his address to the House before leading a march to Raj Niwas and demanding that the L-G meet him and the 61 other AAP MLAs.Referring to media reports related to his allegations against him, Saxena said some of these did not deserve a reply since they “cater to a very low level of discourse.” He also termed as “posturing” Kejriwal’s allegation that the L-G did not meet him after his march to Raj Niwas.“I came to know through media reports that on Monday…you left the Assembly and were protesting with others outside Raj Niwas, demanding to meet me. Thereafter, I invited you and the Dy. Chief Minister to come and see me. I would have, indeed, loved to have you over and served you lunch as well” Saxena stated.“However, you chose not to come on the pretext of wanting to meet me with all of your MLAs. You would appreciate that, given the short notice and sudden demand on your part, it would not have been possible to at once have a meeting with 70-80 people, nor would have it served any concrete purpose,” he added.Terming it unfortunate, Saxena accused Kejriwal of political posturing by announcing that he had refused to meet him. “I must mention here that I was rather astounded at the fact that even as the city is grappling with several serious developmental issues, you found time to walk for long and stage a protest meant solely for posturing, rather than taking the issue to a logical conclusion by meeting me,” Saxena stated.The L-G said he was glad that the issue of education and teacher training was being raised by the CM and AAP MLAs, following which he took on the AAP government over it. The L-G flagged that average attendance in government schools, which was 70.73% in 2012-2013 “consistently fell year on year” reaching 60.65% in 2019-2020, despite concerted efforts after their closure due to the Covid pandemic between March 2020 and June 2022, the numbers “went up to only 73.74%.““Enrolment in government schools that stood at 16.1 lakh during 2013-2014, consistently came down to 15.1 lakh in 2019-2020. This, despite the fact that population of the city grew and enrolment should have increased proportionately,” L-G Saxena said.He also brought up the issue of no new schools having been built during the last eight years in Delhi despite the Delhi Development Authority allotting 13 plots to the education department since 2015.“In this regard, right after taking over, I personally ensured that six plots were allotted in August 2022 for building schools by GNCTD (Government of NCT of Delhi). Adding classrooms in existing schools and counting toilets as classrooms, do not, by any stretch of imagination, amount to opening new schools, as you would appreciate,” he added.Despite the AAP government’s “claims of unprecedented improvement in government education system in Delhi”, Saxena stated that the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 pegged the performance of about 30% students in Delhi government schools till Class VIII below basic levels and for about 44% students “barely basic”.“Similarly, performance of about 33% students studying in Class X is below basic and for about 30%, it is barely basic. There is rampant math and science phobia among students of Delhi government schools and this results in the fact that only 21,340 out of 2,31,448 students studying in Class XII are in the Science stream,” he stated.The L-G also questioned the AAP government’s claims related to higher enrolment in government schools. “Contrary to claims, the number of students going to private schools has increased in Delhi. While the share of private schools in 2013-2014 was 35%, the same went up to 43% in 2019-2020, and despite migration from private schools to government schools due to the pandemic distress, this number yet hovers around 40%,” Saxena said.He also questioned the need to send teachers for training to Finland. “Irrespective of whether a 5-day trip to Finland will serve any purpose of substantive training to the visitors or would serve as an event to be played up in the media, I did not reject the proposal thereof,” he sought to clarify.“I raised a few queries with respect to the impact assessment and cost benefit analysis of such visits which have been going on for past few years, and asked the department, whether such training could be obtained in a more cost-effective manner in our own Institutions of Excellence, like the IIMs,” L-G Saxena added.Saxena pointed out that recently, he had cleared proposals of sending 55 principals and vice-principals of government schools to Cambridge in 2 batches for 10 days each, with specific training goals.“While being on the subject, I would also like to bring to your attention the plight of 12 colleges of Delhi University that are funded by GNCTD. Their representatives met me and submitted a memorandum detailing their grievances in terms of deliberate stopping of already sanctioned funds, non-payment of salaries and non-sanction of posts,” Saxena said.There was much more in terms of scholarships to minorities and marginalised sections that he wanted to discuss with CM Kejriwal, the L-G stated.“I reiterate, that I write to you, not only as the Lt. Governor of Delhi, but also as a concerned resident of the city. You are indeed a driven person, and I am sure that you will take cognizance of the facts stated above and take remedial measures to engage meaningfully and constructively to rectify the grave shortcomings, for better outcomes,” Saxena added.
Raising concerns on behalf of unreserved category students from economically weaker section, a Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) member has written to Gujarat Unreserved Education and Economic Development Corporation (GUEEDC) to bring in change in criteria to provide tuition or coaching money. Priyavadan Korat has raised the issue of removing the minimum cap of 20 students in private coaching classes to avail financial assistance from the corporation by the students.According to the member, GUEEDC provides private coaching fees as financial support to students from poor unreserved category students, be it class 11-12 Science and competitive exams like NEET, JEE, GUJCET. However, the criteria mentions that the private coaching classes should have at least 20 students.“While this criteria is okay for urban areas as there are more students, schools in rural areas have merely 20-25 students who opt for science stream. Not all of them opt for private coaching. And I have written a letter to GUEEDC with a request to reduce the minimum number of students from 20 to 10 or even less. Because of the criteria of coaching class having at least 20 students, many students in rural areas who need the financial support have not been able to avail it,” he said.