SOL Students
Disha Student Organisation organised a protest demonstration at the Delhi Secretariat on 18 February 2015 at 11 a.m. to raise the demands of the students of School of Open Learning [SOL], Delhi University and to fight for their rights. The students of SOL are deprived of basic amenities like proper classes, access to libraries etc. The number of classes officially earmarked for completing the syllabus are too few. The number of study centres over Delhi are also not sufficient to cater to 4.5 lakh students enrolled in SOL.

The students of SOL have long been neglected by the University authorities and the government. Students from humble economic backgrounds cannot afford to study in regular colleges due to hike in the fees and the decrease in the number of seats. They are left with no option but to get enrolled at SOL. But the problems they face at SOL are varied and many, first of all there is a paucity of classes, proper classes are not held, the number of students in one class is a staggering 150-200, the results of the exam are declared with such a long delay that the students studying in SOL cannot fill up forms for MA or other post-graduate courses, which leaves their future in a limbo.

Now that the AAP government has come into power in Delhi, people hope that the demands of the SOL students will be heard. To ensure that demands are addressed students submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's office. Demands include increased investment by the government in Higher education to provide regular colleges for the students studying at SOL, the Delhi government should put a deadline on the construction of the 20 colleges it promised in its election manifesto, the Delhi government should make arrangements for holding classes for the SOL students in evening in the colleges run by Delhi government, to increase the number of study centres, to provide access to libraries, and university health centre, the syllabus should be completed in time and the results should be declared on time.

Access to Education is the right of every citizen and the long neglected demands of the SOL students should be met without any further delay.
Disha Student Organisation, Delhi

World Cup Fever
The World Cup in cricket has started, and everyday the news media are pouring reports and comments. India's victory against Pakistan has formed the headlines in the leading dailies; as if a victory against Pakistan is a victory in a Great War. If India were on the losing side, these media probably would have recommended a national mourning. A defeat at the hands of Australia or South Africa would not, however, generate such a passion. After all, Pakistan is the arch enemy and the game is cricket. What does it matter if this game is played by only a few countries? What does it matter if football is played by almost all the countries in the world and India's position is deplorably low in international soccer rankings? Cricket is there to take pride in.

There is a standing reproach against Indian Muslims that they always desire a victory for Pakistan in any sports competition, particularly in cricket. Along with this reproach, there is the tradition of jubilation in case of a Pakistani defeat, be it in the hands of India or Australia or England. This is typical Hindu chauvinism in an outrageous form masquearading as Indian nationalism. It is this majoritarianism that creates its anti-thesis, the minority psyche that, owing to the feeling of oppression and injury, finds a false consolation in pan-Islamism. The euphoria over cricket in both India and Pakistan has served to gloss over the fact that in terms of what is known as the Human Development Index, the positions of both countries are abysmally low in world rankings. It may be pointed out that in England and Australia, the two earliest cricket-playing countries, the popularity of cricket is far less. Both countries' military spendings continue to be disproportionately large in relation to their GNP or NNP. In India, hostility to Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular is considered as an embodiment of patriotism. The fellows whose anti-Muslim sentiments have coalesced with anti-Pakistani sentiments have however to admit grudgingly that the bowling of an Indian Muslim has been instrumental in the defeat of Pakistan against India.

About Indian Muslims it is often said that they live on the resources of the country, but are loyal to foreign states. It is conveniently forgotten that the majority of these Muslims earn their livelihood by means of hard work. The country does not give them donations in order to survive. Just contrast this with those who receive training in the country's state-run engineering and medical colleges, but migrate to other countries for good in order to have a more comfortable and luxurious livelihood. Their parents often encourage this practice in the hope of receiving fat amounts of regular monetary help, from their sons and daughters. This process has been made easier by continuous devaluation of the rupee in terms of the dollar and pound sterling over the last three decades or so. One may undertake an enquiry about the amount of public money spent on producing a doctor or an engineer. But there is scarcely anybody to raise questions about the patriotic credentials of these expatriates. Sometimes it is said that their remittances add to the foreign exchange reserves of the country. On what use and for whom these reserves are spent must not be asked, although it is clear that the money issued internally against these reserves add to the inflationary potentials of the economy. With an economic structure that mainly caters to the needs and demands of the top 20-25 % of the population, which an eminent economist called ‘predatory growth’, such reserves necessarily serve the needs of these classes. So one is led to the conclusion that terms like patriotism and nationalism are good to hear as long as they are useful to the class interests of some sections who enjoy the greater share of the cake.
A Reader, Birbhum

Delayed CIC-Verdict
It is quite usual that verdicts at Central Information Commission (CIC) are not announced even after several weeks of completion of hearings. Situation worsens still more in case of full-bench hearings where decisions are not announced even for many months after completion of hearing. Much is said about long pendency of cases at Central Information Commission. But problem of delayed CIC-verdict can be solved by self-imposed regulations formulated by Commissioners by taking up the issue in their meeting. 'Information' delayed is 'Information' denied! With legal-interns are now attached with registry of each Information Commissioner, CIC-decisions should be on website maximum in one week of completion of hearing for single-bench, and within two weeks after completion of hearing in case of full-bench. Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) should also take up the issue of delayed verdicts with CIC.

As a self-imposed check, provision may be made at CIC-website whereby a web-field may be incorporated for reserved verdicts on completed hearings. It was a CIC-verdict which directed Supreme Court registry to provide information on reserved verdicts of the Apex Court. CIC should better implement such a provision for itself especially when it desires registry of the highest court of the land for doing so.
Subhas Chandra Agrawal, Delhi

Vol. 47, No. 36, Mar 15 - 21, 2015