Last Updated: Friday 10 July 2015

Heat struck

The article 'Unmasking the heat' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 4; July 15) made interesting reading. The 1998 summer spelt doom for people in the Indian subcontinent. The government's apathy in providing basic amenities, like water and electricity, to its citizens has only aggravated the problem. With pollution on the rise arid the concerned authorities not taking any steps to check emissions, this summer could be just a precedent to what may be in store for us: ;The Met office also seemed to falter in their forecast.

Even a commoner could tell that the June 16 downpour was not the ' beginning of the monsoon in Delhi. It was a freak shower brought about by the cyclone in the Arabian Sea. Also, it is very sad to note that in Gujarat, hun-dreds of lives could have been saved had there been better coordination among the concerned officials. It is a case of the right hand of the govern-ment not knowing what the left is doing. And who bears the brunt? The poor public, of course. ...

Down the drain

The article on the-Indian Institutes of Technology (IITS) 'Who cares for India today' (Down To Earth, Vol 6, No 24; May 15) succinctly dealt with the subsidy aspects in a poor country like India.

The lecture rooms and the labora-tories in the IITS remain unused for long periods which can be used to accommodate more students. The schedule for the students should be organised in such a way that one set of students attends classes in the lecture rooms and another can conduct research in laboratories.

You have also talked about the fee structure. A large amount of money is being spent on scholarships for the undergraduate students who comprise around 50 per cent of the total students (25 per cent receive scholarships from IITS and the rest manage through their states and other agencies). Most of these students are well-off, yet they manage to get the "right" kind of income certificates to quality for these oo scholarships.

There are also a large number of scholarships for the post-graduate and PhD students, apart from other reim-bursable expenses. Mpst of these students simply join these courses to get "respectable" opportunities. Others acquire these degrees to get promotions in their organisations. In fact, the IITS churn out "repetitive and meaningless" students. If you add the cost of the pay-packets of the faculty, the cost of labo-ratory inputs and expenses for their accommodations and other facilities, one can imagine the quantum of cost we are incurring on the IITS. If the numbers of students are limited to those few who are really interested in doing research, a large number of hostel rooms can be made available to undergraduate students.

"A person who has published just one paper which has been referred by 200 researchers is better than one who has published 200 papers but nobody has refereed them," said one lecturer. One will have to ensure the quality of papers ,yritten by researchers.

Recently, I discussed the current research and funding of IITS with a few staff members of the IIT. All of them were waxing eloquent as to how IITS> are going to be self reliant and will manage funding on their own. But, none of them could see the thin line in the argument. When I told them that earlier the money was coming from the human resource development ministry and now each professor and researcher would have to rnanage funds from the ministries concerned, they were taken aback that somebody from "outside" had knowledge about their "secrets". There is little difference from the earlier times. As you may be aware, ministries are flush with funds for these purposes and they are too eager to release them for any project. Now, will one call it self-reliance? Hardly any market-source funds are coming to aid these institutes....

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