Friday, October 23, 2009

Oye Sibal-JEE!!

Kapil Sibal has a problem with the "coaching class" culture that has permeated those who take the JEE. Yes, someone has finally taken offense that people have to dress only in plain shurt-pant /salwaar-kameez and plain chappals or sandals and come to class with plain notebooks wearing a plain watch and plain pens. Not only is this distracting from JEE, but it's anti-poor apparently. Hence the new rule of 80% cutoff in school, in addition to JEE.

Now, I am no fan of coaching classes. I look back on my two years in high school and regret every day I went. Hell, I even hate my repeat coaching class in retrospect, and they're the dudes who gave me hope and got me through the damn JEE. Speaking for Hyd at least, I'd wish a thousand plagues upon the hallowed institutions of Nallakunta, Barkatpura Chaman , Narayanguda and so forth. And I do think it's disturbing that JEE requires 4 years of prepping apart from high school. Nevertheless, Sibal's proposition smacks of supreme idiocy. The wrong activist screamed hoarse at him, and he chose to listen to her/him of all people.

To begin with, how long have coaching centers been around? My cousins cleared the JEE in the late 80's and early 90's, and they didn't need to go to classes. Some subscription material (Brilliant's level stuff) was enough. This was 10 years before I wrote it, when classes were a must. My guess is, look back 10 years before my cousins wrote it, and you'll find being a cut above the rest in math, physics and chemistry was good enough.

So what changed? Put simply, the fucking population. Before IIT Guwahati, the newest IIT was Delhi, which was established in (drumroll please)..... 1961!! 4 institutes of caliber were set up for the entire goddamn nation. It took 30 years to establish a new one, and that was more for political considerations than anything else. So how surprising is it, that as the pie stayed the same and more people wanted a piece, the competition got worse? How surprising is it that professors at IIT had to design JEE so as to (this is something one of em told me) keep students out? The Institutes were around 40 years and only in 2000 did anyone do anything by way of expansion (KGP's expansion basically added a couple of schools, more cream but no base). You have to give the Insti's or the HRD Ministry credit for keeping the JEE - that's why getting in means something. But seriously, 40 years and they never sought to expand the Institutes? Or build more? Were they counting on Sanjay Gandhi to nasbandify the population?

Which brings me to the solution. Like I said, the problem is simply so few seats for so many. The solution is to have more IITs, which they're doing. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. We need more colleges whose degrees mean something. Most colleges have degrees worth a damn only because they're affiliated to some University over the hills and far away. And most of the remainder are outright fakes, one cut above the ICFAIs and IIPMs and Amitys - who by the way continue to do business for this reason. We need more autonomous Universities that carry out both teaching and research, which satisfy the requirements of someone seeking a degree., and which are numerous enough to require only high school marksheets and not quotas or entrance tests (In other news, you can't take the KCET as an instate student unless you write it in Kannada). We need more people to have access to a basic - if not premier - quality of higher education. I mean, the University of Southern Mississippi is obviously not in Purdue's league, but a degree from there in Aeronautics is good enough to get you hired. That requirement is what you need to fill, Mr. Sibal, not sit and fret about student culture.

A spot of humor in all this, though. Sibal wants to push this forward on the basis that coaching classes are both "anti poor" and elitist. Lalu Yadav on the other hand, has taken up cudgels against it, saying that this proposition is both anti poor and anti Bihar. Whatta joke I say.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Arbit Thoughts

Nobel Thoughts:

The most prominent theory emerging from the blogosphere on Obama's getting the Nobel Peace Prize (his achievements for the same listed nicely here) is that it's for all the awesome things he's going to do now to justify the prize. My own view - it's no coincidence that people have stopped talking about American healthcare since the man won the Nobel. So lost are they in "Obamaaye namaha" chants that they have forgotten their daily exploitation at the hands of Big Insurance. So how'd he get it? Through the secret cabal of Aetna, BlueCross, Humana, UnitedHealth and co., in one of their many ploys - see this and this - to keep health care reform from happening.

Censory Khed:

  1. Karan Johar apologizes for referring to Mumbai as Bombay in his new film (Better and funnier coverage here). He apologizes publicly for doing what half the people who live outside Maharashtra and all the people who live outside India do. And who does he apologize to? Raj-I'm keeping the same Anglicized name as my guerilla uncle-Thackeray.
  2. The I&B Ministry clears a film about Jawaharlal Nehru on the conditions that 4 scenes - ranging from the two going at it to Nehru saying "Edwina, I love you" be deleted, because they "show Nehru in a poor light". To be absolutely sure of high quality illumination wrt Nehru, the film must state "This is a work of fiction". Detailed here.
  3. The Censor board bans 'Postman Always Rings Twice' for portraying "life which is not healthy to Indian society" and 'Matlabi' for being full of "violent gangster incidents and lewd and obscene dances". And this is way back in the 40's. (More details here)
That goonda-parties such as the MNS, the Shiv Sena and BJP do not respect freedom of speech is clear, hell even understandable - they are medievalist morons, Talibs sans the circumcision and beard. The question is, do the people who actually form the Government?