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Telangana becomes first State to make gender education compulsory

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Telangana becomes first State to make gender education compulsory

Telangana has become the first State to introduce compulsory gender education at the graduate level; without repeating gender stereotypes in its bilingual textbook titled, ‘Towards a World of Equals.’

The book introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU-Hyderabad) discusses gender in its composite form without limiting itself to crime against women. From information on unacknowledged women writers of Telangana to problems of sex selection and women’s work in politics and economics, the book attempts to cover it all.

It also touches upon complex subjects like female-centric history and male-female relationships.

Structured in simple language and form to suit under-graduates, the book discusses different strands of women’s movements across the world, introducing students to political movements of Afro-American, Caribbean, African, Dalit and minority women.

And coupled with the book is a collection of visual teaching tools which include documentary films.

The book is being taught over 14 weeks in a semester at the rate of two classes per week.

Credits earned in the end semester examination add up to students’ GPAs.

A nine-member, all-women, panel which drafted the syllabus and developed its content has already held four training workshops for groups of 15 to 40 teachers and is expected to take up yet another session this week.

What makes the textbook interesting is the gamut of reactions and classroom discussions which it attempts to generate. For instance, in its first chapter on Socialisation, the book hints at initiating a discussion in the classroom on “Are boys taught household work while growing up? Discuss your experiences at home.”


Editors of the textbook published by the Telugu Academy are optimistic about the results.

“We have received a lot of good feedback from teachers,” said A. Suneetha, one of the editors.

The book discusses construction of gender stereotypes through pictures on male and female hairstyles, clothing and discussions on popular songs like ‘Kolaveri’, advertisements and films.


Bar Council asks DU to shutdown evening law colleges

NEW DELHI: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has asked the Delhi University to shutdown colleges offering law courses in evening shifts, saying such programmes does not ensure proper quality of legal education. 

"Taking into account that proper quality of legal education cannot be ensured if classes are run during evening and night hours, the Bar Council of India has taken a policy decision to dispense with the evening colleges. 

"Two of your law colleges are offering classes beyond 9pm which is in violation of the BCI directive...whatever may have been the reason for running these colleges, the same cannot be permitted henceforth," a BCI communication sent to DU said. 

The BCI also asked DU to issue a notification stating that no admissions be made for evening classes from the next year. 

In an unprecedented move, the BCI, the apex regulatory body for legal education and legal profession in India, had in 2014 decided to derecognize DU's law course after it failed to seek timely extension of the affiliation of its three centres, namely Campus Law Centre, Law Centre-I and Law Centre-II. 

However, it was granted a provisional extension of affiliation for the 2014-15 session after DU had proposed to shift to a new building which it claimed "had adequate space" for the faculty to run properly. 

However, after a fresh inspection by a BCI panel, the council had noted that besides fresh violations, the illegalities earlier highlighted remain unattended. 

Following this, the BCI issued it a show-cause notice to explain the "illegalities" in its functioning including more than permissible student strength, lack of infrastructure and faculty. 

It also directed the university to send an undertaking of compliance with rules rectifying the anomalies within four weeks. 

Meanwhile, DU's Dean of Faculty of Law Ashwini Kumar Bansal was not available for comments on the issue. 

Eminent figures like finance minister Arun Jaitley, former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, Supreme Court Judge Rohinton Nariman, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi are among the the Faculty of Law alumni.


HRD ministry urges state, central school boards to consider open-book tests at board level

Open-book assessment allows students to refer to their notes or textbooks while answering questions.

Written by Ritika Chopra 

Batting for significant assessment reforms, the HRD Ministry has urged state and central school boards to consider introducing open-book tests in secondary- and senior secondary-level examinations.

Open-book assessment allows students to refer to their notes or textbooks while answering questions. The focus is not on memorising information, but on applying that information. Examinees are expected to not merely reproduce textbook material, but to interpret it in the context of specific questions and scenarios.
School Education Secretary S C Khuntia suggested this at a meeting of 42 education boards held on October 28 last year. Consequently, the HRD Ministry set up an eight-member committee to work on “common design of questions papers”. The inclusion of open text-based assessment (or OTBA) in board examinations is one of the key action points of the committee.
E P Kharbhih, executive chairman of Meghalaya Board of School Education, C Arthur W, chairman of the Council of Higher Secondary Education in Manipur, N R Prasanna Kumar from the Board of Intermediate Education in Andhra Pradesh, Professor Y Sreekanth, head of the Educational Survey Division of NCERT, K K Chaudhary, CBSE’s Controller of Examinations, along with representatives of the school education departments in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are members of the committee, which has been asked to submit its report by January 29.
According to the minutes of the October 28 meeting, accessed by The Indian Express, the OTBA proposal was first made by Sanjay Patwa, a representative of the Madhya Pradesh Board, who felt that it could help reduce the influence of coaching institutes. Endorsing his suggestion, the school education secretary asked boards to “consider integrating OTBA as a section of their question papers” for classes IX to XII.
“Dr Khuntia stated that the conceptual clarity should be tested in the exams rather than rote memory of the students. The purpose of education is to make students more conscious and aware of surroundings as well as be able to lead their life in a better way. He said that Open Book based examination is a good point for consideration as the testing will not be on memory but on comprehension and understanding. In such a format, rote learning will not work as the pattern of questions will focus on thinking,” state the minutes of the meeting.
Following Khuntia’s suggestion, a CBSE official shared the process OTBA currently followed by the board for classes IX and XI. In CBSE schools, students in classes IX and XI are provided the text material months ahead of their final examination. They are allowed to refer to this at the time of taking the test.
Referring to the tendency of some boards to award progressively higher academic grades, the school education secretary also stressed on the importance of adopting a consistent evaluation process across state boards and balancing question papers with easy, moderate and difficult questions. (30 per cent easy + 40 per cent moderate + 30 per cent difficult).
“The question paper should be such that it can help distinguish between highly meritorious students and less meritrious students. Easy question papers make it difficult to distinguish on merit as a large number of students score high marks,” the minutes of the meeting quote Khuntia as saying.

The government also suggested that the boards should avoid giving grace marks to students, and they should prepare a policy for awarding grace marks. The HRD Ministry has set up four committees of state board officials which will have to submit reports on adopting common curriculum, common question paper design, teacher capacity building and sharing information between boards by the end of this month.


The lie of change: - To tempt capital, West Bengal must alter its politics

Rudrangshu Mukherjee

The global business summit that begins today in West Bengal has set for itself a long and arduous climb. The meeting aims to mobilize business and investment for the state. Nothing in the present, whatever be the present's promise or pretensions to change, can be divorced from the past. "Time past and time present are both perhaps present in time future.''

With that in mind, it is worth looking at the present government's track record in attracting investments. According to figures made available by the ministry of industries of the government of West Bengal, between 2011 and September 2015, Rs 6,871 crore was invested in West Bengal. By the processes of simple arithmetic this works out to Rs 1,374 crore per year. In the same period, Gujarat, which leads the field, received investments worth Rs 1,12,880 crore, that is, Rs 22,576 crore per year. The gap is surely more than numerical.

The gap, however, is not just between the investment figures of Gujarat and those of West Bengal. There is a more significant gap: between the actual figures of investments in West Bengal cited above and the claims made by the finance minister of the state, Amit Mitra. The latter's claim is that, over the last five years, around Rs 80,000 crore has been invested in West Bengal. These figures projected by Mr Mitra explain why delegates to the global summit - businessmen and potential investors - have a long and arduous climb ahead of them. They have to reach the peak of Rs 80,000 crore and then surpass it. The finance minister has brought the mountain before them. Their only comfort is that the mountain is an illusion: a figment of the minister's wishful thinking or, worse, of his dissembling.

Even without going into dry-as-dust statistics, the impression is unavoidable that West Bengal is starved of investments. Amartya Sen, who, as Mr Mitra himself will admit, knows a thing or two about economic growth and development and also about statistics, commented recently on the scarcity of investments in West Bengal. Industry has fled from West Bengal. This flight is not recent. A look back at what was happening in the 1990s will provide a glimpse of this flight. Between 1991 and 2000, when Jyoti Basu was the chief minister, the total investments amounted to Rs 17,580 crore; this figure improved slightly in the next decade, when, under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the state attracted an investment of Rs 48,104 crore. These were paltry amounts in the world of big business but nonetheless somewhat higher than the performance of the present government. What is much more important than the comparison between this government and the Left Front government is the undeniable conclusion that the investment outlook for West Bengal has been persistently gloomy. Capital does not see West Bengal as its preferred destination.

One crucial factor in this process of industrial decline is a particular kind of political practice that has come to dominate West Bengal. The practice began in the 1950s when West Bengal was under severe pressure in the aftermath of Partition and the influx of refugees. West Bengal became an economy of shortages: foodgrains, housing and jobs. The decade witnessed strikes, hartals, and mammoth political rallies at the forefront of which were tram workers, bank employees and students - all under the flag of the Communist Party. The politics of the street became the dominant mode of political activity. The focus shifted from the legislature and Writers' Buildings to the main thoroughfares. Calcutta saw large-scale destruction of public property, followed by police repression. Calcutta and, following it, the districts entered a vicious cycle of violence that became the hallmark of the state's political life. The pattern continued in more aggravated forms through the 1960s and the 1970s.

It was this violence and the politics of the street that propelled the Left, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), to power in West Bengal first in the late 1960s and then again for an inordinately longer period in the late 1970s. Apart from the violence the Left introduced another feature into Bengal's social and political life that was anathema to industry. This was irresponsible trade unionism. The historian, Edward Gibbon, recalling his Oxford days, commented that his tutor remembered he had a salary to collect but forgot he had a duty to perform. That comment could easily have been the description of what the trade unions institutionalized in West Bengal. Workers and government employees were guaranteed their pay packets and their annual bonuses irrespective of whether they did any work or not. Violence and a workforce that was reluctant to work and escalated its demands under political patronage ensured that capital never returned to West Bengal.

Once in power, the Left went about establishing its dominance and control in every sphere of Bengal's life - from the rural world to the university, from the bureaucracy to the police. The party replaced the government. Sycophancy replaced governance. Even though this lasted for three decades, realization dawned that this could not be permanent. An effort was made by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, too short-lived but worth noting, to woo investment. There was the promise of a turnaround with the setting up of a small car factory by the Tatas in Singur.

This proved to be a turning point. The Tata project was destroyed by an agitation led by Mamata Banerjee whose cutting edge was anti-industry. In the wake of this agitation, she came to power with the promise of paribartan or change. Now at the fag end of her first term in office, it is clear that paribartan is a chimera. Nothing has changed in West Bengal. Violence has become an everyday affair, only this time around it is with the open connivance of the police. Party loyalists defy the law, boast of being murderers, threaten rape and defraud the common people. The entire administration kowtows to the chief minister who functions according to her own whims and fancies, often squandering the state's scarce monetary resources in acts of shameless populism. In all of these the present government treads the path made by the Left. Change is a change of names and colour.

Under these circumstances, tall claims regarding investment and substance-less rhetoric in a business summit only invites ridicule. Investors will demonstrate their faith in West Bengal not because of the misleading figures presented to them but when they are convinced that the nature of politics and governance have perceptibly changed in West Bengal.

The way to hell, to quote Virgil, is easy. It can also be paved with lies.

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