உலகில் நிலவிவரும் பல்வேறு ஒடுக்குமுறைகளைக் களைவதும் ஒலிம்பிக் போட்டிகளின் அடிப்படை நோக்கங்களில் ஒன்று. அந்த வகையில், 1900 பாரிஸ் ஒலிம்பிக் போட்டியில் முதன்முறையாக 22 பெண்கள் அனுமதிக்கப்பட்டனர். 120 ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பின் ஒலிம்பிக்கில் பெண்களின் பங்கேற்பு ஆண்களின் எண்ணிக்கைக்கு அருகில் வந்துள்ளது. 2016 ரியோ ஒலிம்பிக் போட்டியில் முதன்முறையாக அகதிகள் ஒலிம்பிக் அணி சார்பாக 10 பேர் பங்கேற்றார்கள். இந்த முறை 29 பேர் பங்கேற்கிறார்கள். இப்படி அனைவரையும் உள்ளடக்கும் வகையிலும் நாடுகளுக்கிடையே அமைதியையும் இணக்கத்தையும் வளர்க்கும் வகையிலும் ஒலிம்பிக் போட்டி வளர்ந்துவருகிறது.
ஒலிம்பிக் போட்டிகளில் பங்கேற்பதை உயரிய பெருமையாகவும் அவற்றில் பதக்கம் வெல்வதைக் கனவாகவும் விளையாட்டு வீரர், வீராங்கனைகள் கொண்டுள்ளனர். இதுவரை இல்லாத வகையில், 18 விளையாட்டுப் பிரிவுகளில் 120 இந்திய வீரர், வீராங்கனைகள் இந்த முறை பங்கேற்கிறார்கள். முதன்முறையாக வாள்வீச்சுப் போட்டியில் பங்கேற்கும் சி.ஏ.பவானிதேவியும், முதன்முறையாக மகளிருக்கான பாய்மரப் படகுப் போட்டியில் பங்கேற்கும் நேத்ரா குமணனும் தமிழகத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள்.
உலகத் தரவரிசையில் முதலிடத்தில் உள்ள வினேஷ் போகத் (மல்யுத்தம்), தீபிகா குமாரி (வில்வித்தை), அமித் பங்கால் (குத்துச்சண்டை), இளவேனில் வாலறிவன்-யஷாஸ்வினி தேஸ்வால்-அபிஷேக் வர்மா (துப்பாக்கி சுடுதல்) ஆகியோர் இந்தியக் குழுவில் இடம்பெற்றுள்ளனர். சரத் கமல் (டேபிள் டென்னிஸ்), சானியா மிர்சா (டென்னிஸ்) உள்ளிட்ட ஒலிம்பிக் அனுபவஸ்தர்களும் இந்த முறை பங்கேற்கிறார்கள். கடந்த முறைகளில் பதக்கம் வென்ற பி.வி.சிந்துவும் (பேட்மிண்டன்), மேரி கோமும் (குத்துச்சண்டை) இந்த முறையும் போட்டியிடுகிறார்கள். 2012-ல் 6 பதக்கங்களை வென்றதே, ஒரே முறையில் இந்தியாவின் அதிகபட்ச பதக்க எண்ணிக்கை சாதனை. அந்தச் சாதனை இந்த முறை முறியடிக்கப்படுமா என்பதே 130 கோடி மக்களின் எதிர்பார்ப்பு.--Source: hindutamil.in
பொறுப்பான பதவி வகிப்பவா்கள் நம்பகத்தன்மையுடன் பேசுவது அவசியம். கொள்ளை நோய்த்தொற்றின் இரண்டாவது அலையின்போது பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் மரணம் எதுவும் நிகழ்ந்ததாகப் புள்ளிவிவரம் இல்லை என்று மத்திய மருத்துவம் - குடும்பநலத் துறையின் இணை அமைச்சா் பாரதி பிரவீண் பவா நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் தெரிவித்திருப்பது அதிா்ச்சி அலையை எழுப்பியிருக்கிறது.
கண் முன்னால் நிதா்சனமாகப் பாா்த்த பிராணவாயுத் தட்டுப்பாடும், அதனால் நாடு தழுவிய அளவில் நோயாளிகள் பட்ட அவஸ்தையும், குறித்த நேரத்தில் பிராணவாயு கிடைக்காமல் நிகழ்ந்த உயிரிழப்புகளும் இன்னும்கூடப் பசுமையாக கண்முன்னால் இருக்கின்றன. காட்சி ஊடங்களில் பாா்த்த பிறகும் பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் உயிரிழப்பு இல்லை என்று சொன்னால், அதை யாா் நம்புவாா்கள்?
நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் அமைச்சா் எழுத்து மூலம் அளித்திருக்கும் பதிலில் அவரது அரசியல் முதிா்ச்சியின்மை தெரிகிறது. புதிதாகப் பதவி ஏற்றிருக்கும் அமைச்சா்தான் என்றாலும்கூட, நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் பதில் அளிக்கும்போது எச்சரிக்கை உணா்வும், வாா்த்தைகளைத் தோ்ந்தெடுத்து பதிலளிக்க வேண்டும் என்கிற அடிப்படை புரிதலும் இல்லாமல் இருப்பது ஆச்சரியமாக இருக்கிறது.
மருத்துவமும் சுகாதாரமும் மாநில அரசின் பட்டியலில் வரும் துறைகள். மாநிலங்களால் தரப்படும் தரவுகளின் அடிப்படையில்தான் மத்திய மருத்துவம் - குடும்பநல அமைச்சகம் தகவல்களைத் தொகுத்து நாடாளுமன்றத்தில் பதிலளிக்கிறது. எந்தவொரு மாநிலமோ அல்லது ஒன்றியப் பிரதேசமோ பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் உயிரிழப்பு நோ்ந்ததாகக் குறிப்பிடாதபோது, மத்திய அரசு அதுகுறித்த பதிலை அளித்திருக்கக் கூடாது. அப்படியே அளித்தாலும் மாநில அரசுகளால் தரப்பட்ட தரவுகளின் அடிப்படையில், பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் உயிரிழப்பு எதுவும் கொள்ளை நோய்த்தொற்று காலத்தில் ஏற்படவில்லை என்று தெளிவாகத் தெரிவித்திருக்க வேண்டும்.
காங்கிரஸ், ஆம் ஆத்மி, சிவசேனை ஆகிய மூன்று கட்சிகளும்தான் மத்திய அமைச்சரின் பதிலுக்குக் கடும் கண்டனம் தெரிவித்திருக்கின்றன. வேடிக்கை என்னவென்றால், மேலே குறிப்பிட்ட மூன்று கட்சிகளின் ஆட்சியில் இருக்கும் மாநிலங்களிலிருந்து மத்திய அரசுக்கு அனுப்பப்பட்ட கொவைட் 19 கொள்ளை நோய்த்தொற்று மரணங்கள் குறித்த அறிக்கைகளில் உயிரிழப்புகளுக்கு பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டு காரணமாகக் குறிப்பிடப்படவில்லை.
ஏப்ரல் மாதம் மகாராஷ்டிர மாநிலம் நாசிக் மருத்துவமனை ஒன்றில் 22 போ் உயிரிழந்தனா். அந்த மருத்துவமனையில் ஏற்பட்ட பிராணவாயு கசிவுதான் அதற்குக் காரணம் என்று கண்டறியப்பட்டது. அந்த மரணங்கள்கூட மகாராஷ்டிர மாநிலத்தின் அறிக்கையில் பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டு மரணங்களாகக் குறிப்பிடப்படவில்லை.
மத்திய இணை அமைச்சா் பிராணவாயுத் தட்டுப்பாடு குறித்தும், அதனால் மரணம் ஏற்படவில்லை என்றும் அளித்திருக்கும் பதிலுக்கு வேறு காரணங்களும் இருக்கக்கூடும். மாநில அரசுகளின் அறிக்கையைக் கணக்கில் கொள்ளாமல், உயிரிழப்பு எண்ணிக்கையை வெளியிட்டால், அதைக் கூட்டாட்சி தத்துவத்துக்கு எதிரானது என்றும், தங்களது மாநிலம் தொடா்பான பிரச்னைகளில் மத்திய அரசு தவறான புள்ளிவிவரத்தை வழங்குகிறது என்றும் மாநிலங்கள் குற்றம் சாட்டக்கூடும் என்று பயந்து அப்படி அவா் கூறியிருக்கலாம்.
பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் கொவைட் 19 நோய்த்தொற்று மரணம் ஏற்பட்டதாக நாடாளுமன்றத்தில மத்திய அரசு ஒப்புக்கொண்டால், அதற்கான இழப்பீடு வழங்க நேரும் என்கிற எச்சரிக்கை உணா்வும் காரணமாக இருக்கலாம். எல்லாவற்றுக்கும் மேலாக, புதிதாகப் பதவி ஏற்ற அமைச்சருக்காக அவரது சாா்பில் பதிலைத் தயாரித்த துறை சாா்ந்த அதிகாரி விளக்கம்தரக் கடமைப்பட்டவா்.
உச்சநீதிமன்றமும், பல உயா்நீதிமன்றங்களும், ஊடகங்களும் இரண்டாவது அலை பரவலின்போது நிகழ்ந்த கொவைட் 19 மரணங்கள் குறித்த சரியான புள்ளிவிவரத்தை மத்திய அரசிடம் கோரி வருகின்றன. பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் உயிரிழந்தவா்களின் எண்ணிக்கை எத்தனை என்பது குறித்து நாடாளுமன்ற கேள்வி மட்டுமல்லாமல், நாடு தழுவிய அளவில் மக்கள் மன்றத்திலும் கேள்வி எழுப்பப்பட்டிருக்கிறது. அப்படி இருக்கும் நிலையில், இந்தப் பிரச்னை குறித்த தெளிவான, புள்ளிவிவரத்துடன்கூடிய பதில் மத்திய மருத்துவம் - மக்கள் நல்வாழ்வு அமைச்சகத்திடம் தயா் நிலையில் இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும்.
எந்தவொரு மரணம் குறித்தும் மருத்துவச் சான்று வழங்கும்போது, மரணத்துக்கான காரணத்தைக் குறிப்பிட வேண்டும் என்று தெளிவாக அறிவுறுத்தப்பட்டிருக்கிறது. ஆனால், பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாட்டால் மரணம் என்று எந்தவொரு மருத்துவமனையும் உயிரிழந்தவா்களின் மரணச் சான்றிதழில் குறிப்பிடுவதில்லை. 2018-இல் மத்திய ரிஜிஸ்டிராா் ஜெனரலின் அறிக்கையின்படி இந்தியாவிலுள்ள 35 மாநிலங்களிலும், ஒன்றியப் பிரதேசங்களிலும் பதிவுசெய்யப்பட்ட மரணங்களில் 21% மரணங்களில் மட்டும்தான் காரணம் குறிப்பிட்டு இறப்பு சான்றிதழ் வழங்கப்பட்டிருக்கின்றன.
அமைச்சரின் பதில் தவறான பின்விளைவுகளை ஏற்படுத்தும். பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாடு என்கிற நிஜம் அமைச்சரால் மறைக்கப்பட்டால், மருத்துவமனைகளும், மருத்துவத்துறை சாா்ந்த அதிகாரிகளும் கட்டமைப்பு வசதிகளை அதிகரிப்பதிலும், பிராணவாயு தட்டுப்பாடு இல்லாமல் பாா்த்துக் கொள்வதிலும் போதிய அக்கறை காட்ட மாட்டாா்கள்.
மத்திய, மாநில அரசுகள் நெருப்புக் கோழி மண்ணுக்குள் தலை புதைத்து நிற்பதுபோல, தவறு எதுவும் நடக்கவில்லை என்கிற போன்ற போக்கைக் கடைப்பிடித்தால், தவறுகள் தொடரும், கேள்வி கேட்பாா் இல்லா நிலை ஏற்படும்!
In June, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution came out with a list of proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection Act of 2019. These include appointment of a Chief Compliance Officer and a Resident Grievance Officer, provisions of fallback liability, registration of e-commerce entities and a ban on flash sales. The Centre claims that these amendments try to rein in unfair trade practices adopted by e-commerce companies and intend to take care of the interests of consumers. But not everyone agrees. Anupam Manur and Prithwiraj Mukherjee discuss the proposed amendments in a conversation moderated byPrashanth Perumal J.Edited excerpts:
What is your view on the draft e-commerce rules? Do they favour the consumers as the government claims?
Anupam Manur:I’m critical of these new set of rules on multiple accounts. The first is the sheer scope of the law. The rules are applicable to all goods and services bought or sold over a digital or electronic network. When we say “all goods and services”, it includes your food delivery apps, hotel booking websites, etc. So, basically any kind of e-commerce. That’s a large move to be coming from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which brings me to my second point about overlapping jurisdictions. There’s a lot of talk about dominant firms. The regulation of these firms should actually come within the ambit of the Competition Commission of India. Then there’s talk about data privacy, which again is an issue which should be addressed by a data protection law. I think the rules are largely trying to push the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and favour small and medium scale enterprises, all under the veil of consumer protection.
Prithwiraj Mukherjee:The draft is very complicated and the intent of the new rules is not clear. I’m assuming that the intent is to prevent one or two dominant firms from taking over not just e-commerce but commerce in general. But it’s one thing to have a law and another thing to uphold that law. I’ll give you an example from a slightly different domain. For a long time, we have what is known as a ‘Do Not Disturb’ list in our mobile phone sector. And most of us are probably registered on that list. Has that stopped you from getting spam? In fact, my service provider is sending me spam from scammers. And I am reasonably certain that these people are doing it through the service provider and that they didn’t get my number through any other way. If we were to bring this into e-commerce, the question is whether the same thing is going to happen with the new draft rules. I don’t know. So, how you uphold a legislation is just as important as the legislation itself.
Don’t you think putting the rules down on paper gives power to government officials to go after companies that break the rules?
PM:In principle the draft rules seem okay. There might be hidden consequences that we’ll discover only with time.
AM:Even in principle, the draft rules are unnecessary. E-commerce platforms already have customer care centres where you can lodge complaints. There is competition between platforms. Beyond that, there are a lot of other quality checks that these marketplaces put in place. There are consumer courts that cheated customers can access. I don’t think you need a separate nodal officer or a grievance officer. That just adds to the bureaucracy. Anyway, there’s not enough state capacity for implementing some of these rules. If you start a law knowing that you can’t implement it, I think it’s bound to fail.
Among other things, the draft asks companies to favour domestic goods over foreign ones. Do you smell any protectionism in the new rules?
PM:You’re using protectionism as a bad word. Every country has its own form of protectionism. In fact, the moment you charge an import duty, it means you are implicitly protecting your own people against some other country’s imports. That said, what we know is that a big company will always find a way to subvert a few laws. Let me give you the example of a ban on tobacco advertising. Did that stop India’s largest tobacco company from sponsoring a World Cup or the Indian cricket team? No, the company just found another way. At the end of the day, I think it is about ticking boxes. The spirit of the rule will never be implemented. What will happen is that companies will find increasingly creative ways of subverting the letter of the law.
AM:The fact that they’re asked to provide a domestic alternative at the same time... I think that’s not a level playing field. I don’t see any kind of economic reasoning for why an e-commerce marketplace has to push for a domestic alternative. If the domestic alternative is really that good, that company can compete. People will choose based on the quality of the products, price, etc. So, I will say that this is protectionism. To me, marketplaces being asked to provide domestic alternatives reeks of protectionism.
Could there be unintended consequences due to provisions such as the ban on flash sales, fallback liabilities, etc.?
AM:I don’t even see how the ban on flash sales is supposed to help consumers. You would think that flash sales help consumers. Second, the wording of the provision is just so wrong. They’ve said things like “significant reduction in price”. What do you mean by a “significant reduction in price”? Is a 20% discount significant for an iPhone? The rule is just open to different interpretations. But, as Prithwik said, these big companies are experts at regulatory arbitrage. They will find a way to negotiate and navigate through these things. It will be the smaller sellers and e-commerce platforms that will not be able to navigate through these laws. So, what you’re doing, in fact, is the opposite of what you wanted to achieve, which is to help out your small sellers. The draft rules are just going to increase costs for e-commerce.
Regarding fallback liability, again it makes no economic sense. It displays a brazen misunderstanding of what marketplaces are supposed to be. It’s like holding a kirana store liable for selling you washing powder that is defective. That’s not how marketplaces work.
PM:I agree with Anupam on the issue of flash sales. I think it’s a terrible idea for the brand: it devalues your brand but that should not be the regulator’s concern. But I will say something about deep discounting. Now, the draft does not really specify what exactly constitutes a deep discount. But let’s go a little bit into the history and understand why they may have done this. In the U.S., there are some big players with big pockets who did what is known as loss leader pricing. Walmart, for example, would go into a small town in the U.S. and set up business. It would then offer expensive products such as medicines for free. This caused small pharmacies that cannot match Walmart to go out of business. If you look at the American retail space, the small-time retailers essentially went out of business.
France realised that deep discounting can create problems. So, what it mandated is that you cannot sell anything cheaper than the price you bought it for. So, you have to actually talk about your procurement price. And there are only two approved sales seasons a year when stores can get rid of excess inventory by selling at lower than the cost price. The idea is to prevent a Walmart-like situation. So, in principle, I am not against having a law against deep discounting.
AM:I think retail density in India is amazing compared to many countries in the world. So, again, this comes back to the question of necessity. Do we need this law in this fashion at this moment? The answer is no. You have to do a cost-benefit analysis comparing the harm that the rules can potentially cause versus the potential benefits. I think the harm is higher at this point. There is a lot of competition among e-commerce retailers. So, I don’t see a need for this law just yet. I don’t think it is forward-looking either.
What do you see as the real reason behind these rules?
AM:I think we’ll be going into speculative territory, which is slightly unsafe. But in most people’s reading, it is just to help consumers. But if you look at the overall policy approach taken by this government over the last few years, that tells me that the government wants to encourage ‘Make in India’ because that’s one of its flagship schemes. They are trying to do this through rules without realising the kind of harm they can do in the long run, even for the domestic Indian firms. A series of steps in different domains — from increasing import tariffs on various products to encouraging domestic manufacturing — tell me that they want promote domestic industries.
PM:It is difficult to impute motives. But even if you were to impute motives, I don’t think vote bank politics is relevant here. I don’t think anybody’s going to vote based on these rules. Could there be lobbyists? Yes. But I am not willing to speculate.
What kind of rules would actually protect consumers?
PM:There are two principles. One is that consumers should not be cheated. So, any law that deals with deceptive advertising, leaking of data, spamming, etc. is in principle desirable. The second is that the monopolist should be properly regulated. Even the most capitalist economies will take action against monopolies. The other thing is you have a large number of gig workers in the e-commerce sector. Their needs need to be addressed.
AM:Before any form of government intervention, I would ask what is the market failure that you’re trying to address. Concentration of market power is a genuine concern that requires some form of intervention, but not through consumer protection tools. You have an entire body dedicated to doing this, which is called the Competition Commission of India. The second kind of market failure could be information asymmetry. But remember the whole point of the e-commerce marketplace is to reduce information asymmetry as well. Consumers can compare different products, rate and review products, etc. If you need to do something more, you can set quality standards. Beyond that, people who have been cheated have a consumer court. If you look at our standard shopping experience, sometimes you can buy things which are substandard. You either live with it and learn from the experience and buy better next time or if you’re deeply hurt and it’s a really expensive buy, you move the court. Consumers already had these options available to them. There’s no reason why a lot of the consumer protection rules that the government has come up with for the e-commerce retailers should not apply to brick-and-mortar stores. The fact that they’re going after e-commerce alone should tell you that their entire motive is different.
The rules are largely trying to push the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and favour small and medium scale enterprises, all under the veil of consumer protection.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has tasked the State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) to develop four State Curriculum Frameworks (SCFs). They pertain to School Education, Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Teacher Education (TE) and Adult Education (AE). This is as in the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
At the first level, the NCERT will provide templates to the States to develop four draft SCFs, the drafts will feed into formulating the National Curriculum Frameworks, or NCFs, and the final version of the NCFs will be used as guiding documents to finalise the SCFs. The SCERTs are also supposed to develop 25 position papers, which will be similarly used to develop national position papers. The cycle seems to be designed to take onboard suggestions from all States, thereby making the NCFs representative and inclusive documents. The NCERT will also provide support to the SCERTs in terms of guidance, training of personnel, and technology platforms to develop these documents.
Much data collection
So far so good. But the NCERT will also provide e-templates for each of these tasks “which will be filled-up by the States/UTs [Union Territories]”. Similarly, survey questionnaires/multiple choice questions, or MCQs, will also be provided to conduct surveys among various stakeholders. Thus, massive data collection seems to be in progress. Such surveys are designed, let us accept, with all good intentions to take on board views from all sections of the population. This is without doubt a must in a democracy, particularly in matters of deciding the aims, the objectives, and the content of curriculum because it affects everyone.
However, the gathering and the organisation of such data to be used in curricular decisions requires more than just good intentions. The kind of questionnaires and template that one develops can emphasise certain kinds of recommendations while muting some others. Similarly, the cleaning and organising of the data may pick up what is already in the minds of the people handling such data and filter out what does not fit within their thinking. Even if these two problems are somehow solved, the problem of what the majority ‘wants’ and what ‘ought to be’ done remains. For example, if one asks about public opinion on the medium of instruction for the ECCE, the overwhelming majority is likely to favour English. Does it mean this would be in the best interest of the children and society?
Some valid questions
A huge opinion gathering exercise preceded NEP 2020. One wonders why this could not prevent it from becoming a managerial policy geared to make education a training endeavour to produce a workforce for market needs. The policy is chock-a-block with words for values, capabilities and skills, all justified as needed for emerging market requirements. Furthermore, these lists are just heaps of words, devoid of any organising principle to decide priorities, inter-relationships and deriving curricular content and pedagogy from them. A similar unorganised list is repeatedad nauseumin the name of pedagogical recommendations. And yet, it fails to provide appropriate criteria to choose pedagogy at different stages and for different curricular areas.
The so-called foundational stage crumbles under the slightest scrutiny on organisational as well as pedagogical grounds. The ECCE plus Classes one and two (first five years of education, for the age group three years to eight years) is proclaimed as one stage. But the ECCE and Classes one and two will be run in separate institutions; their teachers’ qualifications, salaries, and training are supposed to be different; their curriculum frameworks are supposed to be different. One wonders what makes it a single block.
On pedagogical grounds, the capabilities of self-restraint, dealing with adults and people outside family, concentration span, responsible behaviour, self-directed activities and understanding the value of completing a task widely differ for a four-year-old and a six-year-old. These are the capabilities which determine the nature of pedagogy and formal learning; not the forming of synapses and the growth of brain mass.
Thus, the people developing NCFs have to deal with these issues in addition to finding a method of making proper sense of gathered public opinion. If the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) is purely guided by the NEP 2020, we are unlikely to ensure the sound development of our schoolchildren. Fortunately, there is a way through which the teams developing the NCF and the SCFs can mitigate — if not completely solve — the problems created by the NEP 2020 as well as take on board public opinion in an appropriate manner. Furthermore, such a framework can also help in making appropriate use of what is good in this policy, for it is not completely devoid of good recommendations. For example, flexibility in secondary education, examination reform, more exposure to Indian languages, and taking on board Indian knowledge systems can make our education system better.
Documents of value
One way out of this problem is to take a lot of help from the Secondary Education Commission Report (SECR) and Zakir Hussain’s Basic National Education (BNE) report. The purpose of surveys on public opinion is to create a consensus on basic values, and the vision and the direction our education system should take. The SERC assumes, without saying, that the democratic polity we adopted gives us that consensus. They also collected a lot of data, but that data was analysed and organised in the light of the vision of the individual, society, and education inherent in the democratic ideal. Thus, they had all the three necessary elements: the overall framework of values and future direction, current issues and problems of the education system, and public opinion. The SECR makes sense of the latter two in the light of the earlier. And it rigorously works out the aims of education, pedagogy and content to achieve those aims. The logical rigor is very clear in working our aims from the democratic values and pedagogy from the aims. It is somewhat loose in working out the content. But the direction is clear.
Another useful document in this regard is the BNE. The logical flow in this document may be somewhat amiss at one or two places in the beginning. But the rigorous derivation of educational aims from the vision of society, curricular objectives from the aims, and content from the objectives are starkly clear. These are coherent and rigorous documents because they place the values and principles of democracy and a morally, aesthetically and intellectually rich individual life at the starting point and try to resolve current economic problems in alignment with them. The current policy reverses the order. It is not that the content from these documents should be borrowed; rather, that the approach they take has much to teach. It is rigorous, rational, and very sound.
Interestingly, the first edition of the BNE was in 1938 (https://bit.ly/2V2I9ij), SECR was written in the 1950s. Patricia White, a British philosopher of education, first argued for making democracy the basis for working out the school curriculum in 1973. John White worked out a rigorous method for the same in a paper published in 1998. The BNE and the SECR do not philosophically argue or give the detailed exposition of the method; they make practical use of this approach. It is somewhat surprising that the reports and curriculum frameworks developed after the 1980s in our country are completely overwhelmed by the current problems or by the pedagogical ideals of child-centrism and simply assumed that vague assumptions about the democratic ideals mentioned here and there randomly was enough. The objectives and content in these later documents are based on other fashionable or political or current issues.
Placing the debate
It is time to again place the democratic ideal at the centre of our education. Not as an object of lip service or reverence, but as the source of a framework of values and principles to judge and justify all other aspects. Otherwise, we are likely to make the curriculum a political football, and stir up debates that border on cacophony. Let us remember that opinions without supporting arguments are nothing more than assertions. And one citizen’s assertions are only as good as another’s. This leaves the conclusion of the debate to the most powerful. The only way to wrest the judgment from the hands of the powerful is to have the curricular debates rooted in democratic values.
Rohit Dhankar is Professor, Azim Premji University, Bangalore and Secretary, Digantar, Jaipur
In the multitude of commentaries that have appeared on the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), analysing its strength, skills and longevity, a crucial missing component is that of the status and role of the working class, whom the party claims to historically represent. In its 100-year journey from a revolutionary party to a governing party, the CPC has unfailingly asserted its identity as the ‘vanguard of the Chinese working class’. The centenary offers an opportunity to look at the reality of such assertions, the actual conditions of the working class and its political status in contemporary China.
An identification with labour
While China’s labour history predates the formation of the CPC, going back to the late 19th century, the party’s formation in 1921 provided the ideological impetus and organisational basis for the labour movement. The efforts of the CPC, preceding the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, was to embed itself in the labour movement, in line with its ideological-political moorings of being the vanguard of the working class in the protracted struggle. Post 1949, under proletarian work ethic and socialist construction emphasised by Mao Zedong, there was prioritisation of the modern industrial sector, especially heavy industry. Raising of wage levels, ensuring labour protection and providing permanent employment were accorded importance by the Party-state.
Party organisations were created in enterprises, as cadres forged concrete links with the industrial workers. Through a series of mass political campaigns, the Party-state consolidated its control over industrial enterprises. In the process, there was a change in the position and relationship of the workers, as they participated in factory management and politics. Further, through the broad range of workplace-based welfare provisions and services, a cradle-to-grave welfare system for the workers and their dependents was created. This political empowerment of the workers as stakeholders, albeit under the control and patronage of the CPC, created an ‘industrial citizenship’ (to quote sociologist Joel Andreas).
The turbulence and chaos inflicted by the Cultural Revolution that shook China’s political and social order played a big part in charting the course of realignment and reprioritisation in the post-Mao period, by Deng Xiaoping after 1978. Marketisation — although directed by the state — was adopted as the economic strategy, though directed by the state, and conscious efforts were undertaken to integrate China with the world economy. As the pace of economic reforms increased, they vastly recast workplace relations and labour politics by gradually disenfranchising the workers. As profit maximisation, efficiency and economic competition became the buzzwords in pro-reform advocacy, the permanent employment system was replaced with a labour contract system. Similarly, reducing the power and influence of workers, factory directors/enterprise managers were given vast powers and responsibilities. Increasingly, preference was also given to technocrats, and management and business graduates in appointments to middle and higher-level leadership positions in enterprises, rather than workers who had come up through the ranks. Hundreds of workers considered redundant were laid off in lieu of monetary compensation through compulsory retirement programmes.
Parallel to this restructuring of public enterprises, there was active promotion of private enterprises, involving both domestic and foreign capital. With the availability of uninterrupted supply of rural migrant labour and taking advantage of low labour costs, transnational corporations shifted their manufacturing operations offshore to China. Bolstered by the preferential treatment provided by local governments, the burgeoning export-oriented manufacturing with active supply chains, established its own model of employment relations, which was built on the expropriation of labour. Despotic management, exploitative work conditions, coercive discipline and surveillance are some of the characteristic features of the work ecosystem. Violations of labour standards and rights are endemic.
Resistance as a challenge
With no tangible worker-centric avenues for collective voice, workers have resorted to the use of radical autonomous actions to vent out their grievances. Over the years, workers’ protests have remained steady in China. The expansion of workers’ resistance has remained a political challenge for the Party-state. As maintenance of stability and industrial peace is considered essential for unhindered economic production, the CPC has crafted responsive measures that can be seen as crisis mitigation.
A series of pro-labour pieces of legislation has been enacted, encouraging workers to use them to address conflicts and grievances. In putting in place this ‘rule by law’ (also necessitated by the need for a legal framework upon China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001), the Party-state is able to individualise labour conflicts, thus continuing to thwart possibilities and avenues for autonomous, coordinated, and durable collective mobilisations. Equally, it dualistically uses its responsive and repressive capacities — welfare concessions on the one hand and ramping up public security apparatus as well as active use of force on the other — to meet labour unrest. The top-down concessions of the central Party-state also strategically shielded it from workers’ disaffection, which in turn was directed towards employers and the local governments.
Reforms versus social base
The intensification of the pace of economic reforms has impacted the CPC’s membership and cadre recruitment strategies. The traditional social base of the party — peasantry and industrial proletariat — has been gradually shrinking. There has been a steady absorption of new classes of entrepreneurs, urban professionals and university graduates. Despite increasingly becoming the critical engines in China’s economic rise, the rural migrant workers remain largely excluded from the partyfold. The steady erosion of ‘industrial citizenship’, the growing precariousness of employment and increasing peripheralisation of workers is not an isolated phenomenon with regard to China, as it coincided with the global neoliberal turn since the 1980s, that drastically changed employment relations across the world. The diminished status of workers is a grim reality and despite President Xi Jinping’s increasing reiteration of ideology, it is rooted in status quoism, shorn of any emancipatory promise or politics for the working class.
Anand P. Krishnan is a Visiting Associate Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the biggest disruption to lives since the Partition in 1947 for those in India. It has caused dramatic shifts in our personal and work lives. It has, of course, caused illness and taken away many of our loved ones. It has caused many people to lose a substantial portion of their incomes. It has posed new behavioural challenges to governments and individuals. It has created great uncertainty. In short, the pandemic has put us all under immense stress. It has been so stressful that the one thing that every person on the planet wants right now is for the pandemic to end and for life to go back to pre-COVID-19 days.
The stress caused by the pandemic has sustained over a long period of time and can be categorised as chronic stress. When we face stress, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Prolonged exposure to cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, increases the risk of heart disease, sleep disruptions and mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Chronic stress has been found to kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Studies in behavioural science show that we don’t tend make good decisions under stress. In fact, they have repeatedly shown that we often don’t make good decisions even in normal times. For example, we know exercising is good for our health but we don’t do it enough. We know overeating is bad for us but we still indulge in it often. We know binging on social media takes away time from doing what we are supposed to be doing but we can’t stop scrolling. This is some of our behaviour in normal times. Given that we are now facing chronic stress, our behaviour is becoming more irrational. For example, outdoors is generally a safer place to meet people than indoors because of a greater degree of ventilation. Yet, people feel safer indoors than outdoors. Indoors are generally safer than outdoors at protecting us, but not during the pandemic. People are more likely to wear masks outdoors, where it is actually safer, and remove their masks indoors, which at a time like this is risky behaviour.
After the first COVID-19 wave declined in India, people began travelling, holidaying, partying and attending weddings. There was no availability of vaccines then. When people had little protection against COVID-19, they behaved fearlessly. But now, even after partial or full vaccination, people seem more scared of contracting COVID-19 than they were after the first wave. Studies around the world are showing that most vaccines are demonstrating more than 90% protection against hospitalisation due to COVID-19. One would think that should make people less fearful, but that’s not the case.
While most people are facing a drop in income, those with disposable incomes have begun investing their money on their own. Brokerage firms in India have reported the highest number of demat account openings in the past 15 years. Driven by the fear of missing out, a large number of newbie investors have begun following their herd by investing money in India’s stock markets and even in cryptocurrencies. But history shows that retail investors, especially the inexperienced newbies, are the last to enter bull runs, buying stocks and assets at high prices, because people in their social network are making money. People love making easy money. History shows that such irrational investing leads to bubbles that eventually burst leaving such investors with massive losses. People have begun buying and selling cryptocurrencies. These are not currencies but mere speculative instruments because they are neither backed by any underlying asset nor by the government. In fact, ‘crypto’ means hidden or secret. But history shows it’s no secret that such speculative manias are caused by our own irrational behaviour. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for us to think rationally.
Anand Damani is behavioural scientist and partner at Briefcase
The cooperative movement certainly needs reform and revitalisation. Beset by political interference, many cooperative societies do not hold elections regularly, while some are superseded frequently. The 97th Constitution Amendment, which came into effect in 2012, was a major step towards infusing autonomy, democratic functioning and professional management. The recent Supreme Court verdict holding the amendment unconstitutional to the extent it applied to cooperative societies under the control of the States is a reminder that even well-intentioned efforts towards reforms cannot be at the cost of the quasi-federal principles underlying the Constitution. The amendment added Part IXB to the Constitution, concerning cooperative societies. Part IXB delineated the contours of what State legislation on cooperative societies ought to contain, including provisions on the maximum number of directors in each society, reservation for seats for SCs, or STs, and women, besides the duration of the terms of elected members, among others. The question before the Court was whether the 97th Amendment impacted the legislative domain of the State Legislatures and, therefore, required ratification by half the legislatures, in addition to the required two-thirds majority in Parliament. The Gujarat High Court had found the amendment invalid for want of such ratification. The Supreme Court, by a 2:1 majority, upheld the judgment holding the amendment invalid, but only in relation to cooperatives under the States. The elaborate amendment would hold good for multi-State cooperative societies, on which Parliament was competent to enact laws.
A significant limitation on Parliament’s amending power is the requirement that certain kinds of amendments to the Constitution must be ratified by 50% of the State legislatures. The Union government believed that as the subject of ‘cooperative societies’ in the State List was not altered in any way by the 97th Amendment, and that it only outlined guidelines on any law on cooperatives that the Assemblies may enact, the ratification was not necessary. A key principle from the judgment is that the ratification requirement will apply if there is any attempt to fetter the State legislatures in any way while enacting a law in their own domain, even if there is no attempt to alter the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and States. Thus, in the absence of ratification by the States, the amendment that sought to prescribe the outlines of State laws on a State subject did not pass constitutional muster. The judgment may mean that the concern expressed by some about the adverse implications of the formation of a new Ministry of Cooperation on federal principles could be true. However, there is no denying that the scope for democratising the functioning of cooperative societies and enhancing their autonomy remains unchanged.
A medal can lose its lustre but the athlete’s sporting immortality is set in stone, such is the enduring allure of triumphs at the Olympics. Even a participant without any titles, is referred to as an Olympian and it is an eternal stamp that sportspersons obsess about. The quadrennial congregation of the world’s finest athletes is set to begin, after a year’s delay imposed by the pandemic’s shadow. ‘Tokyo 2020’, as the Olympics is branded for the latest edition, will commence at Japan’s capital on Friday while COVID-19 protocols are in place. Tokyo and Fukushima will conduct events without spectators while a limited number may be allowed at stadiums in the Miyagi and Shizuoka regions. Local approval ratings for the Games now stand at the half-way mark, a considerable improvement especially after an 83% opposition as recent as May. Having previously hosted the Olympics in 1964, Tokyo’s second dalliance with the premier championship has been extremely tough. Even two days ago, there were whispers of cancellation as the coronavirus graph linked to the Games and to Japan revealed an upward climb. Within the Olympics Village ecosystem of athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers, around 70 have tested positive for COVID-19. But the Olympics harking back to its Athens roots in 1896, is expected to hold steady till its conclusion on August 8.
When it comes to winning at the Olympics, the United States of America, Russia, China, European nations and Australia have excelled. India meanwhile has a mere 28 medals to show despite turning up since 1900. India’s initial share came from hockey but even that tap has run dry since the gold at Moscow in 1980. India’s tilts in the Olympics have often been infused with pathos. Legendary runners Milkha Singh and P.T. Usha missing their bronzes in 1960 and 1984 respectively, still test the tear glands of die-hard fans. However, over the years and through diverse sports such as shooting, tennis, badminton, wrestling, boxing and weight-lifting, India has earned a few medals. This time around, the pursuit to better the best-ever tally of six, gained at London in 2012, continues. Headlined by P.V. Sindhu and Mary Kom besides the talent in shooting, weight-lifting and wrestling, India hopes to push its Olympic envelope further while the yearning for excellence in hockey lingers. A sobering truth is that the demographic-dividend of being the second most populous nation, does not really convert into a better yield in multi-event jousts. It is a pointer to the need to improve sports infrastructure as India at the Olympics remains a work in progress. An Olympic medal offers sporting nirvana; even tennis legend Serbian Novak Djokovic is not immune to its charm.
The deposed Sudanese Leader, Major Gen. Gafaar Numeiry, was back in power in Khartoum to-day [Cairo, July 22] after a counter-coup, U.A.R’s news agency reported quoting Omdurman (Sudanese) radio. On Monday, an army junta staged a coup and had seized power, overthrowing Numeiry. The agency said a detachment of troops under Lieut. Mohammed Kabawi occupied the broadcasting station and had returned Maj. Gen. Numeiry to power. Omdurman Radio said that President Numeiry’s men were now in control of the Sudanese broadcasting building. The radio said President Numeiry “would continue to lead the nation.” Omdurman Radio said that the successful counter-coup was led by Lieut. Mohamed Aly Karbass. “The ordeal of the Sudan during the past two days is over,” an announcement over the radio said. Maj. Gen. Numeiry, it said, is in “good health and remains the man who is leading and will continue to lead the nation.”