According to a news item on the front page of the Shillong Times of Dec 24, 2021, Meghalaya Engineering College will open in 2022. The need and timing of this venture is questionable. While a few new engineering institutes may still be permitted in certain regions, the advisability of an engineering college in Meghalaya needs a detailed study.
Just a week ago, on Dec 17, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) announced the extension of an existing ban on new engineering colleges by another two years, until 2024. Across engineering colleges in India, almost half the seats are unfillled. This is after the seat capacity in the country has been reduced from 3.0 million in 2015 to 2.4 million in 2020.
In 2021 alone, 63 engineering colleges closed and another 32 applied for closure. Apart from these more than 500 engineering colleges have not applied for continuation of approval for the 2021-22 academic year. The job market demand for engineers, especially for some specializations, is very low compared to supply. I wonder if there is a study of the need for engineers in Meghalaya.
Education minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Lok Sabha on July 26, that over 5.62 lakh seats have been cut from engineering colleges since 2019. Of these, 4.80 lakh seats were “surrendered” by the institutions themselves. After the admission process in Maharashtra last year, nearly 50% of engineering seats remained unclaimed. In some states, seats were reportedly unfilled even after offering seats to candidates who scored zero in the common entrance test.
These decisions are based on the Reddy Report 2019, constituted by the AICTE. The 41-page report available on the AICTE website cites the poor training and low employability skills of engineering graduates. It quotes figures from the 2016 National Employability Report which shows that only 18% of engineering graduates are employable in the software industry. Even for a non-functional role, such as call centres only 41% were employable. In five states the percentage of employability was 0-25%.
In Meghalaya, the development of other training sectors should be given higher priority. Perhaps the most urgent need is for trained teachers and allied health personnel, especially public health. Priority must also be given to traditional and natural resource-based livelihoods. Perhaps the new building meant for the engineering college in Mawlai, could be repurposed.
Glenn C. Kharkongor,
The conversion conundrum
Perhaps after showing Muslims their “rightful place” through demolition of Babri Masjid by barbaric force and ensuring the “much-cherished” dream of Ram Mandir right where the mosque stood for centuries, 2002 Gujarat pogrom, Kashmir saga, NRC-CAA, murderous antics of cow vigilantes and what not; attention is now being concentrated to show another set of “aliens” named Christians their “entitled place” in “New India” of/for/by the Hindus !
On the one hand, zealous chants of “We are all Indians” would reverberate in the “nationalist” horizon; on the other fellow Indians are getting ruthlessly ostracised in their very own land for their “sin” of embracing Christianity with the Pastors and preachers faring the worst right from getting assaulted physically or thrown behind bars on fictitious cases ! No wonder why the image of the India of Rabindranath Tagore-Jawaharlal Nehru-Mahatma Gandhi is being tarnished so severely in the eyes of the international community !
The “nationalists” often stress that “only the most illiterate and poor” are found to “fall prey” to the “enticements” of the Christian missionaries in the form of food, medicine, education or livelihood! If it is true then it gets clearly proved that what the State has failed to deliver to the vulnerable souls of the country , are instead being guaranteed by the Christian missionaries! So instead of getting peeved over the issue, the “nationalist” Hindutva brigade should either remain ashamed for the failure of the State in ensuring such basic necessities to large section of Indians or ask their “very own” Government in New Delhi to provide food medicine education livelihood to those much-deprived folks; if not for the sake of humanity, at least to retain them in the fold of Hinduism! Why don’t the Hindutva outfits themselves provide such basic amenities to their poor illiterate cousins if they are such “well-wishers” of the Hindu community !
Last but not the least. The “poster boys” of Hindutva brigade not only invoke Vivekananda at the drop of a hat, they also make a beeline to Belur Math to advertise their “respect” to the sage ! Now Belur Math witnesses special prayer to Mother Mary and Jesus with the Hindu monks singing Christmas Carols to celebrate the divine occasion. Are the intolerant brigade ready to learn a lesson on mutual respect and communal brotherhood from these saffron-clad Hindu monks of the institution based on the humanitarian ideals of that all-embracing humanitarian sage!
End of parliamentary debates
Despite the fact that Parliament is the greatest debating forum in the country, no proper debates happen in the two Houses. The winter session was no exception. Although there were 18 sittings in 24 days, productivity was very low. Instead of participating in informed debates, both the ruling party and the Opposition blamed each other for the disruptions. The Prime Minister’s presence only on the first and the last days reflects the pitiful state of parliamentary proceedings. The suspension of 12 Opposition members of the Rajya Sabha at the beginning of the session for indisciplined behaviour adversely affected the functioning of the Parliament. The adjournments created an impression that the government did not want any debate. The government wanted the Opposition to disrupt so that it could get the Bills passed. In a democracy, this is not the way the Parliament should function.
The government ‘s decision to revoke the three controversial farm laws was welcomed by everyone. If there had been a debate on why the government wanted to bring the farm laws and later withdrew them and why the farmers were against them, it would have revealed many facts. It must be remembered that the farm laws were first introduced as ordinances and later passed as Bills. Although 11 Bills were passed this time, there was no serious debate. The Constitutional principles require that Bills need to be discussed by both Houses. It is relieving that some Bills were referred to the parliamentary committees.
Discipline is of utmost importance for the proper functioning of Parliament. It is mandatory for legislation and proper governance. Parliament members must not purposely be absent from parliamentary proceedings. Parliamentarians must set examples and uphold the dignity and sanctity of Parliament.
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