Citizens' Issues
In Himachal,100 new schools even as 1,117 have one teacher each

In just over two years of his stint, the chief minister has opened 100 primary schools and 16 degree colleges in the hill state, a move that Dhumal dismisses as a 'political gimmick'


If former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is to be believed, 1,117 schools in Himachal Pradesh have only one teacher each. Indeed, schools outnumber teachers in some parts of the state. But that has not prevented Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh from going on a spree of opening new schools and colleges.
In just over two years of his stint, the chief minister has opened 100 primary schools and 16 degree colleges in the hill state, a move that Dhumal dismisses as a "political gimmick".
Political observers say the move comes at a time when the government has completed almost half its tenure and could be aimed at beating two-time chief minister Dhumal in his own field. A former lecturer in English, Dhumal enjoys immense popularity in the state for his efforts towards promoting education.
The Congress government is focussing on improving medical education too and has promised to start three medical colleges announced by the previous central government by next year.
The chief minister says criticism would not deter him from going ahead with improving the standard of education.
He said he did not mind opening a new school in far-flung areas, even if there were just two students.
In any case, the newly opened schools in remote areas attract a good number of girls, he added.
"We have notified 16 colleges in the past two years after making budgetary provisions of Rs.5 crore each as our endeavour is to impart quality education," the chief minister informed the assembly.
Literacy level in Himachal Pradesh is among the highest in India. It has 82.8 percent literacy rate. It is 89.53 percent for males and 75.93 percent for females.
Dhumal says the government has gone overboard by opening new colleges without ensuring adequate infrastructure and faculty.
Virbhadra Singh pointed out that Y.S. Parmar, the state's first chief minister, opened a degree college in Rampur town where there were just 18 students and 23 lecturers.
"The student-teacher ratio continued for two-three years. At that time this issue was discussed in this house too...
"At that time Parmar said if we want to spread education, we have to open more temples of education. Today that college has around 2,500 students."
The chief minister, who also holds the education portfolio, said the student strength in the new colleges has spiked.
He said in the past two years 100 primary schools were opened, 160 primary schools were elevated to the middle level, 233 middle schools have become high level schools and 225 high schools have been promoted to senior secondary level.
Officials said the state, with over 6.8 million people, has 10,738 primary, 2,292 middle, 846 high and 1,552 senior secondary schools besides 86 degree colleges.
Dhumal retaliated that there were 1,117 schools in the state with just one teacher each and 6,786 schools with only two teachers each.
He said the quality of education was so poor that a majority of Class 5 and 6 students in government schools were not able to comprehend textbooks meant for students of Class 1 and 2.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])


Rajnath stuck in lift, pulled out through roof

The incident took place at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) headquarters in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj where the home minister had gone to celebrate "Shaurya Diwas"

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his deputy Kiren Rijiju got stuck inside a lift at the CRPF headquarters here and had to be hoisted out through its roof, an official said.
The incident took place at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) headquarters in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj where the home minister had gone to celebrate "Shaurya Diwas".
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and CRPF Director General Prakash Mishra were also stuck along with him.
"The lift got stuck due to a technical fault. It's a single-storey building. We managed to take the ministers and our chief out from the lift within a few minutes. They were hoisted up through the roof," said a CRPF official.
He said that they pressed the alarm when the lift refused to budge.
The official said that the home minister was the last to be hauled up through the roof, after the CRPF chief and Rijiju.



Farmers groups move SC against land ordinance
A group of farmers' organisations moved the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking the re-promulgated land ordinance to be quashed on the grounds of its being ultra vires of the Constitution and devoid of constitutional morality. They sought the government be restrained from enforcing it.
The Bharatiya Kishan Union, Delhi Grameen Samaj, Gram Sewa Samiti and Chogama Vikas Avam said, "The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, is unconstitutional, null and void and ultra vires Articles 14 and 123 of the Constitution of India and hence void ab initio".
Describing it as a "colourful exercise of power" by the government, the petitioner organisations also sought the apex court's direction to the government restraining it from "acting upon" the ordinance.
Describing the re-promulgation of the ordinance "as arbitrary as violative of Article 14 of the constitution", the farmers organisations said it was a "fraud on the Constitution itself".
Pointing at holes in the re-promulgation of the land ordinance, the petitioner organisations said that "deliberately proroguing" the Rajya Sabha on March 28, 2015, "whilst it was in budget session only for the oblique and malafide purpose of re-promulgating the impugned Ordinance goes against the very spirit and raison de'etre underlying Article 123 of the Constitution".
The petitioners contended that the action of the government in re-promulgating the ordinance was malafide and thus open to challenge.
Asserting that the government has "abandoned all principles of Constitutional morality" by re-promulgating the ordinances, the petition settled by counsel Indira Jaising said "adherence to the principles of constitutional morality by the different organs of government is as much a mandate to be enforced strictly like the letter of the written Constitution".
The discretionary power of the president to promulgate ordinances has to be "exercised judiciously and with in the strict paradigm of the circumstances, circumscribing the exercise of such discretion under Article 123", the organisations said.
The law-making function under the Constitution was vested in parliament, the petitioner organisations contended.
They said, "If the executive was permitted to continue the provisions of an ordinance by issuing successive ordinances without submitting the same to the voice of parliament, it is nothing but usurpation by the executive of the law making powers of the legislature".
"Merely because it does not have numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the executive cannot be permitted to continue the law making exercise by way of an ordinance" and "the life and liberty of citizens cannot be regulated by ordinances..."
The government "deliberately" did not move the 2015 bill for discussion in the Rajya Sabha after its passage in the Lok Sabha between March 10 and 20, "due to lack of its numbers, political will or consensus".
"The ordinance making power under Article 123 was never meant to be a substitute to overcome lack of numbers of the executive in one house," the organisations contended.
"Neither the letter of the Article nor the relevant Constituent Assembly Debates indicate that the device of Article 123 could be resorted to by the executive to make laws to overcome its difficulty in passing the legislation in one house due to lack of majority/political will or consensus", the petitioners said.
The government was "evolving a dangerous precedent for the exercise of Article 123 which is not at all envisaged by the Constitution".
The petitioners said the "issuance of the impugned ordinance goes against the very purpose, intent and spirit underlying under Article 123".




2 years ago

It is not clear why the opposition is gearing up farmers against the Government in the land acquisition bill with out studying the pros and cons. The farmers who may sell their lands to corporate should be rich and be in a position to offer large swathe of lands. This will not be the case in case of small and medium farmers. The corporates will not come forward to get small piece of lands. It is clear some rich agriculturists with vast acres of lands are trying to save their ill gotten properties under this cover of protecting small and marginal farmers. Hope the Apex Court will see through this political game.

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