Study Loans or Scholarships?

28/04/2010

Several poor brilliant students get assistance from various sources, by way of scholarships of sufficient amount for higher studies. In the university if they study well and score high marks they get employment through campus selection. Many of them receive handsome remuneration (a monthly salary of over Rs.50000/-.(fifty thousand).) If they had been given loans they would not mind repaying and could repay the same easily in a few years. Since they get assistance scholarships, they do not have to repay the amount. But why should not they not be made to take loans and to repay the same when they earn and are in a position to repay? If this is done more students could be assisted to pursue higher studies. It is time, the government, universities/colleges, charitable organizations etc. give up giving scholarships and extend study loans to more students

Similarly the government run hostels for school students and college students, instead of providing boarding and lodging free, could charge reasonable amount and treat this as extending loan to the students. They can repay the loan, when they get employment. With this amount government can run more hostels.

The above measures could make the people more responsible and dignity conscious. The government’s responsibility could be restricted to providing infrastructure while the beneficiaries should become responsible for running expenses

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Shortage of Labour.

24/04/2010

In India, particularly in the southern states, there is an acute shortage of skilled and unskilled manpower in every sector of the economy.

To overcome the labour shortage in the agricultural and plantation sector, the following steps could be taken

  1. the private sector, for various reasons is not yet ready to buy all the available and required agricultural machinery and rent them to interested farmers. Hence, the Engineering division of the departments of agriculture and horticulture should acquire the machinery and rent them to farmers.
  2. The engineering division should demonstrate the use of machinery
  3. Initially, for a period of 2-3 years, the government should provide subsidy to the private individuals to buy agricultural machinery

To overcome labour shortage in the industrial sector

  1. the government should stop encouraging labour intensive handloom sector and start encouraging power loom and mill sector
  2. exemptions from/concessions in  excise and other duties for cottage, labour intensive sectors should be discontinued and mechanization should be encouraged by extending assistance to these sectors to buy machineries

 To provide manpower for the service sector

  1. The departments of labour and employment should organize short term 3-6 month duration courses in trades like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics for automobiles, pumpsets, household equipments like televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners etc and the trainees should be assisted to set up their own services.
  2. Pre-fabricated houses may be encouraged.
  3. In the transport sector, public transport drivers may be given additional responsibility of issuing tickets, thereby dispensing with the services of conductor.
  4. Tea, coffee, fruit juices, snacks etc. vending machines may be popularized and business people may be assisted to acquire these.

 Law and order may be enforced in such a way, that there would be less need for watchmen/security guards.


Reducing pollution

22/04/2010

Consumption of paper which is high in developed countries is increasing in the developing countries. This needs to be reduced as paper industry is one of the most polluting ones and requires a lot of electricity. chemicals and deforestation.

 In the past, people after washing their hands with water, used to wipe their hands with cloth (hand kerchief). It has now become a habit in developed countries and fashion in developing countries to wipe the hands with paper and throw away the paper. Using water and hand kerchiefs should become fashion.

 In the schools, slates and slate pencils were used to learn in the lower classes. Now these have disappeared and in their place, paper and pens have appeared leading to increased consumption of paper.

 The ball pens are thrown away after use. In the initial years of ball pen appearance, refills (ink) were used and there was not much pollution. Now the plastic pen is thrown away and it is becoming increasingly difficult to dispose of these used pens. If refills are used as in the past, production of the plastic body, metal part could be minimized.

 The newspapers are increasing in their volume. There are newspapers which have about 80 or more pages. No one will have time to read all the pages. The news papers can be printed into and sold in separate sections like local news, sports news, international news, business news etc. People interested only in particular news will not buy other sections.

 Of course, there are plastic bags which can easily be replaced with jute and cotton bags, plastic throw away plates and cups with banana and other leaf plates & cups, plastic containers with metal or mud containers etc.

 Liquids can be packed in tins instead of in plactics.

 Most of the industrial and domestic plastic things should be made durable and unbreakable thereby reducing their annual production.


What is good governance?

19/04/2010

In all the recent bye-elections to the state legislative assembly in Tamilnadu, the ruling party or the member of its alliance won. The ruling party sought and obtained the votes on its performance, mainly  of giving to the people (who are also voters) free of cost, colour televisions, cooking gas connection and stove, 2 acres of arable land (to several landless people), house sits, houses, clothes(dhotis and sarees), marriage grant, child allowance,. mid-day meals, bus-passes, bicycles, books, uniforms, etc. to the school children as well as supplying rice at Re.1/a kilogram against its market price of  Rs.10 to Rs.15. The ruling party credits its victories to the aforesaid welfare schemes of the government.

Other political parties in the state, ADMK, Communist parties, PMK. MDMK, DMDK, VCK .etc have no objection to the ruling DMK party’s above mentioned welfare schemes

Not only in Tamilnadu, but in all other states also, all or most of the political parties are for such welfare schemes as above.

Now, the question that arises, is whether good governance means, taking care of the basic and entertainment and other needs of the people from government funds, directly

 or using the government funds judicially

to control crime,

to provide infrastructure for delivering quality education and medical treatment,

to provide good roads,

to keep the roads and streets clean,

to provide clean drinking water, 

to ensure uninterrupted electric supply,

to encourage higher agricultural and industrial production,

and thereby create jobs for all

Mahatma Gandhi said that no one should give to a healthy person, things free, but should instead provide him work which would make him work and enable him to buy his requirements.

 There is a need for a debate on what is good governance.


Views of Mahatma Gandhi on work

16/04/2010

“Gandhiji felt that Ahimsha(non-violence) would not tolerate the idea of giving a free meal to a healthy person who has not worked for it in some honest way. He felt that it degraded the nation and encouraged laziness, idleness, hypocrisy and even crime. It would be an insult to the naked to give them clothes they do not need, instead of giving them work which they sorely need. In his view the principle of work has been set forth in the Third Chapter of the Geeta where we are told that he who eats without offering sacrifice eats stolen food and sacrifice here can only mean productive or bread labour. The view that to live, man must work came to Gandhiji’s mind upon reading Tolstoy’s writing on Bread Labour. A millionaire cannot carry on for long and will soon get tired of his life if he rolls in his bed whole day and is even helped to his food. He, therefore, induces hunger by exercise and helps himself to the food he eats. If every one whether rich or poor has thus to take exercise in some shape or form, why should it not assume the form of productive i.e. bread labour, There is a world wide conflict between capital and labour and the poor envy the rich. If all work for their bread, distinction of ranks would disappear. The rich would still be there but they would deem themselves only trustees of their property and would use mainly in the public interest. Gandhiji also felt intellectual work is important and has an undoubted place in the scheme of life. But he insisted on the necessity of physical labour. No man, he claimed ought to be free from that obligation. It would serve to improve even the quality of a person’s intellectual output. (Taken from a speech on martyrs’ day about 20 years ago)


Couplets

04/04/2010

Any religious extremism can effectively be fought
If in schools atheism is taught.

If each lives for the other, spouses
To fight will have no causes

Higher position gives dignity only if it
Bestows on people their due benefit

If all people work longer and harder
Prosperity will be easier and faster

If poor with subsidies and grants are pampered
Country’s economic progress will be hampered


Merger of small countries in Africa

03/04/2010

The average area of a country in the world is about 770000 sq. km while in the African continent, it is only about 570000sq.km. If large countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Algeria and Libya are excluded, the average size of a country in Africa would only be about 450000sq.km.

Similarly, the average population of a country in the world is about 35 million while in African continent, the average population of a country is only about 20 million. If large populated countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Dem.Republic of Congo are excluded, the average population of a country in Africa would be only about 12 million.

 In Europe, countries are moving towards de facto merger. If several of the small countries in Africa, particularly in West Africa is merged to form fairly large countries there would be faster economic development on account of the following:

i. most of the disputes and wars between the neighboring countries relating to borders etc will automatically disappear

 ii. the governments  can be effective in putting down civil unrest,  organized crimes, etc.

iii .a large number of inter-country  irrigation  projects (which are many in Africa) which are held up due to disagreements/non cooperation among smaller countries, can be taken up for implementation

 iv. A large number of military personnel can reduced as many borders would disappearand total military expenditure can be reduced

 v.chances of military coups can be reduced and democracy may well be established

 vi. number of civilian employees can also be reduced

 vii. movement of goods& services, capital and labour will become free leading to development

 viii. large infrastructural projects can be taken up. As small countries, it would be difficult to undertake large projects

The problems if any of languages will only be minor and can be overcome as India which has more than 600 languages/ dialects, has managed. Religious and ethnic differences between the people will not increase, as the composition of the population of existing small countries is not much different from one another and in any case, the differences would be much less than in India.