All entries for May 2006

May 24, 2006

A disastorous decision – one that will cost India dearly

The Indian Legislative committee has just approved a law that will guarantee seats to 50% of the lower caste communities in India's state funded colleges and universities. A worse decision could not have been made.
The government is approaching the issue in completely the wrong way. Instead of focussing on the key issue of providing more education facilities so that more people can be educated, al it has now done is to appease the poor in India by guaranteeing them seats no matter what their merit. That is absolute rubbish. I can understand that money can help richer students prepare better for universities so up to a 20% reservation of seats for poor people is acceptable, but reserving seats for castes is the worst political decision this government has taken.
Not only does the government now acknowledge that there IS a caste system, but it is also encouraging people to allign themselves to a particular caste so as to benefit from it. Instead of taking the mature route of non discrimination it has taken the immature and insensitive route of discrimination. Why is it not just possible to have a means tested ecucation system? Now the rich will just end up bribing officials in some caste committee to allign themselves to a "Backward caste" so they can get in and in the end the poor will not benefit anyway.
University has to be merit based. By taking in anyone from anywhere it just compromises the quality of the education provided at an institute. It makes people want to allign themselves to a caste for no good reason on top of that it takes away any incentive to study at all! why study if I can get in without doing so? Why should the middle class of any country be punished? My parents worked their butt off to get where they are, and instead of punishing them one should make it easier for poor people to do better at school rather than making it easier to do well in life without working for it at all!
Whats the solution ? Same as in the UK – Privatize education! If the government is going to be authoritarian and stupid when it comes to important decisions then the best decisions should be left to the market. The elite institutions of India are all state run and state funded, once private universities with decent professors and facilities start to spring up, they will definetely attract the brighter students and in doing so will take away value from the brand names of the top institutes. At least the government cannot control private institutes in a democratic country! (Thank god for that)
Yes – I acknowledge that poor people have a lower chance of getting into higher education and so entry should be reserved for them. This should result in means tested entry and NOT entry based on a worthless and vile caste system that does more harm to India than any other major social concern. Instead of just reserving entry how about building more institutes so that demand equals supply? obviously there is a net excess demand in India for higher educaton that is causing a problem. Private institutes will definetely help ease the burden on the government and will also help give employment to the hundreds of millions of Indians.
Nonetheless I have complete faith in the market system and I believe all education should be privatized for the good of society. More money means more scholarships and especially if entry is means tested it results in everyone paying the right price for education. Free education is never fair education because some people will always benefit more than others. Instead if everyone payed fees according to what their family can afford, it does indeed become a lot fairer.

May 21, 2006

Mired in controversy…...should it be???

In the long hours in between the sporadic revision, the BBCnews website has now become my favorite haunt, and their latest discussion topic is the Da Vinci Code! (surprise surprise).
After being delayed and censored in India, and booed in press screenings, the reaction to the film begs two questions…....Is the film really that bad??? Or is it soooo good that the church is now afraid it will create unnecessary doubt?

Personally, I think the church is right to object…and so are Christians in general, afterall one can't just take any old theory (written in what I admit is a good read) and then start questioning the morals of Jesus Christ….. Muslims were angry at the cartoons, and now Christians are angry at Da Vinci ….. it is in my opinion understandable.

On the other hand, it does generate a lot of interest in Christianity from followers and non–followers alike. Anyone reading the discussion on the BBC website will see comments ranging from "The Bible is a work of Fiction" to "The film is blasphemous!" but all would agree that it did generate a lot of interest. But is that a sufficient reason to not protest??? In some respects I say yes it is…..because even if the film has a disclaimer on it bing a work of fiction, it does promote a discussion of the history of christianity. And if someone does take the stance that Jesus married Magdalane, at least she would be accpeting that Jesus did exist. But as I have said before, it creates unnecessary tensions all around, especially when people start abusing each other for their views.
In my opinion what differentiates the Da Vinci Code from the cartoons of Mohammad is that it does not degrade Jesus Christ to being a terrorist, but rather questions the power of the church. Although I admit the focus has been on his relationship with Magdalane, which many people would find degrading.

At then end of the day I believe the film should be viewed as based on a very good work of fiction and should be enjoyed for its intoxicating story line, but I doubt it will be. After all we are all humans….and as is obvious nothing gets us going like religion…


May 13, 2006

Google is right and here's why.

I realize this may be a year too late for the debate, but nonetheless I think that Google was definetely right when it took the decision to censor its search engine in China .
As the world's largest search engine one might argue it has the responsibility to condem any form of censorship on the internet – a world, which although virtual provides unlimited opporunities for freedom of expression and opinion, and in most cases where the laws of the "real" world tend to not apply. However, in China the government has a very strong tendency to not realize this fact. I am sure that no matter how much every government believes in the Lockean ideal of a minimalist government, if it could legally have access to all the information on the web it bloody well would do so.
In China the situation that google is in is very precarious indeed. Whilst in democratic countries people to a large extent have free speech without consequences it is obviously not the case in China. If google allowed everyone to search for democratic ideals someday or the other it would definetely be approcahed by the Chinese government to hand over data of the individuals searching for these words, and sooner or later those individuals would conveniantly "disappear". Any society no matter how impoverished or resource laden needs to have freedom to progress. China has managed to achieve immense growth in economic terms, but it has consequently given rise to a population that has a hunger to progress spiritually and internally and indeed should do so, but the government will obviously lose any power it cdurrently exudes and therefore just cannot do so.
If google denied to hand over the information, they would be banned from China altogether, which makes no entreprenual sense whatsoever. Google realises the situation they are in and hence are not even providing email services to the Chinese people. I know that if I was to choose between saving the lives of revolutionary or simply curious people or condeming them to death or worse still a miserable life, I would choose to save them. More so because if I did not choose to do so the government would ban my organization – in other words Google is in a lose – lose situation with the current Chinese government.

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