Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Politics of Common School System & English language

One was outraged to note that the leader of the opposition chose to address the Lok Sabha and the nation on a crucial issue of national importance such as Indo-US Nuclear deal not in Hindi but in English. Where was the need for the use of English language in the Lok Sabha by the most ardent nationalist leader? It is understandable why a senior politician from UP gets perturbed by the growing trend of unnecessary, inappropriate and uncalled use of English language in our country.

Although one disagrees with Samajwadi Party on almost all issues ranging from its support for Indo-US Nuclear deal to its impudent promotion of industrialists like Anil Ambani and its dynastic politics but on the issue of language underlined in its manifesto, one is compelled to agree with it because there is an echo of what was recommended by a Government of India’s high-powered committee under Dr D.S. Kothari, the then chairman of University Grants Commission to frame a national policy which would give shape and direction to newly independent India’s school education system.

The Kothari Commission Report on Education (1964-66) is still regarded as the most in-depth study of primary and secondary education in Indian history. The Kothari Commission advocated a common school system. According to the commission the characteristics of a common school system include--publicly funded schools open to all children irrespective of caste, creed, community, religion, economic condition or social status, no tuition fee is charged and providing free instruction for all in the mother tongue at the primary level, particularly for linguistic minorities; active encouragement of teaching in regional languages at the secondary level and discontinuance of state aid to schools imparting education other than in the medium of mother tongue/ regional language.

The National Education Policies of 1986 and 1992 endorsed the Kothari Commission’s recommendation of a common school system across the country. However the recommendation has never translated into action. In 1990, the apex Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE), which appraises the extent to which the National Education Policy is implemented by the Central and state governments and other agencies appointed a committee to review NEP 1986. The CABE constituted Acharya Ramamurti Committee which noted that the common school system proposal was not making any headway because of the constitutional protection given to minorities to establish and administer their own educational institutions is incompatible with a common school system, public schools and privately managed English medium schools, schools charging capitation fees and those offering expensive coaching have proliferated.

What is noteworthy is that quite like other political parties Samajwadi Party neither did anything to promote common school system when it was in power nor does it promise to do so now. Therefore, mere insistent and valid criticism on misplaced emphasis on English language is not sufficient. Almost all the advocates of Hindi including the stalwarts in Hindi journalism and politicians of Hindi heartland have either sent their children to English schools or wish to do so.

In such a backdrop, Dalit thinkers are absolutely right in demanding English education because at least since 1757 English language seems to have determined as to who is an oppressor and who is the oppressed. In fact it is sad but it appears to be true that they who know English are Upper Castes and they who do not are Dalits. English as a medium of education must be eliminated in favour of mother tongue but opposing it without advocating common school system is manifestly insincere and dishonest because no developed or developing country has ever achieved Universal Elementary Education or, for that matter, Universal Secondary Education, without a strong state-funded and state-regulated Common School System. It is indeed an irony that such an equitable public school system has been prevalent in some form or the other in several European countries, USA and Canada but not in India where it is needed the most.

However, it must be mentioned that in 2006, Bihar Chief Minister called for the Common School System to be implemented by the central government in order to ensure quality and non-discriminatory education to all. Bihar, said he, is the first state to have constituted a commission on common school system. Since then reiterating the recommendations of Kothari Commission, the Common School System Commission has submitted its 313-page report in June 2007 and almost two years have passed but one is not aware of steps taken by Bihar Government to act on its recommendation calling “for a legislation underpinning the Common School System.” If it happens it would be a trendsetter beyond empty posturing on English language as a medium of education.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Third Front government in offing again?

Communist Party of India (Marxist)[CPIM] dictates and guides the Left-ruled states like West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.

Prakash Karat, 60 years old General Secretary of CPI (M)says, his party would decide on joining the Government if the Third Front came to power after the elections. “We would decide after weighing our options. If a non-Congress government comes to power, we would think about joining it. Joining the government is easy, but implementing the alternative policies is more important”.

Third Front is fighting the Lok Sabha elections with 10 parties in its fold.
“The Congress has dissolved the UPA. The party has already said there would be no national-level alliance with any party. If the front was a 'maya', why should others waste time discussing it?” he asked.

Karat said the manifestos of the Congress and the BJP looked alike. The BJP was silent on its earlier promise that the party would review the nuclear deal if it came to power. Instead, that party had highlighted the Ram temple issue. The Third Front has proposed a policy alternative to that of both the Congress and BJP. The front would revamp the public distribution system in the country, doing away with the categorisation of consumers into the BPL and the APL.

On economic policies, Karat said the Third Front had suggested infusing more liquidity into the system to bring down the prices of essential commodities. “Containing the inflation alone would not pay dividends.”

Karat likes crime novels and reads Inspector Cheng series (by Qui Xiaolong), Henning Mankell’s books, Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly.

Karat was involved with student politics and was elected the third president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Student's Union. He also became the first President of the Students Federation of India between 1974 to 1979. He worked underground for one and a half years during the Emergency in India in 1975-76. He was arrested twice and spent 8 days in prison. He was also instrumental in defining the basic paradigm of the JNU Students Union constitution, perhaps the most revolutionary students union manifesto of its time.

Bihar witnesses CPI (ML) led Left Front

Bowing to the glaring political reality CPI-ML, the largest Communist party in Bihar has joined hands with CPI, CPI-M to put up candidates in 33 of the state's 40 Lok Sabha seats in an attempt to make its presence from the state in the 15th Lok Sabha. CPI (M-L) was an underground organisation until 1992 because it had taken the path of armed struggle which it gave up.

CPI-ML which has a significant organisational capacity in Bihar has put up the maximum 20 candidates. CPI has put up candidates for 8 seats the and CPI-M has put up candidates for 5 seats.

Father of Rahul Raj who was killed in a fake encounter in Mumbai, Kundan Singh has accused NDA and UPA leaders of failing to pursue the issue of Bihari identity and his son. He accused Nitish Kumar, Lalu and Ram Vilas Paswan of killing the emerging student movement in Bihar when students agitated over the issue of killing of Bihari youths: Rahul Raj (Patna), Pawan (Nalanda), Harendra Manjhi (Gopalganj) and Santu (Munger). He said that the JDU government did not help him in the inquiry of false encounter case and he was supported only by the CPI-ML. He has appealed to the people of Bihar to support the Left Front candidates. An appeal has also been issued to defeat Bollywood non-resident Bihari actors who remained silent while Bihari youths were being killed by Raj Thackrey's goons in Maharastra and were given clean chit by the Maharashtra Government.

“There are differences and they will be there. We are not merging with the CPI(M). Now the plan is to hold joint actions with the CPI(M) and CPI in Bihar. It is a positive development as the CPI(M) responded to our appeal this time around,” said, Kavita Krishnan, spokesperson, CPI(ML).

Indeed "Caste and community combinations employed by various political formations have been the most crucial factor in all elections in Bihar in the past 20 years" with the exception of CPI (ML).

CPI-ML has a support base in at least 11 of the state's 38 districts, including Bhojpur, Buxar, Jahanabad, Sasaram, Gaya, Siwan, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Jamui. There is fair chance that the CPI and the CPI(ML) can capitalise the division of votes to their advantage in constituencies such as Begusarai.

CPIML's Arun Singh who is a sitting MLA from Karakat is contesting from Ara in Bhojpur district. Ara has more than 15 lakh voters. He is cotesting against rivals like Rama Singh of LJP, Meena Singh of JDU, Haridwar Prasad Singh Kushwaha of Congress and Rita Singh of BSP. Some believe that only Arun Singh and Rama Singh are serious candidates while other feel the contest is between Arun Singh and Meena Singh. The fact remains Meena Singh (from late Tapeshwar Singh's family) is a sitting MP from Bikramganj which she won because of a sympathy factor due to her husband Ajit Singh's accidental death. Rama Singh is a sitting legislator from Mahnar that makes him also an outsider so is LJP in Ara.

In the Bihar Vidhan Sabha election of 2005, Arun Singh won as a CPI(ML)(L)candidate from Karakat (in Rohtas region) by getting 35954 votes as against his rival RJD candidate Tulsi Singh who got 29274. He won by a margin of 6680 votes. He is a third time MLA.

In February, 2008, this CPI-ML MLA was in news for his acts in the Bihar Vidhan Sabha during Governor R S Gavai's address to the joint sitting of the two houses of Bihar legislatures. Arun Singh read out a parallel speech denouncing Bihar's NDA government for its failure on all fronts.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the CPI (ML)candidate was the first runner up.

Earlier, Rameshwar Prasad was elected to the Lok Sabha from Ara in 1989 as a front candidate for the underground organisation.

In the 2005 Vidhan Sabha election, the CPI (ML)'s got seven MLAs although two of its MLAs Amarnath Yadav and Satyedeo Ram who are MLAs from Siwan district are in jail.

Sudama Prasad, another CPIML leader is contesting from Buxar.

CPI(ML)'s candidate in Siwan Amar Yadav is emerging as a strong contender against RJD leader Mohammed Shahabuddin's 36-year-old wife Heena Sahab. Heena is a resident of Pratappur which comes under Hussainganj Police Station. She is a graduate from Vidya Bhavan Mahila College.

(Lalu Prasad along with Shahabuddin's wife and party candidate from Siwan, Heena Sahab)

Shahabuddin was denied ticket because he accused of several criminal offences and is now in jail as a convict. Patna High Court dismissed his plea to suspend his conviction in a criminal case so that he could contest the Lok Sabha elections. Shahabuddin was convicted on May 5, 2007, for kidnapping and trying to kill a CPI (ML) activist, Chhote Lal, in 1999. The court August 2007 sentenced him to 10 years in jail. Under the electoral laws, anyone convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to jail for more than two years is barred from contesting elections. Shahabuddin has also been convicted in 2006 for carrying out an armed raid on the CPI-ML office in 1998 and sentenced to a two-year jail term. JD(U) nominee Brishen Patel in Siwan is also a strong candidate because he has represented this constituency prior to Shahabuddin. Lalu Prasad is contesting from adjoining Saran constituency.

CPI(ML)says it is seeking votes for a fighting Left opposition within Parliament and to to rebuild and revitalise the Left movement in the country and forge a fighting unity of Left and democratic forces.

The Left Front had 62 MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha but the way India's foreign policy became dependent on US and away from the tradition of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) shows that while Left Front's presence was felt, it could not save India from strategic embrace of US and consequently of Israel to the detriment of relations with Iran and other NAM countries.

In the last three general elections the Congress Party has been between 140 to 145 seats in the Lok Sabha of 543. In the elections of 1996, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 161 seats, in 1998 it increased its tally to 178 seats and in 2004 it won only 138 seats in a Lok Sabha of 543.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fifteenth Lok Sabha Elections in Bihar

The 13 constituencies which are going to the polls in the first phase of elections on April 16 in Bihar are Gopalganj (sc), Siwan, Maharajganj, Saran, Ara, Buxar, Sasaram(sc), Karakat, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Gaya(sc), Nawada and Jamui(sc).

Rama Kishore Singh is the Lok Jansakti Party nominee, Arun Singh, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPIML] nominee, Meena Singh is Janata Dal (United)[JDU] nominee, Rita Singh is Bahujan Samaj Party candidate and H.P. Singh Kushwaha is Congress candidate for Ara constituency.

Prior to the delimitation of constituencies Ara was represented in the 14th Lok Sabha by Kanti Singh of Rashtriya Janata Dal. She had won by a margin of 149743 votes. She had got 299422 votes and defeated her nearest rival CPI(ML)'s Ram Naresh Ram who polled 149679 votes.

Based on the statistics of previous elections it is being claimed that Arun Singh, the CPI(ML) candidate who also represents the Left Front in Bihar is all set win the Ara seat for the 15th Lok Sabha.

In Buxar the BJP candidate is Lalmuni Chaubey who is the sitting MP in the 14th Lok Sabh. He had defeated Dadan Singh, an independent candidate by getting 205980 votes as against his rival Dadan Singh who polled 151114. Chaubey had won by a margin of 54866 votes.

In the 14th Lok Sabha Sasaram was respresented by Meira Kumar of Indian National Congress who got 416673 votes as against her rival BJP candidate Muni Lall who polled 158411 votes. She won by a margin of 258262 votes.

In Maharajganj for the the 14th Lok Sabha, it was Prabhunath Singh of JD(U)who got 283506 votes as against his against his RJD rival Jitendra Swami who got 237041 votes. Prabhunath Singh won by a margin of 46465 votes.

State Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh said in Patna immediately after the issuance of the notification by President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, the process of filing of nominations by the candidates for 13 Lok Sabha seats in the first phase of elections on April 16.

The filing of nominations continued till March 30 and their scrutiny was done the next day, while the last day for withdrawal of papers was April 2.

While on the second phase of polling on April 23, another 13 seats would go to the poll, on the third phase on April 30 the fate of a total of eleven seats would be decided. On the fourth and final phase of elections on May 07, electorate of the three remaining seats would cast their ballots.

The Presidential notification for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections for 13 seats in Bihar was issued on Mar 23, 2009 along with the rest of the country.

Bihar would witness a four phase elections on April 16, 23, 30 and on May 7 for the 40 Lok Sabha seats, on the first day elections would be held for only 13 seats.


1. Araria Kamli Devi
2. Ara Arun Singh
3. Buxar Sudama Prasad
4. Darbhanga Satyanarayan Mukhia
5. Gaya (SC) Niranjan Kumar
6. Gopalganj (SC) Satyadev Ram
7. Jahanabad Mahanand
8. Jhanjharpur Yognath Mandal
9. Karakat Rajaram Singh
10.Katihar Mahbub Alam
11.Maharajganj Satyendra Sahni
12 Muzaffarpur Jitendra Yadav
13. Nalanda Shashi Yadav
14. Pataliputra Rameshwar Prasad
15. Patna Sahib Ram Narayan Rai
16. Purnia Madhavi Sarkar
17. Samastipur (SC) Jeevachh Paswan
18. Sasaram (SC) Dukhi Ram
19. Siwan Amarnath Yadav
20. Valmiki Nagar Virendra Gupta

List of JD(U) candidates from Bihar for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections:

1. Damodar Raut (Banka)
2. Capt. Jaya Narayan Nishad (Muzaffarnagar)
3. Rajeev Ranjan Singh (Munger)
4. Meena Singh (Ara)
5. Bhudeb Chaudhury (Jamui)
6. Prabhunath Singh (Maharajganj)
7. Arjun Rai (Sitamarhi)
8. Sharad Yadav (Madhepura)
9. Munazir Hussain (Begusarai)
10. Dinesh Yadav (Khagodia)
11. Jagdish Sharma (Jahanabad)
12. Ranjan Yadav (Pataliputra)
13. Ashwamedha Devi (Ujirarpur)
14. Purnamasi Ram (Gopalganj)
15. Syed Mohammed Ashraf (Kishanganj)
16. Ramsundar Das (Hajipur)
17. Munna Shukla (Vaishali)
18. Mangnilal Mandal (Jhanjharpur)
19. Brishin Patel (Siwan)
20. Vishwamohan Kumar (Supaul)
21. Kaushalendra Singh (Nalanda)

List of BJP candidates in Bihar:

1. East Champaran GEN Radha Mohan Singh
2. Madhubani GEN Hukumdev Narayan Yadav
3. Araria GEN Pradeep Singh Gange
4. Katihar GEN Nikhil Chowdhary
5. Purnia GEN Uday Singh
6. Saran GEN Rajiv Pratap Rudy
7. Bhagalpur GEN Syed Shahnawaz Hussain
8. Patna Saheb GEN Shatrughn Sinha
9. Buxar GEN Lalmuni Chaubey
10. Sasaram SC Muni Lal
11. Gaya SC Hari Manjhi
12. Nawada GEN Bhola Singh
13. West Champaran Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal
14. Sheohar Mrs Rama Devi
15 Darbhanga Kirti Azad

RJD has announced the candidate for Lok Sabha Seats of Bihar for parliamentary Election 2009.

Given below is the RJD list of its candidates:

1. Bhagalpur -Shakuni Chaudhary
2. Valmiki Nagar - Raghu Nath Jha
3. Gopalganj - Anil Kumar
4. East Champaran_ Akhilesh Prasad Singh
5. Sheohar- Sitaram Singh
6. Siwan - Hina Sahab (Wife of Shahabuddin)
7. Maharajgang - Pending
8. Vaishali- Raghuvansh Pd. Singh
9. Sitamarhi-Sitaram Yadav
10. Jhanjharpur- Devndra Prasad Yadav
11. Ujiyarpur -Alok kr. Mehta
12. Khagaria - R.K. Rana
13. Jamui - Shyam Rajak
14. Patna Sahib - Pending
15. Gaya- Ramji Manjhi
16. Darbhanga - Md. A. Fatmi
17. Patliputra - Lalu Prasad
18. Saran - Lalu Prasad
19. Kishanganj - Tasslimuddin
20. Banka - Jai Prakash Yadav
21. Aurangabad - Shakil Ahmad Khan
22. Karakat - Kanti Singh
23. Jahanabad - Surendra Pd. Mehta
24. Buxur - Abdul Bari Siddqui
25. Munger - Ram Badan Rai
26. Sasaram - Lalan Paswan

List of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) candidates:

1. Ram Vilas Paswan- Hajipur (reserved)
2. Ramchandra Paswan- Samastipur (reserved)
3. Prakash Jha- West Champaran
4. Ranjita Ranjan- Supaul (Ranjit Ranjan has left LJP and has joined the Congress)
5. Veena Devi- Nawada
6. Rama Singh- Ara
7. Satish Kumar- Nalanda
8. Ashfaque Karim- Katihar
9. Bhagwan Lal Sahni- Muzaffarpur
10.Shankar Jha- Purnia
11. Zakir Anwar- Araria
12. Anil Choudhary- Begusarai

Indian National Congress is contesting 37 seats in Bihar. It failed to reach seat sharing agreement with its key allies (RJD-LJP) in the United Progressive Alliance

List of Congress candidates:

3. SHEOHAR- Mrs LOVELY ANAND (In place of Prof. Madhurender Singh)

During 2004 elections the tally of seats bagged by political parties in Bihar out of a total of 50553503 voters. RJD won 19 seats, JD(U) won 6 seats, BJP won 5 seats, LJP won 4 seats and Congress won 3 seats. Total number of candidates were 462 and the 59 % turn out.

Some constituencies now have a different boundary or name because of the new delimitation rules. Some of these are Valmiki Nagar, Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran and Supaul.