New Private Universities Bill

Editor,

We have come to know through The Shillong Times of Sep 6, 2019, that the state government is introducing a new Bill to regulate and monitor private universities in the state. We are surprised to know of this development and while the government no doubt has good intentions, it would have been worthwhile to have had a dialogue with the private universities before drafting the Bill.

Meghalaya in 2005 was one of the first states to create private universities. As far as we know there has not been an evaluation of private university education and perhaps the government can commission a study that will reveal the ups and downs and the good and bad. Such a study can draw conclusions and make recommendations for the betterment of higher education in the state. Meghalaya is rightly considered the educational hub of the Northeast and this status can be further enhanced.

Apart from creating the private universities, the state government has not taken much initiative to further support university education. Tribal communities in India have the lowest enrollment in tertiary education and the state government can do much in collaboration with other stakeholders to address this shortfall.

The Bill would also need to take note of the New Education Policy (NEP). Of the four-hundred page policy, roughly half are devoted to higher education. At our university we have already made a study of the main recommendations and have drawn up a road map for implementation. The NEP has many enlightened provisions and are taking it up with energy and enthusiasm.

There are other considerations. The NEP devotes a separate section to “Transforming the Regulatory System”. The 17 national statutory councils are likely to be divested of their regulatory powers because a new policy for university regulation has been laid out in another section called “Empowered Governance and Effective Leadership for Higher Education Institutions”. Thus it would seem that since education is a concurrent subject, the new policies of the Central Government would need to be studied before the state comes up with this proposed Bill.

Finally there are two clauses of relevance in the Meghalaya State Education Policy which bear quoting: Clause 2.4.v “To support higher education institutions in improving quality and achieving excellence” and Clause 2.4.ix which states “To proactively engage with leading higher education institutions within and outside the state for the overall development of higher education”.

While we are not familiar with the contents of the proposed Bill, measures to merely monitor and regulate would be a shortsighted strategy and would lead to a punitive rather than holistic mindset. As educationists committed to the advancement of education of our youth, we would welcome a positive and constructive discussion with the government. I hope the Home Minister and Education Minister would see it in this light.

Glenn C. Kharkongor

Martin Luther Christian University

Shillong

Lawmakers not above the law

Editor,

 Recently it has been reported in The Shillong Times and social media that a certain legislator was pulled up at a prominent point in Shillong for breaking the traffic law. It was reported that the legislator used tinted glasses in his private vehicle which is against the law. It was reported that tinted glass are allowed only in official cars of people with Z and Z plus category security. In the case of the legislator the tinted windshields in the vehicle was on a purely private vehicle and he does fall under Z nor Z plus category security. Hence the lawmaker has clearly violated the law and the traffic police officer who pulled him up was correct in doing his duty according to the law prescribed for such cases. We must congratulate the police officer for doing his duty without fear or favour and we appeal to all police personnel to do their duty diligently without favouring anybody. It was wrong on the part of the lawmaker to lodge a complaint with the Privileges Committee of the Assembly against the police officer who has pulled up the erring legislator.

It is extremely sad to learn that the police officer was made to apologise before the Privileges Committee. This, in the long run, will deter police personnel from doing their duty faithfully. I feel that the person who should apologise in this case is the legislator, not the policeman.

Yours etc.,

Philip Marwein,

via-email

Tinted glass saga

Editor,

Once again we see the high and mighty exploiting the common man. It seems to me the police officer did his duty without any partiality. What if we have more Police Officers and government servants like him in the State? I reckon we’ll be doing quite well honestly, if we have more people like him – unafraid of transfers and losing favours from our so called representatives. It seems these MLAs and Ministers don’t really know the meaning of being a minister, which is to serve and not to be served. The legislator should have known better and abided by the law. The Committee should’ve schooled the MLA instead of the Police Officer for abusing the Law. Let this be an example to others as well. We the people are sick and tired of such incidents as well as ‘01s’ vehicles and their unauthorized beacons during traffic jams, while the rest remain on queue. On behalf of the common man, Kudos Mr. Police Officer; job well done. And of course, one last thing, will the fine be paid for tinted glass in this case or will it be business as usual where the privileged get away with it?

Yours etc.,

Tony Dkhar

Shillong

Self-Determination and Kashmir

Editor,

It does not look likely that the indigenous people of Kashmir, the ‘Switzerland of Asia’, would settle for anything less than self-determination. Under international law, the people (Kashmiris) have the ability to exercise freely their right to self-determination (determine their own political future). The United Nations had allowed (India supported that) that East Timorese people should exercise their right to self-determination. This also is the aspiration of the indigenous Indian Mongolian people (s) of the North Eastern States of our country who want to exercise their rights to self-determination as per the Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

   Yours etc.,

   Morning Star Sumer,

   Shillong – 2

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