Dubious Doctorate

Editor,

The Shillong Times, Jan 13, 2022, reported that a poet from Tura, Biswajit Nandi, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the California Public University (CPU), USA. Contrary to what the article claims, CPU is not a leading educational institution. It does not appear on any university ranking list, and the word ‘prestigious’ is evidently exaggerated.
In fact, it is an online university which has never had a campus or any offline programs. The website does not mention any statutory recognitions or accreditations. It appears to be one of a cluster of such universities, that are set up to lure foreign students to obtain a foreign degree. These degree factories have been in the news and several of them have legal cases pending against them.
The modus operandi of such institutions is to advertise their courses through agents in India who will take the student, gullible or otherwise, through a process of basically purchasing a degree including doctorates. They arrange ‘convocations’, and tag on a few prominent names and pictures. Because of the Covid pandemic, they issue disclaimers about not receiving permission to hold actual events. A brief browse through the internet will reveal these shady dealings.
One of the ‘research consultants’ advertises its role with marketing lines like: “Panic about your Thesis writing? Not finding time for Thesis Writing? You don’t have to worry about your Thesis writing anymore! We are experts in Thesis Writing, Synopsis Writing, Publications”. I have quoted verbatim, with the grammatical and syntax errors. This particular ad has a poster with the names and logos of several universities including California Public University. In the CPU university is the line, “Only Few Nominations left”.
There is much more on these murky educational institutions. The media, recruiting universities and the public should be aware of these fraudulent institutions. I fear that the poet has been misled.

Yours etc.,

Glenn C. Kharkongor,

Via email

Swami Vivekananda- a youth icon

Editor,

The nation celebrated the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12. The main objective behind the celebration is to propagate the philosophy and the ideals of Swami Vivekananda for which he lived and worked and also to promote rational thinking among the youth, believed to be the future of the country.
One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity. According to him ‘Education means that process by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, and intellect is sharpened, as a result of which one can stand on one’s own feet’. The larger objective should be to pursue the integrated study of philosophy and activities of Swami Vivekananda in Indian as well as global references, to undertake studies of different religions with an objective to spread the idea of harmony of religions and to treat all work as worship and service to humankind as service to God.
Yours etc.,
Pinaki Nandy,
Guwahati

Who cares for the disabled?

Editor

Every year seminars and programs are held by the state government for people suffering from various disabilities to create public awareness about the need to support and care for them. However, it is unfortunate that in the midst of the Covid lockdown in the previous year and these past months very little has been heard about any special intervention happening for them. The question is – are we so insensitive towards their plight? Do we just ignore them and think that they are “unwanted” in society? Where have all the civil society pressure groups gone? How sad it is to see people with the white cane being led by another with a white cane. How sad it is to see that people suffering from other forms of disabilities are made to fend for themselves. This raises a pertinent question about our collective insensitivity. And where is all that Central assistance and welfare schemes? There is a saying that when one’s does good to another goodness comes back manifold. Let’s all try and care for the disabled in whatever way we can!

Yours etc..

Dominic Stadlin Wankhar,

Via email

Memory crate

Editor,

The first thing I did every morning when I woke up is go through the front page of both the English and Vernacular newspapers.Yesterday’s front page was different from most days.There was an advertisement by the Meghalaya government entitled,”Memory Crate”.Memory Crate is part of the celebration for the 50 years of the birth of the state of Meghalaya.The Meghalaya government is organising various programs to celebrate this momentous occasion on a grand scale.So, “Memory Crate” as per the advertisement is a time capsule. It is an open invitation to the general public to share their precious memorabilia and thoughts through letters and the shared items will be kept inside the box and it will be opened 50 years from now. When I first read about it, I genuinely thought it was a laughing matter and I simply laughed it off. Then in the afternoon, a friend of mine shared the advertisement with me through WhatsApp and suggested that I write something.I said ‘hehe,sa iapeit mo’ (let’s see).I was still not convinced. Then later in the evening, after a couple or more chats, I told him again that I’ll if I can really come up with something.
After a few deep thoughts I came up with these few wishes. This is what I want Meghalaya to be when they finally open this box:
1.May we lead the way in peaceful co-existence: Sarong ia la ka jong, burom ia ka jong kiwei (Be proud of your own and respect what belong to others).
2.May we set the benchmark in organic farming.
3.May our gini coefficient be the lowest in India, somewhere near the zero mark.
4.May we be the apple of India’s policy makers’ eyes and last but not the least
5.May we be the Jonesses that every state in India will try to keep up with!
Some of you might say that it is wishful thinking. Many onlookers and political and economic observers feel that Meghalaya is going down the drain but as the saying goes we should always look on the bright side even if it’s hoping against hope.
I just would like to mention in this letter about the Rs 700 crore that Japan gave us to develop the tourism sector. The amusing thing is when the news was first circulated online almost a month back, no one mentioned that it was a loan. Everyone lauded the Meghalaya government for this financial coup. Japan being a highly indebted country itself will definitely not give away funds for free. Now that the money will be in the coffers of the State Government, all I want to say to this present government is to use the money judiciously and make it fruitful. Let me remind our policy makers about a loan that England took from the USA during the second world war to finance it’s war efforts. England finally cleared the loan in 2006.So the British general public had to bear the financial burden of an unproductive loan for almost 60 years!

Yours etc.,

Gary Marbaniang,

Via email

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