Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Clarification from SRGT

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Editor,
Apropos the article captioned, ‘Drainage work delay cause of football turf water logging,’ which appeared in your paper on June 25, 2024, we wish to clarify that the 1st Ground at Polo is not looked after by the Shillong Recreation Ground Trust (SRGT). Though the ground belongs to the SRGT, the place is leased out to the Shillong Sports Association which is responsible for looking after the ground. The SRGT which was formed in 1901 and was thereafter duly registered, had acquired land in the Polo area in 1902,1903 and 1904 to encourage recreational activities for the residents of Shillong. The 1902 and 1903 plots were leased out to the State Sports Council while part of the 1904 plot i.e. the 1st Ground, was leased out to the Shillong Sports Association.
The delay in laying out the outlet drain was mainly because of the misunderstanding that arose between the State Government and the SRGT with regards to the ownership of the 1904 plot which was not clear to the Government but whose ownership was in no doubt as the SRGT has the proof of sale/purchase. After many meetings and court appearances, which unfortunately took over a year, the matter was finally cleared up and mutually settled.
The SRGT was in no way a stumbling block but had to make sure that Trust interests were not violated before agreeing to any proposals. As the alignment of the earlier proposed drain has been found to be untenable, the SRGT has suggested another route which will provide a suitable outlet to the Umkhrah river.
On behalf of the SRGT I would like to reaffirm that the SRGT stands true to the commitment made by its six founders in 1901 to the residents of Shillong to encourage recreational activities at the places which had been acquired by them.
Yours etc.,
D M Pariat,
Secretary, SRGT

Govt can restore students’ confidence by conducting fair exam reforms

Editor,
Amidst growing concerns over the effectiveness of this year’s National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical education, the Centre recently cancelled the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) a day after its administration, citing potential compromises to the process’s integrity. Consequently, over 900,000 aspirants will need to retake the test, adding to the anxiety of around 2.4 million NEET candidates already affected as counselling is about to commence. At the heart of both incidents is the competence of the National Testing Agency (NTA), responsible for conducting these exams, and the resulting impact on candidates’ confidence in the integrity of the examination process. The government must act swiftly to restore this trust; these national entrance exams are critical pathways for millions of students striving for a promising future and impactful careers, particularly in medicine and academia, sectors crucial for the nation’s development.
Unfortunately, this trust has been deeply shaken. Despite governmental assurances, lingering questions about the processes employed by the NTA and their safeguards remain. This situation calls for independent and transparent investigations, along with a public admission of any shortcomings. Through this openness, the NTA and other relevant entities can address and rectify the identified deficiencies. Further, it is imperative to fortify the examination framework, making it impervious to breaches and misconduct. Transitioning from the traditional paper-and-pen format to computer-based tests (CBTs), aligning with global standards, can mitigate risks of question paper leaks from printing presses and test centres. Moreover, integrating measures like real-time monitoring and restricted internet connectivity during exams can further curtail potential manipulations within CBTs. Emphasising multiple-choice questions that gauge deep conceptual understanding can reduce subjective biases typical in manual assessments, especially at initial screening stages. Additional avenues to rebuild trust include sharing anonymised performance data, conducting detailed score analyses, and leveraging technology along with psychometric analysis to curb cheating.
Simultaneously, the government and NTA must directly engage with this year’s aspirants, ensuring minimal disruption to their career trajectories, and transparently addressing the flaws. The urgency to act cannot be overstated; the future of India’s youth is at stake, and ensuring their trust and confidence in these critical examinations is paramount.
Yours etc.,
Chanmiki Laloo,
Shillong-02

Karnataka’s model draft bill

Editor,
Kudos to the Karnataka government for publishing a draft bill for providing gig workers social security and welfare. This bill is in sync with Rahul Gandhi’s promise which he made before the last year’s assembly elections. He deserves praise for regularly meeting with marginalised people and for fighting for their cause.
The Karnataka Platform-based Gig Workers’ (Social Security and Welfare) Bill, 2024, wants to make, “obligations on aggregators in relation to social security, occupational health and safety, transparency in automated monitoring and decision-making systems to provide dispute resolution mechanisms.”
Once enacted, the bill will bring an estimated two lakh gig workers under the ‘Karnataka Platform-based Gig Workers Welfare Board’ headed by the labour minister.
The Karnataka government sought suggestions and objections from stakeholders within 10 days of publishing the draft dated June 29, 2024 for enacting a law that will provide a safety net for gig workers.
It will be mandatory for all aggregators to provide to the board all data related to gig workers working for them within 60 days after the commencement of the Act. Subsequently, all workers employed after the enactment of this law would also have to be registered with the board within 60 days.
The bill says that an aggregator cannot sack a gig worker without providing a valid reason and a prior notice of 14 days. The aggregators will have to inform the board about any deduction in payment to gig workers and also have to explain the reason for it.
The draft bill wants to ensure a safe and healthy working condition for the workers. Gig workers will have the option of filing complaints before the grievance redress officer or on a dedicated web portal. They will also be provided with a social security and welfare fund.
However, the Karnataka government needs to ensure that no worker has to work more than 8 hours daily to where she or he has been employed. It would safeguard the physical and mental wellbeing of the workers, generate nearly 50 per cent more employment, and check accidents.
Working at a stretch for long causes exhaustion and health issues. It also triggers unemployment. To get 24 man-hours daily, an employer needs 3 workers if each worker works for 8 hours daily (8×3). But if the employer forces each worker to work for 12 hours per day, he will employ just two of them (12×2). The latter and prevailing scenario causes unemployment for one in three workers.
A study was conducted on 10,000 Indian cab drivers and gig workers by the People’s Association in Grassroots Action and Movements and the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers, with technical support from the University of Pennsylvania and a German foundation. It was published in March this year. According to the study, almost a third of app-based cab drivers work for 14 hours a day, while more than 83% work over 10 hours and 60% work over 12 hours. While 78% of app-based delivery persons spend over 10 hours each day at work, 34% earn less than Rs 10,000 per month.
This is nothing but a loot of the lifeblood of our youth. Long work hours made drivers physically exhausted. This, plus the 10-minute delivery at the doorstep policy of certain e-commerce platforms are two of the reasons behind many road traffic accidents in our country. The Karnataka government needs to include in the draft bill a ban on the 10-minute delivery policy.
This draft bill should serve as a model for other states and the government at the Centre. The Government of India should table such a draft bill before the Parliament.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,
Kolkata

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