Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Private TV channel ETV, busy in promoting religious revivalism, has taken advantage of a train accident to spread superstitions amongst its viewers.

Chennai-bound 2481 Up Howrah-Coromandel Express derailed near Jajpur Road railway station last night. The train was in uncontrollable high speed when 15 of the 24-coach super fast express derailed. The impact even catapulted six of the coaches while killing at least 16 and injuring more than 200 passengers, as many as 25 of them quite critically.

The cause of the catastrophe is under investigation. But ETV is busy in spreading superstitions. It has focused profusely in its 14th February 9 PM news bulletin on views of two Brahmins, a widow and a man, both with the Panda surname, to view the accident as an act of evil spirit. There was a similar accident at the same spot a few years ago, they say and simultaneously suggest that steps should be taken up to perform special puja to propitiate the spirit.

What next!


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

A sovereign country stands on fundamental rights of the citizens. We have our set of fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution. They are: right to equality (art 14-18), right to freedom (arts 19-22), right against exploitation (art 23-24), right to freedom of religion (art 25-28), cultural and educational rights (art 29-30) and right to constitutional remedies (art 32)

But there is no Right to Education in this list. The educational right is not right to education. It is limited to the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions “of their choice” (Article 30). So, this Article does not grant the general citizenry the fundamental right to education.

The eighty sixth amendment that brings in education to the list of Fundamental Rights, is nothing but a trick played by politicians on our peoples. The very language used, “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine” needs no elaboration on its frustrating design.

Government of Orissa has admittedly not posted Principals in 5491 Upper Primary Schools. Over and above this, there are 43,198 teaching posts vacant in Lower Primary Schools by the end of 2008. A posting in these pages on February 13 carry the official version placed before the Orissa Legislative Assembly that shows that the number of vacancies has increased from 27,840 vacancies noted in 2004. There are three thousand plus single teacher schools which means only one teacher is taking up classes from one to five in those schools in rural Orissa. When teachers are not there to teach, how is primary education being imparted to all the children of the age of six to fourteen? Is the Government taking education as a fundamental right of the children of this age group?

It is clear from the above sample instance that even the Government does not consider education a fundamental right.

The 93rd Amendment effected on Article 15 has given power to ruling politicians to reserve seats in government and/or private educational institutions for “any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes” and obviously, as witnessed, with a design for the vote box.

It is interesting to note that Right to Equality, which is the first Fundamental Right, under Article16, has guaranteed equality of opportunity to all in the matters of public employment. The purpose of this Article is being defeated. For all sorts of public employment the authorities have prescribed a corresponding minimum education. For example to become a teacher in a government college, the minimum education required is a doctoral degree. How can an uneducated person take advantage of equality in opportunity for the post of a college teacher? So, this fundamental right to equality in opportunity for public employment is defeated unless education is included in the list of fundamental rights sans any restriction such as age.

It is to be noted that education is placed under the Directive Principles of State Policy, which is not enforceable under the laws.

So the problem of lack of education in case of most of the Indians will continue to defeat the fundamental right to opportunity till education is not declared a fundamental right.

Let the lawmakers think of this afresh.


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Chief Minister was noticed to answer. He did not. On his behalf Urban Minister K.V.Singhdeo replied. In the floor of the Assembly, which always is ravished by the magic of majority, the reply of Singhdeo might have given the CM the relief he must have desired.

But can the CM go into the midst of the cultivators of Orissa and tell them that what his agent has told the Assembly on February 13?

No, he can never. If he dares, there shall be no rampart of privilege like the Assembly to protect him from the wrath of farmers that are distress selling their paddy.

Distress sale of paddy was the crux of adjournment motion noticed by the Opposition. Initiating the debate, Arun De made categorical mention of how farmers of Balasore district, even of other districts like Bhadrak, are being compelled to distress sale their paddy for five to six hundred rupees a quintal as against official rate of Rs.850. He estimated the annual loss of farmers of his district to be no less than Rs.75 crore. This loss to farmers is direct gain to millers who share the loot with government functionaries in the food supply department, he alleged.

Netranand Mallik, Nalinikant Mohanty, Padmalochan Panda and Anant Sethi, who placed the share of the loot that goes to the functionaries at Rs.58 crore, supplemented him.

Treasury bench members Niranjan Pujari, Brundavan Majhi, Pradip Maharathi and B.B.Harichandan linked the problem to failure of the Food Corporation of India in procuring paddy from the farmers.

Even as the Minister was hinting at how the FCI has neglected paddy procurement, the Opposition wanted to know as to whose responsibility it is to eliminate the environment of distress sale. And, Singhdeo, acting as agent of the Chief Minister in answering the debate, thundered that there is no distress sale of paddy by farmers at all.

The Chief Minister as well as his agent is in advantage because the parting Assembly has no time to act on such foul play of falsehood. But if he dares to repeat this statement before the general public at the time of election, BJD will disown him or will be thrashed into doom, no doubt.

I am sure, Navin will never tell the people what his agent has told the House.