The Unique Vana Vidyalaya of Satyavadi pushed into starvation death by forgers of Gopabandhu’s Will; SSF and UNEA are campaigning for its revival

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

SCP in shock before the uncared for statue of UtkalmaniAs the members of ‘Save The Samaja Forum’ and Leadership of ‘Utkalmani Newspaper Employees Association’ are going to Satyavadi today, this Republic Day of 2014, to conduct a symbolic cleaning of the statutes of Pandit Gopabandhu Das and his close comrades known together as “Panchasakha” lying abandoned in the campus of the now extinct Vana Vidyalaya they had established, I shudder to recall how was I shocked to see the horrifying negligence meted out to these dreamers and path-pavers for the Republic that we claim to be ours.

Being the first focussing on the concept behind establishment of the unique institute, I would like to quote from my earlier write-up on the subject. I quote:

Spread over 22 Acres of natural forest full of aromatic plants and shrubs such as Bakula and Chhuriana, the Satyabadi Vana Vidyalaya was established by Gopabandhu in the pattern of Gurukula Ashrams of Orissa.

The river flowing near his place of birth is Bhargavi, which is so named, because the famous sage Brugu was having his Gurukula Ashram on its bank.

Gopabandhu, to whom education was the best means of emancipation, had decided to establish a school that would ensure for the children of Orissa modern education molded in the matrix of ancient method of his soil.

Naturally, therefore, he chose the well connected site of Sakshi Gopal for his school, where his intimate friends – all highly educated – in dismissing all worldly allurements and comforts joined the faculty almost sans salaries to build up a new generation of educated patriotic Oriyas. The school, adopting Gurukul System of education,was established in 1909 in the Vakula Vana of Satyavadi and had created history in education in natural environment and had earned esteem as high as that of Shanti Niketan, which, after Nobel Prize given to its founder Rabindranath Tagore in 1913 had taken the leap.

Had SoPS not pushed this school into starvation death, it was established in such a well connected place like Satyavadi near the world famous city of Puri, that, for people all over the world, the Satyavadi Vana Vidyalaya would have stood as an enticing center of education in natural environment.

Jatiya Vana Vidyalaya reduced to a sign board

Sad, the noble institute now stands only in the form of a signboard painted on the entrance gate of the Vakula Vana without any trace of it inside.

People of Satyavadi silently revolted

The marble plate planted inside the campus is witness to how on 28.2.2009 the site of the Vana Vidyalaya of tremendous historic value was converted into a non-academic project by the government of Orissa. People of Satyavadi silently revolted against this. And, the project was rejected by the people.

rejected auditorium and marketing hubrejected market complex 1The project included a modern open air auditorium; people refused to use it in protest against killing of the academic referral importance of the surviving traces of the Vana Vidyalaya. The project comprised modern marketing hubs addressed to innumerable tourists that everyday visit Satyavadi. The People could have used the created facility for their commercial gain; but they rejected it, as conversion of the Vakula Vana to any non-academic use was not acceptable to them.

Media consultant Pabitra Maharatha was with me. We were shocked beyond description over how the Vakula Vana, where under the aromatic plants, Gopabandhu and his comrades were running their man-making Vana Vidyalaya collectively and on the basis of their patriotic sacrifice for the future generation, which was such superb that no other institute could be compared with it. When Shanti Niketan of Rabindranath Tagore, coming to prominence four years after the Satyavadi Vana Vidyalaya started emitting the light of knowledge, could be the only comparable institute, distinction of the Satyavadi system was more prominent, because it was based entirely on the collective endeavor and sacrifice of Panchasakha, which was not seen in the Tagore venture. Nowhere in India, such a batch of highly educated young men, fittest for high administrative positions, had sacrificed their lucrative future to make the future generation of their fellowmen equipped with education, when their motherland was in the darkest phase of her life under the British with the English Masters’ native servants imported from neighboring provinces plundering their soil.

SoPS killed the unique system

Servants of the People Society (SoPS) pushed this unique Vana Vidyalaya to starvation death by hijacking the Samaja, the money earning venture that the five comrades had established to feed the school and to keep it equipped for marching forward for all time to come. After seizing the Samaja by forging a Will of Gopabandhu, the SoPS miscreants used it in their own interest and completely ignored the Vana Vidyalaya. The Vakula Vana in the lap of which the Vidyalaya was preparing the future generation was completely abandoned and negligence to this system by SoPS functionaries was so ruthless and barbaric that the statues of Panchasakha placed on erected podiums under the tourism project were left to elements. It was unbearable to see how nasty negligence has engulfed the statues and their surrounding. Pictures would say in what condition the statues of Panchasakha are lying.

abandoned statue of gopabandhu 1Pt. NilakanthaPt. GodavarishAcharya HariharPt. Krupasindhu

The UNEA and SSF have decided to do whatever they can for restoration of the glory of the greatest place of patriotic pride – the Vakula Vana and the Vana Vidyalaya. They want the throusands of crores of rupees looted from the Samaja earnings by SoPS be recovered from the said society for revival of the Vana Vidyalaya and in commencing the campaign, podiums of the Panchasakha are going to be cleaned by them on this Republic Day. Inhabitants of Satyavadi are eager to be associated with this campaign.

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TECHNO EDUCATION IN DISARRAY: JEE TRIUMPHANTS RELUCTANT TO JOIN SUB-STANDARD INSTITUTES


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Techno Educational Institutes (TEI) in Orissa are facing severe debacle this year. More than one third of their collective seat-strength is lying vacant. Candidates selected in Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) are reluctant to take admission in allotted TEIs, as to them, they are not of their expected standard.

TEIs are mafia’s new area of investment wherein profit fetching is smooth and stable. So, this year’s debacle is a shock to the traders of high tech education in Orissa.

Over and above the four numbers of TEI in public sector, there are 87 of these Institutes in the private sector, offering 33,000 seats in different areas of technology.

Selection of candidates for all of these seats is done through JEE and allocation of streams is done through counseling by the State. This year around 64,000 aspirants had applied for JEE and 33,000 candidates were selected for admission. When the public sector TEIs were the first preferences of the selected candidates, the privately run TEIs were cogently scrutinized by the career conscious candidates specifically in the matter of faculties available therein. This has led around 12,000 of them to abandon the idea of joining any of them as to their perception, teachers there are either deficient or of impaired efficiency.

The private TEIs are similar to each other in collecting as much money as possible from the students often in offensive violation of the norm fixed by the state and to the total detriment of didactics in the institutes.

After the matter was exposed in these pages on July 20, 2006 under the caption, “Scam engulfs high tech education in Orissa: merit markers silent!” the State Government had asked the private TEIs to submit through affidavits the amount they charge the students for admission and tuition vis-à-vis the curricular standard. But they did not comply with that instruction.

When the Industry Department contemplated administrative action to discipline the illicit money grabbers, whose avarice, as exposed in these pages, was clearly detrimental to quality of education in the TEIs, the Orissa Private Engineering Colleges Association (OPECA) coined a cunning stratagem to derail the official steps. Sri Biswabhusan Harichandan of BJP was then the Industries Minister of Orissa. The OPECA brought Swami Ramdeb for the first time to Orissa and spent several lakhs of Rupees in introducing him to the public at Bhubaneswar. There was a closet talk between Harichandan and Ramdeb for around an hour. Thereafter the Industry department’s contemplated action against private TEIs was surprisingly abandoned and the practice of auctioning seats to aspirants not selected in JEE continued.

Added to this incorrigible compromise with quality, in the private TEIs, working environment for faculties is conspicuous by its absence. There is no service code, no cadre rules, no standing orders, no matrix for promotion, no job security and no uniformity in scale of pay for the teachers. When the teachers in every private TEI suffer from sense of instability, as we have exposed on July 24 and August 30 this year, there are TEIs that treat them like helots and bonded labors. Aspirant students with higher I.Q. know that therefore there is no working environment for the faculty members in Orissa’s private TEIs.

On the other hand, there is no study environment for the students in most of the private TEIs. No perfect library, no perfect laboratory, no proper teachers, no proper common room, no proper playground, even no properly cared for toilets are available to students. Hence the aspirant students know that there is no study atmosphere in private TEIs.

This is why, even after passing the JEE, around 12,000 candidates have refused to take admission.

But as TEIs are meant for profit fetching and their owners are capable of satisfying the mandarins in the State secretariat as well as the men who matter in the ruling party, attempts were made to fill up the vacant berths through a second JEE, offering accommodations obviously to aspirants that were found not suitable in the first JEE.

That the students are aware of the farce going on in private TEIs in the name of high tech education is proved by the very fact that the later JEE could not get the required number of candidates to fill up even half of the seats lying vacant.

Factotums of Chief Minister Navin Patnaik claim that he will be remembered for helping the Vedanta University emerge in Orissa.

When under plea of paucity of time, he had made the budget session of Orissa Assembly guillotine the demands of as many as 20 departments, he had extended the session’s life to pass the Vedanta University Bill.

If Navin is so serious in bringing high quality education to Orissa through Anil Agarwal, why is he unable to see how high tech education is being butchered in the private TEIs as exposed and discussed in these pages?

OPECA had the audacity to openly offer seats in B.Tech, MCA etc to students with “just the pass mark acquired in +2 science through its ad on 04 June 06. We had expressed our concern over such sacrifice of quality at the altar of avarice of high tech education traders. But the administration run by the path-cleaners of Anil Agarwal and Ravishankar did not bother.

Consequently such a quagmire has become the private TEI sector that more than one-third of the JEE triumphants have refused to take admission in these institutes.

Should we still silently wait and watch?

SHOULDN’T EDUCATION BE MADE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT IN REALITY?

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.

FIASCO IN HSC EXAMINATION NEEDS LEGAL ACTION

Almost all the newspapers of Orissa have carried public shock over the fiasco in Board of Secondary Education even though none of them including the ones run by Navin loyalists has been able to throw light on how the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues view the havoc wrecked on the life of the students, which indicates that the present ministry has nothing to worry over the matter.

With BJP in power, schools under the banner of the Saraswati Bidya Mandir have been marked for having bagged many top positions in High School Certificate Examinations and this year too saffron school students have occupied ten berths in the group of the best ten. This would instigate more flow of students into the saffron chain and into whatever extracurricular activities go on there.

However without any prejudice to the achievement of these students, instances that prove that examiners have not discharged their duties properly and fairly blurs the credibility of the results whereof the group of the best ten is the greatest beneficiary.

A look into the case of Ms. Rina Sahoo of Shiva Durga High School at Panchapada of Chandabali proves the point. She has obtained 85 marks in Oriya, 83 in English, 95 in Sanskrit, 99 in compulsory Mathematics, 89 in Social studies, 99 in optional Mathematics, 99 in optional Science; totaling 649. But she has failed. The reason: she has obtained zero mark in compulsory Science!

How is it possible?

In only two circumstances this was possible. These are: (1) lack of zeal on part of the examiners in paying due attention to all the answer papers consequence upon fixing of results And (2) lack of probity on part of the examiners engaged to eliminate possible rivals of favored students in course of fixing of topper positions.

That the results were fixed is suspected from another angle. The High School attached to the Board, known as Board High School, is a model High School and its students were supposed to fetch good marks, big enough to claim top positions. Unless possible toppers were obstructed, the scheme of position-fixing, if any, would not have succeeded. For this reason perhaps, all of the Board School students were restricted to 30 marks in Mathematics. As for example, Sandip Kumar Acharya (Roll No.35RG205) has obtained only 30 marks in compulsory Maths even though in all other subjects he has got at the rate of more then 90.

Restricting meritorious students with only 30 marks in Maths is not limited to the Board School. This has also been the strategy in cases of different other Schools. As for example, Ms. Akamkshya Biswal (Roll No. 18PB007) has got a total of 692 marks at the rate of at least 90 per subject except compulsory Mathematics wherein she has been restricted to 30 marks only. So award of 30 marks in Mathematics to many meritorious students is clearly an attempt to eliminate rival aspirants for top ten positions. But the mischief is not limited to mark restriction. It is more conspicuous in allocation of highest possible marks to whosoever the examiners or the board wanted in top position. And, this is a trend that we mark ever since the saffron schools are seen bagging positions in best ten.

Take the marks of the first position holders for a study.

The topper of 2004 had obtained a total of 710 out of 800 marks. The next year’s topper got 713 marks. The topper of 2006 bagged further more marks by obtaining 724 numbers. This trend further increased to 727 allotted to the topper of 2007. This year, it is 761.

When the success rate of students is declining year after year suggesting a decline in intensity of teaching imparted in schools how the toppers year after year are obtaining marks in ever increasing a pattern and making newer records in their corresponding years is a matter that needs special investigation.

Whether or not there is a continuous position fixing in vogue in HSC Exams can be determined only through a judicial scrutiny of this scenario.

We feel it is needed. But will the CM agree?

GRACE OR DISGRACE? ORISSA STUDENTS MARRED IN MATHS; MINISTER ESCAPES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Mathematics is not a compulsory subject. It is an optional subject in Higher Secondary Education, marked as +2 education in Orissa. The state government under an apparatus called Council of Higher Secondary Education (hereinafter called the Council) directly controls it.

Being an optional subject, usually the better students with greater IQ and higher marks obtained in High School level opt for and are allowed though selection to take admission in +2 with Mathematics as a subject.

It is therefore clear that students who have established their worth in mathematics in the High School level take admission in this subject in +2 level.

But the Council under continuous control of a lingua-Benga Minister has gone such astray that most of the students in +2 Science and Arts have failed in Mathematics to the extent of forfeiting their career plans.

Under this minister higher education in the state has suffered irreparable damages.

Students, who in High Schools had excelled in Mathematics on the basis of which they were allowed admission in +2 with this subject, have been reduced to such a level of confusion by the Council that majority of them has failed to obtain even the pass mark.

The lingua-Benga minister in charge of higher education, admitting that the questions were framed beyond the courses of study, has declared to grant grace marks to the failed students to overcome the debacle.

If anything, it makes two things clear.

One, the Council has failed to help students in their pursuit in Mathematics, which in their school days had inspired them; and Two, while stymieing students’ urge to surge ahead in the subject by imposing a restrictive courses of study, question-setters were so appointed as to frame questions from beyond that restrictive framework in order to put Orissa students in severe jeopardy.

To understand the second phenomenon one is to understand that +2 is the turning point in a student’s life. From here, he or she enters into professional or honors courses and eventually proceeds for specialization / super-specialization.

If academic life is blurred at this level, his or her entire career dreams get shattered. This is what exactly has happened to Orissa’s students this year.

All of the students, who have suffered the setback, were students of Mathematics, who had opted for and got selected for admission into this subject because of the fact that they had excelled in this subject in High School examination and were of higher IQ to pursue this subject.

So, by creating a climate for failure of these students in mathematics and compelling them to pass with a bare pass-mark with the offending “grace marks”, the Council under the lingua-Benga minister has played havoc with Orissa’s students of higher IQ in their most important juncture of life.

If any student now passes with the grace marks, his or her entire future will be a phase of disgrace, because, the bare pass marks in the subject would at no point of time be considered as a mark of distinguished career.

It is shuddering to think of what damage the Council has done to our brilliant students by appointing question-setters who either had no knowledge on its courses of studies or had agreed to set questions beyond its courses of studies so that future plans of Oriya students of higher IQ would get shattered.

In the past many lingua-Bengas had contrived and played many mischievous tricks against Orissa. This particular lingua-Benga minister had also contrived a conspiracy to obliterate Oriya language as a subject in Colleges of Orissa.

So, it cannot be said for sure that in the Mathematics debacle there is no deliberate design to obstruct indigenous bright students of Orissa from entering into major areas of their choice in higher education.

If the question-setters framed wrong questions, beyond the Council’s courses of study, why the Council did not disapprove the same? Why the Council did not frame the correct questions? Why the minister has not taken exemplary actions against the Council officials who had appointed question-setters sans knowledge on its courses of study or had approved wrong questions to be used like bolts from the blue against the bright students of Orissa?

Even as he has no answers to these questions, he has tried to escape by covering up the crime against the students as well as against their soil by unilateral addition of “grace” marks to the marks they had obtained.

The so-called “grace” is a disgrace in as much as it will never help the students pursue their career plans.

What can be done now?

Two things can be done:

One, admittedly the students have suffered due to question setting from beyond the courses of study. Therefore, they should not be disgraced by “grace marks”. The Council should recognize their right to maximum number of marks and give them all at least 50 marks each over and above the marks they have obtained so as to stand with them in fulfillment of their respective career plans and this should be done immediately;

Two, the lingua-Benga minister should be dropped or divested of the higher education portfolio forthwith so that he no more remains capable of further playing havoc with Oriya students’ career.

Chief Minister Navin Patnaik may prove his worth on taking these two steps.