PRADHAN’S CHALLENGE IS TO UNDO THE HARM DONE TO EDUCATION SECTOR - The Daily Guardian
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PRADHAN’S CHALLENGE IS TO UNDO THE HARM DONE TO EDUCATION SECTOR

During the past seven years, the Modi government in this particular sector succumbed to parochialism of another kind. The Left-leaning insularity came to be replaced by Right-wing blinkeredness.

Sidharth Mishra

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The appointment of the formidable Dharmendra Pradhan as the new Education Minister is a clear indication that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants an end to the backseat driving in the functioning of this major ministry. There has been an increasing feeling, with comparatively weak ministers in the saddle, about too much ‘outside interference’ in functioning of the educational institution under the aegis of the Central government.

The Modi government in 2014 had inherited a rich legacy of education institutions, thanks to the vision of late Human Resource Development (HRD) Arjun Singh and his successor Kapil Sibal, a bouquet of central universities was created across the country which added handsomely to the list of already existing institutions built before and after Independence. Despite the infrastructure, it also remains a fact that education in our country largely remained hostage to the whims and fancies of the Left-leaning ideologues. Over the years there was an increasing desire to break education free from Left-leaning ideological parochialism.

Unfortunately, during the past seven years, the Modi government in this particular sector succumbed to parochialism of another kind. The Left-leaning insularity came to be replaced by Right-wing blinkeredness. The change has been for the worse, as during the Congress and coalition governments, an attempt was always made to create a countervail to the Left’s dominance; however, in the past seven years the so-called czars of cultural nationalism have had a free run.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the agenda of cultural nationalism has been limited to the appointment of the devotees of these czars, blessed with academic mediocrity, to plum positions. Expectedly, many of these appointees miserably failed to rise to the challenges of the office and ended up in situations which brought disrepute to the government. Charges of misuse of office and financial impropriety were levelled against several of these incumbents and some of them also dismissed from office.

This is the opportune moment for the Modi government to expand its ideological base beyond the limited cadres to those, as the late Arun Jaitley would say, waiting to be converted. This ideological blinkeredness so far has left the ministry in pitiable situation with Pradhan’s predecessor, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, being forced to cancel twice the conference of the Vice-Chancellors as 20 out of 40 central universities have been headless for past several months. These include prestigious universities like JNU, BHU, Delhi University and Hyderabad University.

Some of the other Central universities without its top functionary for more than a year are Central Universities of Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu, Manipur, Hari Singh Gour University Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Hyderabad, South Bihar University, the North East Hill University, Rajasthan, Kashmir, the Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad and the Guru Ghasidas Central University in Bilaspur. How does a government which announces the New Education Policy (NEP) with so much fanfare seeks to implement it if the educational institutions remain in a dysfunctional state?

In an interaction with the heads of the IITs and IISc, earlier this week, Prime Minister Modi said that the country’s higher educational and technical institutions need to prepare the youth for continuous disruptions and changes, keeping in mind the fourth industrial revolution. This is easier said than done. Prime Minister Modi is setting very high benchmarks for such centres of higher education and it’s for his government to ensure that these institutions have sufficient talent to execute his plans.

Supplementing to what the Prime Minister said, Pradhan at the same deliberation enunciated his plans saying that the government is committed to making students and the youth the primary stakeholders in propelling India towards an equitable knowledge society and that would foster an environment for creating a future-ready India. The minister saying that the government was committed to inculcating a culture of innovation, encouraging research, entrepreneurship and developing futuristic solutions in higher education, all sounds very good but the challenge lies in the implementation of this vision.

Implementation needs an efficient human resource structure, which unfortunately is non-existent as of now. The delay in affecting appointments of the Vice-Chancellors have had a cascading effect, with the recruitment of other teaching and non-teaching manpower of the universities and most of the colleges and institutions affiliated to them getting stalled. This has ended in giving the impression that education was not the Modi government’s priority, which Pradhan would now need work to alter.

The pandemic and its aftermath have thrown new challenges before the Education Ministry. The migration of the teaching-learning community to the digital platforms has to be real. The digital divide and digital deficit are real time challenges facing the education sector as it has given a huge advantage to the students residing in the urban sector. The seekers of education from rural India, living in lodges and hostels, have been forced to return to their pastoral hearths, which are mostly out of digital networks.

Pradhan’s immediate predecessor gave an impression of micro-managing even things which ordinarily should have been left to the officials. Once again recalling from a lecture by Jaitley, where he had said that camera likes sad pictures and working for the sake of camera could be counter-productive. Education is one area where diverse talent is available in plenty and one can use them provided one looks beyond the cadres and allows talents to function and flourish.

The vision of the Modi government and its implementation would need participation of not just educated but a knowledgeable population. Having come up through students’ politics, Pradhan is best placed to identify with the needs of the post-pandemic world. Challenges posed by Covid-19 to our economy and society can only be overcome by having such an education system, to use the Pradhan’s words, which is committed to inculcating a culture of innovation, encouraging research, entrepreneurship and developing futuristic solutions.

With these challenges and the promise to implement the New Education Policy, Pradhan has a clear roadmap to follow for his ministry. There still is ample time and the minister has a proven track record to carry the officialdom and other stakeholders together. Maybe he can change the perception of the Modi government not being serious about education.

The writer is a political commentator and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice. The views expressed are personal.

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‘Black Panther’ director considered quitting filmmaking after Chadwick Boseman’s death

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‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler has revealed that he considered quitting filmmaking after actor Chadwick Boseman’s demise. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Coogler opened up about it.
“I was at a point when I was like, ‘I’m walking away from this business,’” Coogler stated.
“I didn’t know if I could make another movie period [or] another ‘Black Panther’ movie, because it hurt a lot. I was like, ‘Man, how could I open myself up to feeling like this again?’”
Boseman died in August 2020 after a private battle with colon cancer.
Coogler also shared that he spent weeks revisiting footage of himself with Boseman, who he saw as a major creative collaborator and champion of “Black Panther.”
Returning to memories of his own relationship with the actor, the filmmaker began to rediscover his passion for the kingdom of Wakanda and its narrative possibilities.
“I was poring over a lot of conversations that we had, towards what I realised was the end of his life,” Coogler continued. “I decided that it made more sense to keep going.”
Coogler has returned to direct Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which follows characters played by returning cast members Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke, as they confront the death of Boseman’s King T’Challa.
On Monday, the second trailer of ‘Wakanda Forever’ was released. The film is scheduled to hit theatres on 11 November 2022, in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.

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A Hindu temple in Muslim heartland of Dubai

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A new Hindu temple constructed in Jebel Ali in Dubai opened on Tuesday, one day ahead of the Dussehra festival.
The Khaleej Times reported that the temple is an extension of the Sindhi Guru Darbar Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in the UAE.
The temple’s foundation was laid in February 2020, and the inauguration fulfils a decades-long Indian dream of having a place of worship in the area.
The temple, which will be officially open to the public on October 5—the day of the Dussehra festival, welcomes people of all faiths and has allowed entry to worshippers and other visitors to view the 16 deities and other interior works, reported Gulf News.
Welcoming people from all faiths, the temple has already had its soft opening on 1 September 2022, where thousands of visitors were allowed to get a glimpse of the interiors of the temple built with white marble. It has ornate pillars, Arabic and Hindu geometric designs on the facade, and bells on the ceiling.
The temple’s management activated the QR-code-based appointment booking system via its website on its soft opening.
From day one, the temple has received many visitors, especially over the weekends.
The restricted entry has been regulated through QR-coded appointments for crowd management and to ensure social distancing, the report said.
Most of the deities are installed in the main prayer hall, with a large 3D-printed pink lotus unfurling across the central dome.
According to the official temple website, Dubai’s new Hindu temple will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Meet the man spreading joy on Ferris wheel at Lav Kush Ramlila

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Bustling noises of cheers and laughter echo on the grounds of Lav Kush Ramlila as the annual festivities of Dussehra make their way onto people’s calendars every year. The past two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, were a blow to small-scale businesses and vendors. But this year’s Navaratri has brought back the good old charm of festive love and celebrations.
Among many who spread joy is a man who brings smiles to people’s faces with his merry-go-round and giant ferris wheels.
Known to have been one of the best in business for 40 years, Mohammed Aslam gives the magical touch to Lav Kush Ramlila every year with fun amusement rides.
“I have worked with the Lav Kush Ramlila committee since 1992 and plan to keep working with them because I get a lot of respect here,” said Mohammed Aslam as he expressed his gratitude.
Like many business establishments that suffered at the hands of Covid-19, he emphasised how the pandemic played a spoilsport for his business in the past two years as well. “The past two years, in fact, were quite stressful in terms of business. Not just me, my staffers were also distressed due to the lockdown,” he said.
However, a few minutes later, he exuberantly expressed how well the business is picking up and that he was extremely happy to see Ramlila making a comeback this year.
Mohammed Aslam, a resident of Daryaganj in Delhi, conducts many fairs across the Hindi heartland but says he is happiest during Ramlila because of the joy and brotherhood that the festival binds people with.
Every year, the Lav Kush Ramlila is held at the Lal Qila (Red Fort) and thousands of people gather at the place to eagerly watch the pages of the Ramayana come to life.
Not just that, gorging on amazing street food delicacies, taking an adrenaline-pumping fun ride, and just soaking in the festive mood with loved ones, make it an exciting place for people from all walks of life – age, gender, and religion no bar. This year’s speciality, however, lies in the beauty of the backdrop of the Ram Lila – a replica of the famous Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Talking about the schedule this year, Ramlila began on September 26, and will culminate with a special appearance of ‘Baahubali’ superstar Prabhas on 5 October.

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Kanye West bats for ‘White Lives Matter’

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Kanye West has hit the headlines yet again. After making his ramp debut at the Balenciaga show at Paris Fashion Week, Kanye staged a surprise Yeezy fashion show on Monday to showcase his season 9 collection.
Before the models arrived, West delivered a speech while sporting the same bejewelled flip-flops he wore last week and a ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt with the Pope’s face on the front.
According to Page Six, he made numerous allusions, including his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s 2016 Paris robbery, his former manager Scooter Braun, his difficulties breaking into the fashion industry, his most recent breakup with Gap, and much more.
“I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,” he said at one point, referencing his new legal name. “You can’t manage me.”
Page Six reports that Kanye teased the names of famous models who were expected to make an appearance at his show, including Kardashian, ex-girlfriend Irina Shayk, and current flame Candice Swanepoel. He also teased the names of other well-known figures like Beyonce, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Lauryn Hill, Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, Gisele Bundchen, Bella Hadid, and Amelia Gray Hamlin.
However, it appears that only Shayk, Campbell, and Hamlin made an appearance, with the Russian model standing on the sidelines while the other two walked the runway.
The same shirt with ‘White Lives Matter’ inscribed on the back was also worn by some of the models in the show.
Over the past week, West has been attending fashion shows in Paris and London. On Sunday, he even made his runway debut as a model by introducing the Balenciaga show. The star’s trip down the slick runway was watched by Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and their daughter North West from the front row.

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5 of the strangest things that have fallen from the sky

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What have you seen falling from the sky other than rain or snow? Can you imagine if fish, spiders, or even a strange substance that looked a whole lot like blood started raining down from above? Well, some people around the world certainly can! Here are some of the weirdest things that have ever fallen from the sky.

  1. Fish

Can you imagine fishes falling from the sky? It is going to be a weird sight for sure. But there is an explanation for this. In coastal areas, stormy weather can create a waterspout, a tornado-like phenomenon that can suck marine life out of bodies of water like lakes and oceans. The wind will then carry the fish inland, where they’ll come tumbling to the ground. It’s been documented everywhere from Sri Lanka to Australia to Mexico, and as recently as 2017. Sometimes, if the fish are edible, residents of the affected communities will celebrate the “fish rain” as a boon. 

2. Frogs

Frogs can also become a victim of waterspouts, due to which they fall on the land surprising the people living on the land. Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclides Lembus wrote about instances when so many frogs rained from the sky that “the houses and the roads have been full of them,” and in 2005, residents of Odzaci, Serbia, saw thousands of tiny frogs fall with passing storm clouds. Though sometimes, the lengthy fall will kill the critters, other times, they will hop and amble around their new locality. In Serbia, for instance, villagers reported that the fallen frogs simply hopped away to look for water.

3. Golf Balls

Anyone would be surprised but this has happened in Florida in 1969. Perhaps even weirder, no local golf courses were missing any balls. The reason was never entirely confirmed, but most experts theorized that a waterspout scooped up all of the golf balls that had been hit into the water by errant golfers.

4. Spiders

Creepy spiders falling from the sky can make anyone wants to disappear. It happened in 2015 in Australia, and then even more recently in Brazil in 2019. But, unlike the fish and the frogs, the spiders were not yanked from their homes by violent storms. The spider rains result from a process called “ballooning,” where the spiders produce filaments to launch themselves into the air. They do this in an attempt to catch an air current and travel to a new location, and it’s something they do fairly often. So why aren’t spider rains more common, you ask? That’s because it’s very uncommon for huge amounts of spiders to do this at the same time.

5. Money

The only rain that is pretty is raining money. Raining money has occurred several times throughout history, some of them recently. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of United Arab Emirates dirham currency showered over Kuwait City. In Serbia, a plane carrying gold and diamonds spilled some cargo over the airport runway in 2018. Back stateside, Indianapolis experienced a similar phenomenon in 2017 when an electrician noticed around $200 worth of bills blowing off of a roof where he was working. 

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Centre approves amendments to FM radio guidelines

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The “Policy Guidelines on Expansion of FM Radio Broadcasting Services through Private Agencies (Phase-III)”, also known as the “Private FM Phase-III Policy Guidelines,” contained three amendments that the cabinet approved on Tuesday in order to allow radio channels to take advantage of economies of scale and enhance ease of doing business.

“The decision was taken in the last Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” ministry of information and broadcasting said in a statement.

The first change is the removal of the 3-year window period for FM radio authorization restructuring within the same management group during the license’s 15-year term.

The government has also agreed to the radio industry’s long-standing demand that the 15% National Cap on Channel Holding be lifted.

These three amendments together will help private FM radio industry to “fully leverage the economies of scale and pave the way for further expansion of FM radio and entertainment to Tier-III cities in the country”. “This will not only create new employment opportunities but also ensure that music and entertainment over the FTA (Free to Air) radio media is available to the common man in the remotest corners of the country,” the ministry said.

According to the statement, “The move will ensure that existing rules are streamlined and rationalised to make government more efficient and effective so that its benefits reach the ordinary man.

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