Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Kalam’s letter damning Amartya Sen out in public which Government had tried to suppress

Government had tried to suppress the July 2011 letter to Krishna.

Former president APJ Abdul Kalam’s last July letter to foreign minister SM Krishna kept under wraps has come into public domain, slamming Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen for forcing him out of his brainchild project of the Nalanda University in Bihar, as its first visitor.

He chose not to create a public controversy even while writing to Krishna on July 4 that he was upset by the way the project was being handled and hence he could not remain associated with it any longer. He wrote how sad he was at everything going wrong in reviving a great seat of learning in Buddhist philosophy and statecraft. Revival of the first residential international educational institution which flourished between 5th and 12th centuries near Patna is in controversies even before it starts any academic courses.

The letter reads: “Having (been) involved in various academic and administrative proceedings of Nalanda University since August 2007, I believe that the candidates to be selected/appointed to the post of chancellor and vice-chancellor should be of extraordinary intellect with academic and management expertise. Both have to personally involve themselves full-time in Bihar so that a robust and strong international institution is built.”

The ministry of external affairs had taken over the project since it was conceptualised as an international university involving the 16 ASEAN countries like China, Japan, Australia, Korea and Thailand, even while Dr Kalam kept insisting that it should better be handled by the human resources development ministry as it has the required experience in the field of education.

The government tried to suppress Dr Kalam’s damning letter as it was taken on record in the governing board meeting of the university but not made public until a Patna journalist wrote to him to know the truth.

Dr Kalam felt frustrated with the people at the helm of affairs and his resignation was a rebuff to prof Amartya Sen and his protégé Dr Gopa Sabharwal, who was brought in as the vice-chancellor designate, without Kalam’s knowledge. Being chairman of the governing board, Sen’s position is equivalent to chancellor’s (the university officially has none as yet). Neither Sen nor Sabharwal could inspire the confidence of Kalam.

Kalam and Sen represent the opposite ends of the spectrum. While Kalam is rooted in the Indian traditions and has worked for India's self-reliance in defence sector, Sen is one of the “runaway” success stories in academics abroad.

With a mind besotted with Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, Sen viewed Nalanda University through that prism, while Kalam felt sad at finding no efforts to re-enact the glory of ancient Nalanda University in which students from all over East Asia came and had the tutelage of Arya Dev, Silabhadra, Dharmapala, Santarakshita and Chandragomin who spent their lives here.

The academics say the fault lies in the government for entrusting the task of reviving the university to Amartya Sen as a testimony of India’s obsequiousness despite Kalam repeatedly warning the Indians against it.

Kalam’s letter is also an indictment of Sabharwal, just a sociology reader from Lady Sri Ram College of Delhi University, who was made the rector/vice-chancellor designate by Sen despite protest that she has nothing to do with the Buddhist studies for which the university is to be set up and was running it while sitting in Delhi.
Source Courtesy:

Who made Prof. Amartya Sen Nalanda Varsity"s Chancellor? Did he appoint himself?

A peculiar conundrum haunts the controversial Nalanda University, Bihar. Did Nobel laureate Dr Amartya Sen recommend his own name for Chancellorship of the university? His elevation to the august office was announced at the governing board meeting of the university at Patna on July 19. Sen is the chairperson, governing board. A perusal of the Nalanda University Act, 2010 read with its statutes (by-laws) on the prescribed methods of appointment of Chancellor raises questions on Sen’s chancellorship.

Clause 14 (1) of the Nalanda University Act, 2010 says that the Chancellor shall be appointed by the Visitor—the President of India—for such term and in such manner as may be prescribed by the statutes. Clause 11 (1) says, ‘The Chancellor shall be appointed by the Visitor from a panel of names of not less than three persons recommended by the Governing Board and if the Visitor does not approve the recommended persons, he may invite a fresh panel.’

The statute implies that the ‘panel of names of not less than three persons’ recommended by the governing board is not drawn from a member of the governing board—not a ‘panel of names of not less than three persons out of the governing board’. What is odd is that Nalanda governing board should recommend to the Visitor three of its own members for the chancellorship. What is strange is that the recommendation letter is signed by chairperson, governing board—in this case, Sen himself.

It is still not clear what are the emoluments and privileges the Chancellor of the university will enjoy. As per the rules of Government of India—which is funding the university project—the Chancellor cannot hold two posts simultaneously.

When contacted, the Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda University Gopa Sabharwal refused to comment on the act but affirmed that there is no impropriety in Dr Sen holding two posts.

The term of the governing board would end in November but Sen would continue as Chancellor. Earlier, the university was a subject of controversy over Sen’s appointment of the vice-chancellor Sabharwal.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

How India’s Unique ID System AADHAAR can Change Lives of People and the Governments

While scanning some blogs this morning, I came across an article How India’s Unique ID System is Changing Lives on blog of World bank, pasted below for your convenience. Article considers as id issuing of  Aadhar card has some thing to do with elimination of poverty, however, many commentators there have pointed otherwise as well.

What comes to my mind is that Issuing an identity card,like AADHAAR which presumes that biodata of the card holder is on record, is clearly nothing other than head counting, but certain applications and implications must be of considerable interests. Having data base may be a safety measure for the Govt, but Card holder is a step higher at risk of being misused or implicated some where, keeping in mind the corrupt and fraudulent practices we find every where.It makes it an easy gate way for an unauthoried or illegal migrant, and as cases have been coming to the notice in relation to millions of Bangladeshis, to enter National register and reap the benefit and also get legal status.
Now the other side, ideally, a scheme linked to it, known as "direct cash transfer" eliminates the middle men or middle agencies who were siphoning out the subsidies and benefits BUT it does not eliminate, the only difference is that through Aadhaar system it will not take place at the local levels where at least 5% has been delivered, in a corrupt system, but at the Information System administrator level, change of a single digit, pardoned as typo,can hijack the whole flow to another destination siphoning off 100%. And last but not least, it is this System Administrator which can be used to buy VOTE Bank by paying directly to the accounts of grass root voters, legally and without coming to the sight of vigilance and Institutions like Election Commission.

The original blog article referred to above is pasted below for your convenience.

When it comes to ID systems, India's Aadhaar initiative sets a high bar for the rest of the world. Aadhaar is a state-of-the-art online system that provides unique 12-digit ID numbers to residents of India. These numbers can be used for a wide range of public and private services.

On April 24, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim welcomed Nandan Nilekani, the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India – the agency that created Aadhaar, for a discussion on the science of delivering online IDs to over a billion people.

"This could be the greatest poverty killer app we've ever seen," Kim said in his introductory remarks.

During a keynote presentation, Nilekani stressed how Aadhaar can give individuals access to finance, healthcare, and government services.

Aadhaar has already registered over 300 million people in its cloud database. Eventually the system will register all of India's 1.2 billion residents – but that's not all its set out to do. Aadhaar encourages innovation through an interface open to private and public applications. One of its first major applications, for example, will use the unique IDs to electronically distribute funds to millions of people by the end of 2013.

"We answer the question, ‘Who am I?' And then we expect innovations to be built on top of this," said Nilekani. "Hopefully in the next 5–10 years there will be a whole ecosystem of apps that will bring more and more benefits to people who don't have an ID."

Nilekani entered government with the goal of getting IDs into the hands of millions of Indians. He wanted to create a system that enabled social inclusion and made government more efficient, effective, and equitable. Aadhaar now enrolls one million new people per day.

"At scale up of a million per day you could think of making this available in places like Africa," said Kim. He went on to ask, "What have been your thoughts about working on a global scale?"

Nilekani explained that his focus is on India, but he does want to make the system sharable for any country to use.

World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu moderated the conversation, and took questions via a live and online audience.

An online question from India asked, "How can the World Bank replicate Aadhaar and end poverty by 2030?"

Kim responded, "On a huge scale, access to financial services is really critical. We've got to think about how we integrate this technology into a massive effort to scale up access to financial services."

Later Kim noted, "If we are going to end poverty by 2030, all of us at the World Bank Group have to really spread out to every corner of the world and find where these innovations are taking place and then bring them back." "I see this as the beginning of an institution-wide conversation about how we can make this system work for everybody."

Find out more about Aadhaar and how it is changing lives in India by watching the event and replaying the live blog coverage on World Bank Live.