Iran’s Hijab Row
In the article on hijab (“Muslims and Criticism over Iran Hijab Row” Radiance Viewsweekly, 2-8 October 2022), it says Mahsa Amini refused to wear hijab.
It was a question of improper hijab. The way many many Muslim women in India wear, like loose dupattas, and one can say, use of makeup, etc. So I think that distinction is valuable particularly because by the exacting standards of Iran’s morality police almost all women at some point or the other could be held as culprits.
A Boon for Poor Children
The Tamil Nadu government’s launch of the free breakfast scheme launched by the Chief Minister for students of Classes I to V in government schools is not only novel but also a first and thought-provoking. It is an instance of a policy initiative with far-reaching consequences for school education and public health. The importance of breakfast as the most important meal of the day is widely acknowledged. Multiple studies across the globe indicate that eating breakfast regularly confers positive outcomes on students, affecting their ability to focus, learn and retain information positively.
I am totally against freebies, but I staunchly support the breakfast scheme. A child cannot learn anything on an empty stomach. This scheme is sure to ensure the physical and mental well-being of children. Every right-thinking person will extend his or her support for the laudable move.
The government, rich with its experience of dealing with the midday meal scheme over several decades, must avoid the errors of omission and commission, including pilferage, poor quality of food, delays in sanctioning funds, and caste-related disruptions – that have been hurdles in its path earlier. The scheme is a boon for poor children. It will not only help in nourishment but also increase enrolment. Other State governments would do well to be inspired by Tamil Nadu.
Nadia, West Bengal
Teachers Deserve More
Teacher’s Day is celebrated with much fanfare on September 5 across the country every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, an eminent scholar and philosopher. Several functions are held in schools and colleges to honour teachers who dedicate their lives to help students broaden their minds and become responsible citizens. But in the absence of genuine public recognition of the crucial role the teaching community plays in nation-building, the whole ceremony seems a mere ritual, a formal exercise.
There was a time when teaching was considered a noble profession. It is a pity that with a drastic change in its value system, society today rarely gives the love and respect teachers deserve. Moreover, amid a systematic devaluation of the vocation of teaching, a majority of teachers do not maintain the accepted standards of professional ethics expected from them.
Crass privatisation has led to mushrooming of educational institutions and coaching centres that has adversely impacted the quality of education. Exceptions apart, most of them lack the requisite infrastructure, qualified and well-trained faculty, and modern techniques of teaching. With pricey fee structures, these so-called temples of learning have been reduced to mere business enterprises. Teachers are brazenly exploited and denied basic privileges; they are paid low salaries and forced to work for long hours, leaving virtually no time for self-study and research; and they have no security of service as they are hired and fired at will.
For a long time, teachers have been agitating for regularisation of their jobs, implementation of revised UGC scales and grant of retiral benefits, including gratuity and pension. Unfortunately, many of them who have knocked the doors of High Courts or the Supreme Court are still waiting for the redressal of their grievances. One can just imagine the plight of these nation builders in their twilight years for want of sufficient economic security. If we sincerely wish India to regain the status of a ‘Vishwaguru’, we have to ensure that teachers develop their full potential and build resilience and the future of education and teaching profession.
D S Kang