Saturday, 11 April 2015

A Lesser World Cup ?

The Cricket World Cup (CWC) in its 2019 edition, in all probability, will be played among 10 nations. 8 top teams will be qualified automatically whereas next 2 teams will be chosen based on qualifying matches played before the world cup. The move has been criticized more than it has been welcomed. Cricket is not a very popular sport especially in European and American nations. There is a need to take the game beyond certain restricted incumbent boundaries.

One of the many ways to increase the popularity of the game is to involve the so-called associate nations in major cricket tournaments. As Rahul Dravid points out- "[it is important] for the growth of their [associate nations] game to be seen at a World Cup, the games being telecast Live back home in terms of sponsorship, government funding; its so important for them to be a part of this premier event. I think that's the least cricket can do." There are teams like UAE, Holland who have players, who are not regular cricketers but have other regular jobs. This does not augur well for the future of cricket in these nations. And a CWC without associate nations will further deplete the interest in the game in those nations. For any budding cricketer it is a dream to play in a world cup. It will be wrong to take that away from a player of an associate nation. This does not mean that every cricket playing nation should be allowed to play cricket but the current 14- team format seems fair enough.

Now lets see some of the counter arguments being made for the inclusion of associate nations in forthcoming CWC. It is feared that they will make the league matches a dry phase as more or less everybody can guess who will enter the knock out stages. This makes sense because the level of cricket played by associate nations are not upto the standards of a marquee event like CWC. But does excluding them make it up for that? Instead the cricket administration should look to develop the game in these nations by building required infrastructure. And also as Sachin Tendulkar opines "we need to look at how we can get these guys [associate nations] to raise their standard of playing and I think the standard of playing is only going to rise when they start playing against the top sides". He makes a valid point when he says that A- teams of top ODI playing nations should tour these associate nations more often.

A 10 nation CWC has its pros and cons but a sport's ultimate competition with only 10 participating nations does not sound good. If somebody is not good at something then the well accepted notion is to encourage them to increase their competency and not to push them out of competition. Many former cricketers have voiced their concern for this new change, how much will it affect the cricket administrators will be seen only in coming days. I would personally love to see the associate nations compete in next CWC.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Recent Amendments in RTE in Karnataka and the interlinkage of Language and Education

The Karnataka govt recently made two legislative amendments which could in near future lead to string of litigations.  The govt amended the RTE Act to make Kannada as the compulsory medium of instruction from I to V standard and introduced Kannada Language Learning Bill to make Kannada as a compulsory language to be learnt from I to X standard. The issue is not a new one, it dates back to three decades. In 1982, the state govt made Kannada as the first language of study. In 1989, the govt made mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the primary school level. In 1994 again issued an order stating the mother tongue as medium of instruction in all the state recognized schools. Petitions were filed against this issue by parents associations in High Court, which quashed the order citing that it was violative of Art. 14, 29 and 30 of Indian Constitution. Subsequently the state govt appealed the High court order in\Supreme Court. In May 2014, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court. Now to negate this Supreme Court order the state govt has come up with the above mentioned amendments. Only time will tell us how much the govt has been successful in doing so.

Let us look at the issue with two dimensions- one dimension is with respect to education and another dimension is with respect to language and hence culture. On the education front, the amendments are still violative of the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country. It is the right of every child ( hence guardian) to choose the subjects that he or she wants to learn along with the medium of instruction. Govt would be wrong, legally and ethically, in imposing the medium of instruction. Whether one likes it or hates it English education has become one of the key aspects of education. Even China which had locked itself to English language invasion is now opening up and promoting English education. Firstpost quotes, "English is the passport  to a good career and the gateway to opportunities overseas."

This decision will severely affect the schools which are running State Board syllabus. Now, more and more students will opt for CBSE or ICSE boards to avoid this imposition. There are surveys which suggest that the enrollments to Central Boards are on rise in recent years. This decision will only increase the rate. Education is a concurrent subject, hence state has equal responsibility in developing the quality of education in the state. The infrastructural aspects of education like teachers to children ratio, pedagogy, school infrastructure are not upto the mark. Lack of teachers and schools are pushing children to opt for private educational institutions. This has been particularly detrimental to deprived sections of society. Economically well of students can shift to private schools and pursue with better educational facilities. But the poorer cannot afford to join these highly commercialized private schools (25% of RTE quota also has not been successfully implemented) lest they want to spend all their earnings on the education. Hence the govt will be well advised to concentrate on these aspects of education rather than using the recent amendments as a political tool.

Now coming to the second dimension, one of the justifications of the govt in introducing these amendments is that if the mother tongue is introduced as medium of instruction then the overall cognitive development of the students will enhance and they will find it easy to understand and also to express. This infact cannot be denied. There have been studies which justify this remark. But this argument cannot be used as the pedestal to make mother tongue as the medium of instruction, as there are other factors like future prospectives etc that will be considered while choosing the medium of instruction.

The govt also refers to these changes as one of the steps to promote language. Promotion of language and it preservation are important aspects. Language is intrinsically linked to the culture and tradition of the region. It is ,of course, the state's responsibility to preserve the language. But, the aforementioned changes are not the way to do this. One of the steps that has been taken by successive govts is appreciable, that is, the publication of Kannada literary books and availability at lower affordable prices. Kannada literature is one of the highly regarded literature in the country. Govt can also further promote the language by conducting scholarship examinations based on Kannada epics like Pampa Bharata etc. Promoting Kannada film industry can go a long way in promoting language. Currently they run tax free across the state, this can be really beneficial once there are enough theaters to screen Kannada movies.

The two amendments of the govt have certain loopholes and hence they might come under litigation quite soon. Language and education are interlinked for sure, but they should not be mixed in such way that they will become political tool wherein the real issues get marred.