Best Topics for Group Discussion

Capital Punishment for Crimes against Women?
Every so often there is reported a crime, so heinous that it makes one and all sit up. But, as is expected, the pace of investigation and the action to follow slackens and it becomes another of those unfortunate incidents that would be soon forgotten. This is especially true in the case of crime against women, where, the extent of horror keeps extending the threshold of mental acceptance and after a while the repeat incidents are reported often for sheer titillation! Even today, it is not only the repressed and the uneducated woman or the unsuspecting children that become targets of the sick machinations of the human mind, but it is also the emancipated women who are not safe.
Surprising but true, according to a WHO study, a woman gets raped in India every 54 minutes! It is not unusual to find stories of minors, and even children under the age of ten, falling prey to the wicked intents. There have been incidents that have escalated in the degree of gruesomeness, but not one ruling in the cases to set an example. How else can one expect the offenders/potential offenders to refrain from such acts?
So, where lies the solution? Should there be capital punishment for such offenders so that one can put a stop to this soaring crime rate?
Mr A  I completely agree that this category of crime should be totally unacceptable to the society and the best way to put a curb on such happenings is to have capital punishment for the criminals and offenders. What I am about to say should not be interpreted as a justification of killing, but that of my contention here. When a murder happens, the person is killed and not let to live and suffer the anguish. But here, in the cases of rapes and molestation, the offender should not be let off even with limited punishment. If they are allowed to get away with it, what is the guarantee that they will not come up again with another of such acts? There has to be devised a way to simply stop the incidents. There has been a lot of argument against capital punishment, but how do you get back the same life for a six year old who has been robbed of innocence even before life did start meaning something to her, or that of a young woman who has just started shaping her career? Agreed that the punishment will not revert their status, but it just might prevent the others from even indulging in such acts.
Mr B I feel for the victims of such acts, but there is another way the entire picture can be looked at. It is really not true that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth can come into play here. We cannot take away a life for a life. That is exactly why capital punishment of any and every sort was done away with, in the first place. Things would have been different if a life could be got back by taking away another, or that meaning could be imparted to a life by sentencing the other to death. It is very difficult to judge the circumstances under which a crime has been committed. If it comes to be proven later that the person, who had been convicted and done away with, was actually innocent, how would you restore that life and give reprieve to the close ones of that person. Capital punishment does not leave any room for correction of mistake in judgement.
Miss C I cannot agree with you. Just consider the scene in totality in the country. Numerous incidents of sexual assaults and rapes of minors and women are reported... what happens to them next. We don’t know. We just read about them, shake our heads in despair and then forget the whole issue as we move on to read the next news item. In this country, the victims would either die of shock, or commit suicide and those who cannot do anything would be subjected to further torture—be sold to become a part of the flesh trade, which is a thriving industry now. How do you account for the lives of the countless that have not known life in even its simplest colours? The conviction rate of the accused in such cases is tremendously low. Only five per cent of the accused in cases reported are convicted. In such a scenario where the system of appeals lets the judgement move further and further away, how can one lie back and promote this fearlessness. Do we want more half-lives or do we want the perpetrators of such crimes dead? I feel that it is time someone took a stand and had something substantial done about this problem.
Miss D I admit that whatever my friend here says is absolutely true, but then, is establishing truth easy these days? Much to the dismay, but I would like to mention that the number of cases of women wrongfully accusing men are coming to the fore. It is often seen that in cases of animosity among families, the incidents are wrongly reported and stories are fabricated to take revenge. Just consider a situation where an innocent could be sentenced wrongly to death. Investigation takes time and the levels of corruption have enabled white lies to seem real. It is not simply in the cases of molestation, but there are cases of women having accused their men wrongly of harassing them for dowry to get even on certain counts. I agree when my friend says that there must be some room for correcting mistakes if they are ever made.
Mr A There is something about the whole issue that is very disturbing. Instead of simply presuming mistakes in the judgement, would anyone consider the plight of the victim in such incidents? Our society is such that the offender can still get away after committing the act and find a place among the multitude. The woman, on the other hand, who suffers the violation of her mind and body, is more or less transformed into a queer object for the society. She is considered polluted and cannot be taken into the fold. This amounts to a condition in which the victim is virtually ostracised for no fault of hers. The trauma extends to the family members and is not evanescent. The stigma attached with being a rape victim is as bad. The life stands almost ruined, as the mental balance is very hard to regain and with no one coming forward to help the wronged, there can hardly be any motivation to carry on. It does not matter if the victim does not die, for it is as good as dying many times over in the mind. How can one let the offenders in these cases get away so easy or even allow leeway for them?
Mr B One can really see that the crime is gross and reflects the sad state of the society. But I would want to know if pronouncing a death sentence against an offender will do much by way of helping curb the crime? Fear is an antidote, but it will not work in all situations. In my opinion, a lasting solution for the problem lies in a more constructive effort, that is educating the masses and improving the outlook of the society as a whole. There can be a great change if the women are made more stronger mentally and cautioned to carry some sort of weapons like the stun guns to disable the assaulters. Patrolling must be increased in the areas that are potential places of attacks. Often, it is seen that the women themselves do not come out in the open about such incidents having happened to them. They must be made to realize that it is in the interest of the whole community and that they would not be ridiculed. Also, the NGOs as well as the individuals must come forward and fight for the cause of the victims. Moreover, if from the very beginning, the males are taught to respect the women counterparts, things will become better. Literacy does work magic.
Miss C I still suspect how potent is our friend’s solution in doing away with the filth that is there in the minds. There are several examples of debauchery on part of civil and educated masses. Where does their sensibility and respect go in such situations? I would still prefer that the strictest of punishments be meted out to the offenders. In the riots that gripped certain parts of the country, it was astounding to see that educated men from middle class families indulging in such gross activities. This is a real life happening that has belied all hopes of civilization and chivalry. There is not only this one thing, violence against women exists in our society in so many forms and it is disheartening that the women are so taken for granted. In my opinion, unless and until a few examples are set up before all to see, there is hardly anything that would refrain them from such despicable acts.
Miss D It is really very demoralizing to see that in this age when we have made advancements in all spheres, there are still aspects in the human character that have failed to evolve. And what a pity, it only extends to the hapless woman to be let out! It is a shame that women are still not recognized for the contribution they make to a family and the society as a whole. The brutality and the barbarity of the incidents that one comes across is truly shocking. Suggesting capital punishment for such crimes against women could be one way of intimidating the potential offenders and making them refrain from mores of the sort. But then, there is also the danger of closing all doors after pronouncing a judgment. The system of investigation cannot be relied upon with a blind eye and one has to think twice when it is about deciding about a human life. One cannot afford to decide in haste and repent at leisure here. Nonetheless, a way has to be figured out to put an end to such tragic happenings.

Striking to win or Holding to Ransom?
Bandhs and strikes are something that affects the people across the country, as the smooth functioning of everyday life is dependent on networks of supplies. The truckers union calls a strike to register a protest, causing a paucity of several essential goods and the cost of everyday consumables sky-rocketing. State-wide bandhs are called to protest the arrest of political leaders, creating a tense situation where the common man is on tenterhooks about the duration for which peace will prevail. The amazing fact is that one section of the populace can throw the economy out of gear by refusing to do their bit.
What is debatable here is—whether the option exercised in the forms of bandhs and strikes is legitimate? After all, it remains not just restricted to the major parties involved, but drags to the common man who does not have any means or the capacity to deal with the tough situations that emerge as a repercussion. On the other hand, does the aggrieved section have any other option to make their voice heard and more so acted upon?
Mr A: In my opinion there is absolutely no merit in the strikes and bandhs as forms of protest against policies and decisions enforced by the authorities. These, in my view, are merely coercive steps that fall short of blackmailing to have the demands met. If a particular section of people are upset about a certain decision, then there is always the option of sitting across the table and resolving the issue with the concerned authorities. A lack of forceful vocalization of the ideas and demands should not be replaced by retaliation in the form of stopping the services as such. Likewise, in a bandh there is an artificial shortage created of all kinds of services and commodities. This hampers the smooth functioning of life and spells big time problem for the common man.
Miss B: How do you make a wayward child listen to you? Certainly not by offering him more candies! Similar is the situation where a person with powers greater than the commoners; he has to be made to see their point or even hear out their argument. The powerful here could be seen as the law and policy enforcing authorities, the government. Many a times those in power do not see the ground realities before issuing orders and then are not ready to listen to genuine grievances caused by such orders. When the agitating side has no one to hear them out, I guess they are left with only such strong measures to have their voices falling on deaf ears. The feasibility of plans drawn up in plush offices, without any idea about the real conditions, will without doubt be met with such treatment.
Mr C: I do not agree with my friend here. In event of a strike or a bandh, the common man is the hardest hit, with the supply of essential commodities falling short. There are cases like that of political parties calling nation-wide or State-wide bandhs to protest against one party-related issue or the other. It must be noted that all this is done, allegedly, on behalf of the people—people who are hardly interested in upsetting their lives and letting a grim situation crop up that could well take on communal colours and breed trouble. If a single step can bring about so much of inconvenience and brew trouble, I do not suppose that there is any element of desirability about it.
Miss D: I hope that my friends will agree that the modus operandi of the politicians and bureaucrats is something that can have people spinning for years together, before they can have anything substantial coming out of it. I do not intend to convey that this is always the case, but it is definitely many times when the authorities want to have their way. Years and years of exploitation, a feeling of powerlessness against this superstructure has left the people to devise their own methods of having their voice heard and their demands heeded to. One man’s voice is every easily drowned in the legal tangles and in the ‘smallness’ of his being, but when a mass as a whole protests, cutting out the economic lifeline, it makes sure that the concerned authorities sit up and take notice of the grievances and listen to the viewpoints. If such a mechanism of protest were absent then it would only be those in power having their say all the time, forcing decisions down the throats—irrespective of they being right or wrong.
Mr A: One thing that clearly needs to be understood here is that strikes and bandhs are becoming more or less like weapons with the unionised workers. And the workers are taking resort to these weapons whenever something does not suit their interest. I feel that even they have got to realize that they pay a heavy price for agitating in such a manner. Such sections are not so economically sound that they could bear to go without work for days together. Somewhere along the course, they might have to give up, making the whole thing look like a lost cause. Those who gain in such scenarios are only a handful of people—the union leaders who cash in on such situations to make a name for themselves and eventually start calling the shots as per their convenience and, of course, the hoarders and the retailers who command an exorbitant price for the essential commodities when the supplies are hit. The economic impact of such coercive tactics is so large that sometimes it may prove to be counter productive. One name that must be mentioned here is that of Datta Samant. During the time when he was active as a union leader in Maharashtra, the production suffered so much so that the industries left Maharashtra and set up base in neighbouring Gujarat. Likewise, the situation created in West Bengal by the constant protests, in which the workers resorted to such steps like gheraos, had the industry doing a disappearing act from the State. I really don’t see any good coming out of the entire scenario.
Miss B: I am afraid I still do not agree with your point. The basic premise that democratic structure is based on is that one has the complete right to express one’s views and, in the absence of a proper forum, one can be created and the grievances aired. I would like to reiterate what my friend has previously said that it would be a long time before the people can even expect any positive results. All they would be getting would be sheafs of papers filled with legal and complicated clauses. Working out through this maze itself is quite a task and they would have already lost the battle. For how long can you really keep a man down who depends for life on his meagre earnings. How long can you have him tied down with empty words? The common man isn’t so gullible any more. And, is especially weary when anything threatens to reduce his little income to lesser. How else can he prove the significance of his remote existence in the total scheme of things, if not by organizing strikes and staging bandhs? In a democracy one cannot be taken so much for granted.
Mr C: Everything in this world functions smoothly because the principle of co-existence applies to it. One must not forget that the harsh step will definitely begot some harsh results, and let me make it very clear that the benefit from all these antics accrues to a small section of opportunists who claim to be doing this in the name of democracy and on behalf of the people. I, however, see nothing democratic about the whole process. People are put to great discomfort, the economic processes suffer, and production comes to a standstill. How does it do any good to people who depend on their daily earnings to feed themselves and their families? It only seems as an easy way for a handful of people to shoot to prominence in a short span of time. There is no sure way either, to ascertain the honesty and morality among this group and also to make sure that none of them get sold out. After all, in any situation where there is substantial power involved (even if it means carrying out negotiations on behalf of a set of people), there is a good chance of the lure of the lucre corrupting one’s self. And one must not forget that the repercussions of the strikes and bandhs will not remain restricted to the ‘others’ only, but the earnings and the procurement of everyday necessities for one and all is affected.
Miss D: The commoner is certainly at sea when it comes to the ways of ensuring his welfare. Neither does he have the money nor the power to bring about the favourable changes. All he can do is consolidate into groups so that he can at least rise to a position of challenging what he thinks is not right. The power centres are known to be ruthless in their approach when it comes to dealing with the commoners. Left with little else, mass protests like bandhs and strikes are their only ways to express dissent. The flip-side is that there are opportunists waiting to cash in on such occasions—politicos, union leaders waiting to enter the corridors of power etc. The sifting out of this category has to be made sure in order to have the suitable ends achieved.

Do Elections make a difference?
Mr A: The present elections in India have been accompanied by a huge media campaign that one must vote and participate in the political process. An urgency of sorts was generated because of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Citizens turned out to hold candle light marches amidst total disgust with our leaders. A feeling was generated, at least in the media, that people should vote and elect the leaders whom they liked. The question that was asked was: if people don’t vote, do they have the right to protest against their leaders? Yet, voter turnout has not been too inspiring. It would seem that people have gone back to their lives and do not care about voting. From the point of view of majority of voters, they don’t care two hoots for their leaders, perhaps because they know that things will not change, whether or not they vote. That is the background of this debate: do elections make a difference to people? Has the political process left out the aspirations of the people?
Mr B: I would say this is not the case. Elections do generate a lot of excitement in the country. People are interested in the political process. Otherwise how do you explain the great reversals in elections: the loss of Indira Gandhi despite her huge popularity? Closer in time, who could have thought that the BJP would be wiped out in the last elections despite being led by a stalwart like Vajpayee? So it is wrong to say that elections do not make a difference. People do see and analyse the policies of their government and are able to vote and seal the fate of leaders who have let them down. This time also it will not be any different. I would say that most people keep watching silently, at least the majority. These people do not speak on television debates but have a strong opinion of their own. If elections do not make a difference, how would you explain the great electoral reversals that we have seen in the past?
Mr C: I agree with your point of view, but if you go beyond electoral reversals, you will see why there is voter apathy. Actually there is no choice before the voter. Whether it is BJP, Congress or the Third Front, they all are the same. Whether we choose one or the other, we know that there is no party in India that can tackle the issues confronting the people of India: corruption, caste-based reservations or affordable education and healthcare. Rather than talk about these issues, every party is spewing forth poison against one community or the other. Even the young leaders are no better, as was shown by the Varun Gandhi episode. Parties are talking about the Kandahar episode or the demolition at Ayodhya—unfortunately these are not issues that affect the people. The electoral process in the country has fragmented the population in a way that even the British could not. Can you blame the voter that he is apathetic? Vote or not, he knows that he will have to pay a bribe to get things done from a government office. So I would say that elections in India is a wasteful exercise, because nothing changes for people.
Mr B: The problem also is with the fact that we do not know whom to vote for. Since no party is able to get the majority, the scramble for MPs starts after the election. It is usually an ugly spectacle, with small parties offering themselves to the highest bidder. The party that emerges with the majority does not have voter mandate, so actually the vote of the people goes waste. For example, in one of the earlier elections Mr Hegde was able to emerge as the Prime Minister of the country, even though none of us knew his name before the elections. In the last elections, the Congress was able to patch up a majority and pulled out Manmohan Singh as the country’s leader, as if from a magician’s hat, because he was seen as a humble and obsequious to the party president. He was the non-controversial candidate who would not rock the boat by taking decisions on his own, and the arrangement served the party well. The BJP had done the same—it installed Vajpayee because he was the non-controversial, liberal face of the party, but it did not change its colours and was defeated. So I would say that the electoral system is flawed. We don’t know our leaders, we don’t know who will be chosen by the parties when the voting is done, we don’t know the policies that the government will make. So what’s the point of the elections?
Mr D: Elections are the backbone of our democracy. Even if the system is flawed, can we say that elections do not make a difference? Look at the countries that do not have elections: they are dictatorships or ruled by armies. Whatever the flaws, I am glad that we are not in that category. We may not have a part to play in selecting the Prime Minister, but we certainly have the power to throw out leaders whom we do not like. That is quite a big thing. We are counted today with great countries like USA, UK and France, because we are all democracies. We have citizen and human rights, unlike people in China and Russia. There is accountability of the elected leaders towards the electorate. We cannot and should not wish it away. Despite all the flaws, elections do serve a very important function.
Mr E: I think none of us have any problems with the democratic system in our country. A democratic system is definitely better than any other political system. However, the problem is that the system has become so corrupted that voters are turning away from it. You cannot subscribe to the argument that we deserve the government that we get because we don’t vote. The point is that even if we vote, we cannot remove criminals from politics, we cannot make the government act when we are attacked, we cannot remove the policeman who demands a bribe from us, we cannot even meet our Prime Minister and express our concerns because of his heavy security. What kind of democracy is this?
Mr A: I agree with you. Our leaders preach development but encourage people who beat up girls wearing jeans or going to pubs. They play the caste and religion card. So where is the choice? Whether we vote or not, these things are going to stay. That is why we say that elections do not make a difference. Perhaps the answer to this riddle is that the political system should be reformed. No big reforms are needed, just implementation of existing laws. Parties fielding criminals should be banned, parties asking for votes on caste or religion propaganda should also likewise face penalties. Parties should also declare their leaders before the elections and make their position clear in terms of patching up with regional powers before the elections. Without such considerations, you cannot blame the people of India from turning away from the electoral process.
Mr B: The voter is quite helpless. All he can do is to hold candle-light marches. The system remains exploitative. Instead of electing leaders who can represent us in Parliament, we are forced to elect leaders who treat their term as an opportunity to enjoy the privileges of power and to amass wealth. You can say that we have the power to throw them out—and we do—but is that the purpose of voting? Somewhere along the line we have forgotten that the purpose of democracy is to elect leaders who can represent our concerns, instead we are forced to vote for regressive people who come out with strange policies like banning English, beating up people for wearing a dress they disapprove of, or declaring that a particular city is for people of a certain State.
Mr C: A lot of interesting points came up for discussion today. I think we all agreed that there is apathy among the people and we also know that voting will not change the exploitative system. So, while we are not against the democratic process, all of us feel that if some basic laws are implemented, people will be more willing to take part in the political process. The voice of the people has been lost in the electoral din. It is time it is recovered, to save our democracy. We want to be a vibrant, modern country, but our leaders are holding us back by talking about caste, region and religion. If we can eliminate these three non-issues from the political life and are able to get a leader who can address the real issues of the people, I am sure that people will respond to him. Unfortunately, for the past many years we have not had even one leader who could rise above narrow electoral gains to address the issues affecting people. That is why people feel that elections do not make a difference. I just hope that some leader realizes this in the future and puts us on the path to growth, as also above all narrow non-issues.
Ragging: A Criminal Act?
Ragging was supposed to be harmless fun where students could mix and become friends with their seniors at educational institutes. In India it has taken an ugly face. Every year incidents are reported where students are beaten and killed by their seniors, many young people commit suicide than face the humiliation of ragging. And, for every case that is reported in the media, there are thousands of cases of making students do unspeakable things in the name of ragging. We question whether ragging should be treated like any other crime or whether it serves a useful purpose.
Mr A: The issue of ragging comes into limelight every academic year when some students either commit suicide or are murdered in some college of higher learning in India. Mostly government institutes are named in ragging excesses cases. Our society has been unable to deal with the problem; apart from condemning the incidents every year, the government has not done anything. The present debate is whether ragging is another form of crime, but I feel that everyone should not be painted with the same brush. It is good fun to interact with new students and to make friends. If some people go overboard and commit crimes, they should be dealt with according to the law. But to ban ragging or to say that students who indulge in it are criminals, is going too far.
 Mr B: You may be right but facts do not match up to your statement that ragging is mere fun. Young students have died. They have been stripped and made to do sexually degrading acts. I fail to see how these humiliating acts will result in any kind of friendship. On the contrary, young students may start disliking their studies. There have been cases where students have run away from their institutes or tried to kill themselves rather than spend days of being beaten or exploited. Unfortunately, only the murders and suicides get the attention of the media. If the daily humiliation was reported, we would realize the extent of this disease that has crept into education institutes. The problem seems to be severe in prestigious institutes like medical and engineering colleges, but even in other cities and small towns every group of senior students seems to take delight in the sadism they are able to inflict on helpless fresh students. Instead of making learning fun, these students, who are nothing short of goondas, ruin careers and lives. It is for this reason that we should be able to say that enough is enough, and that ragging is nothing but criminalisation.
 Mr C: You have a point there. Ragging is not recognized as a crime, even though it has serious consequences. So students who indulge in it know that they can roam around scot-free despite committing the most heinous of crimes. Juniors suffer in silence because they are beaten up if they complain. In the highly improbable event of being caught, they are suspended for some time, or in the worst case, they might be expelled. So they go somewhere else and finish their education. These criminals go about their lives without any fear of punishment. Is it a surprise that our society is becoming more and more violent? When people fight on the streets, or when they beat up their families, or when policemen beat up suspects mercilessly, it is just because they were not punished for doing similar things in college. Our society is paying the price of letting people with sadist tendencies to go scot-free. I would say it is high time we put a stop to this. Ragging should be equated with crime.
 Mr D: Friends, you seem to forget that not all ragging is bad. In most cases we just have fun. People open out and become confident. They are not scared of anything anymore. I would say that ragging should not be banned, since it helps in many ways. As seniors we see a lot of fresh students and there is no way of getting to know them. In many colleges where there is no ragging, students go about their studies and pass their three or four years without getting to know their seniors or their juniors. Through ragging we can make a lot of friends; at least we know who is doing what.
 Mr E: I am afraid that these are myths that are propagated to continue an evil practice of ragging. No one makes friends by being subjected to sexual torture, or by being beaten up. Also, do not expect anything from the Supreme Court or the government, apart from strong statements. Ultimately the responsibility lies on the institute, and unfortunately, heads of institutes are busy protecting their own turf than bother about hostels. They have no idea what is going on in their own institutes. Even after a murder, the institute first tries to cover up, then denies responsibility. We have seen this happen wherever cases have been reported. As for the Supreme Court, how will it ensure that its directives are being heard in the states? Please remember that only extreme cases reach the Court’s notice. Can it ensure speedy justice for murders and sexual crimes before the senior students are released on bail and the case forgotten? I think these crimes require exemplary punishment but it is doubtful that the courts will ever do that. So, young people will continue to suffer the indignities of going to college.
 Mr A: The problem exists, no doubt, and some demented students have given a bad name to ragging. Beating up students or making them do degrading acts are certainly reprehensible, but let us not ban ragging altogether. More control is needed at the college level. Unfortunately, the teachers and the institute heads have failed to fulfil their duties. If only they are made accountable, such things might cease. So the idea is to control such incidents and I would say ragging should not be banned completely. Let the students indulge in their harmless fun. What is wrong with that?
 Mr B: Ragging is not harmless fun anymore. Let’s not deluge ourselves with this kind of logic. It is the most harmful, the most devious form of criminality. When we gloss over these things, we are actually encouraging the criminalisation and brutalisation of society. This has to stop. Even a small ragging incident should be made punishable, in order to send a message to students that this is not OK. If you look at the report of the incident at Rajindra Prasad Medical College, you will see that these colleges are torture chambers. There is high degree of sadism involved. Yet, neither the colleges nor the government has done anything. The Supreme Court must take it upon itself to make ragging a non-bailable offence. We need to go further: students caught doing ragging of juniors should be debarred from further studies and sent to do social service.
 Mr C: You have a point there. I think that in the long term interests of society, we have to award very strict punishment. Ragging arises because senior students are frustrated and they vent their frustrations on junior students. When they finish their education, they perpetuate the same system that causes frustration among young people. The brutal policeman, the bribe-seeking teacher, the corrupt bureaucrat, the husband who beats his wife, the father who demands sexual favours from his daughter—these are all manifestations of ragging behaviour. This vicious circle has to be broken somewhere and it should be broken at the college level. Let us send out a clear message that bullying the weak is not acceptable in our society.
 Mr D: Friends, we are all agreed that ragging is a menace that has to be stopped. Some students felt that not all ragging is bad, but since it has taken a very ugly face, especially in government institutes, it is high time that we did something about it. When I read accounts of ragging on the Internet, I feel sad at the uncontrolled sadism that takes place in hostels. Students have written that they preferred to sleep outside on the drain-pipes rather than go back to their hostels; some students have written that ragging left them hating their studies. There are some instances of people dropping out of college rather than face the humiliation of ragging. We cannot just say that these are just fun things. The Supreme Court has done well in its strict directions about ragging. It should be backed by severe government action as well.
Reality TV Show For Children—Pushing it too far?
Mr A: I completely agree with the point of view that the reality shows that have children as participants are not doing them much of good. It is that age when the children should be playing and enjoying their time, rather than fretting about not having practised hard enough or dealing with pressure of expectation. It is a small part of life, a bright and innocent patch that each one remembers when it comes to recalling happy memories. What would it be like to have none such in the cache? It is quite unfortunate that a number of shows have been put together to boost the ratings of the channels. The prize money runs into big amounts and the drama runs to incredible limits as well. What the grown ups who advocate the presence of reality shows as a platform for talent do not understand is that big money spells big costs and it can take a real toll on the participants. I do not really understand what people would be deprived of if they did not get to see children perform on the television. They should instead be encouraged to blossom and dedicate time to whatever activity they would gladly want to pursue. Once they enter into the world of grown ups, the pressures and strains of life will as it is catch up with them, so how much sense does it make to tire them at the very beginning?
 Miss B: I think that it is just a singular incident that is causing the whole issue to be blown out of proportion. These are better times than the days of yore where one had a very miniscule chance of being noticed unless one had exceptional talent and the understanding to make it big. Now, it all comes in a very simplified form and you simply have to make a choice. There are multiple shows that provide forum for individuals with talent in a wide variety of fields. What is wrong in identifying talent and promoting it? I think that the critics are unable to see the ease with which individuals can showcase their skills. How else do you find out latent ability and groom it? Definitely not after waiting till children are 25 or 30 years of age! It takes very little to let the diatribe loose on anything new, but what I would definitely like to point out is that talent needs identification and honing from the earlier stages. Many of the people today, who have outshone others in their field have been encouraged from their younger years. True, we did not have reality shows then, but still these uncut diamonds had to be found, cut and polished to dazzle the world.
 Mr C: Imagine this—little girls having parlour appointments, little boys rehearsing tirelessly to songs they probably do not even understand, babies having portfolios shot…does it carry the whiff of normalcy about it? I think not. Reality shows centred on children are making a huge negative dent. Talent scouting is not just about a day’s competition when several children perform individually or in teams and the achievers are announced. This is very different. It is about long periods of rehearsals, multiple shootings, enacting scripted dramas, usually unhealthy interpersonal rivalry, harsh remarks from judges that evoke strong sentiments in audience and keeps them glued. Why would anyone want his or her child to go through this grind? I think children should compete, but a competition that has been twisted out of proportion to make for interesting and arresting viewing should be shunned altogether. I also subscribe to the view that talent needs to be nurtured, but not at the cost of losing childhood. 
 Miss D: I think that such a view is extremely self-limiting and does not represent the complete truth. I believe that there is nothing so drastically wrong with the reality shows so as to shun them altogether. One can dig out many psychology theories and say this is right and that is wrong. But one should take a look at the complete picture before rubbishing any singular idea or aspect. Where does competitiveness for children not exist? It is everywhere. It is among friends, classmates, peers and even siblings. There is a lot of hue and cry about kids being pushed around for fame and money. What should be done about kids being pushed around to three to four tuitions a day or to multiple skill acquisition classes. What for?  Can one go and start condemning everything. A remark from a teacher or a parent can have an equally, if not more devastating effect on the child’s psyche. I think that it is unfair to pick at reality shows. After all no one is forced to participate. 
 Mr A: I still think that the reality shows are not good for the children. They are only fuelling the hunger and the greed in parents. Children may not be able to make economic sense of the entire exercise; they are merely happy with the praise. It is often the case that parents want to live out their unfulfilled desires through their children, or rake in the fame and money as well. It is not important to know whether the child is aware of what this participation entails? Is he or she physically and mentally prepared to take it on?  The parents are desperate to give the world a prodigy, a star, the cutest baby, the smartest model, the whiz kid, the singer, musician and what not… And in this process are willing to subject the young mind to evaluation by someone who may or may not be able to do justice.
 Miss B: Well, as they say you cannot have the cake and eat it too. There is a price for fame and for standing out among many. If there is a desire in an individual to outshine the others he or she will have to find a forum and display the talent. It is all a matter of choice. One can choose to stay away from the arc lights and lead a nice, normal and ordinary life. Or one can take a plunge and risk it to achieve fame or money or both. I feel that the children only become more competitive and come out of their shell by participating in such shows. ‘Survival of the fittest’ holds good for every aspect of life. Even if a small milestone is achieved by this route, the child will get a huge pointer to future. Otherwise too, the interactions and the experiences only add up in one way or the other. As far as the harsh criticism is concerned, it is for the choice makers—most likely the parents in this case, to arm the kids with a positive attitude and with the knowledge of what can be expected. Competitiveness is in fact the exact tool that educates one on how to leave behind mediocrity. I think that reality shows are alright in their place. 
 Mr C: I am yet to get convinced about the relevance of these shows. There is much more to the show than just TRPs and desire for fame. Hunger for fame, money, recognition, applause, praise is all very human. It cannot be condoned and one adopting a high moral ground with reference to these has to be extremely saintly. There is nothing wrong with participating in talent hunts. What bothers me is the drama that comes as a package of these shows. There will be several episodes and several rounds of performances or display. It is understood that there can be only one winner at the end of it all. Apart from the winner, who basks in the glory, there are several others who are criticised, rebuked and ridiculed as well in front of others and a nationwide audience. And now that channels are available to audiences abroad, it becomes a case of worldwide humiliation. And for what—what are the parameters of judgement, what are the benchmarks or standards. Judgements are, however, notional and nonetheless are given. Children, when they participate can give all but simplicity of effort. And if ridicule or rebuke is what they get as a performance appraisal, it can be devastating for their self-confidence. I think that in case of children, letting a child participate in a reality TV show is a sure way to scar a child for life.
 Miss D: I do believe that some things at the reality shows are a violation of the rights of children. It is only proper that the parents as the deciding authorities should make intelligent choices and refrain from sending their children to shows that require torturously long working hours, including recordings and other constant rehearsals for various promotional programmes for which private channels get a lot of mileage. The environment in which the children would be working for so long is equally important too. A proper guideline for operations and ethical behaviour of the shows needs to be charted out. High drama involving sentiments of children should be made liable for jurisdiction before a court of law. Public performances seem to cast an everlasting impression on the minds of the participating kids, and no matter whether they win or lose, it affects them significantly. Forums for showcasing talent are appreciable and required as well, but they should strive to maintain the dignity attached to art of any genre.

Brick or Click—E Learning or Traditional Education
Miss A: I think that online education is a far better option because it allows far more freedom and flexibility. Online courses give the same opportunity to learn as on-campus courses, but they stand at an advantage as they offer more flexibility. One does not have to be in a particular place at a certain time in order to participate. When one opts for an online or “web-based” course, it is as good as enrolling for a regular course, or for a still better one as the exposure to a larger number of resources is ensured. From this starting point, there is a step by step easy process that acquaints one with stages of the course, learning activities, resources, discussions with the teacher and course mates etc. It may not be the same as a regular discussion, as teleconferencing is the medium, but you do get to exchange ideas and opinions. And, although many online courses are “web-based”, many come supplemented by course manuals, video tapes or CDs. It is no different from the regular education and assignments have to be submitted on time but you have the luxury of studying at your pace.
 Mr B: In my opinion, the traditional classroom teaching cannot be replaced as it combines a lot many elements other than the lesson content. The interactions that can ensue in a traditional classroom cannot be replicated in the virtual world. It is this one to one exchange that better aids the learning. A classroom creates a distinct atmosphere where education acquires an air of seriousness and where new thought is stimulated to yield much more mental output than what the lesson aims at. While the traditional way of learning may bind the student by the specifics of time, location and qualification, it is much better in terms of the result it yields. After all, there is no point of education if actual learning is not achieved. And what does one do in cases where hands-on training is required? Medicine and other physical sciences cannot be taught through the computer/Web-based learning.
 Miss C: I think that the resistance to online education should fade away as it has come to stay. The ways of conducting business and work is beginning to get dictated by technology and the sooner we accept and get comfortable with this change, the better it will be. E-learning is definitely a better option vis-à-vis traditional learning and has become a widely used tool for teaching and training individuals in both academic and corporate settings. It is a convenient and inexpensive way to gain knowledge and information. The interesting part and a great advantage that comes with online education is that it facilitates an opportunity for continuing education for the individuals who are employed or for some reason cannot enrol for/attend regular lectures. Additionally, many students are able to complete their educations because they can study as and when they have the time to do so.  
 Mr D: I agree that the benefits of online education in terms of benefiting the people short of time and those affected by distance constraints are many, but in my opinion we still cannot do away with the traditional education delivery system. This holds especially true in case of school education as the assistance provided by the teacher in the younger years cannot be replicated by the cold electronic medium. Whenever starting with any subject/line of education that is entirely new to the pupils, the teacher plays a vital role in establishing a basic level of comfort and priming that may not be possible otherwise. In a traditional classroom setting, the teacher is able to gauge the sensibilities as well as apprehensions of the pupils and address the issues apart from those related to the syllabus. The teacher can continually monitor students for cues about their level of comprehension, probe their understanding, and respond to difficulties. The teacher can hold the students in an endless variety of individualized and cooperative learning activities, as also attend to student motivation and generate enthusiasm.
 Miss A: In my opinion, the line of reasoning extended by our friend may hold true for children who need to be guided at every step, but I think that the new education delivery system or omputer/Web-based learning is a much better option for higher studies. A major roadblock that hits the traditional system is that there are only a limited number of students that a brick and mortar classroom can accommodate. However, the case is different with a virtual classroom—anyone with genuine interest and requisite qualification can apply and chances of larger number of students with no variation in quality of teaching can be accepted. Students/learners can study at their own pace and receive direct, immediate, and individual specific feedback. The content that is being provided can be reviewed as needed. This saves the time and energy that the student puts into making notes and collecting relevant material. I see another advantage with the new method and that is the anonymity. The students can muster up more courage, try innovations and risk being wrong, which would be subdued in a traditional environment as bumbling would subject such attempts to jeering and mocking.  The classroom setting can also hinder one’s ability to learn by allowing  more vocal students to dominate the bulk of the discussion environments. Quieter personalities are limited in their communication options for exchanging ideas and information.
 Mr B: That is precisely my point. Classroom study to my mind is really essential as it does not merely make an individual learn/understand syllabus, but it imparts skills-sets that are essential while dealing with sundry situations and people as well. The shy ones, as our friend here stated, will have to come out of their shell. They have to realise that gain can be made only if you take a risk. Classroom learning promotes two levels of socialisation: among students via group discussion, team projects, peer evaluation, etc.; and between students and professionals via guest lectures, field trips etc. There is no dearth of studies showing how people are becoming reclusive and instances of maladjustments are on the increase. Hiding behind the screen may be an easy option, but it deprives an individual of many lessons of life. If one cannot walk in step, balancing out life alongside, that education is highly unlikely to serve any purpose.
 Miss C: As I see it, I am all for the e-learning vis-à-vis traditional learning. I feel that in the absence of a teacher, one is able to trigger independent thinking and is able to see the content in a fresh perspective. In an actual classroom, the student’s faculties are overpowered by the teacher’s perspective and that comes out to be the final word. There are also modules in which the instructor communicates with the students real time, but that has to still become popular as computer/Web-based instruction is faced by problems of connectivity and bandwidth in India. However, the idea of online learning, which incorporates tools like video conferencing, audio streaming and chatting, is fast gaining currency among the student community for its flexible structure which allows them to access lessons and take tests from anywhere in the world. Another amazing facet is that e-learning can be delivered at one-third the cost of traditional learning in a sustainable manner. With careful service, the quality can well exceed almost any form of learning.
 Mr D: The discussion is a huge pointer to the change that is rapidly setting in. It will be hardly any time before technology determines the method of education delivery. But the truth of the matter is that there are advantages and disadvantages to every type of learning environment.  There are tremendous benefits of the traditional classroom learning that cannot be ruled out, no matter how advanced the technology becomes. And then there is the revolution called e-learning that has already changed the face of education. It is best to use the advantages that each method offers to their fullest extent. It may be of relevance to note here that a basic comfort, understanding and discipline that can be imparted well through the traditional method is required to go into a child before he/she grows up to choose and go about in self-study mode. There is also the need for high level of sensitivity required to design the curriculum and assess the work, keeping in consideration the medium. In conclusion, the interest and motivation of the student will be one big determinant in success of the method of education delivery.
Celebrity Endorsements: Right or Wrong?
While roping in a celebrity may or may not work out for a company there are no two ways about the charisma of these individuals and their ability to get hold of the audience’s attention.  A well-formulated strategy could catapult the fortunes of a company or, in another scenario, it could well prove to be a costly mistake.  However, now that doubts are being raised and studies proving the harmful effects of certain products, the big question arising here is that whether celebrities should be endorsing products and services at all?
Miss A In my opinion there is nothing wrong about celebrity endorsements.  It is simply a marketing strategy to increase sales that cannot be denied to any company.  There are no regulations against this and it can hardly be perceived as a dangerous activity.  People are free to make use of endorsements and it is a very easy way for the stars to make more money.  And that’s not all, featuring in an advertisement today is not just about money.  It is a barometer of one’s popularity and fame.  A good example in this would be that of Bill Gates who went on to endorse a brand of golf clubs in the nineties.  Now what possibly could the world’s richest man desire out of endorsing a certain product.  It could only mean that he has liked the quality and performance given by that particular brand.  Not allowing endorsements by stars is such an undemocratic thing to do and it sure is unlikely to go down well with anybody.  Going by the logic that it can start a wrong trend, there is so much of wrong/unhealthy/inappropriate stuff already going on, why single out this one issue.
Mr B Well, I would like to believe that each and every individual is larger than the single role played by him/her in the capacity of a celebrity.  Therefore, the responsibility as a concerned citizen should be greater.  This calls for a more active role and a greater level of awareness too.  It has been outlined that the persona of a star carries tremendous power and can be harnessed to send out a message with above average effectiveness.  There is nothing wrong with celebrities endorsing products and services per se. What really calls attention is the fact that manufactures / providers of sundry products and services may not be true to their word and could possibly be indulging in some malpractices or providing a substandard product.  Not only can this sully the image of the celebrity in question, it is akin the duping the consumers too. 
Miss C To endorse or not would be an extremely discomforting position.  Endorsements work well when the star is able to infuse confidence into it.  And that can come only after using a certain product or subscribing to a certain service.  Ethically, endorsements done simply for the sake of money are as condemnable as dishonesty itself.  One is at great fault, when the attempt is simply to pass off something to the consumer without ascertaining whether it is right or not.  It took the government such a long time to put a stop on the advertisements selling gutkhas and liquor.  And this after knowing fully well what havoc these things can wreck upon users.  Nonetheless, surrogate advertising continues and brand recall is still maintained for consumers.  Celebrities continue to feature in pan masala ads too.  The right approach would be to figure out whether a product has positive value for the public or is rather a bane.  There should be no problem with endorsements by celebrities; it is the products and services that should be scanned well enough with regard to their contribution to quality of public life.  If products have the potential of being nuisance, celebrities should keep away from them.
Mr D The marketing and advertising people in India are well aware of the people’s obsession with cricket and movies.  The stars of the two are the real heroes of the Indian public.  However, one must not forget the current trend.  What is going on these days is a short-term romance of the people with few celebrities whose time has come.  These are individuals who have caught fancy of the nation temporarily.  When they hit the crest, one can see them endorsing everything—from toothpaste to engine oils to food products.  What is more, they can clearly portray the whys and wherefores of these endorsements.  Since the stars are likely to have an extremely short shelf life, the idea is to make as much money while the sun shines.  If a star exploits his/her charisma, indiscriminately, it can cause much damage.  It is an act devoid of thoughtfulness and concern for welfare of people.  If endorsements are done without liking into the finer details of the products or services, the people will only feel cheated.  I think one should lend one’s name but only after checking the details carefully.  And if the case is as with the stars of the moments, then the consumer should be extra careful too. 
Miss A I think it is absolutely all right for stars to endorse products and services.  The people are well aware and cannot be fooled easily into buying something.  Just because Shahrukh Khan is someone’s favourite actor does not mean that he or she is going to buy the oil or shampoo, soap, fridge, TV etc. he endorses. These decisions are based on a host of other factors besides the stars’ recommendations. The person has to take care of issues like how much money he can spare for that particular item, his requirement, the choice of other people in his family and the storage or space available in the house. In case of soft drinks the factor that makes them popular is not the star appeal but the taste.  People like the taste of the aerated drinks, their ability to soothe quickly during the hot summer months and, lastly, because of their easy availability across the length and breadth of the country. If, in truth, endorsements could whip up that kind of magic, people would end up buying almost everything because there are so many celebrities endorsing all kinds of products. There are many people who have expressed futility of remarks against celebrity endorsements. After all it is an art—how to use a celebrity power during a few seconds that the commercial lasts. Most people are simply overawed by the stars’ presence and do not even remember what the product was unless the connection has been established properly.
Mr B Well, everyone seems to be focusing everywhere but on the segment of audience which is growing the fastest—children. I think that film stars have the greatest fan following among children. And it is this category that takes its idols seriously. Therefore, when an actor or an actress endorses soft drinks that are harmful and seriously can cause depletion of elements like calcium, it is indeed a deplorable matter. Detractors may argue that next in line would be fast food like French fries, pizzas, etc… but one has to start somewhere. Children are affected greatly by such persuasion. They may not be participating in taking major decisions at home, like buying of durables, but they can certainly cajole their parents into buying food stuff of their choice. Soft drinks, sugary juices, junk food laden with high fat content haven’t really got much going against them, at least as of now. Since they are at a greater risk due to such persuasive selling, a line needs to be drawn here. Also, what needs to be noted is that if stars refuse to endorse products with a dubious value for public welfare then it is going to act in their favour only. Their positive image is likely to register up scaling, as socially responsible and mature individuals who are not driven simply by monetary concerns. The goodwill generated by this effort would be far greater than the crores made by them through endorsements.
Miss C This angle does make it an issue worth considering since the ramifications for children are only too clear. However, due to the heightened passions in the argument, it must not be forgotten that the children do not and cannot act on their own. Parents must assume a more firm and responsible role when it comes to such matters. They know better what to choose when it is child’s health versus momentary happiness.  And it is not as if healthy options are not available. It is the older members of the family who have to teach the children discerning right from wrong and how they would tend to gain in the longer run. Even by this logic one cannot actually stop the celebrities from endorsing the products. In fact, sometimes this itself may work as a deterrent. Stars may be liked by some and disliked by others. In case the latter are greater in number, they might cause the popularity as well as sales of a certain commodity to plummet down. The reason why companies rope in mega-stars and pay them incredible sums is because markets are flooded with numerous similar products. Endorsements add an element of superiority, credibility and exclusivity to them.
Mr D Notwithstanding the several arguments, the truth remains that it is every advertiser’s dream to have the rising sun vouches for his or her offering to the markets. There is hardly any doubt about celebrities saying no to endorsements. There’s money in it, there is fame and there is the reach into every home. It may be true that people do not buy an item because their favourite star/idol says so. The companies still use their power for their presence. These people are certainly the show-stoppers and have it in them to get public to stop awhile and pay attention.
 In today’s times, with minuscule attention spans, and multiple media hankering for that look, a mega-star’s voice or glamorous look is sure to get the attention.

Privatisation of Education
The public choice strategy proposes that functions that are not being carried out properly/efficiently or have received a lackadaisical approach towards them must be delegated to the private sector. The world has been seeing a wave of privatization sweep across many spheres. It is sometimes not only essential but also the only choice that remains when breaking the monopoly of the government is concerned, especially in infrastructure. The impact of privatization on education could not be contained either, as it seemed to help a cause and diversify choice of resources available. At the school-level, privatization has become a very normal phenomenon.
Even though privatization is a necessity, it does not come without drawbacks. The process involves private sector in the ownership or operation of a State-owned enterprise. In reality, the ideals that are upheld by the State in its enterprises has been overtaken by the underlying mantras of business enterprise— profits and more profits. It becomes necessary at this stage to understand that when the Constitution has laid down free and compulsory education for children until they complete 14 years of age, why is the State not able to meet its responsibility. And subsequently, even if it does involve the private sector to reach its goals, why is it unable to hold the ideas of social equity and service to the deprived sections! Is privatization of education really going to help or is it just another up-scale factory turning up nose on the natives?
Miss A  At the time of independence, Nehru’s vision to make India a socialist country placed immense responsibility on the shoulders of the State to establish and oversee the expansion of educational institutions. The highly ambitious goals of literacy achievement have been shouldered by the State-run schools so far. In the rural pockets, the elementary schools are State-aided and so are the majority of schools in the urban areas. In the present times, the presence of private enterprise is being felt much in the area of school-level education concentrated in the urban areas only. Even at the colleges and the university levels, the State’s contributions loom large over the country’s education scenario. Now the time has come when India’s burgeoning population demands more resource allocation and larger infrastructure to combat illiteracy and promote education. With the paucity of funds being an almost permanent feature of the departments of State, privatization has to be resorted to on a larger scale if the targets are to be met. In this scenario, the unrealistic burden that has been cast upon the State can be effectively met, too.
Mr B There are many myths about the private enterprise in education and how it can aid the government’s efforts in scaling down illiteracy and building up a veritable force of educated human beings. It must be realised at the very outset that the motives of the two organisations are at cross-purposes and one cannot substitute for the other. It has been seen a lot many times that corporate/religious bodies take up the onus of contributing to the field of education. There is a great exhibition of the philanthropic spirit in the beginning, but it soon fizzles out. In reality, these are the image-building exercises of these trusts, which transform into commercial activities guided by motives of profit-making and diversifying operations to garner more resources. In this arena also exists the misnomer of ‘public schools’, which are completely run by private bodies or trusts. These schools have English as the medium of imparting education and are churning out children from the upper class exclusively, while the lesser mortals continue to go to the State-aided schools.
Miss C The quantum of knowledge available to the world has increased rapidly in the past few decades and that itself is a pointer to the fact that knowledge is power. It is of utmost importance that the developing and the underdeveloped must focus on the education for keeping the knowledge gap between themselves and the developed nations to the minimum extent possible. Even the World Bank has corroborated the view, stating that the knowledge explosion is fast dividing the world into fast moving rich economies and the slow moving poor ones. Now, that this is the true state of affairs, education is no longer considered a part of social service. It is a necessary area that needs careful investment that will be a greatly contributing factor to the human resource development. The value of human capital has dawned upon the world and it is much more important to invest in human being than to invest in assets of any other sort. There can be no doubts about the required contributions of the private sector in the enhancement of the education, as they are sure to benefit from such a move. Technological developments across the country have fostered a need for skilled and knowledgeable manpower. Without adequate infrastructure we will not be able to meet up the challenges, therefore the intervention of the private sector is required.
Mr D It is true that we need a large and competent infrastructure to meet the demands of the new times and that the current system will need a great revamp. However, calling for the contribution of the private sector in a field like education can have serious ramifications. One has to consider several aspects here. When the State undertakes the onus of educating the masses, a certain non-partisan character of education can be guaranteed. But when the management is in the hands of people who are private entities, they could have agendas for fulfilment through education, ranging from generation of profits to promotion of an ideology, to mould the children’s characters in tune with certain specific values, to mention a few. In that the government think tanks have to get rolling and churn out ways and means to ensure the meeting up of requirements and standards in the field of education. It is certainly one area that cannot be left in the hands of private individuals. It is quite evident from the public school experience that the children who come out of those systems have little powers to empathize with anyone else but those of their own social class and ethos.  However, when the idea is to reduce gaps and foster social equity, one cannot rely on this option.
Miss A There is not one but many maladies that ail the system of governance in our country. And to think that it is easy to circumvent or surmount those issues to reach the goal of equitable education and opportunities in the same field is like burying one’s head in sand, like an ostrich. The government resources are on a real low as compared to the needs of the people. It is not an inherent lack but it so happens that the funds allocated happen to disappear on their way to the projects. It is not really possible to replace the people handling the affairs in one go. In such a scenario, privatization can relieve the system of the enormous responsibility that is important and yet not fulfilled.  It can easily make up for the lack of funds, sincerity and political will that effects the public sector. Privatization of education can be relied upon for overcoming structural and operational rigidities and promote the effective and efficient steps towards the implementation of education projects necessary for development of the human capital. According to W.W. Rostow, the world is going through the fourth Industrial Revolution and it needs true professionals to fit the slots created for employment.
Mr B Against the backdrop of speck and span environments and efficiently run organisations, are the other realities that need an equal mention. The new breed of entrepreneurs—the educational entrepreneurs—take full advantage of the situation and capitalize on the need for good education. Land allotment is done on a nominal cost and slowly as the structure begins to take shape, students are charged with building fee, development fee, maintenance fee and sundry other charges. These unaided schools, although they charge huge sums from the students, come to be sweatshops for the teachers. The country has a high level of unemployment, which helps these institutions hire well-qualified individuals at low salaries. The teacher’s work under a system of rigid rules and regulations, where innovation in teaching is not appreciated; they only have to tread the beaten path. The management has the prerogative of hiring or firing a person any time and this is what keeps the teachers on their toes. The State-run schools, however, have much attractive packages for their employees.
Miss C One has to look at the gains in terms of the output vis-à-vis the inputs given. The case with the public sector education has been that it has failed to regenerate constructive resources from the recipients of education. Over the years, time and again, as the State has been identified responsible for the provision of education to the masses, services have been sought from it, however, considering all that comes free in this deal and the number of subsidies that are given, education has come to be a social service activity. People do not place the premium on it as is required. It is just the same phenomenon that happens to all things—they are not valued when they come free of cost. On the other hand, if education is privatized, and the institutions charge a full fee at all times, the student is likely to value it, the parents will take care that every penny worth is extricated and that efficiency and effectiveness in service is maintained. It will stop the process of devaluing of education.
Mr D The position of our country, on the ladder of development, demands that great strides be made in the direction of building up the human resource base. It is imperative and a need of the times that education is necessarily provided to the people. The definition of literacy itself needs a revamp, because simply learning to read and write does not bestow powers of discernment on an individual. It has often been recognised by the experts that skill imparting and development of areas where the aptitude of the learner lies, are prerequisites of good education. The economic base of the country cannot  support demands of the country, but there is nothing impossible if there is willingness and the great Indian ingenuity is put to use. The role of private sector has proved to be greatly facilitating in diverse fields, but the need for a guarded approach cannot be ruled out in areas like education. Relevant legislations can be worked out to ensure that privatization does not degenerate into commercialization. An under-standing between government and the private sector can work miracles—universities can start up R & D activities funded by the corporates. In so far as professional courses are concerned, the issue of capitation fees must be taken seriously and here is where State intervention is required. 

Environmental Damage—Price of Progress?

Miss A There are always two sides to a coin and as they say one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I think that progress is achievable and one can minimise the environmental damage if not completely avoid it. Man has come so far from being just a survivor. Every technology takes some time before it can be implemented. There can be additional studies that can be commissioned to make it eco-friendly or to start with efforts that off-set the negative effects. If there is knowledge that a factory will manufacture some path breaking product, and there will be affluent or waste water, a water treatment plant started alongside will ensure that the ecosystem and environment is saved the pollution that would have been caused otherwise. It requires only some additional resources to fix such a solution, and it more than pays off in the long run. Resistance to a concept arises from lack of knowledge or partial knowledge. If the entrepreneurs are conscientious and the laws of the land are favourable to environment conservation, it is possible to move forward without damaging the environment.
Mr B  Well, there are a lot of concepts and solutions that look very good on paper but the ground realities are very complex. All the things that human beings have designed and devised for comfort have some kind of repercussion for the environment. Most of them require some kind of energy to manufacture, operate, maintain and disposing off is very difficult too. The energies that are in use for most part are polluting and renewable energy forms a miniscule part of what is used on a significant scale. Nature’s bosom is more often than not ripped apart and later it is choked with the refuse of human actions that are carried out in the name of progress. Something that is designed to fulfil a small purpose is sometimes taken far, and then the resources are overstretched, making it a damaging exercise.
Miss C I am of the firm belief that nature gives human beings enough clues to understand its workings. I think it is possible to achieve progress without damaging the environment. For instance, we know that there are renewable sources of energy and which energy sources are lesser polluting. Already there are people who are designing houses that do not require air conditioning even in extreme summer. They have understood and modified their knowledge of architecture in keeping with natural principles, using material to optimum levels. There are people who are trying to ensure that dependence on modern conveniences does not become absolute. I feel that if there is sensitivity to the cause, there can be progress achieved literally in its true meaning. I think that there is a need to reinforce the value of what we have, why we need to preserve it and how it can be done. Once people see nature as the sustaining life force, they will not try to eat away into it but strengthen it. And it is something that we owe to the generations to come.
Mr D I still think that progress will bring environmental damage in its wake and this goes without a doubt. Energy from coal, oil, gas, falling water and nuclear is now doing most of the work. This extraordinary increase in the use of extraneous energy has changed the face of the earth; it has expanded the dependence on the earth’s resources to unprecedented levels, and it has increased the pollution of the earth proportionally. It has made it possible for more people to live longer lives but this, in turn, requires more resources resulting in more damage to the environment than ever before. Standing in the way are factors like lack of communication, human inertia and hostility. It is true that cost-effective ways have to be devised, and in cases where they have been devised, there is yet a need to find people for implementing them. There are lobbies that have their short-term interests on the mind and will not allow any kind of change that works contrary to their interests. Countries that are underdeveloped or are developing may find it very strenuous financially to adopt newer technologies which come at a price.
Miss A Well, I think that we have our priorities all wrong. We seem to pay attention to elections, wars, crimes but not to the issue that deserves our attention. Because it is one area where conscientious action from each individual can make a huge dent in the way things are. We need to attribute true value to natural resources as they deserve. It is as if it has been taken for granted that these resources will remain. But now alternatives need to be found. Climate change can be seen as writing on the wall. The coal fired power plants, petrochemical industry, automobile industry, pulp and paper industry, textiles industry have all added to the overall well being of mankind. However, in an effort to compete in the race with industrialized countries, attention was not paid to the side effects of these industries which are detrimental to the environment. Industrialized nations became aware of these environmental concerns in early stages of their development. However, developing countries like India overlooked the damaging aspects of these industries. In the last 10-15 years, many scientists and NGOs have raised awareness about the damages that industrialization has caused to our environment and from time to time also suggested some corrective measures. The social awareness has already put our industry on the defensive. But due to the lack of availability of the green technologies in the country, our industrialists are at a loss to opt for the alternatives. Then, there is also greed and lack of vision resulting in that corrective measures not getting adopted.
Mr B  I agree with my friend here that green technologies are the way to go. The world may be divided into many countries but environment and ecosystems are not divisible. They are a common property and one cannot limit damage to one place. There are no boundaries limiting it. If there is deterioration in one part of the globe, the effect of it will be felt globally. Freak weather phenomenon is being reported from across the globe. However, the underdeveloped and developing countries have much more on their plate than merely green technologies to deal with. The cost of this new innovation is also too much for them to procure. It is cheaper and easier for them to outsource obsolete, second hand and yet outdated technology as it serves their purpose and does not cause additional pressure to muster up monetary aid or expertise for implementation of the newer technologies. It appears to my mind that even though inventions and innovations are opening doors to corrections, it is not easy for all countries to adopt the measures and it will be a long time before progress becomes an unconditionally good thing.
Miss C  Long before human beings evolved, the face of the earth was changing and to my understanding, it is still changing and will change in the future too. Human beings with the faculties and resources at their disposal have utilised them to their advantage. Humans are also discerning enough that if it is a question of sustaining their planet and their species, they will have to take corrective action, despite lobbies, interests and cost. Progress will be achieved with understanding and this evolution will also carry on notwithstanding what the experts say. If we do not understand it as a natural outcome, nature has its way of reinforcing its superiority and knows how to bring man down to his knees. Progress, I believe, is at nature’s mercy. So melding and moulding will continue till a homoeostasis is achieved.
Mr D From the above discussion I have concluded that some causes of the damage to the environment lies in the legislating and the regulating agencies of the country. But at present the question that assumes importance is that what will work. The answer lies in the green technologies which increasingly use renewable resources; reduce wastes, pollutants, emissions; recover, reuse and recycle; reduce the pressure on natural resources and restore the balance of the eco-system and biosphere and ultimately help in providing “ecologically sustainable development”. Progress is a wholesome word and carries much weight. In order for it to be at minimum to damage to environment, sustainability has to be worked at.
 Physical Appearance—Appropriate Yardstick for Judging?
Miss A I think that judging any individual simply by the outer appearance is too shallow an approach. There is an old saying that a book should not be judged by the cover. For all you know, there may be a wonderful gift inside a shoddily packed box! People are not uni- dimensional beings. Every person has something special innate to them or something that they have worked hard to achieve and it may not be evident on the face of it. But if an individual would simply look at the exterior and try to judge the worth, there could not be a greater folly committed. Take the simplest example of the monks. Their living is austere, completely devoid of any frills or guiles. Yet in their simplicity they aim for the highest and noblest purposes and are men of enviable wisdom that is not taught in the best of schools.
Mr B Well, there is a lot of truth in what my friend has stated here but I do feel that one cannot discount what the appearance says. A person can be a pretender but the pretence does not last for long, does it? A well turned out person in every aspect is a reflection of a well- cultivated mind. A polished exterior must be respected because it has been acquired by lots of hard work and effort. A person who makes an impressive public appearance cannot be said to have done it just like that. The aggregate has been arrived at after a lot of hard work by way of discipline of mind, attention to detail of dressing, cultivating real knowledge, honing skills etc. How can this be put in a bracket labelled ‘shallow’? This can be explained through an easy example. One can look at the public interactions of some of the biggest Indian cricketing icons when they debuted. And compare them with what they are now. Even though they may shine on the field, but to acquire a magical aura in the minds of all people, they have worked hard on personality aspects and transformed themselves. Whether we like it or not, the truth remains that the book jacket is always evaluated and the eyes first traverse that territory. Same is with people. Appearances cannot be ignored and I feel that they speak volumes about individuals.
Miss C I would like to differ significantly. I still feel that appearances are a very basic and misleading parameter of looking at individuals. There could be people who are simply incomparable in different aspects but are too shy or reserved. This does that lower their worth in any manner. Of course, there is an impact of this factor— people get recognition much later than when it should have been due to them. But it is high time the perception changed. It is those we call the ‘geeks’, who are writing the course of advancement for the times. It is the scientists, who have traditionally held a very unglamorous image, who define the ease and extent of our lives. How can one even consider appearance for assessing individuals? I feel it is the value addition, in whatever terms, an individual makes to the society that should be the yard- stick for gauging worth.
Mr D If there is true substance in a person then there will be qualities perceived that cannot be hidden away. And let us not discount the fact that it is an integral part of the human psyche to lean towards what is familiar. It is an instinctive reaction that is present even in children who make a move towards or away from others who are similar or dissimilar to the images in their mind. It is not always about making prejudiced notions about other people but also about establishing an identification of sorts. Lacking any other information about an unknown person, appearance allows the human mind to sort and categorize based on previous experience. This allows the person to determine whether the stranger most likely poses a potential threat or a potential benefit. It gives the person a starting place from which to begin any encounter, if any, with the unknown.
Miss A It is not always a smart option to go by the appearances even if it is only a natural reaction. As they say, appearances can be deceptive. The most often taken recourse by any con man to accomplish a fraud is to assume a deceptive external appearance. It is not very difficult to take on a role or put up a façade. It is what the pretenders are best at. Some time ago there was a ghastly piece of news doing rounds in the press that an aspiring actress and her boyfriend committed one of the most gruesome murders ever reported. If one would have gone by the appearances, then an educated, well mannered, well spoken lady and a well educated, employed man would not have butchered another human being in the manner that they did. No matter what the provocation, their exterior belied the cruelty that they actually carried out. One can now be sceptical that behind the established symbols of respectability, there can be much more sinister and suspicious substance. And there are countless incidents one can refer for proving that appearances can indeed be misleading.
Mr B Well, I would still not take such a definitive stand for appearances are decided by a whole lot of factors. It is more circumstantial than a matter of choice. There are people who have the resources to maintain their appearance in the manner that they would like to, and others who would be restricted by financial constraints. Humans are creatures who gather a lot of visual information and process it automatically—it is the first bit of information usually. Not only that, physical appearance normally lends clues about the person’s lifestyle, orientations etc., although they are not always correct. People appraise visual and behavioural appearance from head to toe. They observe demeanour, mannerisms, body language and even assess personal accessories like watch, handbag, etc. Within only three seconds, you make an indelible impression. One cannot say that a person is less capable if he dressed sloppy in comparison to a dapper gentleman, if their levels of education and proficiency are the same.
Miss C Well, there is a simple answer to this complex question: that the times that we live in today, have pushed everything down the fast lane. When new people come in contact, the fastest way to make sense of the situation is to visually evaluate the individual for that is the simplest way of reckoning. Outward appearance is gaining importance only in these times. It is only now that the stereotypes have become so hugely popular and are not resisted at all. This is mostly because people resist spending time on a matter that they have devised shortcuts to deal with. It is an instantaneous method where categorisation happens by mental segregation based on established ideas or stereotypes. People are often treated differently simply because of differences of faith, ethnicity, physical beauty etc. Even though this is definitively shallow, the truth is that this is how human behaviour is guided today. Thinking is a strenuous activity and so is breaking patterns or acts of justice! Somebody devised the rule of thumb long ago that is what operates for convenience.
Mr D I think that the discussion has provided some useful insights. I do feel that appearance as the sole parameter of judging a person is very shallow and unfair. It is really important to reserve judgement for later, when a person is given a chance to unfold his complete persona or at least significant aspects of it. Until then labelling a person or forming an impression about a person would be on very flimsy ground. On the other hand, I also feel that if a person has an impressive personality or appearance, due credit must be given for it is indeed achieved only through hard work and discipline. It shows a willingness to go that extra mile. Also, as my friend has correctly stated before that one cannot be out of sync with the times. In today’s world, appearance counts as much as spelling does in a sentence. It is also a normal human reaction and cannot be criticised unduly as it is the safest measure of assessment when there is a lack of other parameters. One has to keep a holistic view of the picture, but should also refrain from making premature ideas without knowing a person beyond just physical appearance. It is true that handsome is he who handsome does. Assessing a person completely on the basis of plain looks would be an almost certain way of getting it wrong.

Do Mass Media Shape Reality or is it the other Way

Miss A I think that the mass media shapes our reality. We have come a long way from when society directed the course of what was to be projected. It is now more like feeding an addiction. Mass media has a phenomenal reach and gripping power over people all across the globe. It not only reaches out to the people but people actively seek it out for various reasons—out of boredom, to be entertained, informed, to educate themselves, to update their knowledge.  There is actually a hysterical chasing of several aspects of the same events on every channel and every newspaper that is making a small happening very-very big in our minds. As if a total revelation on that issue would make a difference to our lives? But admittedly, we lap it up. We all fall hook line sinker! We read it in the morning papers, see it on television and then seek out some more on the internet. Without realising it, individuals have become slaves to a ‘constructed’ reality—a world of make-believe, which we fail to see in its true colours.
Mr B I personally think that the society provides the fodder for media. There are real people and real events that are committing acts, leading the way, doing a ‘first’ etc. The media are only able to pick up the random strands and weave a fabric that we see. Imagination and fictitious incidents cannot fool people for long. There are enough number of goings on for media to take up and present to its audience or readers. It would be almost a lopsided view of things if one said that reality does not play any role and media is the culprit here. Individuals are not entirely gullible to believe everything that is dished out. It is true that swaying people has become an easy job, more so with emotional capture becoming a full time study area, but it still does not discount the rationality of man. There is a lot of freewill involved in what he or she does.
Miss C The figures that are now associated with media, in terms of numbers, investment and stakes are mindboggling. There are hundreds and thousands of companies looking out for their share in the pie and each one is looking for a meaty chunk. There are pages to be filled and hours to be programmed for. Incidents that happen, human misery etc. are things that do not have much novelty about them. Hence what results is a construction. According to experts studying the field, there is a social construction of reality. Reality according to them is unknowable and the way we understand it is nothing but only a mediated phenomenon. In a normal course of life, some knowledge of reality is based on individual experience but most of it is aided but an understanding of environment, thrown our way by the media.  Since commercial viability and profits have to be ensured, novelty is sought and projected through oddities and unusual events, even though it may or may not be ethical to print or televise. In fact, it may not be newsworthy or deserving of attention at all. The greater the shock value, the more eyeballs are ensured. Now if this is the track, then one really cannot say that reality shapes media content.
Mr D Well, I have a differing view and I feel that there is so much more to it than assuming the general public to be completely irrational and naïve. I do believe that people by nature are driven more by their circumstances than by the media. How they act or react in a situation is not because of the media but these responses are primarily driven by personal fears, hopes, compulsions, habits, desires etc. Media by and large is mirroring the society. Whatever we see or read by way of news reports, serials, films, articles, blogs are all given form and content by other people. There is a strong contention for grabbing the attention but constructing a reality is another ballgame altogether. I still think that people do like to play along, in the sense that they derive entertainment when their free time is taken care of. But belief systems are strong enough to see through ploys that seek to only sell an idea or a product.
Miss A Yes, people are driven by their fears, habits, desires and motivations. But where do these come from? Media manufactures it for the society. Why is there a premium on fairness? Why are women in traditional garb treated with more respect than anyone who tries to defy convention or the established norm? What is morality? How are morality and goodness intertwined? There are images that the media creates, and people lap them up, consider and understand them as the reality and expect the same confirmation of views and opinions. It is a totally foregone conclusion, to my mind, that we live in a mediated world and an understanding of reality as it is, and whatever it is, has now become and immensely tough job. It is media that has created the material aspirations, spurred desires and defined values. Where is it specified that happiness is guaranteed on reaching the CEO level in one’s career? And yet people dream of a high status, riches and alongside nurture the notion of happiness (without the essential projection of hard work that it requires to sustain the status) that is assumed to be a default gain because it is shown to be so in every film or advertisement. I think that it is the media that is defining our goals and aspirations. It is actually shaping the society.
Mr B Well, there can be a larger understanding of the entire issue. The mass media is also owned by people who are very real. And they have an agenda that needs to be fulfilled. This agenda is all about making profits and keeping the whole business perpetuated. Logic cannot get any bigger than this. I agree that in an attempt to sell and sell some more, the media is trying its hand at reinventing norms, values, areas of thrust and human limits of being able to stomach the ‘never before’ themes. However, sooner or later, it is question time. Every individual deep down is aware of the limitations or advantages that form his/her arena of play. You cannot sell a lie for long and you cannot keep exploiting an emotion which is working for some but putting others on a back foot. Why do you think that time and again there is hue and cry about ethical issues? Why do people try to put a legal framework in place to set limits to the spread of this grip? It is because we realise that setting boundaries to curb influence of any powerful medium is extremely important. I think that people will never allow themselves to be manipulated to such a large extent.
Miss C In the busy hum- drum of life, there may be people who are educated but these are not essentially thinking individuals. Regular people are preoccupied by the concerns of meeting challenges at work, discharging responsibilities at home and mundane affairs. For their leisure and entertainment, they seek out distraction provided by media, recreation provided by external sources and I do not think that they would get into the ponderables about their leisure activities also. When one is seeking relief from stress of the routine affairs, last thing that the individual would look for is analysis of that activity. One has to take a look at any aspect of life and it is an easy conclusion that people try to conform to a view of life that they have acquired from what they have seen in the media. Roles in relationships, picture of happiness, definition of achievement, criteria for acceptability, morality, occasions and events are all created by media. Did we know that doctor’s day or daughter’s day were occasions until a few years ago? I see it only as a deliberate construc-tion of a reality that sells everything to a very willing consumer.
Mr D There have been a wide variety of views and each one carries undeniable reason. However, I guess it is a sort of reciprocal relationship where both media and reality contribute towards defining the structure and character of each other. Media mirrors the society and society provides fodder for the media to generate agendas. It perceives needs of the individuals emotional and psychological needs and feeds it with the extra intent of generating profit from the whole exercise. Society in turn laps up visualisation of grandeur, goodness, success, right, wrong, evil, and even what tradition should be. It provides media the initial scheme which it would enjoy and like projected. Media modifies the ideas picked up to suit its purpose and  perpetuates a design that benefits it and ensure regular consumers. In effect, it is a give and take relationship and the phenomenon pervades our environment to a great extent.
Do Women make Better Parents than Men?
Bringing up the children has been the mother’s duty since time immemorial. However, things are changing fast as there are single persons opting for adoption and couples unwilling to tide it through together who are opting to take up the job single handed. There is much to support the mother’s role as the primary caregiver of the family and the young ones, especially through reasons embedded in tradition as well as convenience. However, there have been many examples of single men coming forward, with the nurturing spirit surfacing strongly. Would they fare equally well as any woman or would they be at sea, if confronted by the daunting task of caring for a real child 24/7?

The external responsibilities that a male usually carries out in a family—set up as the breadwinner and the protector—give him a tough aura that comes in the way of visualising him performing the mother’s role. However, this cannot be used as a benchmark to determine whether the man is capable of providing children with equal, if not more, tenderness, love and care. The perception that precedes any male when it comes to parenting may well have become redundant now, or is it still the same? Are men likely to fare badly at parenting, or have they become more sensitive to the needs of children in a changed environment? In fact some would rather believe that they better than the mothers as well. So do men actually make better parents than women?

Mr A This question is quite a poser as there cannot be a perfect answer to it. All individuals are different from one another and may respond or perform at different levels as per their individual capabilities. However, if a generalist idea has to be formed it would be so that women generally make the better parents as they have the innate maternal instincts that allow them to take the best care of their children. Women would have subconsciously built a bond with the child even before it is born. Carrying a child in the womb for nine month is sufficient for strong emotional ties to be formed that are beyond understanding of average human relationships. Nature has implanted the nurture and care automatically in women. Bringing up life in its first few years is extremely important and to ensure safety and survival the women are attuned intrinsically to this need. For the men this part might be the difficult bit. They are seen largely making valuable contributions in a child’s development after he/she has achieved control over bodily functions and has reached a certain level of comprehension.

Miss B Well, the normal perception would be that a woman definitely makes for a better parent due to her instincts and her innate capabilities. However, there are certain ways in which a father or a male can contribute in the upbringing of children that women cannot do complete justice to. Men are generally rational and logic driven and decisions/choices and actions are based on sound reason. The way a father can allow a child to go all out and grow up would not be possible with mothers, who are more protective and would be daunted by the slightest crunch in the heart. Of course, the exceptions are always there but the go getting spirit, courage and fierce determination can be imparted very well by the male only. It is important as it makes the child more worldly wise and equipped with a skill that will not be taught in any school as a part of the curriculum.
Mr C  Indeed this one is a tough call but I must admit that somewhere there is an initial advantage that lies with the woman. She is the one who is physically and mentally programmed naturally to do a better job of parenting. Women generally are more sensitive and attentive to even the smallest needs exhibited by the children. They are inherently good listeners, blessed with more patience to deal with hours of bawling. It can be very challenging to keep comforting little children as they are not able to express or communicate at times about what bothers, pains or frightens them. Mothers are usually patient at such time and are willing to put aside hours to calm and reassure them. The important part worth taking notice of is that the young years are really crucial in the formation of a self-confident and a secure individual. If the children are neglected and ignored, they are likely to shape up as insecure somewhere and no matter how much of inputs and care are given after they grow up, that deficit cannot be made up for. I personally think that women are more capable of adding this tremendous value to a child’s life.
Miss D Well, there may be a slight element of risk in generalising totally about who is actually a better parent. My friends here have argued that women make better parents as they are innately programmed to be so. However, in the light of recent developments I would like to differ and cite the alternative point of view. The equations in today’s world are changing and the women are actively seeking employment and pursuing very challenging careers. Though the idea of motherhood is very fascinating, the actual process of bringing up a child can be very demanding. And here is where the male’s rational, organised and practical outlook counts. They can make it tick even in such a very demanding situation and hence men are capable of being better parents.
Mr A I would still say that there is no doubting the fact that mothers make better parents as they are known to be more balanced, especially in crunch situations. If we were to take a neutral scenario where the financial pressure and the emotional mess of a broken household are absent, women are capable of dealing superbly with the task. Usually, the women are projected as emotional wrecks, poor decision makers and incapable of providing a secure future only in situations where they are not educated enough to go out and earn. Other than that, there are ample examples where independent single women have done a splendid job of parenting. I feel that the women are capable of a healthy left brain- right brain activity balance and create and nurture life adeptly.
Miss B I do agree that there are some very valuable skill sets that may be the exclusive domain of women, but there is much that men may be capable of doing. Men are usually not known to be very expressive about their ideas or their feelings. They are more of the doers. The fact that I really appreciate about fathers is that they are capable of imparting many critical life lessons to their children without actually making them look like lessons.  Children emulate their elders. A practical parent would teach the child to evaluate situations without really reacting at the drop of a hat. Men are good at controlling their emotions and by exhibiting more of the controlled reactions in crisis situations teach them calm, analytical approach. Then, there is the general conduct adopted toward the various people that instils etiquette, politeness and fist lessons in people skills. The other issue with the females is that even when the child has grown up, they may still be clinging on somewhere. Men will not be so edgy about letting go. I really feel that men are better parents as they are capable of a more hands off approach.
Miss D Well this has been one really tough call where each one has tried to shed light by expressing their perspective. It comes across as a logical conclusion of this debate that the role of both man and woman is equally significant as parents and it is not necessarily so that women make better parents. Most women make good parents as they are better listeners and tend to be more attentive to one’s needs. Being more sensitive than males, women can forge a closer relationship with their children. Father is commonly seen as the rationalist, but this is not always true. Some fathers can make better parents than mothers; and this could be largely attributed to an individual’s personal upbringing, the childhood he or she experienced and the values that they believe in. If one has had a loving family unit and an environment that made him/her feel loved, it inspires a quite confidence and self-assurance which further gets translated into further parenting. Therefore, it is really immaterial as to whether men or women make better parents. Anyone, with a more mature and balanced outlook is likely to do a better job of parenting—being hands off when required and involved when desired.

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