The episode over the higher secondary examinations in the Punjab becomes a case in point for more than one argument against the scheme of things in the government. All merit closer inspection.
Consider, first, the education. There has long been an argument against the education departments across the country about not much thought being put into the taught curricula; that there is a confusion about what these throngs of young boys and girls are being prepared for. The most casual of glances would reveal that these youngsters are being geared neither for some sort of marketable skills nor are they being groomed to become responsible citizens. If the crux of the argument was that the departments have fallen into a comfortable groove, able to only conduct their yearly exercise of compiling exam results, recent events have proved that even that low benchmark was much too high.
The snafu over the automation, computerisation and online listing might have happened on the education department’s watch but it is indicative of the inherent inertia of all government departments when it comes to responding to changes and improvements. This might as well have happened in the irrigation department. Though right about now, considering the immense rioting that ensued, the education department’s botched up attempts at automation might seem awful, one cannot begin to imagine the horrors of such messing up of the CM’s plan to computerise the land revenue department. Even though the latter is a commendable and much needed step, it is an area where any government should tread carefully; there isn’t a margin of error there.
Finally – and this is a point that should always be reiterated – the law and order agencies should have been able to prevent the students from hooliganism and vandalism. To understand the student’s reactions is different from justifying them. The freedom of expression and protest might make democracy a messy affair but nowhere should it mean a carte blanche.