Apropos of the column “Can we monetise every act of service?” (FE, September 10), the author rightly points out that OROP (One Rank, One Pension), if finally implemented the way armed forces personnel want, would lead to other services—such as Central Armed Police Forces—demanding the same. And why not, they have also served the country with almost similar dedication as Indian Army or the Indian Air Force have done. How come no one has seriously raised the point that the armed forces get so many benefits—such as canteen services, allowances for operating in touch conditions, access to the best hospitals and schools—which their civilian counterparts do not get? While today the cost of OROP is estimated at about R10,000 crore, this is anyway going to rise in, say, a decade’s time based on the normal hike in salaries given by the Pay Commission each decade. Agreed, we need to compensate our armed forces for the lives they have dedicated to the nation, but then we have to think of ways to do so.
Nurture the STEM
Apropos of the news story “Nurturing STEM by strengthening the roots” (FE, September 7), steps to create an ecosystem for promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the schools are needed if India is to raise the quality of the engineers she produces. While India produces lakhs of engineers every year, several studies have pointed out that a majority of them are not employable. Further, the number of engineers who take up research as a career is very small. In fact, our schooling system is such that there is a stronger focus on scoring high in annual exams rather than practical understanding of subjects. While it is appreciated that the Faraday programme, in a tie-up with the NIIT University, will provide free-of-cost training to teachers through a series of workshops and Faraday mentors, to empower them to teach STEM subjects in the schools, we need more such initiatives and more such partnerships. In addition, if we are able to raise the quality of our engineers to global levels, that will also lead to our technology institutions rising up the global standing.
Telcos behind call drops
Apropos of the column “Blame it on the spectrum policy”, the stand that call drops are because of a paucity of spectrum is hogwash. telcos have enough spectrum, but not the will to fulfil their commitments to their customers. They have enough money to bid for spectrum but not enough to lay the network to utilise their holdings? Who will believe that now? And if they are being held up by local governments in network laying and optimisation, they can look for mediated solutions. The courts can help, the business chambers can help. What have they been doing so far?