Friday, April 14, 2006

Soviets win space race / Lessons from the new intolerance

Search ON THIS DAY , 12 April
1961: Soviets win space race
The Soviet Union has beaten the USA in the race to get the first man into space.

At just after 0700BST, Major Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was fired from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, Soviet central Asia, in the space craft Vostok (East).

Major Gagarin orbited the Earth for 108 minutes travelling at more than 17,000 miles per hour (27,000 kilometres per hour) before landing at an undisclosed location.

The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev has congratulated Major Gagarin on his achievement.

He sent the cosmonaut a message from his holiday home on the Black Sea.


Lessons from the new intolerance

Harish Khare

Whether or not the IIMs and IITs are forced to open their doors a little wider, the new fashionable intolerance exhibited in these last few days should be a sobering experience for all of us.

THESE LAST few days have witnessed a fascinating battle for the control of the public discourse. A handful of newspapers and a couple of English language television channels have done their best to stoke a 1990-type hysteria over the proposed new reservation regime in Central educational institutions. Television crews have been despatched to find voices of "merit" that are aghast at the very idea that institutes of management, presumed bastion of merit and competition, are now sought to be pried open to admit children of the lesser gods. Captains of industry are on record as to how a few hundred seats in management schools will erode India's competitiveness in this age of globalisation.

The crux of our present day dilemma was foreseen many years ago by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. In the last sitting of the Constituent Assembly, he noted: "We are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics, we will be recognising the principle of one man-one vote and one vote-one value. In our social and economic life, we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man-one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?

Last year, for example, only 11 Muslim candidates could make the grade out of the 422 men and women selected for the IAS, IFS, IPS and other Central services. Of these 11, eight made it in the category of Other Backward Classes (OBC). No one wants to acknowledge the near-systemic marginalisation of the largest minority in the country.


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