Teachers' plaint against official boomerangs

On the wrong foot

Teachers' plaint against official boomerangs

Three primary schoolteachers from Kolar wanted to expose a supposedly corrupt official in the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) but ended up being pulled up by the Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, Kimmane Ratnakar, who was rather keen on testing their general knowledge. 

The teachers—Reddappa, Srinivas and K V Nanjunde Gowda—had arrived in the City to take part in an interaction organised by the Congress party at the KPCC office on Friday to enable its workers to air their grievances, if any. Ratnakar, along with Minor Irrigation Minister, Shivaraj Tangadagi, was there to lend an ear. 

The teachers complained to Ratnakar about a superintendent at the office of the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) who was demanding bribe to clear their medical bills. They urged him to transfer the official.  But Ratnakar was not quite pleased with their outspokenness. Instead of looking into the complaint, he started testing the teachers’ general knowledge. 

“Tell me when was Mahatma Gandhi born,” he asked them. “In the year 1889 (sic), sir,” Reddappa promptly replied. “OK, tell me when was Vivekananda born,” the minister shot another question. The teachers admitted they didn’t know the answer. 

“You are unfit to be teachers. If you do not have even basic knowledge, what will you teach small children,” he thundered. An earnest Reddappa replied that they would teach truth and non-violence to the students. The minister retorted that they need not teach these things to the children as they would rather learn them elsewhere. 

The minister did not stop at this. He warned the teachers that he would see to it that they were suspended if it emerged that they had come to meet him without applying for leave. The teachers then quietly sneaked out of the venue. 

Transfer of officials 

The minister later reporters about the government’s plan to transfer officials at DDPI offices who have served for more than three years at the same post. The move is not only aimed at ensuring efficiency but also preventing harassment of teachers. 

There are about 16,000 vacancies for teachers. Of them, 11,000 are being filled. Once all vacancies are filled, the government will introduce a system under which a post will be filled as soon as it gets vacant, as is the case in Tamil Nadu, he said. 

Clearing encroachments 

Tangadagi spoke about the Minor Irrigation Department’s plan to clear encroachments and desilt valleys that lead to lakes and tanks. He said the government might not be able to desilt all lakes but valleys would be cleared so that rainwater filled up lakes. 

Not many complaints 

Not many Congress workers turned up at the meeting to air their grievances. Ratnakar and Tangadagi arrived at the KPCC office at 11 am sharp and the meeting got over in less than half an hour. Health Minister U T Khader was also scheduled to join his colleagues at the meeting but he postponed his engagement to Monday. 

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