Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Nov 2017 12:03:50

RESTRICTION imposed by the National Green Tribunal on the number of pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine, is timely. Lakhs of pilgrims visit the shrine daily, putting a tremendous pressure on the administration as well as the infrastructure, which is incapable of handling such a huge rush, all 365 days of the year. The 14-km trek to the hill shrine from the base town of Katra is tedious, particularly for the elderly people. They thus hire horses, mules and ponies to reach the shrine. This has led to a competition among the owners of these animals to ferry pilgrims. Indiscriminate use of ponies and mules has led to pollution, posing a health hazard to the pilgrims. As the shrine has a limited capacity to accommodate the pilgrims, it was necessary to put a cap on the number of pilgrims. This will definitely avoid inconvenience to the pilgrims arriving from far away places. Even the number of 50,000 pilgrims is large. However, the restriction on pilgrims and the new route built exclusively for pedestrians and battery operated cars would help in easing the pressure.


IT WAS a welcome exercise undertaken by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to carry out a massive survey of students across the country. The enormity of the exercise can be gauged from the fact that the survey covered 25 lakh school students in 1.10 lakh schools in 700 districts across the country, unprecedented anywhere in the world. The fact that the survey assessed the competence of students studying in standards III, V and VIII in subjects like mathmatics, languages, science and social sciences, shows that the Union Human Resources Ministry is undertaking a study of learning skills of the students. Such study will help it to plan its academic policies for the future, in view of changing needs of the developing country. Such an omnibus survey was never conducted in the past. The survey is also important in the light of complaints that present education at primary and secondary level fails in skill development among students which has grave implications for higher education and also employability.