Category Archives: Social

Do Government Teachers Deserve Better Pay Than Private Teachers in Tamilnadu?

Recently Tamilnadu’s government teachers went on a strike and captured the attention of everyone in the state. There were emotions flying from everyone. Around 5 out their 9 demands revolved around money: pay, pension and arrears. An argument which could be heard around was:

Private school teachers do much more work for much less pay, so government school teachers shouldn’t be greedy

Is it really that way? I decided to investigate with whatever little data I could. One key factor that could be used to quantify the workload of teachers is Student-to-Teacher ratio, simply stated, the number of children each teacher is responsible for. Higher the number, more the workload, more notebooks to correct, more exam papers to evaluate, longer queues to handle … you get the idea.

With that in mind, let us put data to work.

Data Used

Calculations

With the above sources giving a neat count of schools, students and teachers based on the management type of the school, it was just a matter of selecting the right columns and dividing one by the other.

Student-to-teacher Ratio = No.of Students / No.of Teachers

I uploaded the dataset to Kaggle and wrote a kernel script to perform the above calculation for each type of schools: Government, Government-Aided, and Private schools.

Observations

Here is the heatmap of the Student to teacher ratios.

student_teacher_ratios_table

There is a clear pattern that can be observed. The government aided school teachers have in some cases twice as much workload as their peers in govt or private schools. Aided school teachers do the work of all the govt. teachers like Census data, Electoral rolls, Election booth staff..etc., too.

Here is graph to give a sense of how far removed are the aided school teachers from their peers.

student_teacher_ratio_plot

Conclusion

To answer the question asked in the title. I am not sure about government school teachers, but it certainly looks like the govt. aided school teachers deserve better.

What is the relation between the SC population and SC literacy?

TL;DR: Nothing (that I could find)

After I published a set of maps, one thing that people (including me) wondered is

What is the relationship between the population size of SC community and their literacy? Are those regions, doing better, do it because the SC are more in number and are able to assert themselves better in the society?

This post is aimed at answering that question based on the Census 2011 data available from Tamilnadu Government website: http://www.tn.gov.in/deptst/areaandpopulation.pdf

The following data points were used:
1. Total population
2. Overall Literacy
3. Total SC population
4. SC Literacy

  • The gap between Overall literacy rate and SC literacy was calculated
  • The percentage of SC population was calculated
  • Finally, the correlation coefficient between the SC percentage and Literacy Gap was calculated

sc_lit_pop_correlation

There is a very week (0.13) or almost no correlation between the strength of the SC population of in society and their literacy gap. Here are the maps for comparison

You might be thinking, forget the gap, maybe there is a correlation between their literacy and population number.

sc_pop_litrate_correlation

Nope. Still nothing. Here are the maps to compare.

Literacy Gap of SC community in TN districts

I was going through the Census 2011 data once again and Erode district’s low Schedule Caste (SC) literacy rate caught my eyes. It is not a very lagging state when in overall literacy. But its SC literacy was less than the least literate district of Dharmapuri. So I added the data to the TN Districts shapefile and visualised it to see how lagging are the SC community across the districts.

Here are the maps

tn_overall_literacy_2011tn_sc_literacy_2011general_sc_literacy_gap

Correction

In an earlier map, the gap of Thoothukudi was mentioned as -14%, while the actual gap is around 6% due to a typo during the data processing. The map has been updated to reflect the change.

My observations

  1. Kongu Belt (Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Erode) is the worst. ~~The Gounder (land owning) community has ensured their position and the social ladder and ensured the peasantry remained uneducated and illiterate.~~

Update: While there might be an element of truth to it, the maps alone are not indicative of the inference. I have made the above observation based on the number of issue that have appeared on the media like the Mid-day meal staff harassment, two tumbler system etc.,

  1. Dharmapuri is a peculiar case, it has the lowest overall literacy in TN, but it is also the only district where SC community is more literate than the general population.
  2. Kanniyakumari which tops the overall literacy rates also tops the SC literacy. In fact the SC community of Kanniyakumari is more literate than the general population of almost all other districts. I think it would be an interesting place of humanities research in the area of literacy, education and caste.

Data Source:

http://www.tn.gov.in/deptst/areaandpopulation.pdf

Gaja Relief & Disaster Management Numbers

Cyclone Gaja – this year’s natural disaster which has landed like a stab in the gut for Tamil Nadu.

… Cyclone Gaja is a major disaster, and its economic impact in Tamil Nadu is comparable to that of the tsunami of 2004.
The Hindu

After the disaster, the Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister announced a relief package of 1000 Crores for the affected regions. Anyone who hasn’t worked on the Tamil Nadu’s budget for the current financial year wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Tamil Nadu’s disaster relief budget allocation would be greater than the said 1000 Crore. Logically it makes sense, to assume that the government is allocating a part of money kept aside for the purpose. But not in this case, Tamil Nadu has a total allocation of 786 Crores for disaster relief. [Reference: Tamil Nadu Budget 2018-19 Couldn’t find the English version]

Microsoft_Word_-_Tamil_Highlights_-_A5_Budget_Highlights__Tamil_pdf.png

Then the CM requested additional 15,000 crores from the Union Government. Now a little bit about the disaster relief funds from the central government. There are two types of funds SDRF (State Disaster Relief Fund) that the union government transfers to the state governments to build the state corpus and NDRF (National Disaster Relief Fund) that the central government uses to provide immediate and temporary relief in case of a national emergency. Here is the relevant page from the union budget.

SDRF = 9382.8 Crores + NDRF = 3660.0 Crores

  • SDRF = 9382.8 Crores
  • NDRF = 3660.0 Crores
  • Total allocation in the budget for the entire country = 13,042.8 Crores

The reality that the numbers tell us is that, with the NDRF size of 3,660 crores and 30 states in the union, it is foolish to expect anything more than 120 to 150 Crores from the central government as disaster relief. Remember, this is the year multiple states like Kerala and Mizoram have already experienced disasters like floods. Put together the NDRF allocation TN will probably get and the entire allocation of TN disaster fund gives us a sum of 150+786 = 936 crores.

The number begs the question – Are the leaders in Tamil Nadu really numerate? Do they even fathom the numbers they are spouting to us in the public? Why would a CM ask for an amount that is bigger than the total union budget (for disaster relief) if he understands fiscal management? Is there no one on the bureaucracy who understands it too?

As a defense one could say, the difference between the available funds in the budget and the relief expenditure would be borrowed now and settled later by the government. But it is hard to buy that defense. [Update 1]

When there is a genuine way to actually tell the public about the available funds (786 crores) and informing us that 100% of the year’s budget would go to the 11 affected districts and extra funds would be requested from the center, the people in power are quoting random imaginary numbers which they could later serve to serve their own purposes. I wish our media would do this research and ask the hard questions that need to be asked, rather than praising the volunteers.

Update 1:

I thought I would add the rationale to validate why the government won’t be borrowing more money for disaster relief.

  1. The biggest expenditure in the union budget is Interest payment. We have so much debt that 23.58% of the entire budget (or 1/4th) goes into just interest payments.
  2. India is already struggling to meet its fiscal deficit target. Borrowing more is only going to worsen the situation.

So, in practical terms, the argument that govt would somehow find money to finance the disaster relief is void.

Update 2:

The central government has announced a relief package of 353.7 crores for Tamilnadu from the SDRF. This is slightly higher than the amount the union govt should have given the TN govt anyway. SDRF fund 9382.8 shared between 29 states = 323.53 crores. To be clear, this is the amount which would have been given to Tamilnadu anyways. Here is the explanation from the budget document:allsbe_pdf__page_136_of_341_.png

The Social Media Dilemma

Woke up today morning and saw this piece on High Frequency Trading. I have already read Michael Lewis’Flash Boys and The Big Short which has kindled a strong dislike towards this HFT, not before dreaming about millions by doing it. When I hit this

We tend to understand the concept of actively using technology to achieve certain ends (exercising agency), but we find it harder to conceptualise the potential loss of agency that technology can bring. It’s a phenomenon perhaps best demonstrated with email: I can use email to exercise my agency in this world, to send messages that make things happen. At the same time, it’s not like I truly have the option to not use email. In fact, if I did not have an email account, I would be severely disabled. There is a contradiction at play: The email empowers me, whilst simultaneously threatening me with disempowerment if I refuse to use it.

my mind automatically went to one point of long time consternation – Facebook. With the recent reports of both Google and Facebook pushing for face recognition technologies and even people at MIT Technology Review are wondering what it means and how people take it, I am more spooked on the issue than I usually am.

The Dilemma

I am trying to setup something which requires inputs from a number of people intellectually, monetarily and personally. And one place where all these people could be reached out easily, coordinated, and followed upon is Facebook. There is no denying it. I have seen a lot of groups coordiante a lot of stuff over there before I deleted my account. It has become so ubiquitous in everyday lives of millions of people that people like me will be looked down as the ‘anti-vaxers’ of the digital connectivity. I am also finding it increasingly hard to explain why I don’t have account, more so when it comes to why I deleted it.

For most people the perceived threat of someone owning our identity in some distant place as one among the millions far outweighs the benefit of being ‘connected’ to friends and family.

The email empowers me, whilst simultaneously threatening me with disempowerment if I refuse to use it.

This sounds so much like

The Facebook empowers me, whilst simultaneously threatening me with disempowerment if I refuse to use it.

The compromise of having to let facebook’s scripts stalk me, monitor me, and feed me what it thinks is good for me in order for me to setup and run things I want to has resulted in a dilemma like no other.

Probable Ways Out

  • The old way: Restrain from going to FB and do things the old way. Which is call the first person you know, get to know about the next person and from him the next one. So on so forth. While it is entirely doable, it does involve retelling the same story multiple number of times.
  • Be the hypocrite: Let somebody else do the co-ordination on platforms like Facebook like celebrities do. I don’t think I am that wealthy or famous to hire a SoMe firm. It also involves being a hypocrite for using Facebook and calling it a bad thing.
  • One among the millions: Throw out all reservations and jump into FB. Let whatever hits the millions hit me.

All the three is equally straining for a variety of reasons. And is killing me.

 

People’s Mobile

Caution: This is a bit wild man.

Here is my idea.

Open a part of the spectrum used for mobile communication for public non-commercial use

Really!? What to do with it?

My plan is to run a community/volunteer/enthusiast/philanthropist sponsored mobile network which is free for everybody to use. That is, if you could bear the initial installation charges. If we could put enough towers in enough places, we could all talk to each other for free, send messages for free, access internet for free throughout our lives. And we can put an end to all this noise that projects messaging apps as technology disruption, we can engage in more serious pursuit that shout on the road internet for net neutrality, do away recharge coupons, payment gateways like PayTM, freeCharge etc., …… oh my, we can actually do away with a lot of unnecessary stuff.Then, we would have an open internet with all the bandwidth that the technology could offer -say “bye bye data plans”.

Wonderful!

Exactly. Isn’t this the best thing you have heard in a while.

Yay, I am the man from an utopian future.

Sadly this won’t happen – Money.

Net-neutrality. This is why.

This post is a reply to the previous post by me titled Why Net-Neutrality? or Why not tiered pricing?.

After a hour long discussion and debate with a couple of people, these are the things that tell me why net-neutrality is essentially a social issue and not a capitalist one. I am going to outlay the arguments that I made in the previous article and try to point out the flaws and get a better understanding.

1. Greed of companies like Netflix and YouTube

The flaw with the argument “since these services use the ISP’s pipe for their service, they owe a part of income to the ISP” is akin to arguing a runner ran through this road to win his marathon and thus owes a part of the prize to the local government.

The point that it is streaming that clogs the pipe is countered by the argument that it is precisely because of those services, the size of the pipe is getting bigger and definition of broadband internet getting revised to higher speeds.

2. The cost of usage

I have argued the one difference between electric company and ISP is the cost of usage. While an electric equipment doesn’t mean recurring income to the manufacturer, a web service gets an income. Thus there is cost involved in usage of internet services which the ISPs want a slice of.In short, the ISPs are greedy.

Because the initial cost for both the internet and electric connection are very similar. Replace the electric line with a coaxial or CAT line, replace the local transformers with switches and repeaters, replace the high tension substation transformers with the servers of ISP, we have almost exactly the same setup except only electricity is an utility and internet is not

3. More speed more money

I argued why would any ISP want to create a slow lane if they make more money for more speed / more volume. Simply put, why would there be a fast lane and a slow lane?

It seems that it is exactly for the same reason “more speed/volume more money”. In a situation when the ISP can more money why would he be willing to give out a connection involving the same initial costs for a low volume low income connection? The flaw here is assuming that volume/speed is limited and the ISPs are really worried about their precious resource from getting sucked up by the streamers. I should have known better.

Finally

I previously concluded,

I as a layman consumer is completely ok with the current state of affairs and don’t mind if the billing becomes usage based, or someone creates a fast-lane for those who pay more as long as the slow lane is at the mandated minimum speed, which is the present case anyways.

Though I still say the same, I would say it in fewer words – I want a neutral net, which is the present case anyways 🙂