Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dr Shashi Tharoor not involved with the school. What next?

Dr Shashi Tharoor not involved with the school, unfortunately

When Dr Tharoor's patronship was announced (see this blog's report,March 2008) many parents welcomed it, if only owing to Tharoor's stature and reputation.

Dr Tharoor, speaking at GIIS (February 2008), had stressed transparency and good governance. He was widely seen as the best man to provide moral leadership, the missing factor at GIF.

[ Why do we say that GIIS and GIF continue to be stealthy and devious ?

- because GIIS continues to hush up its CBSE XII 12th exam results for 2007-2008 (available only at this blog till this day).

- because CBSE X 10th exam result alone was conveyed to us in part, not trusting us with the full truth, and various IB results have also been covered up (see here) - except for Apoorva Sachdeva's brilliant individual performance which continues to be purveyed to media in promotion of the self-proclaimed leader of the diaspora.

- because newsletters continue to be sent to all of us, full of unjustifiable self-praise, partial truths, convenient exaggerations and evidently stage-managed media sound-bites.

- because GIF Vice President (CS Dharmadhikari) has abdicated his responsibility, failing to respond to the plea of the parents (report from DNA India Newspaper, Mumbai) on points raised in our open letter. Dharmadhikari's "slip" has clearly revealed to us, where the loyalties of this ex-"Justice" really belong: far from the side of Justice, but closely tied to his kith, kin and clan.

- because prospective parents waiting at the reception get to see none of the above, but brightly lit photos suggesting a rosy picture of the school (a famous one shows PM Lee giving an "award" to Temurnikar. The context of this "award" is only to be inferred from the small print in an old newsletter, and who reads small print anyway ?).

- the list goes on... ]

Fired up by Tharoor's speech about governance and transparency, one of our parent volunteers took on a task for himself. Starting out from an address published in this blog, he finally found himself in touch with Dr Tharoor's office, after weeks of untiring effort.

While Dr Tharoor stands firmly on the side of good governance and transparency, the volunteer parent was unable to convince him to take an active interest in GIIS/GIF's affairs with the diaspora.

Below is Dr Tharoor's message, meant for all parents. (recepient's name removed)
On 7/22/08, Holly Ellis wrote:
> Dear ______,
> Dr. Tharoor has played no active role as a patron of the school and has not
> had any contact from the school since his visit to Singapore in February.
> Unfortunately, due to his extensive travel and meeting schedule he does not
> have the time to delve into the merits of the claims and counter-claims, but
> of course wishes the students and teachers all the best.
> Thank you,
> Holly
> Holly Ellis
> Assistant to Dr. Shashi Tharoor
> Afras Ventures
> 230 Park Avenue
> Suite 2525
> New York, NY 10169-0005

That was unexpected, as GIF continues to claim Dr Tharoor as one of its "key leaders" in all media publicity. GIF claims in "Bridge Singapore" magazine (May 2008) that:

"The Global Indian Foundation (GIF) led by internationally acclaimed and eminent leaders, such as Prof. M G K Menon, Justice Dharmadhikari, N R Narayana Murthy, Dr. Karan Singh, Dr. Hari Harilela and Dr. Shashi Tharoor."

The matter of approaching Dr. Tharoor, has hit a dead end. The parent has given up.

Should we give up ? We welcome your thoughts and comments.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

GIIS, monopoly bus operator, gets away with price hikes !

... even as small time transport operators in S'pore think twice !

Straits Times 2/08/2008 Yeo Ghim Lay ( reports: "School bus fares won't go up - for now". That applies to small time transport operators. But we all know that GIIS (our monopoly bus operator) has already hiked the bus fees steeply in May. (click picture to view report)

The reported story began when SSTA (S'pore School Transport Association) had recommended a $10 to $15 hike per month, to be effective from 1st August. The matter was then questioned by CASE. A gov't body (CCS) issued a warning against "price fixing". Now most operators say "no hike" or some say "modest hikes".

From CCS (Competition Commission of Singapore Gov't) statement: CCS understands that the school bus operators are selected periodically by school committees based on several criteria including competitive bus fares. There is therefore a competitive process for the most efficient and responsive school bus operators to be selected. There is no necessity for any price guidelines to be issued.

In GIIS's case ? The school itself is the bus operator. (We pay bus fees to GIIS, not any other party. GIIS makes a profit. GIIS pays to TnG, the current sub contractor. Therefore, GIIS is the bus operator. Evidence, see: GIIS 2005 ACCOUNTS ).

The company GIIS, as a bus operator, is a monopoly and has imposed a steep bus fee hike on us parents. It is now clear from this newspaper report that only a monopoly like GIIS will be able to hike by $28 per month and get away with it (see previous topic: transport ).

Because of this peculiar situation, GIIS, unlike most other schools, is not on the side of parents when it comes to school transport.

GIIS: In the light of the CCS statement, GIIS as a company has to be seen as proper and not seen as abusing your monopoly position or setting high prices due to your own conflict of interest. So we think the bus fee hike should be cut to $10 or $15 per month, which is fair, and it cannot be the $28 that you have already applied unilaterally, which is just brutal overcharging by a monopoly. We understand the reality of the fuel hikes, so we will support you on $10 to $15 range.

Parents approaching CASE or CCS will not look good on GIIS. Parents will not do it as a first option naturally being worried about victimisation etc. But we can register our dissatisfaction in many other ways too, to make an impact and get a fair deal.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I am Sweet and I have Aids: French Verbs Avoir & Etre

"I am Sweet" and "I have Aids"

The principle is simple: It is easier to remember 10 new words in a familiar language than 3 new words in an unfamiliar one.

SOUND ASSOCIATION is a very powerful memory technique that can be used to assist in Foreign Language Learning.

Here is a FUN way to remember the French verbs TO BE (être) and TO HAVE (avoir).

VERB TO BE (être)

I am --> I am SWEEt --> Je suis
You are --> You are ESsential --> Tu es
He/She is --> He is ESTablished --> Il est
We are --> We are SOMEbody --> Nous sommes
You (pl) are --> You are ETErnal --> Vous êtes
They are --> They are SO Naughty --> Ils sont

VERB TO HAVE (avoir)

I have --> I have AIds --> J’ai
You have --> You have ASthma --> Tu as
He/She has --> He/She has Anemia --> Il a
We have --> We have AVON cosmetics --> Nous avons
You (pl) have --> You have A VErsaci bag --> Vous avez
They have --> They have ONTario friends --> Ils ont

By Nageeb Gounjaria, Language Specialist, Frenchfaster Singapore