The School of Architecture and Planning (SPA) is unique as it is the only architecture institute in India which has the status of a deemed university entitling the school to confer its own degrees. SPA is recognised by foreign institutes, especially the Royal Institute of British Architects. It also allows you to get membership of Commonwealth Association of Architects. The institute introduces various new academic programmes, promotes research and consultancy, informs director SPA Prof Maitra, “At SPA, all aspects of human settlement– the environment, landscape, transport, urban planning, industrial design, management of building– are taught,” says Maitra. Puneet Sethi of Vastuki Consultants, an alumni, calls SPA a premiere institute. Amit Khullar, ex-student of Masters of Environment Planning says, “SPA is the foremost institute for PGD. It provides a solid back-up with basics, curriculum is stronger than other universities.”
Situated in the polluted area of Indraprastha Estate, the nondescript building of the campus was built in the 60s and was one of the most modern structures of its time, and is of historic value, informs Maitra. TJ Manikram, qualified architect, civil engineer, town planner, founder member and architect of the institution was the force behind setting up of the SPA.
SPA runs two UG programmes: Bachelor of Architecture, a five-year course, and Bachelor of Planning, four-year programme. B Arch has 68 seats and B Planning just 22 seats. B Arch has a two-stage programme– in the first stage, there’s three years of study and 20 weeks practical training in professional office or construction site and in the second stage, half-a-year is devoted to research work and presentation of the design thesis. Architecture is concerned with design and construction of buildings in the social, technical, environmental context but for a definite client; in Planning the client is the city, it is on a larger scale, going far beyond buildings into selection of the site, entire lay out et al. Students of B Planning start their careers as planning assistants. Not only in metropolitans but small towns also require services of professional planners.
Students with 60 per cent in 10+2 can apply. Selection for admission to B Arch or B Planning is made on the basis of two tests: Test-1– General knowledge, scholastic performance and IQ test. Test 2– Aptitude test for B Arch is about visual and spatial perception, creative writing ability, aesthetic sensibility and for B Planning, the test assesses general awareness on environment, society and habitation.
Eligibility to Master’s programme is 55 per cent in both streams with five per cent relaxation in case of SC, ST. For every specialisation, seats are 10-15. Doctoral programmes of two-five years’ research are offered in urban planning, environmental planning, housing, transport, urban design, architectural conservation, landscape architecture, building engineering and management.
Many professionals are working for ‘interiors’, not only designing but execution of building they have not designed. There are plenty of jobs for masters in embassies, foreign universities, and NGO. Khullar informs, “Masters programmes offer opportunities for diversification in computers, for web page designing, in dot coms; GIS (Geographic Information System); as industrial designer.” Students feel they spend more on education as compared to remuneration after degrees. But Amit points out, “Jobs are satisfying. At the end of day there is a sense of achievement. True, an architect is a late arrival, a doctor establishes at forties whereas we reach somewhere in fifties, success comes late to us.”
A student has to decide what he wants. Working with a master architect might mean less money but one learns a lot. There is money in commercial sector but work can be uninteresting. No heavy investment is required to set up one’s own practice, and one can be creative too!
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2,500 militants on Pak border – Indian Military force
AT least 2,500 separatist guerrillas are waiting near the Pakistan border to cross into troubled Kashmir, a senior Indian army official has said.
“Our figures show at least 2,500 terrorists awaiting to infiltrate across the LoC opposite the Kashmir region,” Major General J N Mukherjee, stationed in Srinagar, strife-torn Kashmir’s summer capital, told newspersons on Saturday.
“Of these, approximately 200 are opposite Kanzalwan, 250 opposite Machil, 200 opposite Kern, 150 opposite Tangdhar, 350 in Lipa Valley, 300 opposite Uri and Gulmarag and 500 in Muzaffarabad,” Mukherjee said.
Kanzalwan, Machil, Kern, Tangdhar, Lipa Valley, Uri and Gulmarag areas lie on the 740-km (463-mile) Line of Control which divides bitterly-disputed Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Muzaffarabad is the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
Mukherjee said the Pakistan army provides training to separatist militants in 123 training camps. “…of which 42 (training camps) are in Pakistan, 70 in POK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and 11 on the Afghanistan border. As per our information, at least 3,000 terrorists are under training in various camps,” Mukherjee added.
He said separatist militants were being provided with sophisticated weapons and equipment by Pakistan, including missiles, rockets and “state-of-the-art communication systems.”
Mukherjee said the newly-formed Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group had recruited at least 5,000 people in Pakistan.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammad) group was recently launched by Masood Azhar, a Pakistani Islamic cleric released by India in exchange for 155 hostages aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines plane late last year.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in separatist violence in Kashmir since 1990. – Reuters
Disappearing Idealism In Student Politics – the right kind of leaders
In India, as in countries of the world, the student community has played an active role whether it be the freedom struggle, the socialist movement of the ’70s or Mandal agitations about a decade ago. Indeed, such movements have been the breeding grounds for leaders, who’ve contributed significantly to the national politics.
However, with the perceptions changing over a period of time, people have started questioning the relevance of students politics in India. Has it been reduced to mere slogan-shouting and futile strikes? Is there any room for political idealism in the process? Is it a stepping stone towards a political career for the student activist?
Remarked Digvijay Singh, minister of state for railways, and a former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) general secretary (1979-80), “In our time, students movement was confined to idealism, which is disappearing rapidly these days.” He had founded a union named, `Students for Democratic Socialism’, during his days at JNU.
Recalling his term as the vice president (1973) and president (1974) of Delhi University Students Union (DUSU), union minister for law, justice, company affairs and shipping, Arun Jaitley remarked, “In those days, the students’ movement across universities got integrated with the national movement led by JP (Jai Prakash Narain). Student politics got transformed from campus issues to issues concerning national politics. All of us were groomed more as participants of national polity.” His term as DUSU president got intercepted by `Emergency’ as he was jailed.
Vijay Goel, Member of Parliament from Chandni Chowk, who served as DUSU president in 1977, considers student politics a training ground for political and administrative skills. “My stint helped me develop leadership and oratorial skills, and taught me how to handle community problems. It is definitely a good platform to enter politics depending upon the potential, interest and commitment of the individual,” he said. He felt that previously, “students unions were better organised and had much more say in college and university affairs. The leaders, too, were more assertive”.
The current JNUSU president Sandeep Mahapatra concedes that many former JNUSU presidents have used the presidency as a platform to join active politics. He described the four years of his association with the union as very challenging. “You get aware of the responsibilities of an elected representative. It makes you mature enough to deal with various people and handle difficult situations,” he said. Mahapatra is not averse to the idea of joining active politics “at some point of time”. An Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activist, Mahapatra said: “You must put the values you’ve learnt during students politics to good use. ABVP has taught us to put nation before everything else.”
Former JNUSU president and a Student Federation of India (SFI) activist Biju Krishnan (1998-99) firmly believes in SFI’s slogan of `Study and Struggle’. “It is impossible to lead struggle unless one is sound in studies. Most JNU activists have outstanding academic records. Thankfully, muscle and money power has been kept away from JNU students movement,” he said.
The DUSU vice president and National Students Union of India activist Neetu Verma, who’s all set to contest for the president’s seat in this year’s elections remarked, “I have joined the movement without any political ambitions. It was a desire to work for the cause of students, which motivated me. As students representatives, we get to interact with politicians and we also become known in political circles. So the entry into politics becomes easier for a student activist.”
While acknowledging that violence should be discouraged, all the students activists affirmed that protests, agitation and strike for a genuine cause will always be resorted to when required.
Expressing concern over the fact that despite dominating the life of the nation, politics is not able to attract the best, Jaitley observed: “The pitfalls of politics are not too attractive. Today, the best minds are going into competitive professions and vocations.”
Admitting that “the thirst is lacking” among the present unions, which is in contrast to the vibrant student movement of the 70s, Mahapatra said, “Students have become career oriented and do not live for idealism.” Krishnan added, “There’s cynicism for the rot and degradation of politics. Political parties use students for their vested interests.”
Singh expressed the hope that exceptional student activists joining politics will contribute to the betterment of politics, society and the nation, while cautioning, “But only when you are idealistic and have the urge to play a role in national politics.”
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