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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

A big no to no-mobiles policy

Apoorva Puranik, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 08, 2013
First Published: 02:47 IST(8/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:51 IST(8/7/2013)

The WhatsApp-ing and BBM-ing days in college may soon be a thing of the past, if the recent proposal by the state government seeking a ban on camera mobile phones and mandatory installation of jammers and decoders in colleges and university campuses is approved and implemented.

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While there has been a mixed response from college authorities and university officials, students have out rightly dismissed this proposal as a ‘totalitarian and unfair move.’

Students feel that installing jammers, which prevent cellular phones from receiving signals from base stations and effectively render them useless, will hamper their safety since cell phones are necessary to reach out to people during emergencies. “During college festivals and practice sessions, we often stay back late in college and it becomes worrisome for parents if they can’t reach us. Also, it will be such a hassle to communicate within the college during events,” said Tanvi Sambrani, student St. Xavier’s College, Fort.
 
Students felt the ban was an affront on their freedom. “This is a clear violation of student’s rights and such sweeping bans are totalitarian in nature. Will the government ban all vehicles on the road because accidents happen?” said Tejas Harad, an ex-student of Ruia College, Matunga. 

On the other hand, college authorities have taken a diplomatic stand on the issue. “The idea behind the proposal is good but the practicality of implementing it needs to be questioned. Though I don’t know why students need phones are for ‘safety’. Before the advent of mobile phones, were students unsafe in college campuses? ” said Dinesh Panjwani, principal, National College, Bandra.

“I think this is a very good proposal since cell phones are being highly misused now a days and students have become addicted to them, “ said Marie Fernandes, principal, St. Andrews College, Bandra.

While the move is directed to keep students from indulging in ‘vulgur behaviour’ according to the proposal, the jammers will render the phones of the college authorities useless too.

“It will be extremely difficult to co-ordinate in the college without mobile phones. And why does the government think that by installing jammers it can prevent cyber crimes? If anyone wants to indulge in such activities they can do so outside the premises as well,” said Joyti Thakur, vice principal, Jai Hind College, Churchgate.

The proposal to restrict mobile phone use in educational institutions was apparently made by an NCP activist from Aurangabad to the minister for higher and technical education, Rajesh Tope.

The minister sent a letter to Mumbai University, following which MU issued a circular to all affiliated colleges seeking opinion on the issue.

Though the proposal is still in nascent stage, cell phone addicts should probably try and live without the beeping machine, maybe just for practice.

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