21 April 2008


On 10th April 2008 the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutional validity of the 93rd Amendment regarding the Central Educational Institutes allowing an additional 27 per cent reservation to the socially and educationally backward classes (OBCs). This would be over and above the existing reservations of 15 per cent for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and another 7.5 per cent for the Scheduled Tribes (STs). The Ministry of Human Resources and Development has already issued a notification that this be carried out from the current academic year, 2008-09 (see link). There have been a lot of discussions, time and again, either in favour of or against reservations, but one feels that there is some misplaced emphasis.
True, equity principle calls for policies that favour the deprived to ensure distributive justice. In the current context, the moot question that the Government has failed to provide quality education from the primary level to all its citizens is not being answered. More schools, colleges and professional institutes (medical, engineering and management among others) need to be opened. Today, the government can boast of primary schools in almost all nooks and corners of the country, but the quality of education is poor in most. More importantly, all those who pass out of these will not have access to secondary schools. Similarly for higher secondary and college education. Everyone should have access to basic quality education at all levels. Falling back on the equity principle it means that better teachers should be provided adequate incentives to teach the most deprived.
India is perhaps the only country where pre-primary education onwards the better facilities are meant for those who can afford it. It does not happen in the US, UK or other developed countries where the neighbourhood schooling system is followed. Private schools exists in some of these countries but it caters to a very small proportion of the population. School education is by and large through publicly funded institutions. This itself allows for a quality control. If our lawmakers, bureaucrats and those with some public voice send their children to the private schools then this cannot happen. In India, many lawmakers even operate their own schools and educational institutions on a for-profit basis and refer to this as an act of philanthropy.
Higher education can be through public or private enterprise. Most students, however, should be able to avail of loans in case of professional vocations or get scholarships so that their social and economic backwardness is not a constraint. Given the size of the country and its population, we should have colleges in every taluka, and at least one medical college in each district.
The latter is essential from a public health perspective. Here again the best thing would be to have public medical colleges, but may not be financially feasible. One can think of allowing for private medical colleges. These can be tied up with developed countries who seem to be having a 'shortage' of care givers. As getting more and more patients would also helps them in imparting quality education they should not provide treatment on a for-profit basis. In fact, it should be made free if possible. Of course, wherever we introduce private interests we should have effective regulations in place.


  1. Great going!!! Keep it up. I am sure this is one good way of expressing our views and opinions.
    Its nice to see your own blog.

  2. Keep it up. Blogging is the best way to express yourself.