Education Graph in India

With lot of learned men passing through the intellectual land of India, it would not be wrong to say that India is a gifted land of knowledge and learning. With the ancient Nalanda- the globally famous University in Bihar, the trend and necessity has now led to the birth of universities and institutions like Delhi University, IIT, IIM, NIIT, AIIMS and the like. Whereas earlier the high dignitary gurus used to oversee the functioning of education centers, we now have specially assigned education ministers to maintain educational law and order. In a nutshell, Education in India has changed, and mostly for the better. With a keen interest to achieve 100% literacy rate, few Indian states have achieved the benchmark and are raising the bar for imparting higher education to all. If we talk about the Indian Education System, it is divided in the following stages:

Nursery
Primary
Higher Secondary
Senior Secondary
Graduation
Post Graduation

These various stages of Education, set by the Indian Education Ministry, are instrumental in an individual’s growth. Thus to ensure consistency in the overall development of the individual, first 12 years of education are made basic for all. Graduation and Post Graduation though depends upon person’s academic interest. The various fields that are available for a graduate and/or post graduate are: – Engineering and technology, teaching, medicine, law, agriculture, veterinary, polytechnic and others. The crazes for education has become so much that students are learning the courses through distance learning and through various courses available online.

Many online coaching centers and institutions have built up to provide students with platforms that can hone their skills. Advanced degrees are available online, such as MA, MS, BA, BS, PhD. MBA, etc. The vogue/frenzy of getting educated is so much that many online universities/institutions have achieved government accreditation, so that scholars can be rest assured of the authenticity of their degrees. And with the subsequent rise in demand and supply of education, the colleges/ institutions/ universities are also trying their best to mark a nail in the fence and to live up to the competition, they are advertising in all extremes.

Various non-profit organizations like Teach India from The Times of India group have also come up with teaching campaigns. Their aim is to give a vision to each and every child of India to read, write and speak in their interest, and subsequently in the interest of the nation.

Reservation in Higher Education and Jobs- Divide and Rule Strategy

Introduction:

“Reservation in Higher Education and Jobs in Private Sector”…Yes or No? There has been lot of debate on this subject across the country. People are agitating…people are on hunger strike; Students have different views…professionals have different views. As per the interview with Cabinet Minister, (Human Resourse Development) Mr. Arjun Singh…on CNN-IBN, he is not willing to accept any facts and fingers. In short, after the interview he looks like a confused person…might be an effect of his age. Lets start from the very beginning, on the 27th of June 1961 Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru (First Prime Minister of India) wrote to the Chief Ministers: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster.

Lets have a look at some other figures…”Learning from Past Experiences”…

NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 – which is the most latest research shown – that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference? A study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working. Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes says that “looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled.”

Sukhdev Thorat, the Chairman of the UGC. He points out that today, at higher education levels – that is all universities, IITs and IIMs – there is already a 1.2 lakh vacancy number. 40 per cent of these are in teaching staff, which the IIT faculty themselves point out that they have shortages of up to 30 per cent.

Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.

In short, reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalized for being upper caste.

Why Quota? Why Reservations? Will this help “underprivileged” communities to come at par with others? I don’t think so. If the foundation is not strong…one cannot make strong building on it. If you really want to bring everyone on same platform…strengthen the Primary Education; Improve the course material; provide teachers at that level and make people strong enough to compete with each other…provide the platform for institutes and corporates to choose the best.

Mandal Commission…A regretful step…First Major Step towards reservation and quota system…beginning of caste based politics…

1) The Mandal Commission was officially called Second backward Classes Commission.

2) It derives its name from parliamentarian BP Mandal, who chaired the Commission.

3) The Mandal Commission was constituted by the Morarji Desai government in 1978 to consider action politics for backward classes, aimed at redressing caste discrimination.

4) The Commission Report was submitted in Dec 1980. It sought reservation for 27 per cent of all services and public sector undertakings under the central government and 27 per cent of all admissions to institutions of higher education for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

5) The percentage was over and above the existing 22.5 per cent reservation for SCs/STs.

6) In Aug 1990, the then Prime Minister VP Singh assured its implementation in government jobs.

7) It led to widespread protests, which finally led to his resignation.

8) There were many self-immolations attempts, including that of Rajeev Goswami, a DU student.

9) In 1993, the Supreme Court upheld 27 per cent reservation for OBCs.

10) But it was subject to the exclusion of socially advanced persons/sections from amongst the OBCs.

11) Children of Class I officers with income of Re one lakh were also excluded.

12) The exclusion-income limit was revised to Rs 2.5 lakh in 2004.

13) The reservation came into effect in Sept 1993 after the recommendations were accepted.

14) In Aug 2005, the SC abolished all caste-based reservations in unaided private colleges.

15) On Dec 2005, the Lok Sabha passed the 104th Constitution Amendment Act 2005, rolling back the SC judgement.

16) The new clause allowed reservations for SC/ST and OBCs in private unaided educational institutions.

17) The latest controversy erupted over the government’s proposal to introduce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in central government-funded higher educational institutes like IITs and IIMs.

Earlier Mandal Commission identified 11 indicators for providing reservation and quota is higher education. They were:

Social

Castes/classes considered as socially backward by others.

Castes/classes which mainly depend on manual labour for their livelihood.

Castes/classes where the percentage of married women below 17 is 25% above the state average in rural areas and 10% in urban areas; and that of married men is 10% and 5% above the state average in rural and urban areas respectively.

Castes/classes where participation of females in work is at least 25% above the state average.

Educational

Castes/classes where the number of children in the age group of 5 to 15 years who never attended school is at least 25% above the state average.

Castes/classes where the rate of student drop-out in the age group of 5-15 years is at least 25% above the state average.

Castes/classes amongst whom the proportion of matriculates is at least 25% below the state average

Economic

Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25% below the state average.

Castes/classes where the number of families living in kachcha houses is at least 25 % above the state average.

Castes/classes where the source of drinking water is beyond half a kilometer for more than 50% of the households.

Castes/classes where the number of the house-holds having taken a consumption loan is at least 25% above the state average.

We have seen even during those years that “Reservation” is just not acceptable. Even if after Close to 60 yrs of Independence (we will be celebrating our Diamond jubilee year of Independence between 15th August 2006-15th August 2007), we are saying that we have not done anything to bring up the social status of people then we are just nullifying all the achievements. Had this been done 5 yrs or 10 yrs after the independence…it would have been acceptable but not after 55 yrs of independence.

Conclusion

Need is to improve the standard of education at “Primary Level”, make people competent enough to fight in “Open Competition” and not to reserve the seats or provide any type of quota. The vociferous protest against reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the growing unease about reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes reflects the sharp conflicts which are erupting in Indian society over the distribution of a limited number of Government jobs and educational resources. It should be noted that the vocal opposition to the reservations for OBCs goes hand in hand with a more disguised resentment against reservation for the scheduled castes and tribes. One has only to recall to the Gujarat anti-reservation movement of 1981 and the recent December, 1989 U.P. agitation against the Parliament extending the reservation of seats in legislatures for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes for another ten years.

The movement against reservations in the present Indian context is definitely retrograde and objectively serves the interests of those who seek to preserve the dominance of the upper castes. The plea against reservations is advanced on the basis of equality of opportunity and merit. In an unequal society like India, where scheduled castes, tribes and shudras (the bulk of whom are the OBCs) have been discriminated against in choice of occupation, social mobility and control over the means of production, all talk of equality, without taking into account this reality, reduces equality to the concept of formal equality.

As for merit, it is perfectly possible in India to discriminate in recruitment and promotions, on the basis of caste prejudices or preferences, militating against merit. Further, merit, as the Mandal Commission and a host of other commissions and Supreme Court judgments have pointed out, must be seen in the context of achieving real equality of opportunities, social environment and compensatory discrimination to ensure social justice.

I sum up my feeling through the lines of following poem by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) about accumulation of State power by the targeting of specific groups one at a time captures the slippery slope of the law very well:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Before I conclude, here are views of Mr. Sam Pitroda (Chairman, National Knowledge Commission), on reservation in Higher Education and Jobs:

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the quota system as long as it is applied judiciously and at the right levels. It cannot become a blanket solution for all time to come. It is my considered position to reject labels on the basis of anyone’s birth. It is an outdated, antiquated thinking to keep talking about caste based disadvantages. The first step for me is to reject all such labels in the 21st century and focus on equality for youth. In my case, hard work, good education and focus on technology helped me a great deal to overcome any disadvantages that I had because of what people still obsessively describe as caste.

Technology gave me an equal footing for everything I have done in my life and career. I have said this before. Technology is a great leveler, second only to death. I have always negotiated challenges on the basis of my whatever little intrinsic merit quality and perseverance. I have never taken the route of quota or reservations. I hope this shows that it is possible.

What we need is to create opportunities for everyone of equal merit to have proper access. On this subject there are many views and many sentiments. At times people look at this in terms of black and white while there are many shades of gray.

Proper primary education is the key to building a sound foundation for higher education in the university. I wish we focus on this first. I also believe that every child must have opportunity for good education without worrying about caste or income levels. If the student is qualified we must find funding to support them in colleges. It is time to go beyond labels that stigmatize an entire group of people. I believe now in the early part of the 21st century we should make fundamental changes in the way we approach the concept of education, employment, equality and empowerment. But the point is it is time for a whole new approach in the 21st century. We cannot build the nation in the 21st century with the 19th century mindset.

Whither Education – An Apathy

Even after half-a-century of Indian Independence, the fate of education, educators and students has hardly improved. The apathy of the power that be, including a large section of society, has not changed when it comes to human resource development and education. Even now there are more than four crore educated unemployed youths in India.

India boasts of being world’s third knowledge power but effectively this is the lowest when judged against per thousand-population base. Societal degradation, inflicted by political might, is reflected in educational institutions across India. Aberrations have become the rule on campuses that are infested with self-seekers and politicians.

Democratization of higher educational institutions, though a noble concept, has in the past 20 years turned campuses into a cauldron of stinking filth. These are managed by affiliations charged with little regard for excellence, honesty and intellectual probity. Unethical and politically-motivated decisions serve a few and are reflections of societal catharsis.

Geographic India consolidated into a polity by the British has muted into conglomerations of politically charged, disjointed entities and facsimiles of democratic degradation. The classic conservative yearning for an ordered polity and commensurate pursuit of knowledge on the campuses are missing. Whichever brand rules the country, this section of society commands no respect now. May it be students or teachers they don’t have a voice, they don’t constitute an essential service and education is not a national necessity. Being a state subject, educational policies suffer from innumerable deformities.

Though it is a constitutional obligation, the non-availability of funds and vested administrative setup have led to the mushrooming of universities, fake campuses, private enterprises and numerous makeshift centers of education as also fly-by-air foreign campuses. It has proved to be a great financial endeavor with hardly any risk involved because it does not come under VAT or any other financial constraints. India has by now more institutions of such type than colleges, an excellent opportunity to rope in knowledge seeking youth and those who desire to fly off to greener pastures.

When it comes to the formulation of policies about higher education, structuring the system, financial assistance, grants and salary, the statutory body-University Grants Commission-is mentioned like a sacred cow worshipped as well as butchered in the streets. How far the UGC is autonomous is a common knowledge. It has become a post office, a government organization, disbursing petty grants, sanctioned by the Central Government, among universities or institutions with a number of tags attached to them depending upon the status of the recipient institutions, state, Central, autonomous or deemed universities. There is a perpetual complaint about the non-availability of funds. The administration should appreciate that the jumbo cabinet and expenditure on legislatures could be cut down to feed and educate a few villages. The teacher wants to be a ladder upon which students could climb and scale new heights.

The Central and state governments invoke ESMA to curb the voice of agitating people, but it takes no time to give benefits to politicians and bureaucrats. It is essential to please them so that a symbiotic balance is maintained as also to oblige a few of them. The government has failed to take effective steps to curb industrialization of education. Within hours the doles given in Parliament and honorarium were doubled but the 6 per cent expenditure of the GDP on education has proved to be dogma persisting right from the Kothari Commission recommendations for over four decades now.

Students of various educational institutes go on strike, almost yearly, demanding withdrawal of excessive fee hike. The tuition fees make up only about 13 per cent of annual expenditure in the present university education. It is now a formidable industry and the aim is to make money. Poor students, however, intelligent they may be, cannot afford to join colleges, professional institutions or courses. They may join such courses by putting their families under heavy debt of banks or financial institutions. Even in the USA, tuition fees contribute to about 15 per cent of the total annual expenditure on higher education. Nehru said: “If all is well with universities, it will be well with the nation.” Whereas Rabindranath Tagore once compared educated classes in India to “A second storey in an old building that was added in, but unfortunately the architect forgot to build a staircase between them.”

Teaching profession is devalued in the country because the teachers can’t compete in our society, have no muscle power, are educated and hence behave differently. Neither do they have guts of creamy bureaucrats nor institutional support of any kind. A teacher can entertain you with a pale smile on hearing that this is the profession of nation builders, the cream of society and a noble profession. The next moment teacher will be branded as cancers in societal marrow, getting salary for no work, craving for power, equality in salary and status with the Class A government servants. The teacher was the consultant and conscience keeper of society till mid-century. One could identify him by his tattered clothes, emaciated pale face, soft voice and meek behavior. He was the guru. That guru, comparatively having a better outfit now, has metamorphosed to a present teacher.

Newspaper reports are replete with his shortcomings; his misconduct in preaching indiscipline, enough is paid to him for no work, as he has to teach only for 181 days in a year. How could he dream of the parity with his bosses in the secretariat, his class dropouts in Parliament and the government. In order to save our hard-earned “democracy” which is being strengthened by a few hooligans, politicians and administrators, the government has to suppress the genuine demands so that education does not progress to the detriment of “illiterate democrats”. A handful of teachers adopts unethical means to become rich just like any other segments that are designated scamsters today. Exceptions, however, do not make the rule.

Most of our Presidents, many of our bureaucrats, including ministers, parliamentarians and others, had been in this profession. Did they not do any good work for the betterment of society before their elevation to these posts of governance and reverence? Can’t the authorities assess the strength of the demand vis-√†-vis the qualification, age at the time of being recruited as a teacher, lack of promotional avenues, stagnation and competency in terms of hiatus in the inflated societal values, urge and necessity to improve qualification and experience to remain in the fray. Education for teachers is a continuous process unlike “one-time-degree-obtaining-education” for others. Evaluation is paramount in this profession for every promotion. Classroom education has become drudgery afflicted by societal unrest, absolute lack of infrastructure, fear psychosis gripping the powerless parents and absences of administration.

My perception is that politicians take less interest in improving the standard of education and living because they know that once the poor comes to know about their corrupt practice they would neither listen nor elect them. Political parties make promises in their election manifestos to reduce employment, poverty and corruption. But this can’t be achieved without education. To me, education comes as a discipline, which is all-pervasive. Enshrined in our directive principles and ensuring our countrymen, “right-to-education” makes me feel that we possess the right to educate”.

Even when we have ushered in the new millennium, education remains a password to of those who make an arrogant assertion that they know best and are serving the public interest-an interest, which of course, is determined by them. By the perception entrenched with the British subjugation of our people elitist education occupied the center stage to produce Macaulay’s clones who were Indians muted to be “English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect”. “Educated slaves became strong props to sustain the British rule.” Lord Curzon favored bureaucratization of education since he opined that educational institutions have become factors for the production of political revolutionaries. By the Act of 1919 education was transferred to the province.

When we educate we are involved in politics. Educators often think of education being disjointed from politics. In fact, education is perhaps the most political activity in the community. The state has always influenced what is taught in educational institutions. The socio-political (and in some cases religious) ideology colors the content of learning and the emphasis on various aspects. In fact, based on where the child was educated within India-whether it was a large city or a village, whether the school used English or a regional language as a medium of education, among other factors- the child will have a different world view. However, education, based on the syllabus, in India has largely strived towards imparting a temperament of religious, political and social tolerance. The social mores and hierarchies often seep into the arena of learning and color education.

Given the political potential of education, there have been numerous attempts to use education as a way of indoctrination. Sometimes it is covert, at other times it is overt. Sometimes it is subliminal, other times it is deliberate. However, political forces have always used education to further certain world views. Today, numerous educationists and political thinkers in India are afraid that a deliberate attempt to use education as a way of social-religious indoctrination might be the agenda of the new education policy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Not gold, but only teachers can make people great and strong-the persons who for truth and honor; sake stand fast and suffers long. It is they who build a nation’s pillar deep and lift them to the sky”. Teaching profession is a bed of roses. A good teacher is always his/her student’s guide, friend and philosopher. A boy looked at the sticker on a car, which said, “Trees are friends”. He challenged this statement, started cutting trees, saying that, “Trees are not our friends, but our enemies”. When asked why he thought so. He said in his science textbooks it was stated “trees bring rain”. Since his village gets flooded in every rainy season, so he thought that “all trees must be cut down”. Confucius wrote, “If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for 10 years, plant a tree. If 100 years, teach the people.” Literacy is not enough. It is good to have a population, which is able to read, but infinitely better to have people able to distinguish what is worth reading. With overcrowded classrooms and ill-paid teachers,coaching classes are the commercial fallout of a system bursting out of the seams. How can idealism be expected from someone as concerned about the quality of life as you and me?

We have grown up with cherished memories of special teachers who made us love a subject we could actually have been frightened of and who we respected unconditionally. I have come across many persons whose mediocrity is reflected when they project themselves as the best whereas the fact speaks otherwise and those who criticize their alma mater forgetting that they passed out from the same from which they graduated. Education can have a great role to play in decreasing social disparities between groups and in promoting social mobility. For instance, the tremendous expansion of the middle class in India can confidently be attributed to the investment in education, especially in higher education.

Universities are struggling to survive on shrinking governmental grants. In the wake of this it takes shortsighted decisions to cut expenses and increase revenue by increasing fees, which may not be in the long-term interest of the universities. Thus universities end up being run as business enterprises. Education cess is now on considered to partially meet funds for primary education and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Open our universities to foreign students. Foreign campuses may prove to be of hardly any use in generating funds for Indian education. Trading in education may be another jeopardy.