Friday, April 20, 2007

The real failure is not quotas; but lack of access to primary


And the mindless and self-serving noises over quotas and reservations have started yet again. The Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of a 27% quota for OBCs in institutions of higher education. The proposed quota regime relies on data on backward castes that were generated during the 1931 Census. The Apex Court wants the government to justify the proposed quota regime with more updated data and numbers. Quite predictably, political parties are up in arms and some like the CPI(M)-fresh after the Nandigram episode-are openly criticising the Court for blocking a move that will help the ‘poor and oppressed’ classes of India. Elsewhere, intellectuals debate the pros and cons of affirmative action behind ivory towers of academia while many flog the alleged conflict between merit versus need.

There is a simple point that political parties and the assorted intellectuals who support them are completely missing out on in this stupid debate. And that is the most spectacular failure of the entire political class in independent India; their inability to provide primary education to a majority of Indians. Way back in 1947, when India became a free country, about 270 million citizens were illiterate. Sixty years down the road, more than 400 million Indians are illiterate. In 1948, when China emerged as a single modern nation, about 300 million citizens were illiterate. Sixty years down the road, hardly 60 million citizens were illiterate. For every illiterate Chinese, seven Indians are illiterate. What can be a more disgraceful failure than this?

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2007

IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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