New Delhi, Aug. 16: The promises that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made in his nine Independence Day speeches till last year have almost all been either fulfilled or witnessed some progress in implementation — with perhaps one exception.
The establishment of an education commission, which Singh promised in 2011 for reforms in the sector, has made virtually no headway.
(Several other projects that Singh announced have been delayed — they are in various stages of implementation or are stuck in Parliament, over which the government has no control.)
The proposed education commission would be mandated to suggest a roadmap for reforms in professional and general education keeping in mind the growing economy and the country’s demography.
Nearly half of India’s population is under 25 years and can contribute to society immensely if given quality education, said N.R. Madhava Menon, founder director of the National Law University, Bangalore.
“A proper education policy is of immense importance in the present situation. There is a need for a review of elementary, secondary and higher education as well as professional education to ensure the young population gets gainful employment and values,” Menon said.
Education has witnessed significant expansion in the past decade. The Prime Minister has often described the 11th Plan (2007-12) as the “education plan” since the sector received 19 per cent of the plan allocation, up from 7 per cent in the previous plan. Singh announced a slew of expansion initiatives in education in 2008.
When Kapil Sibal was Union human resource development minister, the ministry had almost finalised the proposed education commission’s members and its terms of reference. Academic Andre Beteille was tipped to head the panel.
However, after M.M. Pallam Raju took over the key portfolio, he began the process afresh. Sources said Raju wanted changes to the panel’s composition, much to the dislike of Beteille who has declined to head the commission.
“We have (short-listed) some eminent academics (for the post of) head of the panel. We will set up the commission shortly,” Raju told The Telegraph.
The last education policy was formulated on 1986 and modified in 1992.
Former Delhi University vice-chancellor Deepak Pental said the Prime Minister should not necessarily be blamed for delays in implementing his Independence Day announcements.
“The government system depends on (movement at) various levels. For example, for setting up new institutions, the state governments have to provide land and the central ministry has to provide funding. A breakdown at any level will lead to a delay. The Prime Minister should not be blamed for this,” he said.
Asked about the education commission, he said the human resource development ministry had been sitting on several reports relating to education reforms.
“If the ministry is serious, they should implement the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and the Yashpal committee on education,” Pental said.
P.S. Krishnan, former secretary to the National Commission for Backward Classes, had a complaint about the Prime Minister’s I-Day speech yesterday — his tenth.
He regretted that the speech did not offer anything to Dalits and accused the UPA of having failed to do enough for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
“The UPA government had, in its common minimum programme of 2004, decided to give land to landless Dalits and tribals. There has been hardly any action to fulfil that promise,” he said.
Krishnan also rued the absence of an enabling law on reservation for Dalits, tribals and the OBCs in central government jobs — the quotas are implemented through an executive order. “There was a move in 2008 to have a law for job reservations, but the bill has been pending since then.”
I-DAY PROGRESS REPORT
Major Independence Day announcements by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
in the past 10 years and how far they have been met:
Promise: Focus on poverty, jobs
Achievement: Poverty fell 15 per cent between 2004-05 and 2011-12; two crore jobs created between 2004-05
point programme for minority welfare
Achievement: Implementation in progress
Promise: Reservation in education for socially backward sections
with wider educational opportunities for
Achievement: OBC reservation implemented in centrally funded institutions
Promise: Mission on
vocational skill development; 50,000 new skill development centres
Achievement: National Skill Development Corporation set up but only a few hundred new skill development centres have come up
Promise: 6,000 new model schools, one in each block; 373 new colleges in backward districts; 30 new universities; eight new IITs; seven new IIMs; 20 new IIITs; five
IISERs; two Schools of
Planning and Architecture;
10 NITs; 1,000 polytechnics
Achievement: Establishment of model schools, colleges, polytechnics, universities and the IIITs is under way. The new IITs, IIMs, IISERs,
SPAs and NITs are already functioning
of a Unique Identification Authority, dedicated freight corridors, education loans at reduced interest, a food security law
Achievement: ID authority set up; construction of dedicated freight corridors under way; subsidised
education loans launched
Promise: One over-
arching council for higher education and another
for health education; food safety net to ensure no
citizen goes hungry
Achievement: Two bills on the councils introduced in Parliament (only recently have standing committees handed in their reports). Food security bill under consideration of
Promise: An education commission to suggest improvement at all levels; a Lokpal to watch over corruption
Achievement: No progress on education commission; Lokpal
bill passed by Lok
Sabha and pending
in Rajya Sabha
Promise: A National
Authority; Rajiv Housing Loan Scheme for relief
to urban poor on loans below Rs 5 lakh
authority set up; loan scheme being formalised
Promise: Food security law; strengthened midday meal scheme