Behavioral economics has several theories that explain why human makes certain choices given the circumstances. Often the same problem when presented in a different form makes people chose completely different options.
Should poor students get good education ?
Almost any reasonable human being is likely to Yes. All of us would love to see poor people getting good education. This is how politicians and media often dumbs down a complex issue. This is a simple question that general population can understand and answer. It can be asked in 5 seconds and people can think 2 seconds to answer it. Politicians rally support claiming “lets give good education to poor people”. A law with several pages get passed. People cheer.
The passed law can be summarized in following points:
- Government selects all schools that are run by Hindu people only.
- Government then makes hundreds of rules that give 100% control to state education department over how these schools are run, what fees they can charge, what admission criteria they can use.
- Any school that fails to comply with the long list of these rules then can be simply be closed down or taken over officially by the state government.
- Government then forces the school to give 25% of seats to government for free. Which means other 75% of the students are forced to pay for remaining 25% as cross subsidy.
- These 25% seats are then given away to various castes based on a lottery where neither students nor schools can control which school a child should study in.
- Government controls admission for remaining 75% of the seats as well except that there is no specific reservation for any caste and students have to apply for those seats themselves.
- If the government can not fill the 25% seats they have taken away forcibly from these schools then those benches are to be kept vacant every academic year that is then cant be filled untill 8th standard.
- RTE is applicable to all Hindu schools. Both aided and unaided. It is not applicable to any Christian/Muslim/Jain i.e minority-run school irrespective of whether they are aided by taxpayer money or not.
Coming back to the previous question of “Should poor students get good education ?” Do people think this law solves the problem ? Barely. It aggravates the problem.
While almost all provisions are either bad or worse the most significant problem is it is applicable only to Hindu schools. All Christian, Muslims and other minority schools are exempt. For a state like Goa, 50% of schools are Church run. For Kerala it is even higher.
This is because all the Hindu runs schools lose the following:
- Run schools in an affordable manner. For example RTE requires that students have 30:1 student teacher ratio. Now, imagine a Hindu running a school in Mumbai v/s a Church run school. Which school has lower expenses ? Which school faces a shutdown if it can not gather necessary funds ?
- Hindus can not build institutions of excellence and specialty. Imagine a Dalit entrepreneur who has got rich and decides to start a school for fellow Dalits in a remote village. Bang! It is illegal for him to give 100% reservations to Dalits or even 10% reservations to Dalits. He must conform to the admission norms set by government only.
Church run schools on other hand can give admissions to whoever they want.
- Hindus can not build specialized institutions. A Hindu can not decide to build a world class institute which will admit only those students who have IQ above 135. At the same time, a Church run school can do that.
- All the celebrities, rich people, government officials, politicians send their children to minority institutions and not to the private RTE enabled schools. Thackeray family went to Bombay Scottish School, Kejriwal’s daughter went to DPS, Devendra Fadnavis’s daughter goes to Cathedral School. As these powerful people’s kids become powerful when they grow up, they help their alma mater. The same benefit is actively denied to Hindu schools.
Right to Education does not increase schools or capacity it is only about stealing from Peter and giving to Paul.
As someone should have noticed, 25% seats to caste based students is not really same as poor students but at the same time government is simply kicking out 25% of general category students to give reservations to 25% caste based students. This does not help the student community because those displaced 25% kids have to still search for a new school to go to.
The heavy regulation actually reduces the number of seats by forcing schools to be shut down. This reduces total availability of seats. More than 3000 schools have been shut throughout Bharat in just 2014 alone.
Denying fundamental rights to Hindus
The principle behind Right to Education was deemed unconstitutional by Supreme Court in TMA Pai vs State of Karnataka. Bharat’s constitution gives people right to freely chose an occupation. UPA government amended the constitution with 93rd amendment to take away rights of only Hindus to practice an occupation of their choice.
The common defense
“I don’t mind paying little extra so some poor kid can study in my child’s school. Why is 25% reservation a problem ? “.
Voluntary donation and coerced extortion are two different things. Imagine you own two flats you have rented out. Government comes up with a “Right to House” and then demands that you give one of your flats for 0 rent. You don’t have a choice but to increase the rent on the other flat to cross subsidize this free flat. It does not matter if that other person is okay with it or not, this is government stealing your flat.
There are other problems that are caused by people that government sends to live in your flat. If government allocates tenants to your flat then you lose the right to rent out to only singles, married, people with kids, non-alcoholics, non-smokers, non-criminals, lowering the value of your real estate over time. Please note that this loss to you has absolutely no bearing on what rent you are charging from the other person.
The school analogy is that the school owners are no more in position to market and develop their school as “high quality”, “budget” etc.
“So what if the law applies only to Hindus ? At least Hindu schools are being forced to provide education to poor and that is a good thing.”
A law that is applicable only to a group does not mean it gives partial benefits. It is something most common people fail to understand. Imagine this, there are 2 restaurants. One is run by a Hindu, another by a Christian. Government says that only Hindu run restaurant is subject to Food and Health Safety Inspection where as Christian run restaurant is exempted. Also Hindu run restaurants can have only government provided menu with prices set by government so that poor people can afford food.
It is anybody’s guess that the Hindu run restaurant will have to shut shop or sell its business to a Christian to stay in business. The situation with schools is exactly the same.
Closing down a school does not help anyone. It hurts entire society.
How did the law pass?
The law was passed with very little debate simply because of the first point mentioned in the article. Very likely, intellectuals in the country lacked the fortitude to call out the religious discrimination in the law or the opposition parties at that time were incompetent.
The good effect of the noise that very few people are making about this law is actually one of the healthiest political discourse in recent times. Right to Education Law is being opposed on the grounds of equality before law, private property rights, religious freedom and less government intervention. These issues will only grow as time passes, taking a center stage. This will force all the political parties to take stands based on clearly identifiable principles instead of making emotional arguments.
Article contributed by Akshar Prabhu Desai Contact: [email protected]
(This article first appeared at http://www.indianlibertarian.org/2016/10/21/selective-reporting-by-indian-media-on-right-to-education-law/ and is being reproduced with the consent of the author
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