Over the past few weeks, we have seen how the politics of family first, bribery first and gifts first have led to the complete destruction of economies around India, especially in Sri Lanka. Cautiously, Prime Minister Modi, without citing the name of any state, political party or individual, spoke of the dangers of shortcut politics and populism. This is something that various intellectuals and institutions, including the Supreme Court, have weighed in on from time to time.
Any effective and efficient administrator would approve of the idea of ensuring that their government guarantees a targeted, foolproof and non-leakage delivery of social policies to those who need them most rather than a “free for all” approach which is inherently unfair. for the poorest. private and perhaps nothing more than a gimmick, as usually such programs can never be implemented or sustained for long. Since any state has finite resources, not unlimited bounty, which ultimately comes from the taxpayer, it is essential that administrators ensure that the first claim to these resources belongs to the poorest and most marginalized.
From this it is very clear that if a welfare measure is a targeted instrument for effecting long-term change and for improving the condition of the recipient by raising it to a level where the recipient can become self-reliant and productive, a gift or a Revdi is a mere “feel good ad” that is suspect in implementation, wrong in outcome, and dishonest in intent.
Against this backdrop, one was puzzled as to why Delhi’s chief minister had taken the prime minister’s comment so personally even though no one had been identified or named. It was as if a raw nerve had been touched. So Mr. Kejriwal’s overreaction prompts us to take a deeper look at the difference between welfare and Revdi.
Mr. Kejriwal kept talking about his so-called free education model. His spokesperson’s claim that many Delhi residents have withdrawn their children from private schools and enrolled them in public schools in Delhi. Logically, this would mean that more schools should have been opened by Mr Kejriwal’s government over the past eight years to meet this huge demand.
But debate after debate, night after night, to my surprise, those who promised to open 500 new schools and 20 new colleges cannot name 20 new schools and 5 new colleges that they have opened in the last eight years . In fact, the Delhi government is guilty of closing several public schools instead of opening new ones and this issue was raised by the BJP in the Delhi assembly. They keep talking about adding classrooms, but that doesn’t mean anything unless you have other infrastructure, including teachers, toilets, grounds, etc. to cater for these additional children and unless you open a school close to their locality instead of adding rooms in an existing school which is remote and inaccessible.
The reality is also that out of the 1027 schools, the Delhi government has nearly 750+ schools without headmasters and 418+ schools without deputy headmasters, which was reported by the NCPCR. It is also a fact that thousands of places for pupils in the EWS category had not been filled in accordance with the RTE law, thus depriving poor children of their constitutional right to free and compulsory education. 22,000 guest teachers lost their jobs.
The Delhi government has promised to make them permanent but far from it they have not even filled the sanctioning positions for teachers in Delhi public schools. In fact, recently the Delhi High Court demanded a response from the Kejriwal government over a plea which exposed how 63% of teaching posts, 80% of headmaster posts were vacant in Delhi government run schools. In April 2022, the Delhi High Court arrested the Delhi government for non-payment of teachers’ salaries and Judge Subramanium Prasad lamented that lack of money is not an answer to non-payment and ‘teachers could not be treated that way because they shape the future of the country. It is surely far from being a world-class model!
All of this has a direct impact on school performance and a recent report suggests that 40% of students who fail in ninth grade drop out of school. Recently, the NAS 2021 – a survey testing 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th graders across the country in a variety of subjects showed that public schools in Delhi scored comparatively lower in every subject and in all subjects. classes compared to Punjab.
What Delhi government schools have been at the forefront of its allegations of irregularities and corruption in the construction of classrooms. Recently, based on a complaint filed by MP Manoj Tiwari, he alleged that classrooms that could have been built at Rs.5 lakhs per piece were built at an inflated price of Rs.28 lakhs per piece . This complaint has been taken up by the Delhi lokayukta and an investigation and report has been requested. Even Mr. Sisodia’s Ministry of Education reported a number of complaints regarding the use of shoddy materials, where there are shortcomings in the construction works carried out by the PWD in a letter dated July 20, 2022 .
Since the orientation of the Revdi model is only to garner votes and not make any substantial or transformational change, it places more emphasis on publicity or vigyapan and less on vyavastha or systemic change. Evidence of this can be seen in the Kejriwal government loan scheme where only two students were eligible for a loan out of the 89 who applied in the year 2021-22 but a sum of Rs 19 crores had been spent on advertising. Welfare economics can transform and improve the lives of those most in need, while Revdi-nomics only weighs on the taxpayer while earning some short-term political points for its boss.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
END OF ARTICLE