People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 04, 2007
Allocations Insufficient To Meet The Needs: SFI
THE central executive committee of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) strongly feels that the increased expenditure for education is not at all enough to meet the needs of the sector. We welcome the additional 1 per cent cess to fund secondary and higher education. The allotment for education in this year’s budget is only 4.75 per cent of the total budgetary allocations. This is much below the demanded 10 per cent and falls woefully short of the UPA’s promise of 6 per cent allocation of GDP. Many expert committees have said that the government has to spend at least Rs 2,18,151 crore this year and this amount should progressively increase to reach the target of spending 6 per cent of the GDP on education by 2010. The government failed to live up to these recommendations.
Another sad part is that the government is failing to spend even the allotted money to the respective sectors in spite of pressing needs for increased spending. In the revised estimates of the 2004-05, the first budget of the UPA , it was announced with much fanfare that allocations for elementary education are increased to Rs 8004.58 crore. The government according to the budget statistics spent Rs 7943.34 crore only. Even in 2005-06 the government was able to spend only Rs 11,984.11 crore while the allocated amount was Rs 12,536.33 crore. The failure to spend the allocated amount shows the lack of political will of the government.
The allocation for community polytechnics started during the year 1978-79, has come down. This scheme aims at providing short-term skill development training to the school dropouts, minorities, women, SC/STs and other disadvantaged sections of the society to enhance their societal status by securing wage/self employment. Reducing allocations to such an important scheme thus casts doubts about the seriousness of the government to translate all its talk of social justice into reality.
The government has pledged to improve the socio-economic conditions of the minority community after the Sachar Committee report was tabled. This did not get a suitable reflection in the budget. There was no minority sub-plan as was demanded for the welfare of the minorities. Nor was there any special provision to improve their educational backwardness.
The move to upgrade the ITI s would have been appreciated if the government had taken the entire responsibility for the same. The finance minister has mentioned that the 1,396 ITIs would be upgraded by public-private partnership, another name for privatisation. The experience of the upgradation of the 100 ITIs in the previous two years budgets points to this fact. The entire academic community has protested this backdoor privatisation of the ITIs but the government chose to ignore this. It seems that the government is keen to satisfy the dictates of the World Bank than listen and cater to peoples’ aspirations.
The UPA government has let go another opportunity to address the real concerns of the common people it so fondly talks about at every given opportunity. The failure to tax the rich and mobilise resources for the social sectors is the important lacuna of this budget. This is reflected in the insufficient allocations to education. The allocations made to education in this budget will help us reach neither the Millennium Development Goals nor fulfill the constitutional obligation of ensuring right to education, leave alone becoming a knowledge society.