People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 13

April 05, 2009

 


AAM ADMI SUFFERS IN ‘HIGH-GROWTH’ INDIA



EDUCATION: CONGRESS-LED GOVT FAILS THE TEST
 

An important issue which featured in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections was rolling back the twin onslaught of communalization and commercialization of education which the BJP-led regime had unleashed on the people of this country.

 
Detoxification of Curriculum: While some measures for detoxification of NCERT textbooks were taken, the mandate to CABE could not be fully realised.
 

Budgetry Allocation : When the UPA took office the share of total expenditure by the States and Centre on education in GDP was 2.67% (2004-05). This figure increased to 3.08% in 2008-09, far from the CMP promise of 6 % allocation of GDP. In fact state governments account for a significant part of the increase.

 

Right To Education Bill : Thus the most required legislation for the right to education was virtually scarped by the Government. This was a grave injustice to the more than 380 million people denied literacy in the country.

 

Commercialization Of Education: While private sector institutions including the schools sector flourished, charging exorbitant fees, government failed to any social legislations.

 

Cuts in Allocation: The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan saw a decline in expenditure which went down from Rs 12,020.2 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 11,940 crore in 2008-09 and has been further decreased to Rs 11,933.9 in this year’s interim budget. A large number of teaching positions have not been filled up on a regular basis. Instead, of lakhs of casual teachers, like parateachers, are in place who get wages even less than the minimum wage.

 

HEALTH SECTOR: TRAIL OF BROKEN PROMISES

 


The slogan of Health for All, continues to be a mirage in India. Contrary to what was promised, the Congress-led government brazenly trod the path of neoliberal reforms and continued the trends that were set in motion in 1991. Today in India the health profile of our people has deteriorated.
 

NRHM: The early conception of the NRHM emphasized population control, and a few targeted interventions on child health. The CPI(M) championed the cause of a comprehensive and universal public health programme. The sustained pressure led to a reconceptualisation of the NRHM, with introduction of measures to strengthen public health infrastructure. However the NRHM continues to be plagued by problems of grossly inadequate funding and of measurers that promote privatization under the garb of “Public Private Partnerships” and introduction of “user fees”. The NRHM had envisaged expenditure of Rs. 55,000 crore per year by 2012 but for past 2-3 years it has stagnated at about Rs. 10,000-12,000 crore per year. ASHA, the community health worker in the scheme, receives an average allowance of 600 rupees. This is unjust and unsustainable.
 

Plummeting Financial Support To Public Health: The overall public expenditure on health has stagnated at 0.9 per cent of GDP, among the lowest in the world and ahead of only five countries—Burundi, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sudan, and Cambodia. This belies the CMP commitment that: “The UPA Government will raise public spending on health to at least 2-3 per cent of the GDP over the next five years, with focus on primary healthcare.”

 

Immunisation of Children: There has been very little improvement in coverage of children by vaccination in the last five years under the Universal Immunization Programme. 56 per cent of our children still do not receive all the vaccines listed in the national programme. The decision to close four vaccine producing units in the public sector, led to rampant shortages of vaccines and rising costs. Under pressure from the CPI(M), the Government gave an assurance that it would reverse this decision.