ByÂ Rachna Baruah:
Incredible is the country we live in and so are we. But what happens to be the consequences of the nation which suffers from illiteracy among the other crippling problems? India is in its relentless struggle to become the next major superpower by 2025 but yet we all ignore the most basic element to build the foundation of a superpower- Education. Education is that basic parameter used by most societies to calculate their and others’ level of growth and development in terms of modernization, urbanization, etc. Literacy gives an idea of the amount of development that has percolated in a society in terms of its citizens. It enables and enlightens individuals of their rights. It allows everybody to process and judge information around them and elevates their societies into a better one.
According to the Census 2001, as many as 560,687,797 people in the country are literate. Of these 336,533,716 are males and 224, 154,081 are females. While the overall literacy rate works out to be 64.8 %, the male literacy rate is 75.3% and that for females is 53.7%, showing a gap of 21.6 percentage points between the sexes at the national level. The gap is more in the rural areas. In the urban areas, higher literacy rate has been recorded both for males and females and the difference among the sexes is lower (13 percentage points). (Census 2001)
Literacy is a complex concept and its understanding is not as easy as it seems. There are various levels to understand the education which percolates to each segment and each age cluster of the society. And while we hold great intellectual debates and discussions pertaining to the educational sector and it’s lagging on a daily basis, we forget that ours is a democracy. Our democracy is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, for the people”. So following that, idealistically our beloved politicians should be the representatives of the common people. But in true sense, that is just a joke in today’s world. The people who rule this country seldom have common welfare and interests in their minds. They come, gather (gather-you-know-what) and leave. Where do our interests go then? I assume, down the drain. Every political party has a basic manifesto of their idea, visions and mission. A manifesto is a document which holds a party’s motives, goals and ideals and often they promise a bright future laden with a developed, enlightened society. But as each tenure ends, this manifesto is a mockery on the common man. Seldom are the promises fulfilled and even rarer it is to find the responsible ones to find and question them.
As every political manifesto bears different visions and promises, as a part of the unManifesto campaign we ask for a humble place for the most important foundational element in their manifestos. We ask for a well-structured 8% GDP in Education. According to the World Bank, India in 2009 sanctioned only a scarce 3.2% expenditure from its GDP into the education sector. And over a year it increased only by a 0.1%. India’s major problems are poverty, unemployment, overpopulation among the others and one of the culprits of these humongous parasitic problems is illiteracy in our nation. Illiteracy is slowing and steadily devouring the nation as it acts as a catalyst for the aforementioned problems. Though India has developed and grown in terms of its literacy rate, we still stand very backward in comparison to the world average of 84% and of all nations, Indian population stands out to be one of the largest as illiterates.
Ensuring at least 8% GDP in Education sector allows us to at least hope for a non-sluggish development in the sector of education. Be it teachers or students, we lag behind in the very basic levels. This percent allocation of public expenditure in the education sector ensures that we have enough government schools with adequate, educated teachers. While the school level is tackled, the infrastructure for higher education as college and research can grow exponentially too. While the promises of the major political parties have always been strong and high, their performance has been below average striking lower than mediocre performance.
Till now, Indian public expenditure has been channelled mainly into the defence sector but now that we focus to become a major developed and enlighten society, it is a must to allocate the needed resources on Education to ensure the optimum growth.