Political Obsession Kills Serious Issues

Himanshu Shekhar

It seems that Indian media and Indian society is obsessed of politics. Media are full of political news and each and every one can easily see political debates in the society. Most of the news and debates are based on political drama.

After the result of General elections, most of the mainstream political parties are indulged in their internal conflict. No doubt, BJP is leading the chart. Self claimed party with a difference, BJP is facing leadership crisis.

We have seen the expulsion of Jaswant Singh and marginalization of Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha. Everything is not well in Left front. We have witnessed the political drama for the power of Andhra Pradesh after the death of YS Rajshekhar Reddy and congress leadership is divided on this issue. All these political drama starts with a bang and ends with a whimper.

Media and Society are giving excessive importance to these dramatic political issues but they are ignoring some basic issues, which are more important. In fact, political obsession is limiting the scope of serious debates on very serious issues. Roti, Kapada aur Makan have been considered as basic needs of human life. In modern context, education must be added to this. A couple of weeks ago, Right to Education got final seal from President of India Pratibha Patil.

Now, getting education is a fundamental right of each and every children of age group of 6 years to 14 years. It sounds very positive but there are so many loopholes in this and not a single political party is speaking a single word on this important issue.

First of all, we should think on the loopholes of Right to Education. Government is projecting this as a major achievement of UPA. Policy makers are putting it along with NREGA and RTI. Everybody knows the ground reality of NREGA and RTI. Government is saying after Right to Education, each and every child in the age group of 6 to 14 will get education. According to government estimates, there are 200 million children of India who are in this age group. It’s not a small number. Question is why government has limited right to education to this age group?

India is a signatory of UN Child Rights Convention. As a signatory of this convention India has accepted the international definition of a child. According to this definition each and every one up to the age of 18 is a child. Then why the reach of right to education is restricted to those children who are in age group of 6 to 14? Excluding those children who are in age group of 0-6 years and 14-18 years is violation of their rights. It shows the double standard of government.

On international forums government is accepting international standards but on domestic front government is behaving in a different manner. This can not be justified by any means but there is no discussion on this issue. Neither a single political party has raised this issue and nor the so called mainstream media has raised any question. All children of age group 0-18 years must be covered through right to education.

According to this act, all children of age group 6-14 must be educated in their nearby schools. How will it happen, there is no clarity on this question. This is not clear that, how the execution of right to education will be monitored. There is no accountability. This is raising some serious questions on policy makers. Ruling political alliance UPA is projecting this as their great achievement but is it true? Lack of accountability is telling complete story.

If this act is executed successfully then the problem of child labour can be solved at a larger extent. According to Right to Education Act, all children of 6-14 years must be in schools. It means, there will be no child labour of this age group. But, this Act is silent on what a child of this age group should do before and after the school hours. If government is serious about child labour then there must be clarity on this front. It’s not clear in this Act, which person or agency will be legally responsible if a child of this age group is working and he or she is not in school.

There is no clarity on quantum of punishment in case of violation of any of its provisions. In this Act there is a provision that admission can not be denied for the lack of birth certificate, transfer certificate or for seeking admission after the session started. But is it possible at ground level? If there is no clarity on accountability and punishment, then how it will take place at ground level. Who is going to monitor this? This act is silent on all these questions. All of us are aware of the behavior of school authorities.

Right to Education comes from Article 21A. For making education a fundamental right, Article 21A was amended in 2002. According to this, the state shall provide ‘free’ education. The term ‘free’ is interpreted as non payment of school fee of a child by their parents. But everyone knows that apart from school fee there are other educational expenditures too.

Poor and socially deprived section of society is unable to meet the other expenses. So, their children are forced to not participate in education. There is no arrangement for other expenses in right to education. It means, this is more or less near to impossible to see all the children of 6-14 years in school.

A major problem of our education system is lack of quality teachers. There are serious problems with teacher training system and if the government really wants to improve the standard of education then this system must be overhauled. Teachers of government schools are teaching in a very boring way because they don’t have proper training of teaching techniques. But there is no required emphasis on teachers’ training in right to education.

Making a law is not a big task for politicians. They love to do so but they hate the proper execution of these laws because this is not in their political interest. Politicians love to use these self claimed achievements to fulfill their political dreams. This is the responsibility of the media and the society to check these things and ask questions if the Government is not working properly. Unfortunately they are indulged in never ending political debates. This attitude is killing the scope of desirable changes.

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