ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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State and Right to Education

State and Right to Education G Thimmaiah S P SATHE in his article on the Supreme Court judgment in the Mohini Jain vs Karnataka case [EPW, August 29] has analysed the implications of the judgment. In particular he has examined the socioeconomic implications of the questions whether the right to education is a fundamental right, whether capitation fee is violative of the right to equality and whether the state should provide education at all levels. While examining the question: "Must the state provide educational institutions at all levels?", he has failed to provide logical justification for state intervention in higher education. He has argued: "If primary education is required for enabling people to live with dignity and therefore must be made a fundamental right, higher education will provide competent manpower for performing various services for society. Society requires able administrators, efficient professionals like doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and lawyers, competent technologists and scientists and various social scientists and scholars of humanities who would maintain the high cultural level of social life. The money spent on higher education is a good investment in human development" (p 1848]. This textbook justification of state intervention in higher education creates more contusion than the Supreme Court judgment. State intervention does not necessarily ensure excellence in education as it has been borne out by the past 45 years of our experience. It can at the most provide opportunities for those who do not have means but possess eligibility to get the benefit of higher education. In a country which is short of investible resources, both at the central and state levels, it would be self-defeating if any government attempts to provide all levels of education to the people. Therefore, one has got to decide about the priority and this priority has been very clearly indicated by the Constitution. Without understanding the priorities set by the Constitutional provisions, if we ask the government to provide all levels of education, we will be left with the large majority of the people without elementary education. Sathe in an attempt to characterise capitation fee as a source of inequality in education, has forgotten that his justification for state intervention in higher education will be much more in- equitous in the Indian context. This needs some elaboration.

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