India and compulsory schooling: how to support education
India and compulsory schooling: how to support education
In India compulsory schooling has only been considered a priority in the past 7-8 years. It is not just a question of infrastructure. Recruitment systems for teachers, career paths and even school inspections are strongly influenced by trade unions and politics, whereas incentives to improve the quality of education are limited and those in favour of innovation even more so. What can be done to improve incentives?
is the title is indicative so research and indian economy and challenges of universal basic education so the resurgence of education and the challenges of education this is a very special topic my name is antonella rampino i am a journalist of la stampe i'd like to make some introductory comments in italy's public discourse we face the question of the euro crisis so in the recent financial crisis the world economy is led by two countries china and india because these two countries are growing at a rate of seven nine percent and they actually drive the world economy well india is different from china and the topic of education is critical in also in the birth of indian democracy india is a parliamentary democracy their constitution was drafted in 1949 more or less at the same time as ours and indian democracy had two leaders gandhi whom we all know a very much loved leader in italy pandit nehru who was the institutional architect of india and tagore a poet but tagore was the moral and cultural leader of india right because he put at the center of his work education in one of his significant texts explained that education is freedom of thought and that freedom of thought can be achieved only by means of freedom and freedom has its risks and responsibilities as is the case with life tagore like gandhi thought about a school enabling indians to become citizens and enabling citizens indian citizens to be citizens of the world it's a very pluralistic approach an open-minded approacher which is also a integral part of the indian culture now india has developed technological skills the famous indian engineers although neglecting a little the development of human sciences and then india based on a 2008 data well india is a continent not a nation has a 1. 250 million citizens 1 billion 250 million citizens and 60 of them have a basic education so 60 percent of indians have gone to primary school and 40 percent of the indians are poor so these data are very impressive and amartya sen another indian economist has demonstrated that it is not well though which brings about education but it is education which brings about wealth in a country now after this simple introduction i'll read the part of the curriculum of issue judge allu walia who is a classical economist and she will tell us the policies for education in india starting from basic education issue aloe valia has published many texts on economic growth but she's not published in italian yet she is a major economist she has been the aid of many indian government governments helping to draft many indian policies and she's at the end of the indian council on research of international economic relations she went to the calcutta university she is specialized in delhi and she has a phd in mit boston she also had a post in usa universities she collaborated with many international organizations and she's the head of many research institutes university institutes planning initiatives and so on and so forth such as really the grey eminence of indian politics so to speak although gray is not a color which fits her because she's indeed a very passionate person so we give the floor to isha judge aloe valian sorry for interrupting you she was also rewarded by sonia gandhi patan bhushan if i pronounce it correctly which is an honor in indian honor thank you thank you professor rampino and friends a very good morning may i start with an unusual request may i request you who are sitting on the other side to come within my eye contact thank you very much because there is a language barrier let there at least be eye contact as i speak um i am delighted to be here thank you at the festival of economics last evening i went around a little bit and saw the atmosphere and i made a determination that i am personally going to start a campaign so that in india we have a festival of economics where we get our lecturers from all the distant universities to come together at one place we bring some friends from outside as you have done and just have a dialogue with those who are teaching our students on where the world is at so i'm really happy to be here of course we cannot do it in such beautiful surroundings as you do but i am sure we will find some historic site because that is one thing india and italy have in common we appreciate our history we don't reject our history and we don't believe that you can bring overnight changes in society this is very important to know when before i talk to you about the subject that has been assigned to me i have distributed some slides but i propose to speak and draw your attention to a slide every now and then now i will be speaking to you about the resurgent indian economy and the challenges of universal basic education you have to understand the context of resurgence of growth of economic dynamism in india to appreciate why and how we need to fix the base of the pyramid and strengthen our basic education system the indian growth story is much talked about across the world today i believe it is much misunderstood and too often compared with china without recognizing the differences between our society and the chinese society india is a free society it is a diverse society and we function within a federal democratic framework where today you have a coalition of political parties headed by the congress party ruling at the center the government of india and a number of other political parties including some national opposition parties like bjp and some regional parties ruling in the different states and then we have a third tier of government which is our urban local bodies and our rural panchayats so you can well imagine with elections at all these levels we are basically a very vibrant democracy in which civil society plays a very important role the media plays a very important role for a long time we had mostly the government media but now it has been more than 20 years that we have private media we have liberalized both in the print media and in the electronic media so that is the environment in which the government has to function to deliver and to be accountable however what has caught the world's attention in spite of the fact that we have been a democracy for so long what has caught the world's attention on india in the last 20 years is the fact that now for close to two decades india has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world so i will now turn to slide a point one that you have uh do we also have it on the computer over there yeah it would be nice if we can put that slide because i'm going to be talking to that slide for some time uh the slide which says but i don't know how to operate maria do you think you can operate this to bring my slide on the i don't know how to operate your computer if somebody can put that slide yeah this is it this one okay okay okay here we are this has to go you have to all right it's okay so now i want to make a few points as you look at that slide you will see that the first bar shows you the period from 1950 to 1980. the first three decades after independence india got its independence in 1947. for the first three decades our gdp growth was three and a half percent per year this was a period of slow growth we had an economy which was closed to foreign competition we had a highly regulated economy we had a heavily protected economy as i said from imports and foreign competition we had an economy which was dominated by the public sector now in the 1980s for the first time india realized that our industrial and trade policy regime was not delivering the high growth rate that the planners had wanted so in the 1980s we started a process of domestic deregulation less heavy control of the state in economic activity although public sector remained very important and the economy also remained closed to foreign competition however even with the limited and hesitant steps towards market orientation we found that the growth rate in the 1980s increased to five and a half percent per year but 1980s was also a period of fiscal profligacy where our government government of india particularly increased its spending much more than its revenues would allow some economists were warning that your growth rate is increasing but if you continue with this fiscal profligacy you will have a macro economic crisis as it turned out the gulf war came in 1990 and brought with it a balance of payments crisis for the indian economy when you put together the increasing fiscal deficit over the decade of the 1980s with the consequences of the gulf war india had a balance of payments crisis so much that our foreign exchange reserves were reduced to less than one billion dollars and this forced the government to go for macro economic stabilization this was also a time for a new government a new government had just been elected our current prime minister dr manmohan singh was brought in as the finance minister he was a technocrat but he was assigned the job of fixing the economy because he was a technocrat because he had seen where the levers were to get the growth rate going he seized the opportunity both to have macroeconomic stabilization and to open up the economy to more imports more foreign direct investment and also to press ahead with more domestic deregulation so the idea was to unleash the animal spirits and get the private sector to generate more economic activity in the economy now as it turned out in the 1990s the private sector was slow to respond because they were waiting and watching whether this policy will stay or it would be reversed now that democratically elected government led by the congress party in 1991 which started economic reforms was actually moved out in 96 a new government came in but when the new government came they could also feel the compulsion of moving down the reform path so we had three governments between 96 and 2001 different permutations and combinations but each of those governments followed the same path that had been laid down by the congress party in 1991. actually when the congress party opened up the economy and opened up the system within the economy the main opposition party bjp was very angry because they said this mess had been has been created by the congress party over the previous 30 years because they were socialist in their orientation and now they have stolen our agenda and they call themselves reformers but the good thing for the people of india was that bjp did not go back and then when they were thrown out and congress came back after three elections by 2001 you had bjp government for five years in 2004 in a very unexpected development congress came back heading a coalition of political parties and sonya gandhi who is an indian of italian origin led the party to that victory and this time the congress was not going to make the mistakes that had been made in the earlier period and i will tell you that brings me to the topic of today's discussion in the as i said private sector had been waiting and watching private sector only started putting their money where their mouth was in 2001 2002 after watching for 10 years that reforms were there to stay globalization was on their doorstep they had either to become globally competitive or sink and you will see that in the next slide can we move to the next slide you see the trends in investment and you see that up to if you look from 1991 to 2000 2001 these are fiscal years from april to march private investment is increasing very slowly after 2001 2002 private sector had organized themselves to get on board and what you see as eight to nine percent growth of recent period is driven by the private sector second phenomenon that in the 1990s the state governments of india felt that reforms was some crazy idea of the center and for them life was going to go on as usual but then they discovered at their own cost that there was no big brother the center did not have finances to bail them out and in the second half of the 1990s the state governments started their own reforms creating environment to attract private investment pushing the development agenda and you see this private sector led growth in the period from 2001. um there is one factor that i must point out that during 1980s and 1990s in india all the policy attention was focused on coming out of slow growth of the previous three decades and this slow growth was the result of our own policies we had to disentangle our policies get out of the way a little bit create proper regulatory frameworks so that we can generate higher growth there was not so much discussion of education health social sector issues to the extent that we talked that we had a social agenda it was poverty alleviation and poverty was very narrowly defined according to an official line which showed uh calorie content of food and but before i go on further let us go to the next slide i want to point out to you that in slide a three next one yeah along with investment private savings also increased during this period after 2001 2002 and public savings also improved uh now can we go to the next slide please thank you no no the next one the other way yeah now as i said during 1980s and 1990s our social agenda was poverty alleviation all the attention was focused on counting the number of poor and then seeing which kind of direct poverty alleviation program could work to remove poverty but if you see in the numbers in the first two periods you see poverty is around 50 percent it is only when we started moving on the growth rate front that the number of people the percentage of people below poverty line began to decline by 2004 five they were down to 28 now as we moved on to the growth rate of five and a half percent in the 80s and 90s and eight and a half in the last decade we have now developed the understanding that in order to reduce poverty you have to have sustained high growth rate and second that poverty we have acquired the self-confidence to say that poverty is not just about calories poverty has to include elements of basic education and basic health so very recently in a few months ago government of india has come up with a new index of poverty according to which they say that 37 of indians are poor because they do not have basic education and basic health it is not all about feeding people it is about endowing them with basic human resource ingredients and this is why now i come back to what i said were the lessons learned by the congress party in the after independence for 30 years we were focusing on heavy industries you know grandeur of growth trying to make distribution equal income distribution equal trying to remove poverty but not addressing all aspects of social development then came the economic reforms then we were so much engaged in pulling up our growth rate that again we neglected the social sectors when in 96 we had the first change of political party the first reformers were sent back bjp and some other united front came to power they also focused on growth rate only but by that time indian people had woken up and they said bjp had a slogan in their election saying india shining with eight percent growth and indian people said shining for whom it's not shining in my backyard so i don't have better employment prospects i don't have education facilities you're not giving me better health care why should i say india is shining so congress party at that time in 2004 went to the electorate saying yes we want growth but we want inclusive growth we want more and more participation by all in this growth process and to their own surprise they were elected to power to head a coalition government it was at that time that mrs sonia gandhi decided that she would bring dr manmohan singh to the post of prime minister because economy was very important and she will handle the political party so she is head of the congress party and then you we have a technocrat who is heading the government and now it that went on for five years during the first five years of the upa government which is a coalition headed by the congress party the agenda was explicitly inclusive growth basic education basic health and infrastructure development now let me take you to the next slide um yes the i.t story we cannot talk about the importance of education in india without bringing in the i.t story where did it come from and how did india come on the global stage with it in the 1990s to some extent even in the 1980s while the government of india was looking to promote exports of pharmaceuticals auto components all the other manufacturing items quietly in the south in karnataka there was an industry coming up to cater to the i.t demand of this silicon valley a number of indians had migrated to the silicon valley because they found that the environment in india was not good enough for business and they use their innovative powers to help push the i.t boom in the united states economy and then they started connecting back with their roots in the state of karnataka in the city of bangalore and they will outsource work and you had this synergy developing between the non-resident indians and the i.t industry in karnatak so much so that by 2001 2002 they were actually engaging with a dialogue with the government of india saying do some economic reforms so the i.t industry in india can flourish and indeed on the strength of this connection these reforms and one very important point that it needs very little infrastructure it needs broadband and it needs captive electricity unit if you have those two things you are connected to the world therefore india's poor infrastructure of transport ports shipping civil aviation electricity did not affect i.t because they were a satellite connected to the western world so if you look at this i.t seizing global opportunity be one yeah first sector to respond to opportunities presented by economic reforms of the 1990s infrastructure was not a bottleneck for them they were globally competitive today 65 of the global market in offshore i.t services and 46 in it-enabled services is with india i.t and business process outsourcing accounts for 26 of india's exports of goods and services today of course as the infrastructure is coming up we have other sectors in manufacturing like pharmaceuticals again a high knowledge intensive sector or auto components that are doing very well another very important factor which is not listed here but very important for the success of it is the strong push for the telecom sector in india in fact if there is one single symbol of reform the outcome that an average indian can see it is the mobile telephone and connectivity i always tell this story that today my vegetable vendor and i both have a mobile telephone because telephone was regarded as a luxury before they opened it up to the private sector we used to pay we had very high charges for telephone calls therefore when the government opened it to the private sector private sector was willing to come because there were a lot of profit there and they gave a tough time to the public sector monopoly why could we not do the same thing in electricity because electricity was regarded as a basic necessity therefore you could not charge for it the result is that neither i nor my vegetable vendor has good quality electricity even today because prices are suppressed and even though this sector is opened up for private entry private investment is not interested finally after a great deal of effort government has now set up independent regulators who are setting the price of electricity and the distribution of electricity is also privatized so now private companies are coming in the situation is better today when people look at the telecom example they are also willing to wait and pay higher prices because they know they will get better quality electricity as a result but the next slide the b2 yeah this is uh another very important development that has taken place it was a separate enclave connecting with the world but it was not doing very much within the indian economy earlier on in the last four five years a major change has been that the i.t industry in india is servicing domestic demand because indian manufacturing indian financial services are feeling the pressure of global competition and as they have to improve their bottom lines they are using i.t to improve their processes so that has been a major change and the nature of i.t services is changing from deployment and maintenance related services to more integration and consulting related services so this is a very very significant development with its implications for productivity in the indian i.t sector now we in india used to pride ourselves with uh high skills a great number of engineers and that you know we are we've done very well at the higher end of education to some extent it is true that within our system of education we paid less attention to basic education and more to higher education but what has now come out is that all that was good for five to six percent gdp growth the moment you transited to 9 to 10 gdp growth industry was screaming skill shortages at every level vocational level scientist level r d level i t level there just aren't enough people to service india's economy at eight to ten percent growth can we move to the so the focus on human resource development has emerged out of this realization that we need to do more at every level of our education sector but particularly at the base of the pyramid because that is what is going to give us increasing supply of higher more educated people more engineers more vocational skills and interestingly more emphasis has been placed on inclusive growth in the past six years than in the preceding 60 that's the the change that you see with respect to education in india and health education poverty alleviation are at the center stage use of i.t is being attempted to improve governance now it's beginning to be attempted i should say some states are doing extremely well but there are many states that are still lagging behind one thing you will find about india is that everything that is true and very nice for that you will find something else somewhere else which is ugly and not very nice because we are not a centrally directed society or economy it is with example with demonstration effect that things happen things take a long time it takes a long time to evolve a consensus but because we are a democracy because we are a vibrant society because we are one billion argumentative indians there is no other way we have to have a million negotiations in order to come to a decision and then move forward the good side of it is that once we move then that move is durable and sustainable and backed up with a democratic acceptance you know off of that right so uh let's i want to make one other point here about the health education in in c1 c1 the yeah the uh you know i'm just coming from london uh where i was part of the jury to select the best bank best sustainable bank of the year which is serving people at the base of the pyramid and i'm very happy to say that the institution that got this award is an institution called finno in india which is using it using biometric techniques to take transfers of remittances transfers of government you know money to the poor in the rural areas through bank correspondence and they are adding 1 million customers every month to this thing they are a four-year-old company and when i looked at their record i felt proud as an indian and that tells me that there is enormous scope for improving the governance of public delivery of goods maybe in the years that we in the in the years to come we will have more and more subsidy to the poor in the form of cash transfers and through ite if cash can be delivered to their hands that is better than it's leaking through the system when they get food subsidy or fertilizer subsidy or other things yes now why is education so important because we are a very young society and we are at a sweet spot in our demographic transition whereas countries like china will be seeing a decline in their percentage of working age population beyond the the period that you see here 2030 india will still be seeing an increase in the youth in the in the age group from 15 to 64 in its working population we normally describe this as demographic dividend but the truth is that if we don't get our educational system right if we don't get our health system right this demographic dividend could become a demographic disaster and hence the importance of education so we go to c3 the next slide the government is at the uh the you look at the lower bullet at one end they are setting up a whole range of new universities new centers of excellence new institutes of technology new institutes of management to cater to the growing needs of industry and services of the economy on the other hand they are also going in for expanding the infrastructure for vocational skills the national skill development initiative is explicitly directed at promoting vocational skills can we go now as you can see india today spends much less as percent of gdp on education than other comparable developing countries our ambition is to raise this to six percent within the next five years but spending alone is not enough systems of delivery have to be improved so that this spending is actually effective now at the very base of the pyramid commitment to universal primary education at long last this should have happened in 1950 but in 1950 our constitution only gave us a directive principle that each child should be educated it was not a fundamental right now what the constitution has done is it has made this right to education right to basic education a fundamental right of every child so if in any part of india a child is not in school the parents are accountable the state is accountable the server shaksha abhyan is a campaign for universal primary education which was started in 2000 by the government of india and the right to education act in 2009 has formalized it that this is a commitment this is an obligation of the state that this should be so just to give you an idea of where we are in terms of literacy rate today very low and can we go to the next slide the adult literacy rate again is 66 percent in india compared to the other countries adult literacy which is much much higher we have to fix that so now i turn to what are the challenges that we face in delivering this basic education first of all under our constitution education and health are on the concurrent list which means the government of india and the state government have a joint responsibility for delivering education but the constitution also says that the responsibility for implementing this is totally with the state government so that is the context in which we have to deliver education now we need to devolve power to the second and third tier of government but sarvasik shah abhiyan is a centrally sponsored scheme from the government of india which gives money to the state governments and says you have to spend this money in doing x y zed to improve education in your state government also the states have to put 20 to 30 percent of the money so if the state government does not have money it cannot use the center's money and the problems with the server shaksha abhyan are that it is focusing too much on physical infrastructure do you have boundary walls in your school do you have a separate toilet for girls do you have women teachers where there are girls but it is not focusing on outcomes and because it is not focusing on outcomes it is bypassing why it is that even when you have good infrastructure you are not getting good outcomes that has to do with the system of delivery which i will come to but this last point there there is the previous slide please the inadequate focus d4 d4 d4 please inadequate focus on teachers training teaching equipment research evaluation monitoring supervision this all of this only gets less than 10 percent of the funds of ssa and i think this has to change because as i will show you the problem is in this area and not only in the area of physical infrastructure for the last five years i have been studying the economy of punjab one of the richest states of the indian economy and i have been looking at their primary education system and what i find is that punjab is among the top three in terms of physical infrastructure index for primary schools but when it comes to outcomes it is way at the bottom as you will see from this chart d5 you have punjab somewhere down the line where it shows you that 35.7 of class 5 students cannot read a level 2 text now this was a survey that was done by asar a very highly respected ngo called pratham had done this across the different states and this highlights the point that i am making that physical infrastructure is not enough if we go to the next slide you find after the ngo did the survey an official body of the government of india did the same survey and the same results come out which really showed that both in language and in mathematics the the percentage marks attained are very very low we come to the explanations for poor learning outcomes one study by a group of academics based at harvard led by professor kremer had done inter-country survey of teacher absenteeism in primary schools and they found that in india 25 of teachers were absent during unannounced visits to government schools and another survey in india had also shown that the absenteeism was much higher than in other countries so what are the factors behind teacher absenteeism teachers are hired at the state level and the states of india are almost as large as a typical european country so you have this quarter of teachers at the state level posted in distant corners then you have strong trade unions enforcing job security high political influence in appointments promotions and transfers so if i am a teacher i have no interest in being posted in gurdaspur which is the remote district of punjab but the vacancy happens to be only in gurdaspur i will use my political clout to be appointed to the school in gurdaspur and then i will use my cloud to be transferred to teach in ludhyana or patiala which are the central places as a result when you visit typically these remote villages and towns you find either there are no teachers or there are teachers who subcontract their job because government jobs pay ten times as much as what teachers are paid in private schools so if the government is going to pay me 15 000 rupees i get the job i hire some junior person to teach for 5000 rupees i pocket 10 000 rupees and live happily in the center of the state so and there is no system virtually no system of supervision and there are no regulatory institutions and standards with that kind of system spending money only on physical infrastructure is not going to deliver outcomes you have to fix your delivery mechanisms now some people say why don't you let market function now in the state of punjab which is a rich state indeed the government the state government allowed the market to function so you have even in the villages you have private schools because people have money they want to pay today there is this realization that my child can also be an i.t innovator so i want my child to go to school learn computers even in the rural areas of punjab people are willing to pay they want their children to learn english so they send them to private schools and these private schools are unrecognized the reason they don't want to recognize is because then the government inspectors will only want more money they will create problems for them to function so they take teachers with higher academic qualification what you see here is based on a survey done by an ngo higher academic qualification they are paid much less than government teachers there are less students per teacher in a private school than in a government school there are more female teachers encouraging parents to send girl child to school and as i said there are more english medium schools however this market response cannot take care of the underlying problems but before i come to that let me just point out the major features of the right to education act every child from age 6 to 14 shall have right to free and compulsory elementary education and some of these other things you know which are which are there but let us move to the next slide what are the problems with can i go to the next slide the again the right to education focuses more on inputs than on outcomes and it wants all schools all private schools to get recognized that will only create more corruption and also it does not address how to reform the government schools so what are the challenges in universalizing basic education physical infrastructure takes you only so far private sector also takes you halfway public private partnership is a possible way forward but you need special focus on the poor and therefore on gov on reform of government schools main point is the institutions for delivery of education have to improve governance reform is crucial we need to introduce innovation in the use of i.t in the use of digital equalizer in schools now what i find is that aspirations in a fast growing economy aspirations in a democracy are rising and i.t performance further raises people's ambition there is strong demand for education at every level civil society and ngos are highlighting the flaws in the system they have generated an environment in which the state has to respond irrespective of which party political party they represent today people are demanding better basic education better basic health better vocational skills and with growing urbanization india is very under urbanized today but if we are going to have eight to ten percent growth in the years to come and i would like to take you back to slide one i want to show you something in the very first slide a point one now that's that's where i would like to end you see the right hand side gives you the growth in recent years last 10 years indian economy grew at 7.2 percent per year last 7 years 7.8 per year five years prior to the meltdown 8.9 per year and even after the meltdown global financial crisis in the last two years the growth has been on average seven percent and this growth of the past two years this resilience of the indian economy is based on the fact that indian economy is even today to a much larger extent driven by domestic demand rather than exports so when external markets were collapsing domestic uh demand was giving the resilience to the indian economy and our financial sector is relatively insulated so that we did not get as much shocks from the global crisis as many other economies did so in this kind of atmosphere where the economy is booming the democracy is flourishing the civil society is on the job pointing out all the flaws of the system all these things are working together to make india move forward now india will never look as good as it is because we hang our dirty linen for all to see whereas i think those who compare us with china do not realize that china is a closed society with an open mind we are an open society which is now opening its mind and its doors to foreign investment foreign goods foreign ideas and there is no doubt in my mind that with that as our basic uh bottom line that we will really see uh not only poverty abolished from india within a foreseeable future but that prosperity to be delivered to the people of india thank you yes thank you very much to professor judge for her report that has certainly has been very interesting i'd like to throw the floor open do you have questions now nobody apparently is raising their hands well apparently ladies first and then young students are going to be given a mic please wait for the mic before voicing your question can you hear the translation all right can you hear okay thanks school programs or curricula are certainly influenced by the parties uh and i know that bjp in 2001 has been introduced the revision of history books now has been as that as something being changed upon that i'd like to add something professor luwalia but we have very much the same controversy on a handbox where the very in here in italy because we've seen that the changes have been contributed to the handbooks of history so much so that now um the story can be actually uh seen differently indeed that the lady was referring also to changes that have been contributed by the right wing government and i know that the same thing basically happened in india in your slides you said that there are universities opening up in india as far as i know hidden students would go to london universities or to us universities mainly so do you think that the opening up of this new state university is going to be part of a general project for the development of india but do you think that this is also a way to get away basically from this dependency on the uk um and what is the influence that the colonialization from the uk had on india more questions from the floor i'd like to ask a question myself but actually no first somebody from the audience to what extent do you think it is important to know the hindi language i understand that the market basically use english but i understand that there's also a national language that has important repercussions because this brings with it the whole heritage of the country more questions again gentlemen well three questions here how much how much how much is the salary of teachers if compared to other professions or to other um so are they paid less than uh and how how much uh children do have to pay for private schools and what is the trade union stance on the reform no more questions so i'd like to voice my own question if i may professor the devolution of power to states from the central government has it worsened the situation because you know that in italy um there's some degree of uh empowerment to regional authorities obviously regions are much smaller than your states but regions have some power also in terms of governing schools i think that there are no questions so i believe that you can take your questions now and answer them if you may first of all thank you very much for the very good quality of questions i was told that the audience is shy and they may not ask questions i always judge my effectiveness by the questions that i arouse so you have really lived up to my expectations i didn't think you would be shy after all the things that i tell you you would want to question me and challenge me on some things but so thank you very much let me go in the back order the devolution of power to the states has it worsened the situation um you know actually we have never really had a non-devolution of power to the states what was happening before the economic reforms was that because the center tried to do central planning and it would put its resources in the states somehow the states you know would listen to what the center was saying and also became very laid back now after the reforms the states have actually realized that they have to attract investment they have to do development and because it is not the same party which is ruling at the center and the states there are a number of regional parties the states are actually democratically very active so i don't think i would say that situation has worsened it has led to more regional inequality so in that sense you know the more progressive states have been able to achieve more the laggard states are left behind but if you call that a deterioration to some extent yes but on the other hand in the earlier regime everybody was held back to the lowest common denominator now where we are having a problem with devolution is in devolving to the urban local bodies because currently i'm heading a committee on urban infrastructure to advise the government on what to do and what i find is that there is lack of capacity at the urban local bodies level and yet there is need for devolution because the needs of the urban poor the needs of the urban citizen for basic water and sanitation will not be really dealt with from the center from the state government the state governments are not willing to put that kind of resources so now the center has found a way of even bypassing the state governments and they have started something called the national urban renewal scheme in which they are giving money directly to urban local bodies providing they put their house in order so this devolution thing at one level we cannot get away from it because we we are our constitution mandates that we have democratic elections at all levels it does create some problems uh at some levels but not at the level of the state government now how much is the salary of teachers compared to others salary of government teachers is linked to the salaries of the government structures for a long time we had government servants being paid much less than the private sector but in the last eight to ten years the government salaries have increased through a couple of pay commission awards and as a result the government school teachers as i mentioned to you earlier are earning about seven to ten times what you you would pay a private school teacher for the primary teacher in a think tank where i am the board chair we are having serious problem retaining our uh researchers because university pays are now much above what we we could pay and they are teaching for nine months of the year in the university so we are feeling the pinch to match the salaries of university teachers today trade unions are very active very organized although a little dormant because there is a lot of criticism about outcomes this data that has been created by the surveys have put the teachers union on the defensive a little bit and in some of the left leftist government states they are still more in control but in some other states you know they are more on the defensive and since the market is won the even the left governments realize that unless they put their trade unions in check they will lose out you know i think that when you have a growing economy with growing employment opportunities trade unions cannot bully you as much as they can when you have a slow growing economy i think that is the transition that we are going through is it important to know hindi because markets use english you know as as you must know today there is wide consensus that a child if he or she can be taught three or four languages the child is richer in the years to come than just being taught one language i am a punjabi who grew up and studied in bengal in a hindi medium school where english was a second language so i grew up with hindi english and bengali in my school and punjabi taught at home because my parents thought i should be able to read the scriptures and i find having the knowledge of these four languages especially in a country like india which has so many languages there is at least half of india that i can cover where i can talk to people in every village and when i go to bangladesh i talk to people in bengali i met the central bank governor of bangladesh in london and we were talking in bengali when i go to pakistan i speak in punjabi i believe that and our system actually says national language for a few years in school english medium if you have english medium otherwise english as a second language that everybody does because the market wants that a regional language so typically kids are learning these three languages and i think that that is really very very wise and i support that now central universities are coming up in india and indian students earlier on could go out does this mean we can now get away from our dependency on uk and the us you know while universities are coming up and we also have many universities the truth is that our universities are not world class and because we are a free society and to the extent that the elite and those who you know are do very brilliantly and through a competitive process get into harvard or london school or oxford or cambridge i don't think that our system would put brakes on them not getting there but one very interesting thing has happened one is that many of these people who go abroad to study the young kids today are coming back to work in india and they are not coming back out of any great patriotic zeal but they are coming back because they say they believe that india is the happening place today and they want to be part of this change i mean i went to mit to get my phd in economics worked for five six years in the us and then came back in 1979 and that was very unusual in those days whoever went and had an american degree settled there and i was very happy to come back and i've had very good professional experience my children went to harvard and oxford both boys after their studies they've both come back and they're working and not working in the government they're working in the private sector and a lot of their friends are doing the same thing because what is more a lot of non-indians are coming back to work in india because they find that you know there's too much change happening and the youth always likes to be part of change part of innovation part of challenges it's i'm not making it sound as if everything is right no far from it but precisely because of that it's fun to be there because you can fix things now the history the division of history in our textbooks and the bjp government tried to change some of that yes that is very true now because education is a state subject in some of the state governments where they have put these new textbooks and where they are still in power it is not possible for others to go and remove those textbooks but what you do is you can challenge them through the private sector schools through the rest of india through sometimes public interest litigation in the courts that such and such textbook is inciting communal feelings which is against the constitution and all of these things are happening but that does not mean that all such books are out so we this is again our system puts in a lot of checks and balances but we have to live with some of this mess as we struggle through the system yeah thank you well i believe that we cannot but thank most warmly professor alovalia for her very interesting lecture for her very interesting and suggestive answers and i think that we can call it a day and close our meeting so as to enable uh the attendance to follow the other lectures that are going to start in the next half hour so i'd like to thank you all i'd like to thank professor haluwali again thank you