Since moving from the Movabletype platform to the WordPress platform, posts prior to the reform appear all misshapen and ugly. I am fixing then as time and mood permits. Recently worked on a post from over two years ago called India’s Wonderful Reforms. Nothing much appears to have changed.
I am told by many learned people that we are a country slow to reform because we are “democracy.” Why democracy implies slow reform is left unexplained by these learned folks, as if it is axiomatic and asking for reasons only betrays stupidity. Naturally, if indeed democracy were an impediment to growth and development, then the reasonable thing to do would be to suggest that democracy be discarded–at least till the moment that the majority of the people are not starving and illiterate. But this suggestion would be met with looks of sheer horror. What is it, one would like to ask these learned folks, that is so compelling about a system which condemns half the nation’s children to grow up malnourished and illiterate?
I suspect that these learned folks are just passing the buck by blaming democracy for the ills of this economy. They have a vested interest in not just passing the buck, but also not recommending the removal of the admitted cause (democracy) because they personally profit from perpetuation of this dysfunctional system (whether or not democracy is to blame). The “licence control permit quota control” raj is good for those who are in control of the licences, permits, and quotas. They erected the barriers so that they can act as gate-keepers and only allow those who were willing to pay the entry-price.
Education system reform, for instance, can be undertaken irrespective of whether we live in a totalitarian state or a democracy. What sort of reform does education require? The release of the fundamental choke-hold that the state has on the education sector. It is outdated, inefficient, ineffective, ridden with mindless regulations, costly and supply-constrained. No one except the tiny minority who currently dictate the rules would be against reform of the education sector. Yet, we carry on with our lives as if we are perfectly content with an education system which fails so miserably that by the age of 10, half of the children have dropped out of the system.
The required reform of the education system is possible whether or not we have a system in which an illiterate bunch of people vote for a corrupt bunch of politicians.
I should note in passing that there is a constituency of … how shall I put it diplomatically … idiots who believe that the internet and laptops will fix the educational system. You may call them graduates of “The Marie Antoinette School of Economics.” (Just for the record, it is reasonably certain that Marie Antoinette did not say what she is reputed to have said. But we will not tamper with a good story merely for the sake of accuracy.)
So when she was informed that the peasants had no bread to eat, she replied, “Well, let them eat cake.”
“Sir, our children are growing up illiterate.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, sir, the schools are strained for resources. Most of the million or so schools do not have even the basic of facilities related to education. Many don’t even have blackboards, leave alone furniture. Some schools don’t even have teachers regularly. Girls especially are deterred from attending schools because of lack of proper toilet facilities. We just don’t have the financial and institutional resources to provide for the hundreds of millions of children we need to educate. We don’t have the money to pay teachers who will actually teach, we don’t have blackboards, books, note books, etc.”
“I see. The solution is simple, isn’t it? Give them laptops connected to the Internet. Let them use IT since we are an IT superpower.”
Now on to solutions. I have pondered the matter of education on these pages (see education related posts). In the next couple of weeks I will outline a proposal which I would like to implement. I want to transform the way education is funded and provided. If I can sufficient people to “vote” for it, I am sure that even the learned folks will have to admit that since we are a “democracy,” the system will have to be implemented.