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regarding the ILP proposal
To reinforce the point on not seeking to increase the number of "rights"
in the Constitution, I quote:
"A right is worth fighting for only when it can be put into operation."
- Woodrow Wilson (speech in Chattanooga, Tennesse, Aug. 31, 1910)
quoted at p. 287 of "Power Quotes" by Daniel B.Baker (1992).
I see no practical way of operationalizing the right to literacy. It also
assumes that nature gave birth to us with a right to literacy. Freedom,
yes, but literacy? What natural right to literacy accrues to us as human
I educate my child not because of my child's "right" to education, but
because, as a parent, I know it is in both my child's and in my,
self-interest, to educate my child, if possible, at Harvard University.
More education means a better life for my child, and lesser burdens for me
as a parent.
Therefore, like many other things in life, one has to simply create the
environment where this self-interest can start to operate, rather than
making this huge "top-down" effort to "educate" people because it is their
Mr. Common Man in India is no fool. He has survived for millennia, and
will do so for another thousand millennia. The people observe that under
the current economic dispensation, the educated do no better, on the
average, in India, than the uneducated. To the contrary, the general
impression seems to be gaining ground that those who cheat (e.g., copy) in
exams (i.e., know less), and in life in general, do better.
There was a time, in 1990, when I wanted to quit my job to start a small
industry. After doing a survey for nearly one month, three things deterred
me: a) the fact that to get any loans/ entrepreneurial subsidies one had
to do so much paperwork and perhaps "negotiate" with corrupt government
functionaries, b) the fact that once a factory started, I would be
surrounded on all sides by a host of vulturish inspectors, and c) that
there was almost no supply of regular power (electricity) anyway. In other
words, people who work hard and try to use their education to produce
goods in India are being completely discriminated against at the moment,
while those who manage to "free-ride" on the back of corrupt officials can
get a ride to the moon.
To illustrate the latter, the only cases of "true" success among my
personal aquaintances that I know of in the last 20 years in the field of
business and industry in India are those who became 'contractors' for
government departments and made huge money from nothing (well, you know
how ...). Some of these persons are now contesting elections in India
under various political groups. These are people who did not produce
anything, nor were the brightest in their class, but who are being
rewarded in the current system by a) great wealth and b) great political
How can you provide any incentive to parents to motivate their children to
greater levels of education in India under such a situation? Education has
to count somewhere, first, before people want to give it to their
children. There have been enough cases where people have paid bribes to
members of Public Service Commissions to get recruited into state civil
services, even. There is clearly no need to educate a child well today.
Only a need to teach a child to be "practical."
Therefore, clearly, economic reform and unfettering the Indian economy
(including creation of ifrastructure like power) has to come first,
leading to massive job creation, before education per se gains any value
in India. A time has to come first, when the educated finally begin to do
better than the uneducated or ill-educated.
I know only of one right, as a just and fair human being, to demand that I
be paid commensurate with my ability to provide goods and services for the
people (which is clearly a function of my quality and quantity of
education). In the USA there is a very clear relationship between your
merit (as measured by SAT/GRE/GMAT scores), the insitution you gain
admittance to, and the pay that you get over your lifetime. Not so in
In fact the right to fair compensation is completely missing in India. We
find instead that people have the right to get paid commensurate with
their ability to cheat (not always ... Please remember, I am generalizing
here and I do not wish to cast aspersions on many great people today: we
have still so many honest people slogging away that their continued
existence itself is a miracle!).
I know that this simplistic economic way to look at education is not
enough, and that many people continue to value education for itself. But I
wanted to show that our focus has to be to change the environment today so
that the truly meritorious (meaning those who provide better and more
goods and services to society) do better and education regains its
economic value in the eyes of Mr. Common Man in India.