By our Mumbai correspondent
A group of students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay) have expressed deep concern over the government abdicating its responsibility of providing good quality education to all youth in our country. On the occasion of IIT Bombay Convocation, they issued a statement raising many questions to the government. The focal point of the statement highlights the low priority the Indian government gives to education.
Student at IIT Bombay holding an earlier protest in 2017
(photo source: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/maharashtra-iit-b-students-protest-against-hindutva-vigilantism-4683561/)
The low priority on education is reflected in the extremely low expenditure the government makes on education. According to a report in the Economic and Political weekly, the government spending on education has been coming down steadily over the years. At present, it has come down to 3.7 percent of GDP, which is less than 0.5 percent of the budget. With such low expenditure on education, the students questioned if the government really believed in education for all or only for a few from the more privileged classes.
The youth in our country constitutes a larger fraction of the population compared with most other countries in the world. This demography should have prompted the government to significantly increase the allocation for education. However, one after the other, governments have actually been decreasing the allocation on education. Schools run by local and state governments are being closed down under various pretexts. Primary schools in rural areas are being closed down making it much harder for students, specially girl students, to be able to go to school. On the higher education front, government has announced that it will dissolve the University Grants Commission and replace it with a Higher Education Council. It is a step that is widely seen to be in the direction of opening up space for private educational institutions.
The students of IIT Bombay have also expressed concern over injustices facing our people. They have asked what justice there is in deciding citizenship on the basis of people’s religious identities. They have condemned lynching and other attacks on different communities. They have expressed concern over the fact that people are getting harassed and even killed for their religion, occupation or eating habit and the murderers are getting impunity from the state.
In the context of criminalisation of dissent and politics of vengeance, the students had decided to bring out their statement anonymously.