Monday, December 26, 2005

India: Constitution: Schools, Caste and Religion

The Supreme Court ruled in August, 2005 that the Government lacked the constitutional prerogative to enforce caste-based reservations or interfere in the fee structure of private unaided educational institutions. The Congress-led administration tabled legislation this month to circumvent this ruling. Parliament passed the 104th Amendment to the Constitution on December 22, 2005, allowing the Government to enforce caste-based reservations and influence the fee structure in private universities and schools. The Amendment exempts religious and linguistic minority schools from its purview. Article 30(1) of the Constitution had given such schools freedom to pursue their own policies. This discrepancy has adverse implications.

The scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes and the "backward" castes are Indians like any other citizen. The new legislation is an opportunity for hitherto marginalized caste groups to have improved access to education. The challenge, however, would be to limit the policy of reservations to a time-bound schedule.

The caveat exempting religious minority educational institutions from the purview of the 104th Amendment is disturbing. For one, it segments educational policy according to religious affiliation. Christian educational institutions had thrived in independent India given the freedom afforded to them by Article 30 (1) of India's constitution. This is in contrast to most Asian countries. Hindu schools are denied this autonomy. 8 in 10 Christians in India belong to the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and "backward" caste groups. And yet the student intake in Christian schools does not reflect this social dynamic. The predominantly upper-caste church hierarchy, the largely non-Dalit priesthood and the Christian denominational schools have not addressed Dalit interests. The network of church schools in the North East and Jharkhand are not bound to ensure reservations for scheduled tribe students either. This is clearly an injustice.

While the Nehruvian mandate safeguards religious minority schools from Government interference, it inadvertently leads to a policy of "separate but equal". The Government can dictate student admissions, fee structure and curriculum in Hindu denominational schools. It can not do so with regards to Christian and Muslim schools although many of these schools receive subsidized state grants. A policy of apartheid in the educational realm militates against the basic structure of the Indian constitution.

The only sustainable solution would be to ensure that all schools are subject to uniform policies of accreditation, caste inclusiveness and gender equity regardless of religious affiliation. The Government can start by reviewing the performance of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions. Failure to do so would lead to acrimonious referrals to the Supreme Court by irate petitioners. And the entire edifice of the 104th Amendment might then be over-turned.

22 comments:

Jaffna said...

Addenda: I suspect that a few private secular and Hindu denominational institutions would now endeavor to redefine themselves as linguistic minority institutions. For instance, a private Hindi-medium school in Punjab, a private Gujarati-medium school in Maharashtra and a private Sindhi-medium school any where else would qualify as a linguistic minority institution. Such institutions are also exempt from the 104th Amendment.

history_lover said...

Jaffna ,
Here in Uttar Pradesh the state government schools are steeped in hindi/hindu/hindustan ethos which is we muslims sometimes felt left out.

Anonymous said...

Sharpening Communal Faultlines
By Sandhya Jain
Organiser
25 December, 2005

A new communal faultline has been added to the body politic vide the 104th Constitution Amendment Bill which provides reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in unaided private educational institutions, including schools, but excludes minority institutions from its ambit.

The legislation is fraught with dangers for the homogeneity and integrity of Indian society as a whole, and should never have been passed in such haste. It bears noting that the Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition demanding inclusion of Dalit Christians among Scheduled Castes for reservation benefits. Dalit Muslims have also been making allegations of discrimination against their upper caste Muslim brethren.

Now, the UPA has successfully piloted the most communally divisive legislation the country has seen so far. It identifies institutions of the Hindu majority for divisive intrusion by SCs and STs, and perhaps later also OBCs, and privileges the money-spinning minority institutions.

World-wide, both Christianity and Islam have discriminated against low caste converts, reneging blithely on promises of social equality and economic upliftment. It is this, rather than active or passive discrimination by the secular Indian State, that has resulted in the poor educational status of their adherents. Various Christian denominations mint money by providing school, college and professional education to rich and middle class Hindu children; vigorously evangelize amongst the poor, but deny them true empowerment that comes from education. There can be simply no excuse for low literacy and poor educational opportunities for children of Christian converts, as the church as a whole is a major stakeholder in the education industry.

Islam has fewer elite educational institutions, but it is noteworthy that the Aligarh Muslim University has reserved the majority of its seats for Muslims on the basis of all-India merit competition, which is evidence of a desire to improve the lot of the community. A minority institution that does not dedicate itself to uplifting its own community does not deserve the status of a minority institution, and must be recognized instead as a minority-managed institution of profit.

There is no denying the political disquiet caused by the Bill, which resulted in massive abstentions from Parliament, despite most parties issuing whips to ensure the mandatory two-thirds majority (only 381 out of 522 Members were present). It is being realized across party lines that non-inclusion of minority institutions could prove counter-productive; Left parties have suggested that admissions and fees be monitored in these institutions. HRD Minister Arjun Singh however played to his minority constituency to the hilt, and promised further legislation to bring OBCs under the reservation umbrella.

Mr. Singh had no credible explanation for sneaking in the clause barring minority institutions from the purview of the Bill; however, the religious denomination of the UPA Chairperson is no secret. He spoke about the need to “protect minority rights under all circumstances.” But given the undeniable fact that most Christians and Muslims are converts from the SC and ST communities, the exclusion of minority institutions from the Bill is bad in law and bad in intent. It also gives the Church a virtual license to convert and abandon the converted, while running after fresh recruits. At the same time, the Hindu community is left with the responsibility of educating and caring for a group alienated from its civilizational moorings and nurturing feelings of separation from the majority community. This is truly Machiavellian.

The new legislation makes a mockery of the spirit of Article 15 of the Constitution by discriminating against the Hindu community on grounds of caste, in a manner that could place undue financial burden upon ordinary Hindu households. For instance, schools that have to admit students on the basis of caste rather than merit may also have to provide freeships to keep such students in school, if their families are unable to pay the fees. This will compel them to pass on the burden to ordinary middle class parents, who may already be finding it a struggle to see two children through school. This could have serious ramifications across the country, and is a perfect instance of sterile activism in the service of votebanks.

A far more worthy exercise would be for the State to direct education to specific segments of the population by investing in adequate educational facilities at school level. Just as freer and fairer elections were ensured by the Election Commission by placing ballot boxes closer to the villages and slums that were otherwise excluded from voting, so bringing schools closer to the underprivileged, irrespective of caste or creed, would ensure universal literacy in a non-divisive manner.

Realization of the larger implications of this legislation – intended to overturn a Supreme Court ruling on 12 August 2005 that unaided minority and non-minority institutions can admit students of their choice in medicine, engineering and other professional courses without government interference – has led 20 MPs, including two Ministers, to ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring minority institutions under its ambit as several premier minority institutions were either religious or linguistic minorities.

Mr. Manik Rao Gavit, Minister of State for Home and Mr. Panabaki Lakshmi, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, and Mr. R. Gavai, chairman of the Forum of SC/ST Parliamentarians, joined a delegation that presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister. They pointed out that denying deprived communities access to premier minority institutions would lead to crowding of non-minority institutions, and demanded that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament on HRD. This is a wise suggestion and Dr. Manmohan Singh would do well to reexamine the issue dispassionately.

Anonymous said...

1. Such a situation exists in most states in S.India. The poulation mix is such that SC/ST/OBC stdents are studying in most " Hindu' schools. Most of the Christian schools cater to Elite.
2.THis law will effect corporates and Foriegn players who are setting up institutions in India. But they can always use a proxy.
3. In the long run this law will unite Hindus as all sections of the Hindu population will be clubbed together.
4. This will weaken the case of Dalit Christians/Muslims seeking reservations , both in Jobs and in Education.
5. The immediate result is that Govts in South India will loose number of seats in Technical/ Medical colleges from the minorities colleges which earlier was distributed, mainly to SC/ST/OBC.
6. Congress will not gain anything as they have neither understood the raise of middle classs and the aspirations of SC/ST/OBCs

Primary Red said...

We're quite dissapointed that folks are making this a religious matter -- and using the issue, as the reliably outrageous Sandhya Jain does, to indulge in one more round of minority religion bashing.

This blog is not bigoted and, frankly, the tone of this discussion does not befit these pages.

The real issue here is forcing on private institutions -- that do not take Government aid -- admission criteria that, while likely noble in intent, further institutionalize caste-based stratification in India. This is, in our eyes, an abridgement of constitutinally guaranteed freedom of Indians and their private activities.

We do need mechanisms to ensure that robust educational opportuntiies are available to all Indians, but how this is to be done deserves a real debate -- rather than repeat of the failed reservation-based formulas of the past decades.

Let's please talk about this core issue -- rather than taking this opportunity to bash minority religions.

Incidentally, we are personally not supportive of Government-funded "religious educational institutions" -- even is these are related to minority faiths. Such institutions, if communities feel them necessary, should be funded with private Rupees. But, we are sure that minority-bashing is not the way to resolve this issue either.

Best regards.

cynical nerd said...

Nice post Jaffna and well-said PR. By bringing in bigotry, these individuals only serve to obscure the debate from the core issue.

Anonymous said...

PR, where's the minority bashing? There has to be a uniform policy on reservations. There can be no exception just because of the religious status of a school. Either Government has reservations in all private schools or in none. Gov't can not enforce it selectively. The HRD Minister by exempting minority educational institutions has communalized the private sector.

Jaffna said...

Primary Red,

Your comment on "minority religion bashing" got me thinking. The air is crisp where I am and I am on holiday leave - hence I have the leisure to ruminate on the second day of Kwanza.

No political issue is beyond investigation and comment. An ostrich like attitude does not help. There should be no censorship in the name of "political correctness". A frank discussion is warranted in issues of national importance. This said, I agree that one should not descend into bigotry and prejudice either.

The issue of admissions and fee structure in private unaided institutions as set forth in the 104th Amendment is very much about religion and politics. The ruling Congress-led administration deliberately chose to exclude religious minority universities and schools from the purview. And this is an assault on the concept of secularism for short term political advantage.

Let me begin by giving my view that India is hardly a secular model for the world. France, Japan, Singapore and the United States are better models. Here's why. India has different personal laws for its citizens based on their religion. An Indian woman has different property rights depending on which religion she was born into. Just ask Arundhati Roy's mother. India will now have different admission policies and fee structures for its schools solely contingent on the denominational identity of the schools. The 104th Amendment provides for this. The Indian Government designates members to temple and waqf boards. It manages their finances. It funds the administrative arrangements for the Kumbh Mela and travel on the Hadj pilgrimage. It supports religious schools through grant-in-aid programs. It fails to enforce the national consensus on affirmative action in religious minority schools. A truly secular state would act differently in each of these respects.

The Indian Government quite rightly reformed Hindu Personal Law in the 1950s. It failed to reform Muslim Personal Law. By contrast even Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan and Turkey had rescinded several provisions of the Shari'ah in the 1960s. For instance, none of them recognize the triple talaq divorce. Secular India does.

Let us return to the issue of student admissions and fee structure in private unaided universities and schools. By the terms of the 104th Amendment, the Indian administration can now regulate student admissions and fee structure in private schools to ensure affirmative action. A laudable step. However, it has excluded religious minority schools from this responsibility. This would lead to a segmented school system i.e. state-run schools, private-secular schools and Hindu denominational schools on one hand and religious minority schools on the other. The two sets will have a different regulatory environment. A truly secular state would have had a uniform policy for all schools with the minimum of intervention (hopefully) and not concern itself otherwise with or constrained by issues of school denomination.

There are other implications of this bill. Private fee levying schools (except religious minority schools) might now be told what fees to levy. This will affect their ability to be financially sustainable. Christian schools on the other hand would retain the flexibility to charge schools fees and admit students as they see fit. This reflects the absence of a level playing field. Certain activists have now demanded that Christian scheduled caste and scheduled tribes be eligible for the reservation benefits that other scheduled castes and tribes are entitled to. On the surface of it, this demand is only fair although I suspect that it might necessitate another constitutional amendment (amazing comment on the Indian constitution that has already necessitated 104 amendments - the comparison with the United States can not be more striking) since the original provision for reservations had excluded them. I might be wrong here but this is what I vaguely remember. If one were to implement this revision to the policy on scheduled caste Christians, one will then have Hindu schools having to reserve places for them while exempting Christian schools from the same responsibility. This is hardly secularism.

There is a last point I would like to highlight i.e. private initiative. Nehru had a failed policy on socialism, foreign affairs and defence. I would argue that his interpretation of secularism was also a failure for the reasons I just listed. The fact that 40% of India continues to live on less than US$ 1 a day proves the failure of Nehruvian socialism despite the economic resilience and initiative of India's private sector. India's private schools (many of which are secular) are amongst the best in Asia. The financial means of the schools would now be compromised once the state starts interfering in their fee structure. However, Christian schools will continue to out perform since they are exempt from these provisions. The very premise of a level playing field and secular private initiative would be undermined.

We need to talk about these issues in a frank manner rather be constrained by "politically correct" notions that certain topics are taboo. There should be no sacred cows in public discourse that are off-limits for fear of being accused of "minority bashing".

Happy Kwanza

cynical nerd said...

Jaffna: Lucky you! We in Europe are freezing at -7C!

My take is that our forefathers saw education as a noble profession where private sector was much frowned upon (as in other sectors). It seems there is a rule which says private schools cannot be run for profit or something. That's why we so many of these trusts (religious or otherwise) running on government aid. I'd say let the private players run for a profit. Let's tax them and use that money for public schools only. Chidambaram's "education cess" has fallen into the government treasury blackhole, not a penny of which went to the education sector!

Sri Lankan said...

Primary Red: With reference to the scheduled caste children being given special places in Private Unaided Schools but not in minority schools, I realise with trepidation the following - a) all private schools will automatically be down graded. One reads that personalities like Bill Gates wish to select qualified students into his IT programmes. Now with the lowering of standards in these prestigious colleges, will such a brain pool be available in India? b) instead of upgrading the educational standards of the scheduled caste students for which the government of India has failed in the 50 odd years since independence, it is now down grading the standards of private schools - this is very sad indeed! c) it is grossly unfair that the majority is being bashed -I do not see it as minority bashing at all.

Several years ago the Communists in West Bengal choose to intervene in the management of the Ramakrishna mission schools. The Ramakrishna mission filed a petition in the courts to declare themselves a minority group to protect themselves from political interference, a move that the courts threw out. Hindus are being discriminated against by the secular government. The Arya Samaj has already obtained minority status to prevent interference in the schools they run. But the Jains remain ineligible for minority status. All this is secular rubbish.

IndianXian said...

Jaffna,

I have heard about the "subsidized state grants" that are available to "Christian and Muslim schools". What "subsidized state grants" are we talking about here?

You state 8 in 10 Christians in India belong to the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and "backward" caste groups. And yet the student intake in Christian schools does not reflect this social dynamic.

That depends on where the school is located - urban Christian schools reflect the demographic it serves. I am also not so sure that the numbers add up - according to the 2001 Census the Christian literacy rate is 80%. If Dalits make up 80% of the Christian population of India, I would wager that the number of Christian Dalits that are literate is far higher than the non-Christian Dalits.

The predominantly upper-caste church hierarchy, the largely non-Dalit priesthood and the Christian denominational schools have not addressed Dalit interests. The network of church schools in the North East and Jharkhand are not bound to ensure reservations for scheduled tribe students either. This is clearly an injustice.

AFAIK the church has been at the vanguard of Dalit recognition - can it do more? Sure. We already have Dalit bishops and archbishops. I doubt that even if the entire church hierarchy were to become Dalit, the Dalit Christians would get any recognition outside the Church (read secular India).

On the other hand, I am in agreement with Primary Red on this one - I have always believed in a smaller government and feel, quite strongly, that the government should leave the educational institutions alone - especially any private unaided ones.

Anonymous said...

I want to ask all you guys on this board: Does this Bill change the basic structure of the Indian Constitution? Can this bill pass
constitutional muster? I checked to see the constitutional position of this bill on other blogs that comment on the Indian legal system and they are strangely silent.

The US Supreme Court demolished the separate but equal argument made in Plessey v Ferguson by overturning it in Brown versus Board of Education. Instead of adopting the more progressive Brown view, the Indian Parliament has very subtly adopted the discredited Plessey argument.
Now religious minority schools can function separately in India. WOW

Jaffna said...

Dear IndianXian,

Thank you for your feedback. You argue that private unaided schools should be left alone. Many would share your views although I continue to believe that all schools need to reflect the societal consensus on affirmative action. This said, it is clear that the 104th Amendment is flawed for other reasons and let's hope that petitioners refer the matter to the Supreme Court.

But I intend to respond to the other points that you raise. I was active in the Dalit rights movement in my university days - in fact an office bearer in an expatriate Dalit group. You are right that Christian scheduled castes have a higher literacy rate than others in the scheduled caste community. This is impressive. In fact, the most articulate Dalit spokespersons I met (and I met many, including the sponsors of the defeated "caste is racism" resolution in Durban a few years back) happened to be either neo-Buddhist or Christian. I used to marvel at their erudition - it was a pleasure hearing them speak.

It was the Christian Dalit activists who had accused the church of not doing enough. I wish I could have introduced them to you! Here is their list of grievances. Despite 80% of the Christian community in India having a scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and "backward" caste antecedent, those of "upper" caste background continued to dominate the clergy and laity. The elite Goan, Kerala (Uniate Syrian Christian) and Mangalorean priesthood had a disproportionate say in church affairs. My colleagues alleged that several rural churches in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu openly maintained separate pews, wine and wafers, and separate sections in the graveyards for Dalits. They argued that the top notch Christian schools, which are all urban and not rural, needed to reserve at least 60% of seats for their caste bretheren. I can confirm for a fact that I have witnessed for myself separate sections in Christian cemetaries for Dalits in Jaffna. All this is unofficial of course. People would argue that family cripts needs to be located in one area and "all others" at the dilapidated weed infested back of the graveyard. How very convenient! It reminds me of the southern United States in the days of segregation.

This is not to deny the cancer of casteism in all segments of Indian society. We Hindus need to clean our house first. There are too frequent instances of police brutality against scheduled castes, of the impunity by which the "upper" castes treat Dalits in remote rural areas, the sexual molestation of "lower" caste women who dared assert their rights, the sheer persistence of poverty in urban slums which are largely "lower" caste in composition, the continued lack of access to economic opportunity, education and services when it comes to Dalits, and the sheer failure of the Indian judiciary to address Dalit issues in a timely manner. This is a complete shame. The fact remains that caste in India started as a Hindu institution. And it (caste) needs to be wiped out lock stock and barrel. I had commented on this in two earlier postings on this blog in October. These social facts in 2005 are completely unacceptable in the civilized world.

My neo-Buddhist fellow activists were vehement that their religion was the ONLY one that provided equality to all castes. They referred to the pervasive casteism in the Indian church and in the Sikh community to illustrate their point. I used to remind them to visit my country where the Buddhist monkhood was traditionally denied to all but the highest caste. The "lower" castes had to travel to Burma for ordination and were forced to establish their own monastic tradition under colonial rule to accommodate their members. The Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka is divided on caste lines too. Every political party in my country designates candidates for each electorate after taking into accoun the caste composition in that electorate. And our literacy rate is 97%! An 80% literacy rate amongst Indian christians does not automatically mean that there is no social prejudice.

IndianXian said...

I don't think Brown and the 104 Amendment can be equated. Brown was against "separate but equal" public schools. In fact, couple of counties in Virginia closed their schools rather than integrate.

As for religious/linguistic minority schools in India, they have always been separate from government control (as they should be).

Nobody wants to talk about the government schools in rural areas that have ramshackle buildings and no teachers.

Jaffna said...

IndianXian,

I forgot to respond to your other point. The Indian government supports "grant-in-aid" schools, belonging to any denomination, where the school concerned receives state funds to pay teachers or state land (under subsidized terms) to construct school buildings.

One example is the Aligarh Muslim University which receives state funds. However, the minority character of that university is now under dispute.

Jaffna said...

If religious/linguistic minority schools should be separate from Government control, so should Hindu denominational schools. The same rule should apply to all religions.

Anonymous said...

If the caste system is soooo bad , how can it survive? Mind you , there is no force to perpetuate this system. Are there any hidden benifits? Can some one suggest any web sites/books in this regard ?

pennathur said...

There are two issues here. One is the government's intereference in private enterprise; secondly the unequal treatment of Hindu institutions in comparison with non-Hindu institutions. Hindus too in India deserve to be allowed to propagate their beliefs through educational and religious institutions. Neither has been possible for a long time. Particularly in the case of religious institutions the state has all but taken over mandirs in the South. This is a mockery of secularism. In case of the Kumbh Mela it is in the interest of the government to maintain law and order because this is by far the largest gathering of humanity on earth - 24 million assembled in Prayag in January 2001. Unlike other religious communities (allowing for the imperfect classification of "Hinduism" as a religion) Hindus are not congregational and have no central authority - and really isn't the state in India by running all mandirs and assuming dictatorial powers to interfere as it pleases in the affairs of Hindu institutions the central authority?

Jaffna said...

Dear Pennathur,

The mix of secularism and socialism explains these problems. The United States offers a better model of separation of state and religion.

Private trusts, duly constituted under the law of the land and subject to the fiduciary safeguards therein, should be empowered to run Hindu religious endowments, not the Government. A private trust, could similarly be established, to administer the Kumbh Mela while the police only oversees law and order. There would need to be fees and contributions collected for the purpose.

There is a vast network of private Hindu denominational schools that the Indian Government has routinely interfered in. All private schools should enjoy the same immunity from Government interference and be subject to the same social responsibility, regardless of religious affiliation. Article 30 (1) of the Indian Constitution is flawed in this respect.

Between 70 million (BBC estimate) and 100 million (Government of India estimate) pilgrims participated in the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2001 over the three month period.

Returning to the issue of Christian denominational schools, Sri Lanka nationalized 95% of them in 1962. That's unfair too.

Best regards

IndianXian said...

Dear Jaffna,

I did not mean to imply that with an 80% literacy rate the Christians in India have no social prejudice - and yes, the Church can and is doing more to correct any social prejudice. It takes decades, if not centuries, for deep seated bigotry and social prejudice to be eliminated. I worked in a predominantly Dalit area for sometime and did not see separate wafers or pews for them. I do not deny this practice continues in certain areas but they appear to be the exception. I do wish to point out that the Dalits who have been educated and have significantly "advanced" are the ones that make the most of the current reservation system - I seriously doubt that the reforms are reaching all sections of the Dalit population.

I am not familiar enough with the functioning of the Aligarh Muslim University to comment on "state funds" for this University. I do have a couple of friends who are brilliant engineers that graduated from this University. They talked about police brutality at the University especially during communal clashes. There is a lot of support from within the Muslim community for this university.

I do know many relatives of mine, who have chosen to teach in Christian schools, not getting paid, due to financial mismanagement. There was hardly any talk of going to the government to bail the institution out, precisely because the management felt that such an action would jeopardize the unaided status. Also I have yet to see any Christian (Dalit or not) being turned away from a Christian school. Besides, if a Dalit has converted to Christianity for social upliftment, it is unlikely that s/he would go to a "Hindu" school for education.

"Grant-in-aid" is also at work in the US - minority students are given low cost federally funded loans to study or start their business and the state is obliged to strive towards diversity including government contracts to a "minorty business". Indian IT companies have made significant use of such "minority" business programs especially for federal contracts. In UK and most of Western Europe the Protestant Church (majority religion) is controlled by the State and the State can and does fund public schools that also (in UK) mandates prayer in public schools. France does publicly fund a small number of church-affiliated schools (majority religion) but these are required to follow a state curriculum and teach no religion. Old churches and synagogues have been taken over by the French government.

"State funds" (or "Grant-in-aid") has always been given in one form or another to the "minorities". I would consider schools that have state-funded teachers as an aided school. The subsidized land (I would have preferred loans), not so much, but only because the minority communities are required to form a registered trust and then buy the land - usually from the government, but far more frequently from private land owners. I don't see this as being very different from the US model, either way, the government is "funding" the acquisition. The other communities can also form charitable trusts and acquire the land.

If religious/linguistic minority schools should be separate from Government control, so should Hindu denominational schools. The same rule should apply to all religions.

When I think of Hindu denominational schools, it is the Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj etc. How is the government controlling these schools?

What galls me about the amendment are these:

1. Universal compulsory education for all citizens is necessary, especially for the disadvantaged sections. In my opinion, the reservation system has failed at the implementation phase, which needed to be rectified. The proposed legislation does not fix this problem.

2. Free education is great - however the "free" is for citizens, not the government. In other words, if the government decides that they want to have a reservation policy in schools for the disadvantaged, because they cannot provide that service, they should adequately compensate the schools that do provide such a service. Otherwise a private school is not obliged to provide the same level of service as it does to its fee-paying citizens.

Jaffna said...

Dear IndianXian,

It is a pleasure to read you. A lot of thought has gone into your observations. To prevent the deterioration in inter-religious concord, we need more people of your caliber to contribute to inter-religious understanding.

I think we largely agree on most points. I have not studied the subject to the extent that you have :-) . I am not based in India - so my access to resources is to that extent reduced. But a few observations.

France has a strict separation of church and state. From what I understand, it only funds parochial schools in the province of Alsace-Lorraine given that region's terms of accession to the French Republic in the late 1800s. Alsace had once belonged to Germany and continues to speak a German dialect which enjoys similar provisions.

The Federal Government of the United States does provide scholarships to minority students (i.e. Black and Latino) but it does not contribute to religious schools. Minority is defined on racial terms, not religious. However, the Bush administration did introduce legislation a few years ago to enable federal support for faith-based NGOs.

Britain, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have state religions. They are not secular polities strictly speaking although levels of religious attendance are low.

There was an interesting BBC documentary an year or two ago on retracing the steps of the Apostle Thomas where it pointed to a church in Kerala with a smaller church in the backyard to minister to the needs of those belonging to the scheduled castes. This might be the exception.

Hindu religious schools in India do not enjoy the same autonomy that religious minority schools do with regards to student fees, teacher recruitment, the firing of teachers, the payment of teachers, admissions policy and curriculum.

I had done a post on Aligarh in October. It might interest you.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

this is plot by Minority lead UPA against Hindus.In India the issue of minorities is a complex one.The Minority lead UPA govts policies do not provide equal footing to hindoo schools .Actually all hindoos are minorities hindus are minorities castewise,language wise this autonomy privilge should be extended to all.The problem is that the Church want to maintain its supremacy in education.They were early starters in education field being gifted schools by british and want to maintain the lead by all means.

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