Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Gap Between Law and Reality

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 known popularly as the Right to Education Act (RTE) has a provision that private schools which charge fees will enrol 25 per cent of their student intake from among socio-economically deprived sections and not charge any fees from them. The Government will compensate these private schools for the cost of this education. Thus, the Rani Kajal School in Kakrana run by the Kalpantar Shikshan Samiti too provides free education to about 5 children in each class since the class strength of fees paying children is about 20. The girls in the school are anyway provided with free residential education funded by various donors. In the city of Indore too all private schools have to enrol free students and the Government Education Department conducts an elaborate exercise each year at the time of admission to get applicants from deprived backgrounds into private schools. The elite private schools with charge exorbitant fees are much sought after and that is why the admission process has to be regulated by the Government to try and ensure transparency.
The Vishisht Jyoti Samajik Sanstha (VJSS) is an NGO founded by Dalit and Adivasi residents of the slums in Indore city who have been fighting for their rights for a long time. One of the great victories that this organisation has won is that they have secured rehabilitation for many of their members who were displaced from their slums in well constructed multi storied buildings built under the Rajiv Gandhi Ashray Yojana. They also regularly organise a campaign every year to get children from these slums enrolled in the elite private schools of the city under the provisions of the RTE. Over the past few years they have succeeded in getting close to a hundred children enrolled in elite schools in Indore.
However, there are many problems that these children are facing. The first and foremost problem is that they are not able to cope with the studies in school. The teachers prescribe homework to be done at home and also give the children projects of various kinds. This requires supportive help at home but these children come from families that can neither afford private tutors nor are the parents capable themselves of teaching the children. Thus, just getting enrolled in a good private school is proving to be a bane rather than a boon for these slum children as they are falling back in class and in some cases have even had to leave these schools and return to the near defunct government school system.
The VJSS and the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra (DGVK) have worked together on many issues that affect the slum residents of Indore. So the VJSS came to DGVK with a proposal for starting a coaching institute in one of the resettlement complexes in Ahirkheri to help the girl children enrolled in elite schools with additional help in their studies and it was decided to run it with funds that the DGVK garners from various donors. This coaching institute has now begun functioning from Monday 15th December 2015 and the picture of the inauguration is shown below.
 One of the students lit the lamp to inaugurate the coaching institute which has been named Savitribai Phule Adhyayan Samooh or Study Group. Savitribai Phule hailed from the Other Backward Classes and was one of the first women from the socio-economically deprived sections of the country to be educated in the nineteenth century because of the efforts of her husband Jyotiba Phule and they together initiated a very successful campaign to educate girls from deprived sections. A dedicated lady teacher who is seen sitting in the picture above, who is a post graduate in science and a graduate in education and has left her well paid job in a private school, will conduct the classes in the evening for a very modest salary, while the premises themselves will be used for other intellectual activities also during the day. There are ten girl students who are attending these coaching classes currently as shown in the picture below but the numbers are likely to go up very soon as word spreads.
Education has become expensive like everything else in this inflationary world. The Government is not prepared to run a proper public primary education system with adequately paid teachers in sufficient number and with proper teaching aids and infrastructure. It is also not prepared to implement the RTE properly as it does not compensate the private schools adequately and on time for the free education that they provide to the socio-economically deprived children. Consequently they do not pay good attention to these children and their parents do not have the wherewithal to provide them with additional coaching. Thus, there is a huge gap between the law and its implementation and in reality free and compulsory education of a good quality for socio-economically deprived children is a distant dream. 


Lamp post said...

"....still far away from dream." Read this report

Rahul Banerjee said...

thanks for the document lamps. I have downloaded it and will read it later.