I have often wondered why we evolve. Not grow up, do away with all the technologies, brands, urban humdrums and of course urbanisation. Long ago, elsewhere in a civilisation, a man picked up two pieces of stones. He rubbed and rubbed and rubbed; and discovered fire. Subsequently, as civili-sations evolved, nuances related to fire clutched along Cooking fire led to the evolution of barbecue. Barbecue led to open fire, which eventually led to air pollution. And thus, enactment of Fire Services Act, Fire Protection and Prevention Act, Safety Act, outdoor fire laws among other evolutions followed. If we keep evolution at a safe distance, they cannot disappoint us with the banal business of development.
But part of growing up is realising that development is inevitable. And the thing with development is that it gives life to laws. Laws are brought in force to confine and limit development. But what happens when there is no law against rapid development? Chhattisgarh -The heart of Central India was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2000 to be on its own for socio-economic reasons. Since then, developments in terms of GDP, economy, production, standard of living, infrastructure and commerce and industries have been whirl-winding. A 2013 Business Standard survey based on the RBI report identified Chhattisgarh as one among the top three most developing states. Statistics, too, talk progress. The major underline at the backdrop of this progress is the BJP-led government that has been at the front since last thirteen years. Talking about development – the state has a total power generation capacity of 5,624.61 MW. And, as part of its Twelfth Five Year Plan, the state has planned to develop 30,000 MW more of such capacity. Also for better commute and connectivity, the government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Eastern Coalfields and IRCON International. The Chhattisgarh Industrial Development Corporation has established four industrial growth centres, five industrial parks and three integrated infrastructure development centres so far. At that, a new emerging city called ‘Naya Raipur’ is being developed in over 8,000 hectares to-be the administrative capital. Chhattisgarh government’s Public Distribution Scheme, Jan Darshan, farmer’s subsidy and harmonious cooperation between state government and industries have added fuel to the fire of progress. And as much important it is to unwind this idea of development, it is much more necessary to flip to the other side of the coin – the progress of education sector in Chhattisgarh.
Education in Chhattisgarh has been touching new highs since long. Bhilai, peculiar for SAIL’s Bhilai Steel Plant has not stopped to unfurl its work culture into academics. Each year, a good number of young minds contribute their share to IITs, AIIMS and NLUs, not only limited to Bhilai, but from different corners of the state. Chhattisgarh has been recognised as the upcoming education hub, with state-of-the-art campuses of IIT Naya Raipur, HNLU Raipur, AIIMS Raipur; and recent news regarding establishment of an IIT has credited to these stats. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Midday meal scheme and Rashtriya  Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan have also uplifted the state of school education in Chhattisgarh. In the 2016-17 state budget presented by Dr Raman Singh, eight new Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Colleges have been proposed.  Another highlight pertinent to education sector is Swami Vivekanand Gurukul Unnayan Yojana proposed to be started with an allocation of Rs 119 crore. All in all an 11% increase in the allocation of funds to education sector was recorded, which is, by a good margin, exceptional.
Having said all of that, if one try to club state laws related to regulation of rapid growth of education in Chhattisgarh into one bulletin, one will find nothing, but disappointment. On a pessimistic, but coherent side of the coin, with state-of-the-art institutes, soaring figures of allocation to education sector and a developing education hub, Chhattisgarh has blatantly failed to regulate the education sector – in an era where utmost importance is given to education to record development and social dignity, coaching centres have found reservation in minds and hearts of people. These coaching centres have mushroomed across the state, establishing themselves as parasites clung to an idea, idea where education is synonymous to progress. Some of them charge no less than lakhs for a two to three hour lecture scheduled in weekends. Some have a batch capacity of 100s, of course for a hefty sum in exchange for commercial education. Commercialisation of education is not a new concept, but there’s less talks over it. Failure of the government and the government-run schools and programmes has created a parallel structure for destruction of education – coaching centres. It’ll be unfair to wholly blame the government, as a part of it goes to the parents, growing ambitions, the culture and marketing strategies of coaching institutes. You cannot help but notice the huge hoardings, wall paints and standees portraying 100% results and photos of faculties, as success gurus, while you pass through. These are other types of developments that we asked for. But then, a part of growing up is accepting that development is inevitable. And that said coaching institutes have been creating havoc in the state and in our minds to such an extent that one can altogether call not going to a coaching institution, sacrilegious.
In the meantime, capitation fees charged by some reputed schools have added to the misery. Most of the schools have been toying with student’s lives, ambitions and the expectations of parents. There is no law or set of rules that restrict or regulate this grey area. And to curb this sobering account of contemporary state, there is an urgent need to call for a law, as robust as Chhattisgarh’s Education Policy but against such rampant exploitation. It took sixteen years of consistent evolution of Chhattisgarh to be able to feed people through rice subsidy and to become the third most developing state. What remains untouched is a void in education sector that needs to be filled. An effective control mechanism, a draft policy after suggestions from stalwarts of the education sector or formation of a recommendation committee to look into the void and establishment of government run coaching institutes, is imperative. It’s time for an educational reform!
The Public Distribution Scheme of Chhattisgarh has had its share of appreciation at the centre; it acted as a national role model. There’s no doubt about desperate necessity of a ray of light in the form of a stringent law against unregulated education institutions – It might be time to give another role model to the nation as well. For, of all developments of the BJP-led-Chhattisgarh-government, majority of them have been exceptional. This subject, however, should not be an exception.
(Shikhar Shrivastava is a fourth year student of Hidayatullah National Law
University, Chhattisgarh. Connect him at –shikhar.hnlu@gmail.com)