One evening, I was called by a national channel to debate on some issue I didn’t care to ask. It’s become a habit to go to studios, know the topic and discuss, that by habit I didn’t know or cared to know this time.
The same day, Minister of HRD had made a shocking revelation that nearly half the schools of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh did not have electricity. Chhattisgarh’s inclusion came as a shocker because it’s a power surplus state. That’s the reason of the title “Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink”.
So we have 42% of the schools of the state not having electricity. The drama unfolds during the discussion and that is what ails us. The BJP spokesperson says that since the schools run in the day so there is no need for electricity. So in the heat, there is no need for fans and in the rains when it turns dark there is no need for lights.
Congress spokesperson says that we had created the RTE just to get rid of these problems. But he forgot that Right to Education was enacted in 2009 and even after 5 years the state of education and government institutions remains the same. So while he was taking credit for the RTE but he was not ready to own up for the non-implementation saying that education is a concurrent subject and implementation rests with the states.
Here comes the best part. There was a third panelist who came up with a very idealistic statement. He said that if children of bureaucrats were forced to go to government schools, then the situation will improve. The BJP and Congress spokespersons immediately agreed that it was a good suggestion.
The anchor asked me and as usual I spoke what I felt was true and not what was politically correct. I said that on one hand we wish to give the poor children a chance to study in the best of private schools through the 25% rule of RTE and on the other hand we are professing that the right of bureaucrats’ children to study in schools of their choice should be taken off. What idealism.
I said the idea sounded fantastic much like saying that we should always speak the truth but not practical. All three panelists pounced upon me when I made this statement . In all the chaos , I asked a question which was final nail to the coffin. I asked how many of the four of us have children studying in government schools. There was a deathly silence. None of us was the evident answer. And we preach on TV, pounce on those who talk about practical and doable solutions not idealism. The debate ended. We went our ways.