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Tamil Nadu school kidsEducation is the basis for the development of a nation. A country which stoutly protects its value system, individuality, history, tradition and cultural standards alone can prosper in this competitive world. When the education was in the State list in the past, States all over India comparatively catered to the needs of the people. But of late, the situation is inversely different.

When Indira Gandhi was at the helm during emergency in 1976, education was shifted to the concurrent list stealthily from the State list by forty seventh constitutional amendment. Before discussing the repercussions of the power transfer, we have to understand the nature of legal distribution of power in the constitution.

Article 245 and 246 categorically describes the boundaries of powers of the Central and the State governments. In the Seventh schedule of Indian Constitution, the power of governance has been distributed in three forms.

(1) Union list

(2) Concurrent list

(3) State list

Union list is a list of 100 numbered items on which Parliament has exclusive power to legislate.

Concurrent list is a list of 52 items, and it includes the power to be considered by both the Central and State governments. "If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent list, then the law made by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such State, or as the case may be, the existing law shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void." So only on this basis, Tamil Nadu government is expecting the endorsement of the President to do away with NEET examination.

State list is a list of 61 items and these powers can be exercised by the States without the intervention of the Central government.

Accordingly, in the beginning as mentioned earlier, the education was in the State list and subsequently it was transferred to the Concurrent list, in which the decision of the Central government is final. Because of this unwanted and uncalled for shift, States once for all have lost their liberty in Education.

If we see the history of the Constitution, the Central government is highly reluctant to allot more powers to the States. As and when chances arise, the Central government stealthily usurps the meagre State powers and bolsters the Concurrent list. For example, of late, it is bent upon to transfer Agriculture and Water to the Concurrent list, just like Education.

Many chief ministers of various States often complain that the Centre treats the States as municipalities. States in India are suffering a lot because of lack of powers. Tamil Nadu chief minister once sarcastically remarked that even to remove grass in the Secretariat, he needs the approval of the Central government.

It will be quite informative to compare the powers enjoyed by the States of United States of America with India. The Central government in USA has no power to dissolve the State governments. Also, it can not modify the boundaries of the States. Moreover, there are separate constitutions for State and Central governments. The State government keeps the majority of powers with itself and allots the remaining to the Central government. But in India, the Central government keeps the majority of powers with itself and it stringently and reluctantly spares very limited powers to the States. That is why it is said, "USA is an indestructible union of indestructible States, where as India is an indestructible union of destructible States".

The standard and future of Indian education solely depends upon the independence of States only. Furthermore, the financial condition of the State also plays an important role in determining the advancement of education. Because of the poor economic condition, many of the States in India suffer a lot.

To put the last straw, the Finance Commission is going to allocate more money only to those States which are highly populated and yield lesser revenue.

Taking population as a criterion for fund allocation is highly injustice because right from 1971, States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala are sincerely following the family planning programme of the Central government. Tamil Nadu is penalised now for upholding yester years' Central government programme. This is discrimination to the core.

So, taking the state population of 2011 as yard stick for fund allocation, as recommended by Finance Commission, is nothing but predilection. A lower population growth means lesser devolution of the funds.

Let us examine the following facts. "Reports say that Tamil Nadu's contribution to Union taxes was 31 percent in 2016-17. However the State may get just one-tenth of it in return... Centre has also implemented Cess and Surcharges, which won't be shared with the States. TN alone hence stands to lose Rs. 5,093 crore from Cess and Surcharges". (The Times of India, September 6, 2018.)

If States are getting lesser amount from the Central government, then the allocation for education in States will automatically be reduced. If such be the case, it directly affects the development of education in States.

Even in fund allocation, there is discrimination. For example, the fund allotted to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uthra Pradesh (BIMARU) are very high when compared to the fund sanctioned by the Centre to the Southern states.

In spite of all these constraints, Tamil Nadu has a well-developed medical infrastructure with 23 government medical colleges. More than 2,500 doctors are coming out of these colleges every year. Because of the unwanted NEET examination, the sons of the soil are not getting their due share.

For example, some years back, students who appeared for NEET examination in Tamil Nadu were served with Tamil question paper. This Tamil question paper had 49 basic errors and because of the grave and indifferent mistakes of the CBSE, hundreds of students lost considerable marks in the said examination. Much to their dismay and consternation, their coveted medical dream was simply killed by the CBSE. CBSE, the iron fist of the Central government, never accepted its fault till the end. Such is the brazen and dictatorial attitude of CBSE.

The NEET is meant for those rich pupil who spent huge amount for the coaching classes. It filters the competent poor students who secure higher marks in +2 examinations. The tragic suicide of Anitha is a typical example for this. Also, it rejects the aspirations of students studied in mother tongue.

Another big nuisance is the New Education Policy. Because of the NEP, the mother tongue of the States has lost their prominence. Hindi is given undue importance.

The total amount spent by all the States for education is far high when compared to the amount allocated for education by the Central government. In spite of this, the States have no role in framing the National Education Policy.

Not only in secondary education, but even in higher education, the States have no predominant role. The universities which were in the control of the State governments now have been brought under the control of the Central government. Formerly universities had the power to decide the content of education, teaching methodology and syllabi. But, of late, it is announced that the Higher Education Board will supervise the university and its functions. The umbilical relationship between the State government and the universities is mercilessly severed.

In addition to these maladies, infamous and pseudo foreign universities are going to invade the educational field. The State governments will become mute spectators and puppets in future.

If that be the case, what is the solution for these oddities?

Shifting of education from the Concurrent list to the State list is the only panacea. This is not a new demand. Even the Kothari Commission in 1960 favoured that education must be in the State list.

For transferring an item from the Concurrent list to the State list, it is necessary that both houses of Parliament must have two third majority of members present and their voting and a simple majority of membership of the House.

The bill needs to be ratified with a simple majority in atleast half of the State legislatures, and after which it is notified by the President and the Constitution amended. So only by an united fight States can win their right in future.

To effect this initiative, co-operative endeavour of all States is needed very much. This unified effort alone is the need of the hour. People should mobilize mass struggles and give political pressure to all parties. Then only we can achieve this lofty ideal.

- Gana.Kurinji

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