The Indian Economy Blog

April 19, 2006

Free, As Long As Someone Else Pays For It

Filed under: Education,Human Capital,Politics — Nitin @ 12:39 pm

The sorry tale of free secondary education for the single girl child

Badri Sheshadri tells the story of how yet another item from the UPA government’s entitlement agenda fell flat for the want of, you guessed it, careful consideration.

A few months ago the Central Board of Secondary Education announced free secondary education for the single girl child. Although the policy may have had laudable goals, the amount of thought that should have gone into it, but didn’t, is remarkable.

All parents had to do to avail this benefit was to produce an affidavit saying as much. The government had to do even less. Nothing, as it turns out, apart from issuing the order. It was left to the school managements to verify the parents’ claims and take action in the event of their being false. There’s more — the central government left it to the school managements to find the funds to pay for the government’s largesse.

Ironically, it required one system of entitlements to challenge another. Carmel Convent successfully challenged CBSE’s decision at the Delhi High Court on the grounds that its decision impinged on the autonomy granted to educational institutions of minority communities. Badri writes that CBSE has now revoked its order.

At this stage it is useful to remember that all this happened despite the prime minister being a well-regarded economist.


  1. This sad picture is common for almost all the South Asian countries. However, I think that Bangladesh has done well thanks to the funding provided by donor countries and agencies. The important thing in Bangladehs about free female educatiion is that both the present and previous governments have put their weight and seriousness behind the issue.

    Comment by Razib Ahmed — April 19, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  2. Unless india wants to become into bangladesh we have
    to stop enacting laws for the sake of doing so.

    The funniest part in this column was
    “At this stage it is useful to remember that all this happened despite the prime minister being a well-regarded economist.”
    As a finance minister manmohan did what he had to do b/c of Balance of payment crisis.
    He did the right thing then… but now what ?
    Is that all to manmohans legacy…
    or the rural employment gaurentee act and the failure left behind it would be a bigger
    part of the legacy

    Comment by Guru Gulab Khatri — April 21, 2006 @ 7:43 am

  3. Guru Gulab, Bangladesh has outpaced India in terms of human development since the mid-90′s, for the reasons mentioned in the first comment. I can’t quite understand your english, but it sounds to me like you have things quite backwards.

    Comment by Matt Norman — April 24, 2006 @ 12:10 am

  4. i have a single girl child the school denies to give free education facility as the ministry has not yet send anything on this law

    Comment by falguni — June 7, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

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