REDUCING COST OF EDUCATION… 10 QUESTIONS FOR THE NaMo GOVERNMENT… (Reproducing Maheshwer Peri’s recent article).

OK, so:

  • When we move a mouse, the world moves;
  • We want to be the worlds supplier for skilled workforce;
  • India can be the skill capital of the world.

Haven’t we heard this before? Many times? Any report on actions to achieve them?

IIMs, IITs, AIIMS, IIS are legacy of the past, handed over by Nehru and TATA. Do you remember any institution created in the last 50 years?

When a country measures its growth rates in roads, bridges, industry, NREGA, infrastructure, defence etc. and treats investments in education and skill building as ‘welfare’, what are the chances of achieving our potential ?

Do you know that the total investment in your child’s education, if s he is getting into schooling now would be Rs.42 million by the time s he finishes PG?

Is it fair? Is it the best that the country can do to educate its youth?

Here are 10 questions that I am asking the government:

  1. If Right to Education is a fundamental right, How come, we are made to pay taxes on our savings made to pay the fees on higher education? The government is not providing for our right but instead burdening us with taxes. To pay a fees of Rs 1 million, our parents have to earn Rs.1.5 million and the government keeps 0.5 million? Fundamental right? Shouldn’t such savings be tax deductible as an expense?
  2. When the real estate industry does not do too well, the entire government gets in to action. Tax breaks, concessions, banking institutions, securities, bonds, everything is put in play. Did you ever see such action when students are unemployed— or unemployable?
  3. You get tax concessions on principal and interest repayments to buy a home. Why not a similar treatment on education fees? Is it because the real estate lobby funds politicians while students are mere voters?
  4. The principle of any good taxation policy is that all expenses spent to earn that income are tax deductible. It is done for calculating income of any business and trade. Why can’t education expenses, which lead to us getting employed and capable of earning that income for life, get deducted from our taxable income? Is it because trade and corporates fund politicians and students are mere voters?
  5. The country has created specialised lending institutions for industry, housing, infrastructure etc. Why not for education to set the rules of the game, give additional thrust and provide direction?
  6. The country has created tax free bonds/securities that bring down the cost of funds for industry/infrastructure etc. Why not for education? Can’t we think of tax- free systematic investment plans (SIPs) that allow parents to save for children’s education?
  7. Why should any one make money on lending for education? Can’t they charge us just the Inter-Bank rate? Can’t government give interest concessions by subsidising some part of the interest? Can’t the interest get indexed to inflation so that there is no real interest but only inflation indexed repayment?
  8. Corporates get a Corporate Debt Restructuring package after they turn sick. Interest- waivers, interest reductions, moratoriums etc. are showered on them. On the other hand, Students are forced at times to get their parents’ homes auctioned when they can’t pay for lack of employment. No interest- waivers, no concessions, not even a discussion. Why the discrimination? The education that promised an occupation failed them, because the economy failed them (just as in the case of corporates), isn’t it? Is it because corporates fund politicians while students are mere voters?
  9. Why can’t we fix the maximum EMI that a student can pay out of his total income? Inability to pay because of low or no income is a good reason. At least s he is not a wilful defaulter. In all other countries, an employee is prohibited from paying beyond a certain percentage of his income against education loan. It protects the student against no/Low income and high EMIs. Don’t students who take loans have the ‘Right to life’?
  10. Right to occupation and Right to Livelihood are in the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’. Isn’t it better that government empowers its citizens with requisite skills than subsidising them with schemes like NREGA and freebies? Isn’t it better that we provide them a capacity to earn than giving monthly alms?

Would the government listen? Or is it all bluster and speeches of intent with no action on the ground?

Former Outlook publisher Maheshwer Peri now runs the education magazine Careers 360. The above is reproduced from his article found on this link.

2 Comments

  1. My suggestion is that government provide scholarship for merit.What about paying back if a student get a good job.If we can pay EMIs for House and Car than why not for Scholarship which we have already availed. UGC and MHRD should think in this regards.This can in turn help to provide more Scholarship to student.

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  2. While I agree with the questions(or recommendations) in principal, a thought caught me. Why they never raised these questions all these years when a favourable Govt was in power and an favourable Education Minister …Kapil Sibbal …

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