Wednesday October 24, 2018
Home India Story of Phil...

Story of Philani is synonymous to story of UP; 15 years and no change in promises

UP has the highest number of colleges in any Indian state (6,026), according to AISHE 2014-15, but it has been unable to produce the qualified workforce to drive development

0
//
74
UP
Representational Image, Pixabay
Republish
Reprint

Pihani, (UP), Feb 20, 2017: For 16 years, KailashRai (not his real name), 49, has been commuting six hours every working day between his home in the state capital Lucknowand the government degree college where he teaches in Pihani, 135 km to the northwest.

 NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

A political-science lecturer, Rai cannot move with his family to Pihani, a cluster of over 100 villages (called a kasba) in Hardoi district, with less than 40,000 families as per Census 2011. When he started working there in 2000, it lacked the basic public facilities-regular power supply, good roads, public transport and good medical services.

Pihani remains an economic backwater. In the ongoing assembly elections, UP’s incumbent and contesting politicians are still promising the basic facilities they did 16 years ago: Electricity, buses and jobs, along with laptops and free data for poor youth.

UP’s story parallels that of Pihani. The kasba’s population of 206,743 is serviced by four colleges-a government degree college, a state-run industrial training institute (ITI) and two private degree colleges more than the Indian average of 27 colleges per 100,000 youth in the 18-23 age group, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2014-15. But it has been unable to produce talent to run local educational institutions, banks, and medical centres.

UP has the highest number of colleges in any Indian state (6,026), according to AISHE 2014-15, but it has been unable to produce the qualified workforce to drive development, as IndiaSpend reported on February 11, 2017.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

UP is India’s most populous and youngest state. Its median age is 23 and the flaws in its development model typified by Pihani explain why its towns and village clusters (blocks with a population of less than 250,000 in 2011) cannot cope with the aspirations of its people, especially with regard to education and employment.

Pihani’s dropout rate of 36 per cent at elementary school level exceeds UP’s overall rate of 21 percent. Like other village clusters in the state, connections to bigger cities are limited because there are few railway links, hardly any feeder roads to highways or efficient public transport services. Less than half the houses in the villages have electricity.

UP has made higher education available everywhere, so why hasn’t the state become a hub for learning? Why doesn’t the state with the highest college enrollment in India –25 per cent of men and women in the 18-23 age group — manage to create a pool of employable youth?

Some answers can be found in Pihani. The primary factor is the state’s disinterest in developing the basic infrastructure in its towns and villages that are now flush with schools and colleges.

Institutes have spread, so why hasn’t education?

Despite a large number of colleges in the district, Hardoi’s school education system is a mess. Only 64 percent of children in the district progress from primary to upper levels in school, according to data from the District Information for School Education surveys 2014-15. The all-India rate of transition from primary to upper primary level was 90 percent.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

In a drive to push higher education in its backward pockets, many of UP’s colleges were set up in villages and kasbas. This growth was fuelled by both the government and private entrepreneurs. Hardoi district itself has 132 colleges, eight of them are governmentinstitutions — Pihani’s governmentdegree college is one such — and 124 are private.

Over the years, the governmentdegree college has acquired projectors, computers, and generators but Pihani remains a backwater. This, according to Rai, is why the teachers at his college — and most employees in local banks, schools, and hospitals — opt for long commutes from larger cities. They are what Rai describes as “reverse migrants”, working in villages and living in cities.

Pihani’s residents, it would appear, are not educated or skilled enough to fill in these jobs. The reason could lie in the quality of education.

“Governmentcolleges are understaffed; usually, they work with one-third the required strength. This means that teachers are overworked,” said PC Joshi, a retired principal from a governmentdegree college in UP.

However, he pointed out, private colleges have an even bigger problem. “Government colleges appoint qualified staff and the recruitment processes is fair and transparent. But privately-owned or funded colleges are often under-resourced in terms of physical infrastructure. And their recruitments are mostly on paper; in practice, there is hardly any teaching. There isn’t enough assessment of whether students are being taught regularly and adequately,” he told IndiaSpend.

Also, 17 less-populous states and union territories have better enrollment rates in higher education than UP: The union territory of Chandigarh reports India’s highest enrollment at 56 per cent, followed by Puducherry at 46 per cent. Manipur, among the northeastern states has a 36 per cent enrolment ratio in colleges. Among larger states, Tamil Nadu has India’s highest student enrollment in higher education at 45 percent.

There are other problems. The quality of education offered in colleges across UP varies widely because of lack of infrastructure. It is not rare in UP to see a college with two rooms, a clerk, an odd-jobs man and two teachers.

Second, colleges do not offer functional education geared to employment. The Pihani government college offers 10 subjects and degrees in undergraduate courses that include humanities and commerce.

“Most students come from poor families and also work in farms so they are not able to fulfil college attendance requirements,” said Rai. “Life is hard for these youngsters and the curriculum does not provide much functional education.”

Other than the proliferation of colleges, little has improved in Pihani, keeping its cluster of villages poor, badly connected and with scanty power supply.

However, he pointed out, private colleges have an even bigger problem. “Government colleges appoint qualified staff and the recruitment processes is fair and transparent. But privately-owned or funded colleges are often under-resourced in terms of physical infrastructure. And their recruitments are mostly on paper; in practice, there is hardly any teaching. There isn’t enough assessment of whether students are being taught regularly and adequately,” Rai told IndiaSpend.

The education-job gap: why Pihani needs more employment-oriented courses

Seema Gupta (not her real name), 19, is a student at the Pihani government degree college. It helps her that the college is easily accessible from her village, but her bachelor in arts degree is unlikely to get her a job. She would like to work to work in a cyber cafe-these are still popular in mofussil areas. But she needs additional computer training for this that is not available in Pihani.

Gupta would have preferred the college in Hardoi which offers technical courses but her parents did not want her to travel that far. “Safety is a big concern for women in Pihani,” said Gupta. “Parents allow boys to study in better colleges outside the village, but girls can’t travel that far.”

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram.

Despite these factors, girls form 60-65 percent of the students enrolled in the Pihani governmentdegree college, according to Rai.

The governmentoffers scholarships to students from economically weaker sections and backward castes, and for Gupta and many others like her, the Rs 6,000 per annum is a big help.

“But I hope my students can be offered better technical courses so that they have greater employability,” said Rai. (IANS/Indiaspend)

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: A Peace Visionary and a Man Who Believed in India’s Destiny and was Ready To Fight For It

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee -- one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it -- that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum.

0
Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's peace visionary. Image: Flickr

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a man of moderation in a fraternity of jingoistic nationalists; a peace visionary in a region riven by religious animosity; and a man who believed in India’s destiny and was ready to fight for it.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93), who died on Thursday, will go down in history as a person who tried to end years of hostility with Pakistan and put development on the front burner of the country’s political agenda. He was also the first non-Congress Prime Minister to complete a full five-year term.

Even though he lived the last 13 years of his life in virtual isolation, dogged by debilitating illnesses and bedridden, he has left an enduring legacy for the nation and the region where he was much loved and respected across the political spectrum and national boundaries, including in Pakistan.

Vajpayee, former Indian Prime Minister
Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the tumultuous period he presided over the destiny of the world’s largest democracy, Vajpayee stunned the world by making India a declared nuclear state and then almost went to war with Pakistan before making peace with it in the most dramatic fashion.
In the process, his popularity came to match that of Indira Gandhi, a woman he admired for her guts even as he hated her politics.

He also became the best-known national leader after Indira Gandhi and her father Jawaharlal Nehru.

After despairing for years that he would never become Prime Minister and was destined to remain an opposition leader all his life, he achieved his goal, but only for 13 days, from May 16-28, 1996, after his deputy, L.K. Advani, chose not to contest elections that year.
His second term came on March 19, 1998, and lasted 13 months, a period during which India stunned the world by undertaking a series of nuclear tests that invited global reproach.

Although his tenure again proved short-lived, his and his government’s enhanced stature following the world-defying blasts enabled him to return as Prime Minister for the third time on October 13, 1999, a tenure that lasted a full five-year term.

When finally he stepped down in May 2004, after an election that he was given to believe he would win, it marked the end of a long and eventful political career spanning six decades.

Vajpayee had gone into these elections riding a personality cult that projected him as a man who had brought glory to the nation in unprecedented ways. The BJP’s election strategy rested on seeking a renewed mandate over three broad pillars of achievement that the government claimed — political stability in spite of the pulls and pressures of running a multi-party coalition; a “shining” economy that saw a dizzying 10.4 percent growth in the last quarter of the previous year; and peace with Pakistan that changed the way the two countries looked at each other for over 50 years.

The results of the elections could not have come as a greater shock to a man who was hailed for his achievements and who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 influential men of the decade.

Success didn’t come easily to the charismatic politician, who was born on Christmas Day in 1924 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, into a family of moderate means. His father was a school teacher and Vajpayee would later recall his early brush with poverty.

He did his Masters in Political Science, studying at the Victoria College in Gwalior and at the DAV College in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, where he first contested, and lost, elections. He began his professional career as a journalist, working with Rashtradharma, a Hindi monthly, Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly, and two Hindi dailies, Swadesh and Veer Arjun. By then he had firmly embraced the ideals of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
But even as he struggled to win electoral battles, his command over Hindi, the lingua franca of the North Indian masses, his conciliatory politics and his riveting oratory brought him into public limelight.

Also read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

His first entry into Parliament was in 1962 through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house. It was only in 1971 that he won a Lok Sabha election. He was elected to the lower house seven times and to the Rajya Sabha twice.

Vajpayee
Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Vajpayee spent months in prison when Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency rule in June 1975 and put her political opponents in jail. When the Janata Party took office in 1977, dethroning the Congress for the first time, he became the foreign minister.

The lowest point in his career came when he lost the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, that too from his birthplace Gwalior, after Rajiv Gandhi won an overwhelming majority following his mother Indira Gandhi’s assassination. And the BJP he led ended up with just two seats in
the 545-member Lok Sabha, in what looked like the end of the road for the right-wing party.

In no time, Vajpayee was replaced and “eclipsed” by his long-time friend L.K. Advani.
Although they were the best of friends publicly, Vajpayee never fully agreed with Advani’s and the assorted Hindu nationalist groups’ strident advocacy of Hindutva, an ideology ranged against the idea of secular India.

Often described as the right man in the wrong party, there were also those who belittled him as a moderate “mask” to a hardline Hindu nationalist ideology. Often he found his convictions and value systems at odds with the party, but the bachelor-politician never went against it.

It was precisely this persona of Vajpayee — one merged in Hindutva ideology yet seemingly not wholly willing to bow to it — that won him admirers cutting across the political spectrum. It was this trait that made him the Prime Minister when the BJP’s allies concluded they needed a moderate to steer a hardliner, pro-Hindu party.

He brought into governance measures that created for India a distinct international status on the diplomatic and economic fronts. In his third prime ministerial stint, Vajpayee launched a widely acclaimed diplomatic initiative by starting a bus service between New Delhi and Pakistan’s Lahore city.

Its inaugural run in February 1999 carried Vajpayee and was welcomed on the border by his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. It was suspended only after the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament that nearly led to a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The freeze between the two countries, including an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the border for nearly a year, was finally cracked in the spring of 2003 when Vajpayee, while in Kashmir, extended a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan. That led to the historic summit in January 2004 with then President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad — a remarkable U-turn after the failed summit in Agra of 2001. Despite the two men being so far apart in every way, Musharraf developed a strong liking for the Indian leader.

His unfinished task, one that he would probably rue, would be the peace process with Pakistan that he had vowed to pursue to its logical conclusion and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

He was not known as “Atal-Ji”, a name that translates into firmness, for nothing. He could go against the grain of his party if he saw it deviate from its path. When Hindu hardliners celebrated the destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, he was full of personal remorse for the apocalyptic action and called it — in a landmark interview to IANS — the “worst miscalculation” and a “misadventure”. He even despaired that “moderates have no place — who is going to listen to the voice of sanity?”

In his full five-year term, he successively carried forward India’s economic reforms programme with initiatives to improve infrastructure, including flagging off a massive national highway project that has become associated with his vision, went for massive privatisation of unviable state undertakings despite opposition from even within his own party.

While his personal image remained unsullied despite his long innings in the murky politics of this country, his judgment was found wanting when his government was rocked by an arms bribery scandal that sought to expose alleged payoffs to some senior members of his cabinet. His failure to speak up when members of his party and its sister organisations, who are accused of killing more than 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat, was questioned by the liberal fraternity who wondered aloud about his secular proclamations. He wanted then Chief Minister — now Prime Minister, Narendra Modi — to take responsibility for the riots and quit but was prevailed upon by others not to press his decision.

A day before his party lost power, Vajpayee was quoted as saying in a television interview that if and when he stepped down he would like to devote his time to writing and poetry. But fate ruled otherwise. The man who once rued that “I have waited too long to be Prime Minister” found his last days in a world far removed from the adulation and attention — though across the nation people prayed for his well-being — surrounded only by care-givers and close family whom he even failed to recognize. (IANS)