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Mainstream, VOL LV No 16 New Delhi April 8, 2017

What Need to be Banned are Private Schools and Hospitals

Sunday 9 April 2017, by Sandeep Pandey

Among the first decisions of the Yogi Aditya-nath Government in Uttar Pradesh were the ones to ban abattoirs and form anti-Romeo squads. First it was said that all slaughterhouses will be closed but later the government retracted and it was clarified that only illegally operating ones will be closed. But the atmosphere created due to this arbitrary order was that even ordinary meat shops were closed. This included other kinds of meat as well—mutton, chicken, etc. A large number of people, working in the meat industry, were suddenly out of job. The daily-wagers were hit most badly. In the name of anti-Romeo operations even genuine couples were harassed. The govern-ment’s interference in the private lives of citizens has created a mood of despondency in the State. Worse, the effect is spreading to other Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States. In Gujarat now cow slaughter could attract life imprisonment.

After the ascendancy of Hindutva politics a new trend has set in. Even though there are already existing laws which could take care of cow slaughter, the fact being that in the name of banning beef most businesses which are being targeted deal with buffalo meat, or harassment of women on street, vigilante groups have surfaced that are more than willing to take law into their own hands, sometimes with fatal results. No other mainstream political party in India has cadres of this nature. Maoists or Naxalites exist but most of these are associated with banned organisations. A peculiar situation has been created in which people suspected of having consumed beef or expressing love in public could be beaten up but the people openly instigating violence could go scot free. The Chief Minister of UP has himself been involved in provoking violence in the past by his inflammatory speeches.

The BJP Government has been successful in deflecting attention from far pressing concerns. For example, lately farmers’ suicide has become a phenomenon in UP. The BJP’s prominent election promise was to waive loans taken by farmers. But obviously this is not considered a priority issue. Is it because this issue would not result in any advantage for communal polarisation? The actions of the BJP Government and the party are fast polarising the communal divide throughout the country. This was probably the objective of making Yogi the Chief Minister. [Note: When this article was written the UP CM had not yet waived the farmers’ loans but that has been carried out subsequently.—Editor] The politics of ban suits Right-wing parties like the BJP and Shiv Sena because such politics results in immediate polarisation effects.

However, if the BJP governments want to indulge in ban politics, like they demonstrated by banning big denomination old notes and now slaughter-houses, they should choose to ban private schools and hospitals which have become a curse for their clients. The ban on alcohol in Bihar and other places has helped the poor but a ban on private education and healthcare institutions would be beneficial for all.

Rich parents are harassed because high fee-charging institutions, where their children study, are ever ready to extract more money in the name of one activity or the other. The schools don’t follow the government-prescribed norms when raising fees for the subsequent academic years. The children have to study in extremely compe-titive set-ups which distort their personalities. Private coaching institutions have aggravated the problem. They are responsible for serious damage to the emotional well-being of our children and youth. In spite of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 in place, the expensive private schools are averse to admitting children from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups under Section 12[[
IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State should jointly take such actions as may be necessary to—

(A) recognise India’s status as a major defense partner of the United States;

(B) designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defense acquisition and technology—

(i) to reinforce and ensure, through interagency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the United States-India Defense Relationship; and

(ii) to help resolve remaining issues impeding United States-India defense trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities;

(C) approve and facilitate the transfer of advanced technology, consistent with United States conventional arms transfer policy, to support combined military planning with India’s military for missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, freedom of navigation, and maritime domain awareness missions, and to promote weapons systems interoperability;

(D) strengthen the effectiveness of the U.S.-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative and the durability of the Department of Defense’s “India Rapid Reaction Cell”;

(E) collaborate with the Government of India to develop mutually agreeable mechanisms to verify the security of defense articles, defense services, and related technology, such as appropriate cyber security and end use monitoring arrangements, consistent with United States export control laws and policy;

(F) promote policies that will encourage the efficient review and authorization of defense sales and exports to India;

(G) encourage greater government-to-govern-ment and commercial military transactions between the United States and India;

(H) support the development and alignment of India’s export control and procurement regimes with those of the United States and multilateral control regimes; and

(I) continue to enhance defense and security cooperation with India in order to advance United States interests in the South Asia and greater Indo-Asia-Pacific regions.

(c) of the Act and thereby are guilty of violation of law. The City Montessori School of Lucknow, which educates more than 50,000 children in its over 20 branches, brazenly refused admission to 58 children in 2016-17, whose admission was ordered by the district level education officer, and remained unscathed. The very high fee-charging private schools have become more powerful than the district or sometimes even State-level officials and operate like mafia. Like all powerful businessmen they know how to influence the governments.

Private hospitals have flourished like private schools but have discarded the notion of medical practice being a service to humankind. Most of them are money-making enterprises which are not guided by moral principles. Patients are burdened with unnecessary tests, medicines and treatment of inferior quality with no guarantee for cure. The patient could be held captive until the bills are cleared. There is a nexus of hospitals, ambulance services and middlemen which land unsuspecting patients in the hands of people who are zealous to fleece their clients. The government hospitals, on the other hand, may appear inefficient and unhygienic but still offer more genuine and honest services when compared with their private counterparts.

Why has the state adopted a policy of throwing the common people to the vultures in these two fields? After all, education and healthcare are basic needs of human beings along with food, clothing and housing, which guarantee them a life of dignity. The deliberate deterioration in the quality of government schools that has been allowed has been lamented by Justice Sudhir Agarwal of the Allahabad High Court in his August, 2015 order in which he asked the UP Government to make it compulsory for all those receiving government salaries to send their children to government schools.

People are waiting for emancipation from the clutches of private education, including coaching, and healthcare institutions bent upon exploiting them. The BJP governments would do some good if they are able to effect a ban on them and nationalise all education and healthcare services.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey is the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India). He was elected to this post at the founding conference of the party at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.

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