Sunday, June 25, 2006


A K-PhD education proposal sent to the Knowledge Commission

Dear Knowledge Commission of India:

1. Primary Education: The Right to education bill (draft) is a step
in the right direction. However, India needs to move quickly from
Right to Education to Right to choice of education. It is not enough
that every kid can go to some school. Since our (yours and mine)
kids have a choice of what school to go to, similarly every kid and
parents should have a choice. The choice of kids from economically
disadvantage families or kids in remote villages should not be
limited to a (state) school which may or may not be functioning. In
the US two related ideas are being implemented in various states:
vouchers and charter schools.

Vouchers: It is implemented in Ohio where economically disadvantage
families are given vouchers from the state (close to an amount the
state spends per pupil) and they can use that money to go to
whichever school (even private) they chose to.

Charter schools: It is implemented in Arizona and many other states.
Charter schools are privately managed schools, but they get funding
from the government based on the number of students they have at a
rate close to the amount the state spends per pupil.

The current draft of the right to education bill (of India) requires
private schools to set aside 25% seats for economically advantage students and the government promises to pay at the rate spent per pupil otherwise.
However it is not clear what happens if a school
has 100% or 80% students from an economically advantage background.

I think the charter school idea should be explored in the Indian
context. Being assured of funding at a per pupil basis, various
private organizations will be motivated to open charter schools in
remote areas, and thus provide school choice to families living
there. Similar to the overseeing of private engineering colleges by
AICTE, a body can be created that would look after some aspects of
the charter school, but would otherwise leave the management to
private bodies.

Pointers to Charter Schools in AZ:

More on charter schools:

Vouchers and Ohio's implementation:

Right to Education bill (draft) of India:

(2) Higher education: Despite the brand name of IITs, and IIMs,
India is falling behind in research; and its national institutes and
central universities have a skewed distribution across various
states of India. (The poorest states like Bihar, Orissa and
Rajasthan have none beyond the NITs.) There is now a political will
as well as available funds to correct both and several committees
are working on it. Following are some of my thoughts.

more IITs: Since the idea of establishing a few more IITs was
proposed few years back, several institutions were evaluated and 7
were shortlisted. However the evaluation process excluded the NITs,
several of which are better ranked (see ) than 6 of the 7
initially shortlisted. Now a news report (see,0035.htm ) says that
the shortlist is further reduced to 5 and the plan is to make them
IIEST (Indian Inst of Engg Sc and Tech) instead of IITs.

Following are my suggestions:

(i) IT BHU should be upgraded to an IIT, as it is already ranked
higher than two of the IITs and it is better than all the NITs. However this will further skew the distribution of national institutes across India
(see ).
It is taken care of by implementing the suggestions below.

(ii) IIEST: 5-1 = 4 of the shortlisted institutes (Bengal engg
coll, CUSAT, Osmania, Andhra) are ranked lower than many NITs. (see )
Hence it does not make sense for these schools to have a higher
standing and funding than NITs. It is also unfair to the NITs. Thus besides the 5-1 = 4 shortlisted institutes to be made IIEST, 5-6 NITs that are as good or better than these 4 shortlisted institutes should also be made into IIESTs. Over the years efforts should be made to have an IIEST in every state through upgrading. Also, when an NIT is upgraded to an IIEST in a state, another engineering college in that state should be upgraded to an NIT. Thus in 10 years every major state (for example all states that have
an NIT now) should have an NIT and an IIEST.

(iii) new IITs: There will still be a need for the top branded IITs.
However, to protect the brand name, new IITs should be made with utmost care. But the issue of finding top faculty as well as the issue of funding remains. To counter that, as well as for regional balance the following strategy should be used.

Mini-IITs should be established in five to six states (such as
Orissa, Bihar, Rajasthan) that are way behind (see ) in terms of national level institutes like IITs and IIMs, with a plan to make them into a full-fledged IIT in 10 years. Each of these mini-IITs would have a mentor from among the existing IITs whose mandate would be to make the new IIT. For example, IIT Kharagpur has an extension center ( )
in Bhubaneswar (in Orissa which does not have an IIT or IIM)
that currently offers PGDIT ( )
This can be declared as a mini-IIT and IIT Kharagpur
can be given responsibility to turn it into a full-fledged IIT in 10
years. They can start with graduate programs, and add one department every year, introduce undergraduate programs in 3-4 years, and so on, until it becomes a full-fledged IIT in 10 years.

(iv) Central universities in backward district + KBK clusters +
extremist affected districts:

Similar to the central universities in the north east, comprehensive
central universities should be established in backward district clusters (plus the super backward region of KBK districts in Orissa) of India. This will lead to more educated people moving to those districts; more opportunities for students there to pursue high quality higher education; and most importantly this will lead to the districts producing more local teachers (etc.) who have a higher chance of staying there.

I hope the above thoughts are useful to your commission. I would be
happy to elaborate on them further.

best regards

Chitta Baral
Professor, Arizona State University

Saturday, June 24, 2006


After AIIMS, Ramadoss' aim is school

Is the Health minister, a central minister or a minister of Tamil Nadu.
If he only looks after his own state, who will look after the rest of


NEW DELHI: Having sent shockwaves through AIIMS, health minister A Ramadoss is set to ruffle feathers at the Public Health Foundation of India by announcing that one of its Rs 100-crore health schools will come up in his home state, Tamil Nadu — before the body even got around to examining the proposal.

PHFI, whose six-member executive committee and 20-member board includes luminaries like Amartya Sen, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Rajat Gupta, R A Mashelkar, Harpal Singh, P C Chatterjee, Shiv Nadar, Rohini Nilekani and Thomas W Lamont besides PMO officials, has decided that two schools will come up. One will be in NCR, while the location of the second is yet to the decided.

Not for Ramadoss though. The minister is quite clear that apart from one school in north India, the other should be in his native Tamil Nadu.

Ramadoss told TOI from London, "The foundation will initially set up two public health schools, one in north and the other in south India. I have been trying to make TN the other state besides NCR."

The minister pointed out that he had "written two letters to Jayalalitha (when she was CM) asking her to allot land. But I haven't received any reply in the past six months. The new TN government has already allocated 50 acres for the school. It will come up near Chennai for certain."

Friday, June 16, 2006


Pioneer: A lion's share for own TN, with love from Ramadoss

In India it seems to be an acceptable norm that a minister will usurp a big part of his budget to the state from which he/she comes from. Earlier we discussed the HRD example. This is an example from the health ministry.

I don't know why don't the ministers and the PM understand that the central ministers are ministers of the country. They are suppose to spend the budget equitably across the whole country. Not just allocate it to their constituency or their allies constituency. For that they are given MPLAD fund.

India must learn from the approach used in US. For example, when base closing across were decided the rules were adopted such that every state was treated fairly. Similarly most budget allocations in US is done using set formulas. (There is some special allocations, referred to as pork, but that is the exception rather than the norm.) In India it seems the norm is that the minister of XYZ truies to spend a big part of their budget in their
own or in their allies' constituencies. What is shocking is that even the PM
and the Finance minister are not above this. (See analysis in )


A lion's share for own TN, with love from Ramadoss

Yoga Rangatia | New Delhi

State gets funds for 8 hospitals, despite failing to reveal earlier accounts
---- Charged with nepotism in premier institutions, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has flouted guidelines to favour his home State with Central funds.

In the last two years, Tamil Nadu walked away with one-third of the funds meant for upgradation of public hospitals across the country. Eager to route monetary aid to the State, the Health Ministry also put on hold its own guidelines to not to release fresh funds unless accounts of funds earlier released are not provided.

In the last two years, of the 30-odd hospitals across the country given one-time grant to purchase equipment and ambulances, eight are from Tamil Nadu. This is despite the fact that the State is yet to give an account for the funds released as early as 2004.

Public hospitals in Tamil Nadu received Rs 12 crore between 2004 and 2006 under a Centre-sponsored scheme. Rest of the States have to be content with about Rs 36 crore the Health Ministry granted them in the same period.

The Central funds are allocated to set up trauma care units and to procure surgical equipment, X-ray machines and ambulances. These aids are perceived as bounties as owing them hospitals award lucrative contracts to procure buy medical equipment and support construction work. Tamil Nadu has been favoured for fund disbursement even after it has failed to account for Rs 5.48 crore released since 2001. Utilisation certificates for money released to public hospitals in Perampur, Omalu, Villupuram and Chengalpattu are awaited since 2004. Those hospitals favoured by the Health Ministry are located in Thanjavur, Tambaram, Melur, Tensaki, Padmanabhapuram, Cuddalore, Namakka and Vellore.

In fact, a handful of major States received money in Dr Ramadoss' tenure. Besides Tamil Nadu (eight hospitals), other States that received Central assistance are Arunachal Pradesh (one hospitals), Andhra Pradesh (two hospitals), Gujarat (three hospitals), Haryana (two hospitals), Kerala (one hospital), Karnataka (one hospital), Madhya Pradesh (five hospitals), Nagaland (two hospitals), Pondicherry (two hospitals), Rajasthan (two hospitals) and Uttar Pradesh (two hospitals).

The Tenth Five Year Plan envisaged a trauma care centre for every 100 kilometres of the highways to bring down incidences of death due to accidents. Public hospital along the national highways with at least 100-bed capacity and staff for emergency care are eligible for the funds. A sanctioning committee headed by additional secretary screens the application from States on the basis of their existing infrastructure for emergency care, staff and past record on fund utilisation.

A one-time grant of Rs 150 lakh in each hospital for purchase of well-equipped ambulance, basic essential equipment required for accident and trauma services, communication system, and provide for infrastructure in control room, blood bank, examination room, intensive care unit and burn beds, operation theatre. The scheme envisaged preference for hospitals situated on the national highways, preferably at Golden Quadrilateral and East-West and North-South Corridors.

But when it comes to Union Health Ministry, all roads lead to Tamil Nadu. And funds follow.

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Monday, June 12, 2006


Questions to people on both sides of the reservations issue.

Questions for people supporting reservations:

1. Where did the magic number 27% come from?

2. Who belongs to an OBC?

3. Does it matter that different states may have different percentage of OBCs?

4. Do we know for sure that OBC's have been persecuted? I am told in Rajasthan Jats
are categorized as OBCs. Does it mean that Jats are persecuted in Rajasthan?

5. What is the moral justification that a poor Brahmin from a village gets bumped by a rich OBC from a city just because the former is a Brahmin and the later is an OBC?

6. Just because a particular group is underrepresented in a particular field does it mean
that group is being persecuted with respect to that field?

Questions for people against reservations:

1. Why are you against reservations?

2. Do you really think quality will suffer because of reservations in AIIMS?
AIIMS Delhi has less than 50 open seats. Just because they have 50 seats
only those 50 are qualified to be doctors. How about the people who are
ranked 200?

3. If the government increases the seats as promised so that the number of
seats for non SC/ST and non OBC remains the same, then there is no net
loss of opportunity for the non SC/ST, non OBC group. In that how does
reservation reduce opportunities for the non SC/ST and non OBC group?

Friday, June 09, 2006


Websites for and against reservations

Websites/blogs against reservations:

Websites/blogs for reservations:

Mandal Commission:


My initial take on the "27% reservations for OBC" issue.

I strongly believe that society and government should lend a helping hand to people who are otherwise disadvantaged. I also believe that
the current UPA government's proposal for 27% additional reservation for OBCs is fully motivated by political considerations and not at all well thought out.

Also, how can one believe the sincerity of a government that hijacks resources from a poor state, shows blatant fovauritism in HRD funding by putting more funds to states from where the Prime minister and finance minister are from, to states that are ruled by its allies, and taking away funding from states ruled by non-allies. (See details in the previous posts.) One can not believe the sincereity of such a government. One also can not believe the planning comission that rubber-stamps decision by such a government without paying any regards to the inequity created by the govt actions.

In short, a government which creates inequity, which enhances inequity, can not be trusted in its intentions.

Nevertheless, in this blog we will slowly dissect the arguments for and against the 27% reservation. First we give a list of arguments that we found in the web.

Articles in favour of additional 27% reservation for OBCs:

Some articles against the 27% reservations for OBCs:

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Favouritisms in the 2006-2007 Indian budget

Goodies for allied states or states where the finance minister or the prime minister comes from, while states not allied with the central government are neglected and punished.

Lowlights of favouritism in the 2006-07 budget:

In our analysis of the 2005-2006 budget we showed that while the central government of India spent (in 2005-06) Rs 4.07 on higher education institutions (HRD-NH or HRD National highways) per person in Orissa, it spent Rs 177.12 in Delhi, Rs 28.10 in West Bengal, Rs 25.12 in Karnataka, Rs 17.79 in Tamil Nadu, Rs 17.09 in Maharastra, Rs 17.08 in UP, Rs 16.05 in Andhra, Rs 13.38 in Punjab, Rs 8.52 in Haryana, Rs 7.9 in Kerala, Rs 7.2 in MP, Rs 4.87 in Gujurat, Rs 2.59 in Rajasthan, and Rs 1.87 in Bihar.

Comparing in another way, the Government of India's spending per person with respect to HRD-NHs, in comparison to Orissa, is 43.52 times in Delhi, 6.9 times in West Bengal, 6.17 times in Karnataka, 4.37 times in Tamil Nadu, 4.2 times in UP, 4.2 times in Maharashtra, 3.94 times in AP, 3.29 times in Punjab, 2.09 times in Haryana, 1.94
times in Kerala, 1.77 times in MP, and 1.2 times in Gujarat.

We wrote to various people including the prime minister, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and the planning commission about it. But the 2006-07 budget with respect to the HRD-NH instead of addressing the inequity has made the inequity worse. Moreover, it shows the current government has made new allocations to states whose government is allied with them, states where the finance minister is from (Tamil Nadu) or the PM is elected from (Assam). This could be a coincidence; but it really puts a question mark on what kind of democracy India is. It begs questions such as: Do India's prime minister and finance minister see themselves as serving the country (all parts of it) or as fiefs who can allocate resources to the states they come from or their allies come from? We will enumerate the places new HRD investments have been allocated in the 2006 budget or have been announced and you be the judge.

1. Three new Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) are proposed in Pune, Kolkata, and near Chandigarh in Punjab. These are all in states that are ruled by parties allied to the central government. IISER Pune and Kolkata have a budget of 50 crores now and IISER Punjab will have a similar budget. (IISERs are basically renamed National institute of Sciences that the earlier government proposed to have in Bhubaneswar, Pune, Allahbad and Chennai. Bhubaneswar is in Orissa, which does not have any premier higher education institution, and is currently ruled by the opposition NDA. Allahbad has an IIIT, and Chennai has an IIT.)

2. Paddy Processing Research Centre at Thanjavur will be developed into a national-level institute. (Thanjavur is in Tamil Nadu, the Finance minister's home state.)

3. The existing National Institute of Port Management, Chennai, has been renamed as the National Maritime Academy, and it is proposed to upgrade it into a Central University under an Act of Parliament. The University will have regional campuses at Mumbai, Kolkata and
Visakhapatnam. (Chennai is in the finance minister's home state. Mumbai, Kolkata and Vijag are all in states ruled by parties allied to the central government.)

4. 50 crores each now and 50 crores at the end of the year to University of Calcutta, the University of Mumbai and the University of Madras. (The first two are in states allied to the central government and the third is the state from where the finance minister hails.)

5. Rs.100 crore for an institution of excellence to a distinguished institution, the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. (Punjab government is allied to the central government. The prime minister grew up in Punjab. )

6. Accord the status of an autonomous National Institute to the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala. (Kerala has a Congress government, and is up for election.)

7. Central Institute of Technology, Kokrajhar, Assam. (Has a
congress government, up for election, and the prime minister's Rajya Sabha constituency. (However, this is part of a deal made in 2003 with the Bodo Tribal Council. Couldn't the government also establish similar institutes in other troubled spots in India, such as in KBK.)

Besides the above, two other proposals are made which do not have the above mentioned ties.

A. A Central Institute of Horticulture will be established in
Nagaland. (It is ruled by an NDA allied party.)

B. During 2006-07, Ministry of Tourism will establish 4 new
institutes of hotel management in the States of Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal. (These are technical institutes rather than higher educational institutes, and have a much smaller budget.)

Based on the above and other details buried in the 2006-2007 budget: while the central government is scheduled to spend Rs 4.07 on HRD-NH (HRD ministry funded higher education institutions plus instituitions of national importance) per person in Orissa, it will spend Rs 183.08 in Delhi, Rs 41.20 in West Bengal (up from Rs 28.1), Rs 33.4 in Karnataka (up from 25.125), Rs 27 in Tamil Nadu (up from Rs 17.79), Rs 28.38 in Maharastra (up from 17.1), Rs 17.73 in UP, Rs 16.05 in Andhra, Rs 33.27 in Punjab, Rs 8.13 in Haryana, Rs 7.90 in Kerala, Rs 9.02 in MP, Rs 4.87 in Gujurat, Rs 2.59 in Rajasthan, and Rs 1.87 in Bihar.

In other words the Government of India's spending (in 2006-07) per person with respect to HRD-NHs, in comparison to Orissa, is 44.95 times in Delhi, 10.11 times in West Bengal (up from 6.9), 8.20 times in Karnataka (up from 6.17), 6.63 times in Tamil Nadu (up from 4.37), 4.35 times in UP, 6.97 times in Maharashtra (up from 4.2), 3.94 times in AP, 17.93 times in Punjab (up from 3.27), 2.11 times in Haryana, 1.94 times in Kerala, 2.21 times in MP, and 1.2 times in Gujurat.

We are really shocked by this allocation which worsens the inequity and illustrates favoritism as the principle behind the budget.

We understand that the states allied to the central government and the home states of the PM and Finance minister are also part of India. So the central government is right to invest in them and we are happy for those states. What we would like to point out is that the central government did not invest anything in the states that are in the bottom of the HRD list, such as Orissa, Rajasthan and Bihar. This is despite the fact that thousands of Orissans wrote to the Prime minister and Smt. Gandhi about this. The worst part is that the earlier government after having noticed this inequity had announced (though the HRD minister, the president, the UGC chair) the establishment of a National Institute of Sciences in Bhubaneswar and this government for inexplicable reasons (or perhaps to punish Orissa for not voting for it and rewarding the others states) has decided to rename it (to IISER) and establish in three other states, which already were in the top among the Indian states with respect to HRD funding.

We also understand that as parliamentarians the Oxford educated PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the Harvard educated finance minister Mr. P. Chadambaram have every right to look after their constituencies and develop them. They must do that. For that they should use their MPLAD funds. The Indian budget is the budget of all of India not the fief of PM, the FM or the subset of states that are allied to the government.

We would sincerely request the reader to bring this to the notice of media outlets of India. Perhaps their exposure of this shameless behavior of our most learned ministers will change the way budgets are done in our country and perhaps we will move towards a more equitable country with all parts shining together.

Chitta Baral 3/24/06

(ps: Recently, the central government finally decided to honor the earlier government's commitment to establish 6 new AIIMS-like institutions in the backward states of Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttaracnchal. However the allocated budget for these institutions in the 2006-07 budget is miniscule. It remains to be seen if the announcement was a lip service or the budget is going to be increased to really start these institutions.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Introduction to this blog

India is a vast country with more than a billion people with 29 states and 6 union territories. Originally many of the states were created on a linguisitic basis. India has 18 scheduled languages, most of which even differ in their scripts. The states of India are uneven in size, the smallest being Sikkim with a population of .0571 crores (571,000) and the largest being Uttar Pradesh with a population of 17.1829 crores (171,829,000). There is vast inequity across India. The goal of this Center for Promoting an Equitable India is to point out these inequity, analyze some causes behind it, and try to contact people who may be able to change this for the better.

India's political system is a kind of democracy. Even though the states in India have Governors and the country has a President; they have very little real power. Effectively, Inidia's government has two branches: the legislative branch which not only makes laws but also functions as the executive; and the judiciary.

The legislative branch (which also contains the ministers, that head the executive branch) of the Indian government, called the parliament has two parts: the Lok Sabha and the Rajya sabha. The Lok Sabha has 543-545 members and the Rajya Sabha has 245 members; both unevenly distributed across the states. For example, while Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha members and 31 Rajya Sabha members, Orissa has 21 and 10 respectively, and many states have 1 each. The number of members from each state is approximately based on population of the states. This unevenness across states gives more power and clout to the bigger states. Moreover, in the Indian parliamentary system, the ministers are selected from the ruling coalition. Thus if a state's MPs (members of parliament) are not part of this ruling coalition then that state has a much lesser clout. Finally, a government sponsored bill, if it fails in the parliament, then the government has to resign thus forcing ruling coalition MPs to vote for their government bills or risk being thrown out of their party. Thus after an election the ruling coalition does not need to care what the MPs of other parties think; it can give more resources to the states which have more MPs aligned to it or is ruled by an allied party and ignore or even punish states which have only a few or no MPs aligned to it and are not ruled by an allied party.

Despite this flawed system many ministries of the Indian government pay attention towards equitable distribution of resources. However not all do. The aim of this blog run by the center for promoting an equitable India is to identify

On the left hand side bar we have some documented links to articles and tables about the above.

We sincerely hope that anyone coming across this will contact MPs, ministers, media outlets and urge them to pressure the government of the day to undo actions that lead to inequity and take balancing actions that promote equity. Only then India will become a great nation, prosperous across all regions, rather than the current mixture of deprived, neglected and backward areas together with many prosperous enclaves.

Chitta Baral 3/24/06

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