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Friday, 20 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Under Scrutiny

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The Hindu Editorial: Under Scrutiny
Title: Under scrutiny 

(The proposal to bring the BCCI under the RTI reflects rising public expectation) 

There is little surprise in the Law Commission of India recommendation that the Board of Control for Cricket in India be brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act. 

Over the years, the popular expectation that India’s cash-rich and commercially successful apex cricket body will have to make itself more transparent and accountable has been rising. 

While the BCCI is a private body that needs no financial help from the government, it is being increasingly recognised that it performs significant public functions. 

Even though a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in 2005 held by a 3-2 majority that the BCCI could not be termed an instrumentality of the ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution, subsequent developments have ensured that the public character of its functioning is widely recognised. 

In recent years, especially against the backdrop of the betting scandal that hit the Indian Premier League tournament a few years ago, the view that the cricket board is functioning in an opaque manner and not entirely in the game’s interest has gained ground. 

The Lodha Committee recommended that the board be treated as a public authority under the RTI Act, and the Supreme Court wanted the Law Commission to examine this suggestion. 

The Central Information Commission favoured the idea. The Union government has on different occasions maintained that the BCCI is a ‘national sports federation’ and, therefore, an entity that falls under the RTI Act’s ambit. 

Final Words: 

It is unlikely: other national federations are under the RTI and there is no reason to believe it would be any different for the BCCI. In fact, as a complement to the structural revamp, it may redound(contribute) to the game’s interest. 

Title: Marginalised from school 

(The Centre must review the implementation of the Right to Education Act across the country) 

Although the recent Budget session of Parliament was appallingly disrupted by the ruling party’s surrogates and Question Hour did not function most of the time, some things did work, almost on autopilot. 

Written questions submitted by MPs were indeed answered in writing – I got 26 of my questions admitted and answered — and while the more prestigious “starred questions” could not get asked, these “unstarred” ones have given us an instructive insight into some crucial aspects of government policy. 

On education 

My questions to the Minister of Human Resource Development in the Lok Sabha on the implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE), almost a decade after its enactment, are a case in point. The answers I received are alarming, and definitely warrant an emergency review of the implementation of the Act. 

It emerges from the Minister’s replies to me that five States (Goa, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Telangana) have not even issued notifications regarding admissions under the RTE. 

As readers will recall, Section 12(1)(c) of the Act mandates private unaided schools to reserve 25% of seats for children from economically weaker sections (EWS), in the age bracket of six to 14 years. 

While Telangana may be excused due to its recent formation, it is unjustifiable that the other States have failed to undertake the most basic steps to implement Section 12(1)(c) of an Act passed eight years ago. 

States have to notify per-child costs to pay the private schools, on behalf of the children admitted under this provision. However, out of 29 States and seven Union Territories, only 14 have notified their per-child costs. The provision does not apply to Jammu and Kashmir and there are no private schools in Lakshadweep. 

It is also shocking to note that in 2017-18, of the 15 States which submitted their reimbursement claims to the Central government, only six were approved. Many of the claims of the States were not provided funds by the Centre, as they had not notified the per-child costs. 

If there are no data to record the number of students being admitted, it begs the question as to how States are reimbursing private schools. The respective State governments and the Centre should clarify this specific point. 

Many gaps to fill 

If the States are not provided sufficient funds, private schools would be forced to bear the costs of the children. Civil society activists have informed me of instances of schools refusing to admit children under the RTE provision, citing non-payment of dues by State governments. 

The data regarding the number of children admitted under Section 12(1)(c) of the Act, in States which provided the figures, are also distressing. The number of children studying under this provision increased by 6,12,053 from 2014-2015 to 2015-16, but by 5,02,880 from 2015-16 to 2016-17. 

The Preamble to the Constitution states that the democratic Republic of India shall secure social, economic and political justice. Education is undoubtedly the most important element in the movement to secure this end. Although the Directive Principles of State Policy mandate the state to provide children the right to access education, and the 86th constitutional amendment and the RTE dictate its implementation, it will only be fulfilled if sincere efforts are made by the States under the guidance and prodding of a committed Centre. 

As the malaise regarding the non-implementation of the RTE is spread across the country, the Central government should immediately convene a meeting with all the State education ministers and review the implementation of the law. 

Final Words:- 

We need to act immediately to address the gaps in the implementation of the law. The future of our children depends on it. 

Vocabulary words: 

Scrutiny (noun) = Critical observation or examination (जांच) 

Purview (noun) = Range of experience or thought (कार्यक्षेत्र) 

Instrumentality (noun) = Weapon, tool (औज़ार) 

Scandal (noun) = An action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong (निंदा) 

Opaque (adj) = Not transparent (अस्पष्ट) 

Sweeping (adj) = Wide in range or effect (विस्तृत) 

Overhaul (verb) = Overtake, especially in a sporting event 

De facto (adv) = In reality, actually (वास्तव में) 

Redound (verb) = Contribute greatly to someone (सहायता देना) 

Appallingly (adv) = To a horrifying or shocking degree (भयभीत करते हुए) 

Prestigious (adj) = Reputable, eminent (प्रतिष्ठित) 

Blatant (adj) = Dominant, potent (प्रबल) 

Ancillary (adj) = Providing necessary support to the primary activities (सहायक) 

Preamble (noun) = An introduction (प्रस्तावना) 

Prodding (verb) = Stimulate to do something (उकसावा देना) 

Malaise (noun) = Unhappiness, restlessness (अस्वस्थता) 

Convene (verb) = Assemble or summon (आमन्त्रित करना)


    

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