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Research

2016

A recent study by Azim Premji Foundation (APF) titled “Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009 and Private School Closure in India” has received wide media coverage and ignited debate over the impact of RTE on private schools. The study claims that only five private schools have closed down in seven states and one union territory that it studied—four in Karnataka and one in Uttarakhand. Anurag Behar, CEO of APF, declared that any research reporting otherwise is “false or ludicrously exaggerated.”[1]

The possible impact of RTE on the closure of private schools is a critical policy issue, especially when the parents have deliberately chosen the fee-charging schools over the free government schools. Therefore, the study deserves closer review and analysis, which is the objective of this detailed assessment. Instead of doing a newspaper column, we decided to do a full review of their research processes, methodology and overall soundness of research. The basic purpose is not so much to challenge their conclusions but to assess the research that serves as a basis for arriving at those conclusions.

We embarked on our mission: We read the study once, twice, thrice. We thought we must be missing something—this is a study produced by India’s largest education foundation. After all those readings and discussions, we came to the inescapable conclusion: the quality of the APF study is alarmingly poor. It is hard to believe that the most well-endowed education foundation in the country, which also runs an education university, would consider this study worthy of publication. Moreover, the CEO of the Foundation, who presumably has read the study, would consider it appropriate to ridicule all other research and experiences, and even declare them as almost lies, on the basis of this study. It is really a sad day for research, for the quality of public debate and for the quality standards of APF.


[1]Anurag Behar, ‘Reality of School Closures,’ Mint, 18 February 2016, http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/nd3HbSousJ84BbJtlomlHN/The-reality-of-school-closures.html. See also Rohit Dhankar, ‘A Lesson in Hidden Agendas,’Hindu, 26 March 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-lesson-in-hidden-agendas/article8397088.ece A reply to Dhankar by one of the authors is ‘Ideology Masquerading as Research, 'http://spontaneousorder.in/ideology-masquerading-as-research/


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2016

NITI Aayog’s effort towards reforming Indian Medical Education is a step long overdue. There is a broad consensus across the Parliament, Executive, Judiciary and State Governments to replace the thoroughly corrupt, utterly inefficient and a decrepit Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new commission that meets the aspirations of 21st century India. MCI has neither fulfilled the objective of improving access to medical education nor setting the high professional and ethical standards that the complex healthcare sector demands from the doctors. It has become a textbook example of ‘regulatory capture’. The age old socialist mindset towards regulatory institutions continues to plague many sectors in India, of which MCI is only one example.

NITI Aayog’s radical shift in regulatory philosophy towards liberal and market oriented one can be considered as one of the big bang reforms of the current government. A shift in approach from inputs based norms and standards to the one based on outcomes is definitely going to create a lasting impact in quality of medical education and is expected to set the precedent for other streams of education too.

The National level entrance and exit exams will ensure that merit prevails over discretion and admissions are handled in a transparent manner. Removing entry barriers for private investors by doing away with the infamous ‘non-profit’ tag will address the challenge of access and helps meet the huge demand for medical education in India. Currently, around 11 lakh students chase an odd 55,000 seats and this has given some unscrupulous colleges a free hand in exploiting the artificially induced scarcity.

Largely in consonance with the proposed bill, we would like to bring few specific issues to the Aayog’s notice to help realizing the true spirit of the bill.

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2016

This guidebook is based on Centre for Civil Society's pilot programme Patang, which was implemented in two private schools in Delhi. The objective of Patang was to understand the issues arising from one of the provisions of the Right to Education act (RTE). Section 12 (1)(C) of the RTE Act requires aided and unaided private schools to reserve at least 25% of their entry-level seats for children from economically and socially disadvantaged communities (EWDS). The provision has been severely contested and several systemic and classroom level issues have also been raised against this provision. Patang focuses only on the classroom impact of such a reservation. It was designed as an intervention to understand:

  • the challenges of inclusion in private schools enrolling EWDS students under the reservation category
  • efforts required to address these challenges
  •  the policy implications for improving inclusion in schools.

The guidebook with details of the programme also highlights the struggles and successes of the intervention. It provides concrete steps to help schools create an inclusive environment for students especially those from the EWDS background.

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2016

Due to a lack of clarity in the judicial decisions, in 2009, the Street Vendors Policy 2004 was revised as the ‘National Policy on Urban Street Vendors 2009’. The revised policy was not legally binding and made little progress on the matter of street vendors. In 2010, the Supreme Court directed the government to enact a law regulating street vending and thus, the Street Vendors Bill 2012 was drafted. The Bill was passed in both houses by February 2014 and became the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. This Act was drafted with the legislative intent of protecting the livelihood rights of street vendors as well as regulating street vending through demarcation of vending zones, conditions for and restrictions on street vending. The Act now governs over all matters in regards to the rights and duties of the street vendors in India. It also provides for confiscation of goods that are being sold by street vendors to be cataloged properly.

It is in this context that Centre for Civil Society – a Delhi-based think tank decided to take up a study of the implementation of 2014 Act across India and come up with a matrix and an index to rank states. We filed applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005 across India, made more than 250 phone calls to expedite the RTI reply process, compiled court judgments and referred to other secondary sources such as news stories.

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2015

We review whether criminalising cheque bounce cases has been an effective remedy. We also study the penalties imposed in other countries against cheque bounce offenders and analyse their effective implementation in India.

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2015

Tabled by V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in Lok Sabha in December 2011, The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 was a proposed Indian central legislation which lapsed due to dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. This paper enumerates the provisions of the Bill, its obligations and its organizational structure and further enlists areas of dichotomy or possible loopholes after a systematic review of the bill. A comparative analysis of provisions of the Act as implemented across the 19 states is then taken up to find out differences to the approach of the act in various states. The paper further examines how internal and external models have lacked due to incidents of absenteeism, corruption and outreach and assesses the challenges faced by the upcoming e-governance models.

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2015

The essence of good governance is good laws. For rule of law to operate, laws must be well-written and well-coded. Laws must be precise, principles-based, and should stand the test of time. Statues that are obsolete, redundant, repetitive, or inconsistent only create chaos for the masses and provide unnecessary powers in the hands of implementing agencies, weakening the social fabric and incentivising corruption.

During the campaigns for the 2014 General Election, BJP candidate Shri Narendra Modi promised the electorate that on being elected, he would make a sincere attempt at statutory legal clean up. The commitment was that for every new law passed, 10 redundant ones would be repealed, and that in his first 100 days in office he would undertake to repeal 100 old, burdensome laws. The Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance Government tabled the Repealing and Amending Bill (Third) Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha, recommending revision of about 180 obsolete laws. It was also the commitment of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, that this exercise of weeding out antiquated laws would be a continuous process.

After the success of Centre of Civil Society’s Repeal of 100 laws Project (in partnership with NIPFP Macro/Finance Group and Vidhi Legal Policy Centre), wherein 100 Central laws were suggested for repeal, of which 23 were formally included in the Repealing and Amending Bill, Centre for Civil Society has launched its Repeal of laws Project- Phase II, via its report that includes laws that warrant immediate repeal in Delhi, on the grounds of them being redundant, subsumed by newer legislations, or because they pose an impediment to growth, development, good governance and individual freedom.

We believe that while statutory reform is only the beginning of a wider process of legal overhaul, it is perhaps the most important. Without sound laws, India will not provide an enabling environment, neither for citizens, nor for entrepreneurs. Repealing pointless legislation is the first step in this direction.

For the year 2015, a similar report was prepared by us for the state of Delhi.

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2015

The Union education budget has seen an increase in monetary allocation every year and the enrolment rate across the country has also been largely moving upwards. It becomes important to scrutinise the education budget for 2014-15 to understand how the new government has approached the education sector, especially elementary and secondary education. This paper looks at four major schemes undertaken by the Government of India in the education sector,and identifies trends in state education budgets by analysing data for three sample states—Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

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2015

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2009 ratified education as a fundamental right and seeks to promote equitable access to education for all children up to the age of 14 years. However, the Act focuses almost entirely on school inputs and not on learning outcomes. The lack of a focus on output has been accompanied by poor learning outcomes, increased pressure on government capacity and the implementation of policies that may not necessarily give the returns in terms of improving outcomes. In this paper, we argue for a case to shift the focus of education investment from inputs to outcomes, outlining the recognition norms defined under the RTE. We review the literature available to examine whether a correlation between input norms and learning outcomes exists and make recommendations for an outcomes-focused policy approach to improving the quality of education.

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2015

The paper reports on existing incentive structures in a sample of government and private schools in Delhi and elicits teachers’ perspectives on factors which motivate them. It is found that performance-related pay and promotions are important monetary incentives for teachers. Recognition, regular evaluation and monitoring and contractual based employment are found to be important non-monetary incentives. Having a large class size, having to teach subjects outside of a teacher’s expertise and performing clerical duties are found to be some significant disincentives for teachers.

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