Targeting in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya
It is truly mind boggling how the UPA finds ways of introducing adhoc division and discrimination even in areas where the easiest approach is to create common goods.
There is little doubt that improving education among girls is of paramount importance. They are especially vulnerable around elementary school level where poverty, custom, and other factors make them drop out. To address this, right after getting elected in 2004, the UPA government announced all-girls residential schools in remote and backward areas. These schools were called Kasturbha Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas. Remote areas are rather easy to identify – it includes scattered habitations in hills, deserts, etc. Backward areas are a bit harder but includes all the areas where the rural female literacy rate is below the national average. So far, we have what sounds like a good program – setup residential schools in areas where girls traditionally drop out. You can monitor its effectiveness by observing the rural female literate rate. How awesome !
Now watch how this scheme is framed by the UPA. ( I uploaded the latest rules here (PDF))
A : Targeting
First, this program is targeted at SC/ST/OBC/Minority girls. There is simply no reason for such a targeting ; religious or otherwise.
The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) scheme was launched by the Government of India in August, 2004 for setting up residential schools at upper primary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and minorities in difficult areas.
If you live in a difficult or backward area with a high drop out rate your life as a girl probably sucks. What is the rationale then of denying equality to a Hindu girl who is not from one of the reserved classes ?
B : Minority concentration district
A clause is added to say that :
Towns/cities having minority concentration (as per the list identified by Ministry of Minority Affairs) with female literacy rate below the national average (53.67%: Census 2001).
Now what is the rationale for introducing religion in a totally arbitrary manner into a scheme that includes girls from all religions. Put another way : What is the reason for preferential treatment for districts with > 20% minority population. The objective of the program is to seek an uptick in a secular metric such as female literacy rate.
C : 75% quota for SC/ST/OBC/Minority – 25% for BPL
UPA is totally sold on the idea that poverty is something more than the act of not having economic means. I have warned about this in the past in “Below poverty level“. So we have another quota :
In view of the targeted nature of the scheme, 75% girls from SC, ST, OBC or minority communities would be accorded priority for enrolment in such residential schools and only thereafter, 25% girls from families below poverty line. (Sec 5.8)
This is simply outrageous considering how low the poverty line in India is. It goes without saying that all the communities are eligible for the 25% poverty quota. So these schools prefer caste/religion over the poor.
So in effect, the UPA instead of creating common goods which every poor girl in every backward block can access, has subjected it into arbitrary communalism. Down we slide.
Jai Hind !