Research

Suggestions on Draft National Medical Commission Bill, 2016NITI 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.

Research Year: 2016 | Category: Education

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.[1] 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.”[2]

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]http://www.azimpremjifoundation.org/sites/default/files/Right-to-Education-Act-2009-and-Private-School-Closure.pdf

[2]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/


Research Year: 2016 | Category: Education

In India, reforms in regulation of private schools have been argued on the basis of universalizing access to education while recognizing the increasing role of private in enabling that access, particularly for the poor. However, the experience so far has been that the regulations create entry and exit barriers in the provision of education by entrepreneurs thereby reducing competition and keeping the cost of education high. It is in this context that regulation of private education is observed in the case studies to better understand how governments in other parts of the world have managed to harness private investment in education for the benefits of the society in general. The study examines three cases of best practices from around the world:

  1. Regulation of Hagwon/supplemental education centres in South Korea,
  2. Per-child funding model in the Netherlands, and
  3. Punjab Education Foundation in Pakistan.
Research Year: 2016 | Category: Education

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.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Governance

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 Maharashtra, wherein  on meeting with them, the State Government acknowledged and agreed to repeal 19 of the 25 laws that were presented to them for repeal.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Governance

This paper presents case studies of two tribal villages - Mendha Lekha and Jamguda - successfully running forest-based bamboo businesses under the community forest rights provisions of Forest Rights Act (2006). We have documented the issues faced by the villagers in claiming community forest rights, issues faced in harvesting and sale of bamboo, and business practices adopted by both the villages.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Livelihood

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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Research Year: 2015 | Category: Governance

The paper examines the current state of funding of school education in India and identifies the inefficiencies and arbitrary nature of allocation of the system and suggests an alternative per-child funding model. The paper argues for the model on the basis of school choice and decentralized school administration, which would result in schools competing to be efficient in spending to attract/maintain students. The paper draws from such existing models in countries like Canada, Netherlands and UK while using the San Francisco School District's model as a detailed case study to further strengthen the argument for such a per-child model of funding.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

Budget Private Schools (BPS) are privately-run schools that charge very low fees, operating among the poorer sections of the society and have become relevant to the education discourse of India. Such small schools began mushrooming in the late 1980s across developing countries as alternatives to dysfunctional state-run schools and India was no exception. However, the in the succeeding two decades, BPS contributed heavily to the soaring enrollment rates in private schools. These schools have been referred to in literature as “low-fee private schools”, “affordable private schools” and “private schools for the poor” among others, and are considered an entrepreneurial response to meet urgent education needs by expanding access to the poorest children. Despite lack of infrastructure and facilities, studies over the past decade has shown that learning outcomes in these schools are equal to or better than those of far more resourceful government schools. Despite huge spending over the past decade and more, the government still faces the challenges of millions of out-of-school children, high dropout rates after elementary education and low female enrolment among other things. It is in this context that existing literature on such low-fee charging private schools is being analysed to gain a better understanding of the situation in different parts of India about the achievements, challenges and overarching role of Budget Private Schools (BPS) in India’s school education ecosystem.

Studies published in the late 1990’s to as recent as 2014 have been included in the analysis and this meta-study has attempted to capture as wide a range of issues related to BPS from learning outcomes and regulations to gender problems and questions of equity while trying to maintain as much geographic coverage as possible at the same time. This study aims to understand why parents are increasingly choosing to send their children to BPS even in places with access to government-run schools, how children in BPS are performing relative to government schools and how regulations are affecting the functioning of BPS, besides trying to gain some clarity about the direction in which education in India is headed in this context.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education

Different state governments of India have notified through Government Orders (GOs) the amount they will pay out for each RTE child admitted, in reimbursement to private schools. For example, Delhi has fixed the reimbursement amount at Rs 1190, Uttarakhand at Rs 860 and Uttar Pradesh at Rs 450 per month per child. These amounts are meant to represent the states’ per pupil expenditure in their respective government elementary (primary + upper primary) schools. However, there has been some doubt and dismay about the accuracy of these estimates, and also some research estimating per pupil expenditures in the different states of India (Dongre et al, 2014; Pritchett and Aiyar, 2014) for the year 2011-12. However, in UP the regularisation of 176,000 para teachers in 2014 has added significantly to its elementary education budget and thus revised estimates of per pupil expenditures are needed.

This short note seeks to estimate the per pupil expenditure in government elementary schools in Uttar Pradesh using the government’s own expenditure and enrolment data.

Disclaimer: This research paper is by Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, UCL Institute of Education, University College London.

Research Year: 2015 | Category: Education