Union Budgets have been the most dreary topics for me and the very sounds of Latin smeared budgetary jargons like fiscal deficit, federal surplus have had repulsive effects of delirium if not a nightmarish experience during my college days. As if the lethal usage of ultra-formal undecipherable flamboyance with Anglicized Roman/Latin/Greek derived English words (much like our constitution vocabulary) were not enough, budgets from times immemorial have been more about political equations and revenue generation and less about real welfare of the people. Nevertheless year after year Budgets have often spoken about welfare of poor farmers or benefits to the big corporates so much so that the middleclass has come to believe that it is somewhat normal for the salaried class to be the silent donkey, bearing the tax burden without even a tsk.
Till recently the honest tax payer made no qualms of paying up his taxes even if it meant his exploitation to subsidize other non-taxpayers nor did he make any noise on the lavish rebates given to the rich corporates as they were deemed as job creators. But the pinnacle of corruption and misuse of the tax payers’ money during the UPA rule where a new scam was unveiled with each passing day, the ugly culture of nexus between the politicians and bureaucratic layers had revealed the fallacy and futility of all those populist policies that the common taxpayer had had enough.
The accumulated dissent of over 70years had reached a saturation point where he could take no more. To add to the dissatisfaction the unbridled excesses of secularism unleashed unabashedly triggered the otherwise calm middleclass for an actionable response. The Gujarat model of Modi and the overt (2002 )vilification model of Congress, lingered in the minds of the masses. And in Modi, people saw an unbreakable promise, a messiah to counter the corrupt and the carcinogenic. Also the many articulate and irrefutable voices like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitaraman, Piyush Goyal, Smrithi Irani etc of the BJP central leadership countering the Lutyen hegemony came as an avenging respite that the common man could readily connect with. Their voices seemed to comfort the common man against the disdain shown towards anything Hindu or anything middleclass as for far too long it had been a depressing sight to watch the inability of the BJP/RSS spokesperson to articulate or command answers or even ask the right questions.
The eve of 2014 Lok Sabha elections saw an impatient India waiting to throw the Congress out. And in this whole process Indian voters had upgraded themselves into an informed lot who now knew like never before _ what goes into the making of polity of the nation, so much so that every other step by the Modi Government was and is carefully watched, weighed, certified or crucified. The Modi government which is almost at the end of its tenure is still seen like a 4 year old baby by its supporters who have reposed their faith and invested their dreams in this current leadership and are obnoxiously possessive about every step taken. The slightest sign of deviation or lack of understanding or communication is naturally met with utmost apprehension because we are the same set of people who fretted and fumed when a panelist lost to a corrupt Congressi on a TV debate.
After 70 years of being let down consistently, it is unthinkable to be let down once again that too by those very people whom we voted with a lot of hope! It is precisely for this reason that the 2018 budget has received so much attention and flak from the salaried class who until recently did not indulge or mince words simply because there was no hope nor scope but today they are seemingly getting restless to reverse the flaws of the many decades in just 5years.
With no relief in the tax slabs and reintroduction of standard deduction that offers nothing much to cheer about, plus an additional Education cess on income tax that negates the standard deduction has left the middle class today disillusioned and disgusted and why not? When the salaries of the President and Vice President were deemed important to be increased and the salaried class was yet again chosen to remain the torch bearers of socialistic virtues, the anger is only justified. Limiting this post to just one of the many aspects but an important one that goes a long way in defining and shaping a developed India _ Education, a quick look tells us that the root of the problem lies elsewhere, not that it is a new discovery but for the sake of reiteration at the cost of being repetitive lest we allow it to be forgotten, we shall understand the purpose of this new addition. So we will be paying an Education cess after all those special grants and allocations for SC/ST and everybody else on earth but for the salaried class.
But where is that education cess going to be used?
It is going to be expended on training teachers for B. ED programs.
But why don’t they hire already trained teachers on par with private schools?
Because of reservation quota policy to bring social equalities where merit and logic have no place making way for obnoxious political bigotry.
Has reservation system reduced inequalities in the society?
No, it has failed miserably, as a matter of fact it has further divided and stressed on the castes
Has education system improved because of reservation?
No, Government education system is a monumental misadventure to which consecutive budgets keep adding by dressing them up with digital boards when they are clueless about basic Maths. The fact that Government pushes RTE quota in private schools where private schools make up only 7% of educational institutes is proof that 93% Government schools have failed. Also, if Government schools were good and if equality could be instituted by governmental legislations then our politicians would do good to send their children and everybody else’s children to Government schools only. Our parents and grandparents received education in Government schools and colleges and have been successful without anybody having to pay any Cess because the baton of education was in the hands of meritorious teachers who were mostly Brahmins. When there was no reservation system everybody went to the same schools and hence the quality of education and the idea of social equality were automatically taken care of. It is to be noted that social equality does not imply intellectual equality and the misconception of equality or lack of it emerges with this wronged notion that one size must fit all lest we control and curtail competition like in a communist state.
Has reservation or Government education system created equal opportunities for all?
No, only creamy layers are benefitting and exploiting while merit class are committing suicides to strike a balance.
Can we shun reservation to change our flawed education system?
No, it does not suit the election narratives in the country as the opposition(any) will ensure that all hell breaks loose and create an oppression theory and negate any good work done. No political party worth its salt will ever dare to put Removal of Reservation System in their election manifestoes anywhere in the near future. The only way out can be to dilute all reservations by creating a merit reservation within caste reservation.
So what can we really do to solve this problem?
An accumulated adversity over the last 70 years cannot be shunned overnight in just 5 years, perhaps for another 10 plus years the salaried class will have to restrain itself from seeking any tax recourse and continue to bear the burden. And this we will have to do compulsively without letting down our good leaders even if it is antagonizing and frustrating to be exploited but frankly there is no other alternative educational or infrastructural or administrative set up to cater to any immediate changes or reversal of the rusty processes. Change in our policies especially public educational system is a long way to go where Governments should infuse quality bit by bit on priority basis until a majority of people availing reservation themselves realize the farce employed in the name of equality. And it is in this kind of creation of an informed atmosphere that our Governments should strive and invest in, which is what would make this education cess a meaningful one.
As for the budget, the special attention or outrage that this budget has received especially from the salaried class speaks about increased people’ awareness and seeming enthusiasm/frustration to participate and build/set right the system by seeking more realistic and less rhetoric budgetary practices that comply with actual needs. This new interactive and participative polity created by Modi is here to stay and is a message to the forthcoming budgetary practices and administrative policies that the masses are willing to cooperate for genuine concessions but incumbent Governments can no more play out the same old populist pro poor theories if they did not work on the implementation part earnestly at the ground level reforms to its fullest potential.