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Last week on my way back from my college I was going to attend the Gargi college fest. I took an auto from green park metro station. After arguing with the auto driver over the asked fare I sat into the auto. And within two minutes the autowallah asked me “beti kaunse college mein padhti ho??” And after my reply he said “khushnasib ho..hum garibo ke bache toh padhna woh bhi college mein soch hi nahi sakte”. And I right away asked “WHY”? I would be lying if I said that I did not know the answer, still I asked. At that point, my journalistic instinct just wanted to telecast this as breaking news on my channel and find out what educational schemes our leaders repeatedly shout about?? (Well, that was out of question) I asked him- “bhaiya, sarkar ki yojnaye hain na..university schools mein dakhila kyo nahi karate aap?” and he replied “beta sab kehne ki baat hain..garibo ke liye kuch nahi hain” and I inquisitively kept on asking him if he had sent his children to school. What is the actual problem? I knew that I could hardly do anything but I wanted to know to what extent the government is fooling us.
The auto driver told me he has a son. With his daily income of Rs.200 he educated his son till high secondary and after that his son told him that inter doesn’t help in today’s world and for a job he wants to pursue B.Sc. The driver did get his son admitted to B.Sc course but could not afford to buy books and readings. And I again repeated myself saying “but sarkar ki EWS students ke liye yojnaye hain na..apne unki sahyta kyun nahi li..free kitabein milti hain” and he replied dissapointingly “sab koshis kiya betiya kuch nahi ho paya, sach toh yehi hain ki garib ka beta humesha garib hi rahega” and then he said he has a daughter. This time I did not dare to ask till which class his daughter has studied for the fear of the reply that “ab beta ko toh padha nahi saka, beti ki shaadi ke liye paise chahiye..padh likh kar kya karegi”.
As I walked down the auto to get into the college, my eyes fell on girls with blackberry in their hands and guys parking their bikes rushing into the college to catch all the fun. A contrasting sight when compared to the poor fellow who couldn’t even afford to buy books for his only son. In a city which is the capital, where you have countless number of schools, where you will find coaching centres for IIT preparation after every 4 km, which boasts of universities like DU, DTU and JAMIA, you have an auto driver who cannot educate his son due to lack of money and did I hear the ruling party shouting slogans – “Education in India for all under our rule”? There would be few who might argue that the government is doing enough for education but after this incident it is difficult for me to agree with them.
Probably after few years the auto driver’s son would take over his father’s legacy and drive another girl to one of India’s best colleges and wonder if he could just complete his B.Sc. It leaves us to the question – Education in India—is it for all?? Goldman Sachs had counted the lack of quality education as one of the major factors holding India back from rapid economic growth last year and that is indeed the case. With 50% of our population under 25, can we hope for an educated India in our lifetime? Or are we going to witness the continuation of age old legacy of a cobbler’s son being a cobbler, a driver’s son growing up to be a driver and only a doctor’s son being able to be a doctor!