“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,” Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, had said.
With a huge young population, it is only expected for India to focus on nurturing young minds. However, analysing Union budget documents from 2009-19, India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) has found that though the actual expenditure on education has increased, as a percentage to GDP it has declined.
In absolute numbers, the expenditure on education has increased from Rs 3.4 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs 5.6 lakh crore in 2018-19 a 60 per cent rise in five years. However, under the UPA-2 regime, the expenditure on education had risen from Rs 1.9 lakh crore in 2009-10 to Rs 3.48 lakh crore in 2013-14 (77 per cent).
In terms of percentage to GDP, the expenditure incurred by both central and state governments was roughly 3.19 per cent of GDP on an average under UPA-2. The same fell to 2.88 per cent in the five years of NDA government.
The National Education Commission (1964-66), popularly known as Kothari Commission, had recommended a 6 per cent GDP expenditure on education. The latest draft of the National Education Policy 2019 states that the government of India has never been able to meet the target.
These figures represent the spending on education by both central and state governments. Though the budget for education varies from state to state, the dedicated central government’s fund for the same has never touched even 1 per cent of the GDP. Here too, the UPA had outperformed NDA.
Between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the UPA-2 government had allocated 0.7 per cent of the GDP to education on average in its Budgets. Under the NDA government from 2014-15 to 2018-19, this number went down to 0.5 per cent.
In 2009-10, the expenditure on education by the central government was 0.6 per cent of the GDP, which rose to 0.7 per cent in 2010-11. It remained the same till 2013-14. In the first year of the Narendra Modi government, this fell to 0.5 per cent of the GDP, and by 2018-19, it fell to 0.4 per cent of the GDP.
Centre hopeful of achieving 6 per cent target
In March last year, then Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had said that the government is hopeful of increasing spending on education to 6 per cent of the GDP.
However, it is to be noted here that under-spending of funds was also high in the Modi government’s first term. In July 2019, a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy had revealed that under-spending of funds allocated for the HRD ministry was the highest in the first four years of the Modi government.
According to the report, around Rs 4 lakh crore allotted for the ministry was not spent during that time.
Our analysis also showed that to achieve the 6 per cent target, the government needs to increase funds towards education by 116 per cent.
Source : https://www.indiatoday.in/diu/story/how-successive-govts-flunking-education-budgets-nda-worse-1641826-2020-01-31
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