Raja Sekhar Vundru

Raja Sekhar Vundru's Writings

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Location: New Delhi, India

Ph.D on Dr.Ambedkar's Electoral System from the National Law School, Bangalore (NLSUI) Currently working as Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Government of India , New Delhi +911123752322 (office)

Thursday, January 26, 2006



Delivered at Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Open University
Hyderabad, April, 2005


Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s Vision
Education and Employment in the 21st Century

Raja Sekhar Vundru, IAS*
Director, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,
Government of India, New Delhi

“One thing is that every access must be given to every grade of modern education to the communities which are educationally backward, in order that they may realise their rights and liabilities of citizenship, and secondly, in order that every access may be given to these communities, it is absolutely necessary, under the present circumstances, that special representation should be provided for them”.

- Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, 27th July, 1927, Bombay Legislative Council

I feel honoured to have been invited by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Open University to deliver the Dr.Ambedkar Memorial Lecture, 2005. It is not very often that persons in the Civil Service receive such an invitation. I am grateful to the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and everybody at the University to have bestowed this honour upon me. The theme of the lecture today is to explain and analyse Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s Vision on Education and Employment and its relevance in the current Century. It was a young and highly educated, 36 years old, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar speaking in the Bombay Legislative Council in a debate on the Bombay University Act, said those words I quoted above. In the very first decade of the 21st century we live in, these words are as relevant as in 1927.

The issues of providing good and relevant education and reasonable employment avenues to the youth is a problem every country grapples with, whether they are developed, developing or under-developed nations. In India the problem becomes slightly more complex due to the existence of a social system that discriminates people where certain classes face discrimination in their attempts to access education and secure employment.

As the one educated in the earlier part of the 20th century, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar was one of those chosen to have been able to acquire high quality education first in Bombay and then in New York and London. Even today an average city dweller would not have that opportunity and access to go through the kind of education Dr.B.R.Ambedkar received. Probably that was one of the reasons that Dr.Ambedkar ensured the Clause 9 of the Poona Pact signed on 24th September, 1932. The Clause reads :

“In every province out of the education grant, an adequate sum shall be earmarked for providing educational facilities to the Members of the Depressed Classes”.

This Clause was preceded by Clause 8 of the Poona Pact ensuring the employment. The Clause reads :

“There shall be no disabilities attaching to any one on the ground of his being a member of the Depressed Classes in regard to any elections to local bodies or appointment to the Public Services. Every endeavour shall be made to secure fair representation of the depressed classes in these respects, subject to such educational qualifications as may be laid down for appointment to the Public Services”.

But the journey to the Poona Pact came through Dr.Ambedkar’s statements before the Southborough Committee in 1919, the Indian Statutory Commission in 1928, the Round Table Conference in 1930 and later on fully developed into a concrete radical system in his proposals in 1947 in the form of a Memorandum titled ‘States and Minorities’ and flowered into one of the world’s best provisions for equal opportunity and access in the Constitution of India, 1950.

Tracing the Vision

It is very interesting to know that Dr.B.R.Ambedkar who was more known for his vociferous and relentless efforts for securing political safeguards for the depressed classes in his life time started his career in the legislative bodies in the Bombay Legislative Council and pointed out the issue of education. The significant departure he made before the legislative body is to increase the expenditure on education for all. The slow progress in the matter of education was brought forward by him and raised the issues of drop out where it came up to 82% dropout at the level of fourth standard. He opposed commercialisation of education and said education is something which ought to be brought within the reach of everyone and ought to be cheapened in all possible ways to the greatest possible extent.

He visualised that a stage has arrived where the lower orders of the society were just getting into the high schools, middle schools and the colleges and the policy of the Education Department ought to be to make higher education as cheap to the lower classes as it can possibly we made. At that early stage he could analyse that the various communities are unequal in their status and progress in the levels of education and emphasised that if they are to be brought to the level of equality then the only remedy is to adopt the principle of inequality and to give favoured treatment to those who are below the level.

In the same year, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar also felt very strongly about in whose hands the responsibility of education is to be transferred. He said that education should not be transferred to the hands of those who are not enlightened enough to understand that education is a great necessity. He opposed the transfer of the education subject to local bodies and said that Government should employ direct control to ensure that depressed classes are not neglected by the local bodies. The concepts of hostels and scholarships by then were considered important means to ensure education to the poor and the disadvantaged classes.

Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s vision was clear as early as 1927. His disposition before the Indian Statutory Commission (Simon Commission) further provided the conceptual clarity towards securing the rights for the depressed classes as a part of the guaranteeing their civil rights. In a statement submitted to the Simon Commission on 29th May, 1928 concretised his thoughts and the following guarantees as fundamental rights were sought:

(1) That the education of the Depressed classes shall be recognized as the first charge on the revenues of the Province and that an equitable and just proportion of the total grant for education should be earmarked for the benefit of the Depressed classes.

(2) That the right of the Depressed classes to unrestricted recruitment in the army, navy, and the police shall be recognised without any limitations as to caste.

(3) That for a period of 30 years the right of the Depressed classes for priority in the matter of the recruitments to all posts, gazetted as well as non-gazetted in all civil services shall be recognized.

(4) That the right of the Depressed classes to the appointment of a special inspector of police from amongst themselves for every District shall be recognized.

He concluded the statement with an emphatic “if the depressed classes can have no faith in the new Constitution it is statesmanship to buy that faith if it can be done so with the concession of guarantees herein demanded”.

The next stage Dr.B.R.Ambedkar reached was the Round Table Conferences in 1930s. In the Clause 4 of the Scheme of Political Safeguards for the Protection of Depressed Classes in the Future Constitution of a self-governing India, submitted by him and Rao Bahadur Rettamalai Srinivasan, sought adequate representation of depressed classes in the services through a statutory enactment as a part of the Constitutional law. This scheme of safeguards sought recruitment to the services in such a manner as will secure due and adequate representation of all communities.

Dr.B.R.Ambedkar not only negotiated the guarantees with the British Government, converted his understanding of the problem of education and employment into concepts that could be made into special provisions enactments in a Constitutional law, but also had to face a stiff resistance and unprecedented circumstances wherein he had to agree to a Pact in Poona in 1932 on the system of political representation through separate electorates. It should be understood that even at one of the most vulnerable and paradoxical situations of his life and while he was passing through one of his greatest dilemmas, Dr.Ambedkar could batter out contained two significant provisions in the Clause 8 and Clause 9 as the last two clauses of the Poona Pact.

These two relate to the education and employment and were otherwise not a part of the Communal Award of the British Government in 1932. It is a part of the history that the Poona Pact between the Hindu leaders and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar signed on 24th September, 1932 in its original form was adopted by the British Parliament and was incorporated in the Government of India Act, 1935.

Dr.B.R.Ambedkar had a distinct advantage of having analysed the implementation of the provisions for representation in public services, special care in education for a decade and a half between 1935 and 1947. The memorandum Dr.Ambedkar prepared for submission to the Constituent Assembly titled ‘States and Minorities’ is a classic document that embodies Dr.Ambedkar’s Vision of an independent India. In this memorandum, Dr.Ambedkar squarely placed the responsibility of education upon the Government. The provisions he sought to be incorporated in the Constitution are far more relevant today. I wish to read them out.

“Governments – Union and State – shall be required to assume financial responsibility for the higher education of the Scheduled Castes and shall be required to make adequate provisions in their budgets. Such Provisions shall form the first charge on the Education Budget of the Union and State Government.

The responsibility for finding money for secondary and college education of the Scheduled Castes in India shall be upon the State Governments and the different States shall make a provision in their annual budgets for the said purpose in proportion to the population of the Scheduled Castes to the total budget of the States.

The responsibility for finding money for foreign education of the Scheduled Castes shall be the responsibility of the Union Government and the Union Government shall make a provision of rupees 10 lakhs per year in its annual budget in that behalf.

These special grants shall be without prejudice to the right of the Scheduled Castes to share in the expenditure incurred by the State Government for the advancement of primary education for the people of the State”.

The memorandum mentions the right to representation in services in the union, in the state and the local bodies in proportion to their population of Scheduled Castes. Eventually the Constitution of India provided for equality of opportunity and prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth as fundamental right. The equality clause in Article 14 is a jewel among the provisions.

Dr.B.R.Ambedkar piloted the very first amendment in the Constitution wherein introduced clause 4 of the Article 15 ‘(4) nothing in the Article or in clause 2 of Article 29 shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and for the Scheduled Tribes’. The education rights were enshrined to all as fundamental rights in the Article 29 wherein it is provided for ‘(2) No citizen shall be denied admission to any educational institution maintained by state or receiving aid out of state funds on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them’.

Article 16 provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state. Clause 4 of this Article provides for making provisions for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens who were not adequately represented in the services under the state. The Article 46 as a directive principle provides for that ‘the state shall promote with special care the education and economic interest of the weaker section of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation’.

State responsibility

The vision of Baba Saheb Dr.B.R.Ambedkar places the singular responsibility of providing education to everybody and with special care the educational Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, squarely on the state. One of his initial demands was on the amount of grant that was set-aside for the purposes of the education and he could also visualise that education, as a subject would not be of interest to those who do not understand its importance. The Indian state has a consequence of the Constitutional Provisions of 1950 went ahead to provide for education to all as a state responsibility. But as the development process went ahead, primary and secondary education under the state suffered a set back with higher levels of dropout rates. But at the same time, the institutions of excellence like Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, National Institutes of Technology and several universities and institutes excelled and produced brilliant human resource. The responsibility that was divided between the Union Government, the States and the local bodies slowly saw relegation of primacy of education as a subject of interest.

A decade before the 21st century responding to the global changes, India harped upon a process of liberalisation of economy, privatisation of services and globalisation of trade. The winds of globalisation were strong enough that a developing country like India joined. I consider that this is one of the most important phases of the post-independent history and has already made a significant impact on how education and employment would be in the 21st century. Interestingly before anybody could wake up it were the dalit organisations with the Ambedkarite stream of consciousness who raised the issue and initiated a debate on the likely impact of the forces of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation would have on the education and employment of the disadvantaged. I would with a certain authority say this that the Ambedkarite movement led the debate even before the left political parties and organisations and development economists could initiate it.

The Indian Constitution provided for representation in services under the State and made provisions that nobody can be denied admission in educational institutions, which run by the State or aided by the State. Therefore, thereby the Constitutional provisions exclude those private establishment and educational institutions, which have in no way received any concessions, benefits or aid from the Government. The dalit organisations vehemently put forward their argument that there is no such private establishment or institution, which has not benefited from the state. This debate has certainly made the political parties to respond. After 15 years of debate we have before us a political document of vision, which tries to provide for remedies to the issues of education and employment in the backdrop of a decade and a half of liberalisation. As a Civil Servant who entered the Indian Administrative Service in 1990, I am also one of those products who had an opportunity to be a participant observer in this process of liberalisation.

The likely shift of access to education from the state to the private institutions or the existence of quality education from primary to secondary schools levels only with the private institutions. The rapid commercialisation of education has already created a great divide between the access to good education. There are no doubts that the Government was responding in a systematic manner to the rapid changes in the educational system in the post-liberalised era. The Government in the 1980s responded to the high dropout rates with schemes such as mid-day meal and later on with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which is education for all. Recently I read reports that the dropout rate in Sarva Shikhsa Abhyan is 58%. To provide for quality education, Government had responded from time to time by creating separate residential schooling like Navodaya Vidyalayas.

In June last year, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Center drafted a Common Minimum Programme (CMP), which reflected not only the priorities of that political formation but also through light on certain basic aspects on the situation of education and employment in the post-liberalised economy. The CMP recognised six basic principles of governance. One of them is :

‘to provide for full equality of opportunity, particularly in education and employment for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs and religious minorities’.
The CMP, which also provides guidance to the policies of the government mentions in the document that :

‘The UPA government pledges to raise public spending in education to least 6% of GDP with at least half this amount being spent of primary and secondary sectors.

The UPA will ensure that nobody is denied professional education because he or she is poor.
The UPA government is very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservations, in the private sector. It will immediately initiate a national dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organizations to see how best the private sector can fulfill the aspirations of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe youth’.

Now I will return to Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s vision where he spoke in the Bombay Legislative Council as early as 1927 and those words are more relevant in today. The necessity to follow and reiterate his vision is very important in the India of 21st Century where disparity in access and opportunities are becoming glaringly deep and the divide is far too wide.

Even though due to visionary efforts of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar equality of opportunity in education and employment were ensured in institutions under the States or aided by the States and in public services, the growth of the private sector during the years of rapid industrial development and in the 1990s, the shift of jobs to the private sector was not imagined.

The Government of India wrote to the private sector in 1964 and later on in 1974 and 1975 to give preferential treatment to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in employment. Interestingly, the attempts of the Government of India were due to the realization that there has been an increase in employment opportunities in the private industry due to rapid growth of industrial development. The industry associations too responded by informing their constituents.

Ever since the turn of the Century, there has been a debate in a more concerted way on the issue of providing reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections in private sector employment. The Dalit movements across the country raised the issue of protection of their employment opportunities in the private sector ever since the new economic policy as the issue entered the political debate.

Before mentioning the response of the private sector on the issue of employment, it would be incumbent upon to look at the modes of equal employment opportunities in countries, which took to capitalistic economies unlike India’s mixed economy to start with.
The United States of America (USA) felt about the equal employment opportunity and not discrimination on the basis of Equal opportunity.

Equal opportunity is a descriptive term for an approach intended to give equal access to an environment or benefits, such as education, employment, health care, or social welfare to all, often with emphasis on members of various social groups, which might have at some time suffered from discrimination or continuously suffering from the same form or varied forms of discrimination. This can involve the hiring of workers and other such practices.

Equal opportunity practices that are race-blind or gender-blind may be distinguished from practices that involve or require affirmative action or reverse discrimination. The United States federal government and various state and local governments require affirmative action in terms of governmental hiring and contracting.

The concept of equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination took roots as early as 1866 in United States but was not explicitly committed through legislation of the Federal Government. In 1940, an Executive Order was issued by the President of United States with a mandate to state that public employment could not be denied to anybody for the reason of race, creed or colour and aimed at elimination of discrimination in Federal employment but the Executive Order 10950 gave birth to the affirmative action by proclaiming that equal opportunity is to be afforded to all qualified persons. But the most significant and path braking was the enactment of Civil Rights Act, 1964 which provided for protection and enforcement against discrimination. It defined the unlawful employment practices as :


SEC. 2000e-2. [Section 703]
(a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or
otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of
such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants
for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any
individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his
status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion,
sex, or national origin.
(b) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency
to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate
against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on
the basis of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The Act also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as an administrative body or agency to administer and enforce the statutes concerning discrimination in employment in both public and private sectors.

In the case of South Africa, the Employemnt Equity Act, 1998 provides for remedies to unfair discrimination :

Section 5 provides for the elimination of unfair discrimination by requiring that "every employer must take steps to promote equal opportunity in the workplace by eliminating unfair discrimination in any employment policy or practice."

"Employment policy or practice" is widely defined in s. 1 and includes recruitment, job classification, remuneration, employment benefits and terms and conditions, promotion and dismissal.

Section 6 prohibits unfair discrimination:

"6(1) No person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds, including ... gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility..."

Affirmative action is not unfair discrimination nor is to "distinguish, exclude or prefer any person on the basis of an inherent requirement of a job". Under s. 6(3), harassment of an employee for a ground set out above (ie: including sex) is specifically referred to as a form of unfair discrimination and is prohibited.

Against the backdrop of such Law existing elsewhere in those countries, which were traditional known to have practices of discrimination the basis of race and colour, it would be highly relevant for India to have a serious look at such legal remedies.

One of the important Articles in the Constitution which tries to impose reasonable restrictions on the Fundamental Right of the private sector for trade and business is Article 19 (1)(g)

19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc. – (1) All citizens shall have the right-
(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
The Article also provides for imposition of reasonable restrictions on this fundamental right. In the case of India, the reasonable restriction could be equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination.

The debate on the affirmative action initiative proposed in the CMP and on a Reservation Act passed in 2004 by the Government of Maharashtra, the response of the private sector in India was widely published and much televised. The private sector feels that there is a need to create more employment and self-employment opportunities especially among economically backward families. They feel that there are essentially two problems :

Inadequate opportunities for education at the school level, and
• Secondly insufficient skill development.

The private sector response was that in the last few decades most of the Government’s affirmative action on job creation have been restriction to reserving seats at education institutions and providing job reservations for backward and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the government sector and that this has not solved the problem of employment. Earmarking for jobs in the private sector for disadvantaged groups is unlikely to solve the problem of unemployment because of sheer magnitude of the supply and demand mismatch since nine out of ten job created are in the informal sector and the rest is generated in the government and private sector.

According to the economic survey 2004-05, total employment in the Central Government in 2003 was 31.33 lakh persons; in State Governments, 73.67 lakhs; in quasi Governments, 59.01 lakhs and in the local bodies 21.79 lakh persons totaling to 185.80 lakh persons employed in the public sector. The employment in the public sector in the same period total to 84.21 lakh persons. According to the data of Director-General of Employment and Training of the Ministry of Labour, the estimates of employment in organised public and private sectors total to 270 lakh persons.

The private sector further responded that the key objective should be to enhance the existing employment pool and to make people more employable and more capable and enterprising. It felt that in the case of vocational education and industrial training, the training methods are often outdated so that the skills are in demand and are more employable. The emphasis has been on skill formation and human capital upgradation.

The World Employment Report

The World Employment Report 1998-99: Employability in the Global economy, How training matters reviewed the global employment situation and examined how countries in different circumstances and stages of development can develop the best training strategy and flexible and responsive training systems address these far-reaching changes. The report presents a close analysis of training systems worldwide and an examination of training strategies for increasing national competitiveness, improving the efficiency of enterprises and promoting employment growth. It critically examines policies and targeted programmes for improving women's employment opportunities and enhancing the skills and employability of informal sector and vulnerable groups of workers.

The increasing pace of globalization and technological change provides both challenges and opportunities at a time when the global employment situation remains grim and levels of open unemployment and underemployment remain high in most countries. In taking advantage of these opportunities as well as in minimizing the social costs which the transition to a more open economy entails, the level and quality of skills that a nation possesses are becoming critical factors.

Given the rapid and continuous pace of change in the demand for new skills, training and lifelong learning need to be given the highest priority. The best results from enhancing the education and skill levels of the workforce are achieved in an overall growth-promoting environment and when training decisions are taken in close consultation between the government, employers and workers.

In the current economic climate of trade liberalization and rapid technological progress, competition is the only truly enduring feature. This means that constant upgrading of skills and adaptability of workers and enterprises to new market opportunities are essential features of long-term prospects. The exigencies of the global economy translate into faster turnover of machines and technical progress in the form of new capital goods, which require greater learning by doing and quicker development of new products.

Moreover, high education and skills levels are vital factors in attracting investment from external sources, notably multinational enterprises, which tend to locate investment in areas where skills are readily available or can be rapidly generated. The ability of a country to attract, successfully absorb and benefit from foreign direct investment (FDI), and the transfer of technology which it may bring, depends to a large extent on its own technological capabilities, of which the skills and technical knowledge of its workforce are critical components.

Interestingly the Report compares two sectors in the case of India, one is the leather and the other information and technology sector. In the case of leather goods, where India is a traditional exporter and the leather sector being the fourth largest export earner, employs around 1.65 million people of which 90% work in the informal sector. Now this sector is facing declining share of export whereas the information technology sector was rapidly growing. The

Report said that both the sectors are particularly suited to India to the extent that they are people intensive rather than capital intensive and require relatively low levels of physical, capital and technology the factors with which India is poorly endowed.

Even though the software production of exports, the requirement of high level of sophisticated skills India was abundantly endowed as a consequence of its past educational development. India as a country quickly adapted to the demands of highly demand manpower in the IT sector because after a successful entry in software production and export, it quick followed by a large expansion in IT training and was able to sustain its employability in the world job market. But in contrast, the leather industry, although India has a large pool of cheap labour endowed with traditional skills in the manufacture of leather products, the majority of workers is in the informal sector and are uneducated. In such circumstances, it is not very easy to upgrade their skills beyond a certain level.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) the leather sector faces an acute shortage of trained manpower and especially lakhs trained managers, supervisors and design operators. The stigma attached to the leather trade, lack of modern teaching infrastructure and outdated courses have all contributed to the skill shortages in the leather sector. The ILO concluded that most of companies who employ leather workers do not invest in upgrading of skills of workers for the fear of losing them.

The Report makes a clear analysis for the employment in the new World Economic Order :

(1) There will be limited demand for unskilled and less skilled labour, and
(2) There will be increase in demand for skilled labour on account of technological development and upgradation and changes in the organised sector.
On account of the changes, the Report suggests :
(1) Investment in skill development and training,
(2) Enhancement of education and skill-levels of workers, and
(3) Responsive training system.

Therefore, the crux of education which leads to employment, not withstanding the issue of equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination, in the 21st Century is based on possessing, acquiring or upgrading to those skills which are in demand in the private job market. The evolution of demand of skills is at such a rapid pace and global demand which dictates the local demand are unprecedented and sometimes beyond the comprehension of even the private sector itself. The traditional degrees in arts, commerce and sometimes in traditional sciences are not able to fetch jobs today.

Skill set becomes one of the main factor to make oneself employable with a right training and the right skills. It would have been incomprehensible few years ago to have realised that good English education upto higher secondary level would have fetched a job in the Call Centre market. That means today even knowing to speak English is a skill and it is an employable skill. The private sector, which has assumed the role of employment provider in this Century, points out the irony that while large number of unemployed youths is in search of jobs, the private sector is in dearth of persons possessing the right skills.

This issue takes us towards the concept of access to education and knowledge that is employable. Even a developed country like USA is grappling with the issue of the divide in the access to technology education between the access have and access have nots.

The unquestionable role of technology education in the current Century has made the legislators of that country proposed a bill called the Digital Empowerment Act and was introduced in March, 2000 in the US Senate. The bill proposed one stop shop for technology education through the schools and proposed community technology centres where the school children would have access to information technology. This concept of digital divide would be one of the major issues in times to come since it will create a great divide between the rural and urban communities and between the rich and poor in the urban areas where lack of knowledge and experience in usages in information and communication technologies would be a disincentive towards employment.

As a developing country with great potential like India grapples with a situation of available of highly skilled technical manpower in the former sector and skilled but not employable skills in the informal sector, the fruits of liberalised economy may not be evenly distributed. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s vision of State’s responsibility for providing education and in today’s new economic order parlance ‘skills’, was sufficiently reiterated in the Common Minimum Programme referred above.

It would be fulfilling Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s dream where nobody is denied technical education because he or she is poor. The recent controversy where the States run Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) tried to address the fee structuring in management courses would be a glaring reminder on the kind of issues that would come up in the future. Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s demand in 1928 that educational depressed classes should be first charge on the revenues of a province would hold good today because even for a common man, the access to quality education is still a dream.

The country is already facing a situation where there are lack of equal employment opportunities in those sectors where high rate of employment growth exists and the existence of discriminatory practices in recruitment. Fortunately, we are already debating the issue threadbare and I have no doubts that the scheme of safeguards designed by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar would play a vital role in structuring the policies and framework where equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination in employment and education would be rule of law.

The Dalit movements with an Ambedkarite vision are going strong in the country and it is time that we listen to their voices. Because their voice is of justice and equality and because they carry forward the legacy of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s dream for an equitable and just society. If we had paid heed to the early rumblings of these Ambedkarite organisations against the pitfalls of a liberalised economy and privatisation in so far as education and employment, regarding the possibility of discriminatory practices and equal employment opportunities, we would have by now found the right solutions on an Ambedkarite path.

*Raja Sekhar Vundru, IAS is a Director in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi. The views expressed in this Lecture are his own and does not relate to the Government.


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