The intent of my article was to demonstrate that the BJP’s prospective prime ministerial candidate misled the nation when he stated that China spends 20 per cent of its GDP on education as opposed to India’s spend of four per cent.
I am surprised that there is no response to the core issue raised by me in the article. It is even more unfortunate that such a statement was made to a gathering of young people. Facts stated by senior functionaries of a political party tend to be believed. Wilful or careless reference to inaccurate data may result in misguiding the youth in their understanding of issues. The silence of Shri G. Kishan Reddy and Shri Y.L. Sreenivas on this issue speaks volumes. It would be appropriate if they advise Mr. Narendra Modi to issue a public apology for this misstatement.
Mr. Reddy and Mr. Sreenivas have sourced their data on public expenditure on education as percentage of GDP from World Bank statistics. This includes government spending on educational institutions (both public and private), education administration, and transfers/subsidies for private entities (students/households and other private entities). Hence, this data cannot be compared with actual government spending on education. The figure of 2.74 per cent of GDP in 2003-04, indicated in my article is the actual government spending on education based on the Economic Survey 2007-08.
As far as the facts related to Gujarat are concerned, they are incontrovertible. It is not necessary to shift the focus of the debate since no tall claims have been made by the UPA government unlike those made by Mr. Modi. We wanted to inform the people of the reality on the ground in Gujarat in respect of investments made in education and the reach of education to the common man. The data speaks for itself.
It is a fact that the HDI in India, as compared to other countries, is a matter of concern. The figures were abysmal during the NDA regime, as they are today. This has no bearing on the issues raised by me in the article.
(Kapil Sibal is Union Minister for Communications and IT.)