Special Correspondent

To observe a day's bandh to protest against Rajasthan Govt. decision to reduce grants

JAIPUR: Private educational institutions in Rajasthan will observe a day's bandh on January 21 to protest against the State Government's recent decision to reduce grants to them by 10 per cent, which they affirm would ruin the schools and colleges and force their closure in the next academic session.

The Swayamsevi Shikshan Sanstha Sangh, which convened a meeting to discuss the issue here on Friday, announced the decision for the bandh and demanded that the State Government allocate at least 40 per cent of the budget for education to the private institutions, as their number was not less than that of the State-run schools and colleges.

The Sangh's president and Arya Samaj leader, Satyavrat Samvedi, said the 10 per cent reduction in addition to a number of undeclared cuts in the grants would decimate the institutions and destroy the lives of thousands of employees working with them.

The State Government, which boasts of spending crores of rupees on promoting education, has gradually reduced the grants to the aided educational institutions from Rs. 106 crores to Rs. 78 crores in the 2005-06 budget. Mr. Samvedi said the actual amount payable to the institutions was only Rs. 63 crores after several indirect deductions.

Mr. Samvedi -- while pointing out that this amount of money was not sufficient even for paying salary to the staff -- demanded that the latest orders for 10 per cent reduction be withdrawn without delay and the institutions be granted financial autonomy in accordance with the Supreme Court's directives.

The Sangh has urged the State Government to refund the money charged for the Balika Foundation, instruct the municipal bodies not to charge house tax from private schools, sanction the filling up of all vacant posts in the aided institutions and give sufficient grant to them, finalising it for each institution in the current financial year.

The convenor of the Sangh, Kaushal Kishore Jain, said the State Government's policies discriminating against private educational institutions would harm the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party during the next Assembly elections. "The Government should not underestimate the influence wielded by 50,000 private institutions across the State," he said.