The demands of teachers agitating for pay parity and service regularisation are “outlandish” and the Government has no money to meet them, Bihar Education Minister P. K. Shahi told The Hindu on Thursday.
“Their demands are untenable from the legal angle and also otherwise. Where are the resources? If their demands are conceded, the Government will have to spend an additional Rs.12,000 only on teachers. It will have ramifications for other departments. These are not contractual teachers, but panchayat teachers appointed by local bodies, following the 73rd and 74th amendments which transferred education to the local bodies. The State has only made an enabling provision for them to be appointed by individual panchayats and made available some grants since panchayats lack resources,” Mr. Shahi said.
He said the Government has had “elaborate” discussions with the teachers’ associations and “made it clear that their demands are outlandish.” Yet “if they are resorting to coercive measures under the garb of democratic protests, the Government can’t help it. If they are resorting to violent means, we can only regret it. The total budget of the State is around Rs.90,000 crore and education has a lion’s share of Rs.20,000 crore. If an additional Rs.15,000 is required, then the other departments will have to be shut down. Where will Nitish Kumar get the money from? The per capita income of Bihar is still very low. If a person is earning Rs.9,000 in a village he or she is still better off.”
Mr. Shahi criticised Opposition parties for acting as “provocateurs”. Asked about the impact of the teachers’ strike on the upcoming matriculation exams, he said the careers of lakhs of students are at stake.