Through WTO-GATS, education, which until now was a right, will now come to be viewed as a service. Numerous progressive groups working in the field of education are strongly opposing this move. They are rightly pointing out that the WTO-GATS will privatize education, which will then become inaccessible to the poorer sections of society. However, as an organization for Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and Minorities, we would like to point to a few equally important issues.
Class in India is closely connected to caste and community, so the poor who are going to be affected by the WTO-GATS will be mainly made up of people from the SC/ST/OBC and minority communities. Moreover, if institutions of higher learning are going to be privatized, the reservation policy will surely be tampered with. In this scenario the Bahujans will face two fold suffering: education will become expensive and facilities for social justice will also come to an end.
Therefore such a move to commodify education which will abolish the reservation system will deprive the under privileged communities the benefits of a welfare state and will clearly result in a blatant violation of the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India aimed at equality of opportunity and equal protection under law.
Higher education – especially Central Institutions of higher learning – has always been under the monopoly of the ‘upper’ castes. Delhi University for instance, started implementing reservation for the SC/STs only in the late 90s. However, due to a huge struggle by various Dalit-Bahujan organizations, reservations are being implemented much more effectively than before, in numerous institutions of higher education. This, we can say, has surely started breaking the monopoly of the ‘upper’ castes over higher education in India. We would like to say very clearly that with the implementation of the WTO-GATS agreement, this process is going to be totally reversed.
Now, foreign universities will arrive and there will be many new, excellent centres of higher education. However, the exorbitant fees, service taxes and lack of reservation will keep the SC/ST/OBC and minority communities out of it. Higher education will thus once more become the monopoly of the ‘upper’ castes.
We want everyone to remember that this was the government that was leading the anti-mandal protests in the 90s. It is not accidental then that the same government is going to sign an agreement, which will put an end to all that was gained for the Dalit, OBC and Minority communities, after the implementation of reservations in higher education and after the Mandal Commission.
We unequivocally condemn this anti-Dalit, anti-Adivasi, anti-OBC and anti-Minority move in the strongest manner. We also urge all Bahujan organizations to take a strong stand against this casteist, anti-minority move.
Via: Social Justice Front (SJF)
SJF can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
< AMBEDKAR READING GROUP : A Dalit Adivasi Bahujan Minorities Collective, Delhi University >