January 2016 \ Cover Story \ Political Interview
"There is increased cooperation between Centre and States on education"

Interview wirh Ms Smriti Irani Union Minister for Human Resource Development

In terms of percentage of total budget spend, India still spends far less on developing its school education system that many of the western nations. How are you dealing with this situation?

I think one needs to understand that allocation of more money is not essentially transformational on the ground in terms of infrastructure. In India we have known to do much more, with much less. For instance, you can look at the clarion call that Prime Minister gave for building toilets in Government schools across the nation. For over six decades this problem was not addressed. But we did not hike up our budget. Instead, within the budget, we ensured that we built different toilet blocks for girls and boys in all Government schools in a timely fashion, that is within one year. This is a first in Indian history. This is reflective of two things: one, when there is a political consensus and a strong political resolve to address such issues, then they can percolate to the ground and solutions can be found. And at the same time the very fact that this was done without any additional budget goes to show that there also was a very strong political will. I am glad that during my tenure there is an increased co-operation between the center and the states since education is in the concurrent list. I am also aware that there are certain decisions which fall only in the realm of the state Governments. On such decisions, we continuously engage and encourage states to do better.

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