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Telangana: Dicey electoral strategy

EducationWorld January 2023 | Education News Magazine
Kingshuk Nag (Hyderabad)

Telangana: Dicey electoral strategy

With the telangana legislative assembly election scheduled to be held by end December and General Election 2024 obliged to be called the following summer, all political parties led by the erstwhile Telangana Rashtra Samiti, renamed Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti (BRS) on December 14 by chief minister K. Chan­drasekhar Rao (KCR), have gone into election frenzy. As a result, the state’s socio-economic development plans are on the backburner.

This is a change in priorities because since 1995, the state’s politics has centred on the development of Hyderabad which has rapidly transformed from a mofus­sil town into a globally respected software, telecom and other hi-tech industries hub. According to most political pundits in Hyderabad — carved out of a united Andhra Pradesh and now the admin capital of Telangana (pop.35 million) — KCR’s national political ambitions will slow down Telangana’s impressive economic growth rate and development of social infrastructure.

Over the past two decades, from a dusty laid back town, Hy­derabad has metamor­phosed into a shiny steel-and-glass ICT (information commu­nication technologies) hub hosting a global Microsoft development centre. It also hosts the world-class Indian School of Business (ISB) and an international airport with excellent infrastructure. Among multinational corporations that have established large offices and research centres in the city are Apple, Cognizant, Amazon, and Capgemini. This has also spurred the growth of numerous education institutions.

Among the new international schools that have set up shop in Hyderabad in recent years are Indus International, Sancta Maria, CHIREC International, Silver Oaks and Oakridge International — all highly ranked in the annual Educa­tionWorld India School Rankings league tables. Moreover the city has also attracted the attention of global private school chains. In November 2019, the UK-based Cognita Group which owns/manages 90 primary-secondary schools in eight countries around the world, planted its first flag on Indian soil in Hyderabad by acquiring the CAIE (UK) and IB-affiliated CHIREC International School (estb.1989). Last January, the UK-based International Schools Partnership, which owns/manages over 50 schools in 13 countries with an aggregate 45,000 students, in­vested in Sancta Maria International School.

But even as high-end private schools are mushrooming in Telan­gana and Hyderabad in particular, the state’s 30,023 government schools are suffering neglect and disarray. The BRS government is doing precious little to upgrade and improve government schools because a large percentage of the state’s budget expenditure is being spent on freebies and handouts to pander to the electorate.

Despite the prolonged closure of schools countrywide for 82 weeks in 2020-21 because of the Covid-19 pandemic during which children — especially in government schools — suffered huge learning loss, the TRS/ BRS government’s allocation for edu­cation in 2022-23 at Rs.16,042 crore is a mere 6.24 percent of the total budget (Rs.2.57 lakh crore). Against this, most state governments al­locate 10-15 percent of their budgets for education with the Delhi state government allocating 23 percent. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the YS Reddy government has allocated Rs.27,706 crore (11.74 percent) of the budget (Rs.2.56 lakh crore) for education.

“After formation of the state in 2014 following a protracted struggle for statehood, the TRS government which assumed power in the new state, has consistently reduced the share of the budget for education over the years. From 10.89 percent of the budget outlay in 2014-15, to a little over half of it in the upcoming financial year (2022-23), the sector has seen a continuous dip in monetary resources over the past eight years,” says G. Ram Mohan, correspondent of the online Wire.in.

In a state where the public highly values education, that’s dicey elector­al strategy.

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