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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Telangana’s rural students forced to earn to learn

Nearly two-third of all senior-Intermediate girls in rural Telangana have to earn so that they may study, a survey has found.

Conducted by the M.V. Foundation, the survey on impediments to girl education involved girls who were first-generation education seekers. It reported 74.2 per cent girls as saying education was not free even in government institutions that did not charge for tuition, but collected other fees that many students could not afford.

The respondents said they had to earn wages to support education. Data for the study was pooled from 20 colleges selected randomly from 2,141 colleges, both private and government, excluding Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts.

“Fees other than tuition are collected from students and there is no regulation for such collection. Given that budgets for most colleges are inadequate and often does not arrive on time, the fees are used to run these institutions. It is indeed a difficult situation for students as reimbursement arrives only towards the end of the academic year,” says Shailaja Ramaiyer, Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Board of Intermediate Education, while acknowledging the study’s findings.

The study found that sexual abuse and eve-teasing were major impediments to girls continuing education. Nearly 37.5 per cent respondents said they experienced sexual assaults at primary school level and 34.1 per cent reported experiencing sexual abuse at least once a week during second year of Intermediate. Eve-teasing had caused girls to drop out of college and many also regularly experienced gender and caste discrimination.

Additionally, the study also found low levels of sexual awareness among respondents. For instance, only 63.2 per cent girls did not know if pregnancy could occur on kissing or hugging, while 90.5 per cent were unaware if a woman could get pregnant during the first instance of intercourse.

Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika convenor Mallepali Laxmaiah recommended that hostels be set up for every education institution to facilitate higher education, as the family environment could vitiate education, he observed. The study reported most girls witnessing violence at home, usually perpetuated by an alcoholic father.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/telanganas-rural-students-forced-to-earn-to-learn/article7050889.ece?ref=tpnews


More than half of all education loans in South India, TN and Kerala

Two states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have accounted for nearly 40 per cent of education loans disbursed in the country so far, indicating the skew in the tapping of bank funds for education.

Banks have disbursed Rs 16,380 crore in Tamil Nadu, Rs 10,487 crore in Kerala — over 38 per cent of total disbursals, as per data prepared by the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance.

According to the data, collated from states across the country, over 54 per cent of education loans have gone to applicants in south India. As of December 31, 2014, the total outstanding education loans for the country was Rs 70,475 crore.

Banks began to disburse education loans from 2000-01. These loans were pushed the most by former finance minister P Chidambaram when the UPA was in power. Populous states like UP and Bihar are way down in the borrowings list: banks could disburse only Rs 6,697 crore and Rs 3,053 crore respectively. Students in Maharashtra — another big state — have received only Rs 4,906 crore so far; Madhya Pradesh has got Rs 1,945 crore. The entire Northeast has got only Rs 736 crore.


The skew in disbursals was discussed at a review meeting called by the Finance Ministry for public sector banks recently.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat accounts for Rs 1,508 crore of education loans, with barely 50,000 students opting for loans. “The Ministry of HRD has given a list of 1,100 A-rated institutions and universities to banks and they do not have any problem in lending to students in these institutions. They should not consider the mortgage but focus on employability,” said a top official who participated in the Ministry review meeting, which called for a correction in the trend.

As many as 9.56 lakh students have taken education loans in Tamil Nadu, while Kerala had 4.03 student loan accounts as on December 2014. Why are education loans so popular in TN and Kerala?

“The high literacy level in these states is a major reason. Another reason is the huge number of educational institutions, especially professional colleges. Most students in southern states go for higher education, and are keen on taking up jobs,” said V R Iyer, chairperson and managing director of Bank of India.

M Narendra, who recently retired as chairman and MD of Indian Overseas Bank, said, “The awareness level of people about the banking system is very high in South India. There’s a lot of information about education loans. A large number of middle-class students apply for such loans in the southern states.”


The DFS data shows that as much as 86.8 per cent of the total outstanding education loan is with public sector banks. As on December 31, 2014, PSU banks had disbursed Rs 61,177 crore to students, while private banks provided the remaining Rs 9,298 crore. Among PSU banks, State Bank of India topped the list with loans of Rs 15,295 crore among 5.77 lakh students, followed by Canara Bank (Rs 5,371 crore).

SBI currently charges an interest of 11.75 per cent (1.75 per cent above the base rate) on normal student loans above Rs 7.50 lakh. For loans up to Rs 4 lakh, the rate is 13.50 per cent (3.50 per cent above the base rate), and for loans between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 7.50 lakh, it is 13.75 per cent.

SBI lays down that repayment must commence a year after completion of the course, or six months after securing a job, whichever is earlier. In case a second loan is availed later, the student has to repay the combined loan amount in 12 years after completion of the second course.

The DFS has set a target of Rs 74,828 crore for education loans for the fiscal ending March 2015, but bankers are not sure of meeting the target. The Ministry had asked banks to give loans to meritorious students under the management quota, and not reject applications on the ground of non-service area of the branch concerned.

According to a senior government official, banks should take into account the new budgetary announcement of Student Financial Aid Authority, which is being set up to administer and monitor scholarships and loan schemes through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram. This will help banks in increasing education loans across the country, he said.

Just two states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have accounted for nearly 40 per cent of education loans disbursed in the country so far, indicating the skew in the tapping of bank funds for education.

Banks have disbursed Rs 16,380 crore in Tamil Nadu, Rs 10,487 crore in Kerala — over 38 per cent of total disbursals, as per data prepared by the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance.

According to the data, collated from states across the country, over 54 per cent of education loans have gone to applicants in south India. As of December 31, 2014, the total outstanding education loans for the country was Rs 70,475 crore.

Banks began to disburse education loans from 2000-01. These loans were pushed the most by former finance minister P Chidambaram when the UPA was in power. Populous states like UP and Bihar are way down in the borrowings list: banks could disburse only Rs 6,697
respectively. Students in Maharashtra — another big state — have received only Rs 4,906 crore so far; Madhya Pradesh has got Rs 1,945 crore. The entire Northeast has got only Rs 736 crore.

The skew in disbursals was discussed at a review meeting called by the Finance Ministry for public sector banks recently.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat accounts for Rs 1,508 crore of education loans, with barely 50,000 students opting for loans. “The Ministry of HRD has given a list of 1,100 A-rated institutions and universities to banks and they do not have any problem in lending to students in these institutions. They should not consider the mortgage but focus on employability,” said a top official who participated in the Ministry review meeting, which called for a correction in the trend.

As many as 9.56 lakh students have taken education loans in Tamil Nadu, while Kerala had 4.03 student loan accounts as on December 2014. Why are education loans so popular in TN and Kerala?

“The high literacy level in these states is a major reason. Another reason is the huge number of educational institutions, especially professional colleges. Most students in southern states go for higher education, and are keen on taking up jobs,” said V R Iyer, chairperson and managing director of Bank of India.

M Narendra, who recently retired as chairman and MD of Indian Overseas Bank, said, “The awareness level of people about the banking system is very high in South India. There’s a lot of information about education loans. A large number of middle-class students apply for such loans in the southern states.”

The DFS data shows that as much as 86.8 per cent of the total outstanding education loan is with public sector banks. As on December 31, 2014, PSU banks had disbursed Rs 61,177 crore to students, while private banks provided the remaining Rs 9,298 crore. Among PSU banks, State Bank of India topped the list with loans of Rs 15,295 crore among 5.77 lakh students, followed by Canara Bank (Rs 5,371 crore).

SBI currently charges an interest of 11.75 per cent (1.75 per cent above the base rate) on normal student loans above Rs 7.50 lakh. For loans up to Rs 4 lakh, the rate is 13.50 per cent (3.50 per cent above the base rate), and for loans between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 7.50 lakh, it is 13.75 per cent.

SBI lays down that repayment must commence a year after completion of the course, or six months after securing a job, whichever is earlier. In case a second loan is availed later, the student has to repay the combined loan amount in 12 years after completion of the second course.

The DFS has set a target of Rs 74,828 crore for education loans for the fiscal ending March 2015, but bankers are not sure of meeting the target. The Ministry had asked banks to give loans to meritorious students under the management quota, and not reject applications on the ground of non-service area of the branch concerned.

According to a senior government official, banks should take into account the new budgetary announcement of Student Financial Aid Authority, which is being set up to administer and monitor scholarships and loan schemes through the Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram. This will help banks in increasing education loans across the country, he said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/more-than-half-of-all-education-loans-in-south-india-tn-and-kerala-take-38/

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Set up special commission for education

The Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, a socialist advocacy group, has demanded setting up an autonomous commission to govern the education sector and creation of separate cadre for top bureaucrats working in government-run educational establishments.

The local unit of the group recently met governor C Vidyasagar Rao and submitted a memorandum of their demands, which also includes ensuring free and compulsory education from kindergarten (KG) to post graduation (PG), among others.

"Setting up an autonomous institution for the education sector on the lines of the Central Planning Commission (NITI Aayog) would ensure more focused and organised approach of the government towards the sector. Such an institution would help in achieving the desired quality of education and ensure the government reaches all the targeted beneficiaries," national vice-president of the group Ajmal Khan said.

Elaborating on the demand to create a separate cadre of government officials for the education sector, he said, "Presently, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers work in top-level posts in the bureaucracy in education departments. We demand that a separate cadre, Indian Educational Services (IES), must be created. The job responsibilities in the education sector are quite different from those in other fields."

The Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha has also demanded scrapping of non-aided policy of the government in the education sector, terming it as the root cause of all the evils in the current system.

"The government should spend at least 8% of the GDP on education to ensure free flow of funds so that the non-aided policy can be rooted out permanently. To make sure the disadvantaged groups get more education, the government should increase the scope of the RTE Act, expanding the age limit of beneficiaries under it between three and 18 years," Khan added.

Bringing nursery education under the direct control of the government and levying a special education cess on the rich are some of the other major demands of the group. Its members are also planning to meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss the group's demands.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/Set-up-special-commission-for-education/articleshow/46661767.cms

Special education to take a hit, boards warn

Starting this fall, boards will have fewer options to move money around — so expect special education to take a hit because most need to do that to cover the actual costs of serving their most needy students, says the head of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.

While a threatened 2 per cent cut in overall funding didn’t materialize — grants remain at the same level as last year, at $22.5 billion — Michael Barrett said there are still several areas of concern.

“While it wasn’t as horrible as it could have been, there are still systemic issues that haven’t been dealt with — special education funding absolutely being at the top of it.”

At a time when the special education funding model “continues to deteriorate, the tendency is for boards to use un-enveloped dollars to meet the gap,” he said. “But with six more enveloped (or specific use) funds … the closing of that flexibility for boards means they’ll have to cut programs.”

He’s also worried about the government’s plan to penalize school boards that don’t close schools with excess space, while at the same time promoting the idea of turning buildings into community hubs, where extra room will be needed to offer services and programming to area families.

Some schools the province considers under-utilized are already offering programs because they have the space, he added, making the government’s stance “almost a contradiction.”

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said it too is concerned about school closings, possibly “driving elementary schools and students into high school settings” as schools are merged to save money.

It also slammed the government for not providing enough supports for teachers as more special education students are integrated into mainstream classrooms.

Parents of special needs children in Toronto Catholic schools say they were warned that the board is looking at a .8 per cent cut in provincial funding, or $7 million — on top of a $20-million plus deficit created by staff error — and that services would be impacted.

Spokesperson John Yan said the board overspends by $21 million each year on special education to meet students’ needs and is now looking at a cut of $2.7 million from funding that is already inadequate.

The Toronto public board was still analyzing the numbers, but said it was pleased with an increase for school repairs, to $112 million.

In announcing the grants for 2015-16, Education Minister Liz Sandals said parents concerned about cuts to their children’s programs will have to talk to their boards.

“We spent $22.5 billion on education in Ontario last year, we’re spending $22.5 billion on education this year. That’s even though there will be less students,” she said.

Sandals also took a swipe at the troubled Toronto District School Board, noting “we want to make sure that the money is going to students not to empty space,” referring to the number of schools in the board the ministry considers underused.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said “it’s really obvious that the Liberals are cutting education. “Just in straight math, when you keep a budget the same, inflationary pressures mean that you’re actually cutting.”

A spokesperson for Sandals said students with special education needs are receiving approximately $2.72 billion for the 2015-16 school year under a "more fair and equitable" formula.

"School boards are responsible for using their total funding allocation to provide the special education programs and services to meet the needs of their students," said Nilani Logeswaran in a written statement.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/03/26/school-board-funding-stable-education-minister-says.html

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Telangana State to recruit 85,000 people for Govt jobs

Telangana government on Tuesday stated there are no hurdles to conduct recruitments to about 85,000 government jobs. However, the government didn’t provide a clear timeline as to when the recruitments will begin. Irrigation minister T. Harish Rao said the Chief Minister has already promised that all recruitments would be completed within a year. However, dissatisfied with the “government’s callousness towards the issue,” Opposition parties walked out of the Assembly on Tuesday.

The matter pertaining to recruitments was once again raised during the Question Hour on Tuesday morning. Earlier, when the matter was raised, the government had said that recruitments can’t be taken up until the Kamalanathan committee submits its reports regarding staff allocations between Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh.

However, under pressure from the Opposition on Tuesday, finance minister Etela Rajender conceded, “There are 1,07,744 vacant posts out of which about 15,000 posts are related to the Kamalanathan committee. About 85,000 posts are district, zonal and multi-zonal posts. There is no hurdle for recruitments to these posts.”

Replying to MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi’s queries on Urdu medium exams and 12 per cent reservations for Muslims, Mr Rajender said, “Urdu exam issue is under consideration of the government. The four per cent reservation for Muslims will continue but if there is a recommendation from the appointed committee, we will implement the same.” He also said the government was planning to take up recruitments on a regular basis annually or biannually.

However, the government was criticised by the Opposition for not spelling out when the recruitments would be taken up. Leader of Opposition K. Jana Reddy said, “You admitted that recruitments in 85 per cent posts can be initiated immediately. But till date even a few thousand posts have not been filled by the government.”

Irrigation minister T. Harish Rao responded saying, “Our Chief Minister has already said that 1 lakh recruitments would be taken up within 1 year. We will begin the process soon.” However, dissatisfied Opposition parties Congress, BJP, CPI and CPM walked out protesting the callousness of the government towards the issue.

- See more at: http://errabus.com/general-news/telangana-to-recruit-85-000-people-for-government-jobs-17007#sthash.Z1Ze4uBp.dpuf

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Funds for higher education? Take education loan

The education loans can fund your higher education. The process is simple and if followed can offer you access to funds to pay your fees and other expenses. One must pay off his education loan to remain creditworthy.

After students pass out from schools, funding their higher studies is both a momentous event and a dilemma faced by parents. The costs of higher professional education have gone through the roof. Education loans come in as much-needed financial succour to help talented and meritorious students realise their dreams of studying in reputed professional institutes. The most alluring feature of education loans is that they can be repaid after the completion of the particular educational course. This loan generally covers all expenses incurred towards the tuition and other fees, library charges, hostel and mess charges, cost of books and equipment, maintenance, caution fund/building fund/refundable deposit and cost of passage (for studies abroad), etc.

Here is a lowdown on the entire education loan process. How to apply Students applying for education loans can approach public sector (nationalised) banks and private sector banks that offer educational loans for professional studies in India and abroad. However, before approaching these banks, it is crucial to have sufficient prior knowledge about the various education loan schemes and their pros and cons. Also, all the possible expenses should be calculated, whether it is tuition fees or boarding and lodging expenses, before you avail an education loan. It will help you to arrive at the precise amount you need to take as loan. The second step is to finalise the financial institutions from which you should take the loan – government banks, other government financial institutions or private sector banks and institutions. Government loans are highly subsidised and require the interest to be paid after completion of education in easy-to-pay instalments. But,some reputed financial institutions also offer loans at competitive interest rates. You should do a thorough research on all the terms and conditions regarding the moratorium and repayment periods, etc, when you apply for an educational loan. Loan eligibility To be eligible for an education loan, you should be an Indian national and must have obtained admission to an approved professional or technical course at a leading educational institution in India or abroad through stipulated entrance tests or the due selection process.

The lenders prefer students who have a consistently good academic record. The loan applicants should have an earning parent or guardian as a co-applicant to the loan. The exact amount of educational loan is subject to the individual repaying capacity of the parents or student. The education loan process Once banks receive applications for an educational loan, they determine the period of the loan that normally does not exceed five years as well as the margin money that has to be paid by loan-seekers. Generally, for a loan above Rs 4 lakh, you have to furnish the minimum down payment (payment from your own sources) of five per cent for studies in India and fifteen per cent for studies abroad. However, the requirement for the minimum down payment is dispensed with in case of loans below 4 lakh. The course for which the loan is being taken should justify the amount of loan. Mostly, lenders grant the maximum amount of Rs. 10 lakh for studies in India and Rs. 20 lakh for overseas professional education. Planning the loan repayment Generally, education loans have a repayment period ranging from five to seven years and the EMI startsfrom the first year after the course completion or six months after the loanapplicant secures a job. But, in some cases, the repayment period starts within six months of course completion. In case a student finds it difficultto service the loan, it is advisable to request the lender to re-schedule the repayment period or seek for a moratorium period. If you secure a well-paid job on completion of the course, the repayment can be acceleratedto repay your debts as early as possible.

Thus, you can maintain your credibility and good track record, as well as save on your first earnings.Significantly, students can prepay educational loans without attracting any penalty. Implications of moratorium period Students need not pay interest during the moratorium period. But, there is a cost. For instance, if you avail a loan amount of Rs 5 lakh with the moratorium period of three years and loan repayment period of seven years at an interest rate of 13 per cent per annum, a simple interest is calculated on the disbursed amount from the date of disbursement. A compounded interest payment starts from the first EMI date. Difference between secured and unsecured education loan Most education loans fall into the unsecured loan category, but in some cases, collateral security can be asked. Collaterals asked for education loans are usually property owned by the guarantor (parent), which is free from any other legal complications or liabilities. Therefore, if a student fails to repay the loan, the consequences can be quite grave. Most loans offered by PSBs are secured education loans. Generally, they have lower interest rates and their rates are fixed, compared to the variable rates of private lenders.

Most secured loan providers also offer options of delayed repayment in the event of illness or prolonged unemployment. Unsecured student loans from a bank or private lender usually have higher-than-average interest rates due to the risk component on providing a loan without any collateral. But, such loans provide a sizable amount of money to students in a relatively short span of time. Education loans are a handy option, especially for many underprivileged students. The government intends to make it available for all those who qualify on the basic parameters, irrespective of their financial status. For the same reason, these loans are offered without stringent scrutiny, unlike other loans. However, defaulting on education loan payments will adversely affect the borrower’s as well as the guarantor’s (parent’s) credit-worthiness, which would render any fresh borrowing in the future a difficult proposition.

Read more at: http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/education-loan/shortfunds-for-higher-education-take-education-loan_1335054.html?utm_source=ref_article

Monday, 23 March 2015

Telangana Ed.CET 2015 on 6 June

Hyderabad: The Telangana state examination for the Education Common Entrance Test (Ed.CET) for 2015 was decided to be held on the 6 June, 2015 by the Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE) which convened at Osmania University. The meeting was led by the committee's Chairman Prof. E Suresh Kumar. In attendance were Prof. S. Mallesh, Vice-Chairman, TSCHE, Prof. P. Prasad, convenor, TS Ed.CET-2015, was well as several members of the Osmania University along with representatives from other universities in the state.

The full particulars of the examinations and other associated details will be released by 12 March, 2015. All applications will need to be made online. The registration fee is Rs.300 for candidates from the general category and Rs.150 from the SC/ST category to be submitted via State Online/AP Online/ Mee-Seva/E-Seva centres in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh.

The final date to complete all requirements for the exam is 7 May, 2015. Those who fail to complete the requirements by that date may do so by May 21 with an additional payment of Rs. 500. The exam tickets will be available for download from www.tsedcet.org after May 31.

The tests will be held at Hyderabad, Nizamabad, Nirmal, Karimnagar, Siddipet, Warangal, Jangaon, Khammam, Kothagudem, Nalgonda, Suryapet, Mahabubnagar, and Wanaparthy.

In addition to the finalization of exam dates the committee also decided that B.Ed courses will be two years and candidates for B.Ed with Mathematics and Physical Science with B.E. and B.Tech degrees will be deemed eligible to pursue the same.

No Admission Tests for Nomadic BCs



HYDERABAD: To encourage education among children from nomadic backward classes (BCs) in Telangana, the BC welfare department is planning to provide them admissions to government residential schools at any point of the academic year without holding entrance tests. Admissions will be given to BC welfare and social welfare residential schools in respective districts.

In a move to improve the literacy rate among the nomadic BCs, the BC welfare department has recently proposed to launch a survey to identify eligible children to send them to schools. According to the data available with the government, there are 51 nomadic BCs in Telangana and around 90 per cent of their children are away from formal education.

Though the nomadic BCs are entitled to several welfare schemes o the state and central governments, they are unable to utlise the benefits of schemes due to lack of awareness. Recently, the Union government has launched a scholarship scheme for them but very few of them are aware of it, said an official of the BC welfare department. The government is also planning to organise programmes to motivate parents to send their children to schools.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/No-Admission-Tests-for-Nomadic-BCs/2015/03/23/article2725713.ece

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Telangana: 7-year school record must to claim fee reimbursement, scholarships

Hyderabad: The Telangana state government has made it mandatory for students to submit last seven years’ schooling records to claim fee reimbursement and scholarships.

This will be applicable with immediate effect, from the ongoing academic year 2014-15.

The government has allowed online submission of applications on the “e-Pass” website and students have to upload their schooling records to be eligible to claim the benefits, along with other documents like income and caste certificates.

Deputy CM Kadiam Srihari informed the Assembly on Thursday that only students who pursued schooling in TS for a maximum period out of seven years would be extended the benefit as per Article 371 (D) of the Constitution to determine “local status”.

Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari who is also the higher education minister for Telangana, said that Telangana is committed to implement the fee reimbursement scheme.

“As per norms in accordance with the Presidential Order issued under Article 371 (D) of the Constitution to determine the local and non-local status of applicants in education and employment opportunities, the school record of last seven years will be taken into consideration, and wherever a student has pursued education for a longer duration out of this period, he or she will be considered the local of that state,” he said.

Mr Srihari reiterated that the TS government was committed to implementing the fee reimbursement scheme despite severe financial implications on the state exchequer and had no plans of scrapping the scheme in future.

“The government has released Rs 1,790 crore fee arrears of students that were accrued in the undivided Andhra Pradesh during the last four years. This shows the sincerity and commitment of the TRS government towards funding the education of the poor and needy. For the ongoing academic year 2014-15 too, we have launched an online application system recently for which over 40,000 students have already applied. We have made necessary allocations in the budget to extend the benefit to over 16.57 lakh students this year,” he added.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/150320/nation-current-affairs/article/telangana-7-year-school-record-must-claim-fee-reimbursement

Millennium Development Goals: India shows mixed progress on gender equality

The Millennium Development Goals—eight international goals established in the UN Millennium Summit—are set to expire in 2015. The goals were set to achieve development targets across the world on issues like health, primary education and gender equality and empowerment of women. While India has made progress on issues like combating hunger and poverty and primary education, its performance in meeting the third goal, on gender equality and empowerment, has been mixed. Indian women’s labour force participation is 33% compared with the global average of 50%. Only 10% of women in rural areas have some ownership entitlements over agricultural land; 83% of them, however, depend on agriculture. While India has eliminated gender disparity in primary education, gender budgeting has taken a hit. This in spite of ambitious schemes in pursuit of the goal.

These issues and others were the subject of a round table discussion on “India and the MDG’s gender and Development—An Assessment’ organized by UN Women and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in New Delhi on Friday. According to Dipi Sinha of the Right to Food campaign, some of India’s biggest challenges are both institutional and social. The women and child development ministry has seen its budgetary allocation cut by almost 50% as has the rural jobs scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). “For a lot of women, MNREGA is considered to be a good working option but they have not been provided work for over a year now. Where do they find work?” asked Sinha. “While parents are willing to invest in education, the pathways to convert education into employment are limited. Women’s work force participation as paid employees is not improving.” Jobless growth, according to her, is a pressing concern. “We have to be more demanding in commitments to close the gender equality gap,” said Patricia Barandun, deputy representative, UN Women multi-country office, who believes that more and more women are needed in a position of power and decision-making. Internationally only 22% of all national parliamentarians are women.

India might not have been able to bring about 33% reservation for women in Parliament but in 2009 a proposal to increase reservation for women in Ranchayati Raj institutions to 50% was cleared. But ordinances like the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2014, if passed, will only serve to de-rail such initiatives. The ordinance seeks to introduce a set of educational qualifications of secondary education for candidates to contest panchayat elections. Class VIII has been introduced as the minimum qualification for the post of sarpanch while Class X is the minimum for a post in the zilla parishad. “This will lead to the disenfranchisement of nearly 85% women,” said Sinha. Post 2015, UN Women is advocating a standalone goal to achieve gender equality. The standalone goal rests on three pillars: freedom from violence, access to opportunities and ensuring women have a voice within households and in public and private decision-making spheres. “We need representation of women in different domains. It is not only about women in politics but standing up to other challenges,” said Subhalakshmi Nandi, head of the women’s economic empowerment unit at UN Women.






http://www.livemint.com/Politics/1ZMG7DwhPQy4UXrWEFlvCJ/Millennium-Development-Goals-India-shows-mixed-progress-on.html