So, yesterday was a shocker of sorts! Two path breaking announcements from the government. In one day. Please Dr. Singh, do this to us more often!
The first is Kapil Sibal's education reforms. The HRD minister announced his intention to do away with the stress-filled board exams among a host of other welcome measures in the sphere of education. It is a well-known fact that Indian students have to undergo extreme stress during their board and other entrance exams. The pattern currently being followed mostly encourages learning-by-rote.
He plans to replace the percentage-based system to one based on grades. This one step alone will do a lot of good to the student community in general. He also plans to replace the different syllabi being pursued by students in different states with one national syllabus.
He will face stiff opposition for sure. We have already heard the Left-ruled states reject his plans. Trust the antediluvian Left to oppose anything good for the country. Even a Congress ruled state like Andhra Pradesh has expressed some doubt.
I strongly hope the minister holds his own in this attempt. It is high time we bit the bullet on education reforms in this country.
This brings me to the second piece of news. The decision which will bring in better accountability and transparency in implementing social welfare schemes in the country. Nandan Nilekani, a co-founder of Infosys was given charge of implementing National IDs. This huge effort could not have had anyone better than Nilekani to head this.
The important thing here is that a corporate leader was given such a major responsibility. This is significant. The involvement of such competent people in government could be the harbinger of more efficient implementation of government schemes ensuring that the benefit of government expenditure reaches the intended beneficiaries. This has been the most cruel problem of government spending in India. Less than 10% of it reaches the intended recipients.
Nilekani's appointment (and his acceptance) offers hope to all Indians that the days ahead are bright. We might just see better governance, better accountability and better implementation.
The Congress government has got off to an excellent start. You can literally feel the enthusiasm among most of the ministers. They have the mandate of the people. They do not look like they are going to waste it. We cannot ask for better.