28 सित॰ 2009

Against Privatization of Education Agenda

The perinial debate in the Mecca of capitalism - that of efficiency versus equality - is exemplified by the Conservatives and Liberals.
In a book he wrote 50 years ago, The Affluent Society, JK Galbraith traced the development of economic theory where he argued for a shift of investment to services from production to guard agaist cyclic depressions that bedevil the developed world.
He did differenciate in investments in services like travel, tourism and restaurants from investments in schools and hospitals in the services sector, because of the nature of decline in spending that accompnaies a decline in production. Spending on education would continue and therefore take the edge off a depression in times of reduced demand while spending on other services like travel and eating out would reduce. That is because in times of increasing unemployment, it is the younger lot of workers who get thrown out, while the senior workers will continue to finance the education of their children. In India, students themselves do not yet finance their own education in apprciable numbers by taking time out to work or taking educational loans that would be affected in a downturn.
The Allahabed University apparently is not going to commit public funds on infracture. That is already there. It intends to introduce more saleable courses in Media studies, which has a huge market. At the same time there is unutized capacity.
This infringes on the question of inflation, according to Galbraith. At full capacity or close to capacity, in the face of more demand, there is a pressure on prices to rise. This is what is happening. At the time Galbraith wrote, (investment in) education was apparently classified as a consumption good. From the economic point of view this has to be seen as a problem of inflation. The Allahabad debate is whether education is a market commodity. We need to broaden the scope of the debate. Will the proposed measure enhance Indian capabilities? Will it lead to increased economic security and well being? Do we agree that increased employment is increased security? Will the increased spending power be inflationery?

The debate is also about effeciency and equality.

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