Last week Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) went on a strike. The agitating teachers marched from Delhi University campus to the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence demanding their long pending salaries. This event failed to find space in the columns of the city newspapers the next day. It’s another matter that the same newspapers on the said day had filled columns with all kinds of inanities about Delhi government’s ‘yeoman’ efforts.
This has been the general story for the past nine years. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, among other qualities, has shown the brazen ability to practise McCarthyism. Now what’s that? McCarthyism is the practice of making false or unfounded accusations specially done in public and in an attention-grabbing manner.
Kejriwal’s Delhi Model has less to do with governance and/or development but certainly more to do with the politics of fib, based on blatant falsehood. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power targeting Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government for corruption, and promising an honest government.
Today, Kejriwal’s one minister is cooling heels behind bars, two are being probed for corruption and a close confidant who heads the Waqf Board has also been taken into police custody. The court has sent him on police remand.
These actions have been countered by Kejriwal acolytes as vendetta politics unleashed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Kejriwal has said that many more of his legislators would be arrested. For a while one may concede the point which Kejriwal is making but also one must realise that his senior-most minister Satyendar Jain has been refused bail in the corruption case and despite that he shamelessly continues to be part of the cabinet.
While letting the law take its own course on the charges of corruption being levied against various departments on a daily basis, it’s important in this context that the veracity of the claims made by the Delhi government of its model of governance — the Delhi Model, be examined independently and also factually.
Right at the beginning of this article we talked about the government having raised its hands to support the 12 Delhi University colleges funded by it. While the public works department has stopped maintaining these college buildings, the teachers and the non-teaching staff have been going without regular salaries and not getting any allowances, including medical reimbursements.
That’s the status of Kejriwal’s Delhi Model of higher education. Now let’s come to the model of school education, which Kejriwal and his colleague Manish Sisodia frequently flaunt as being best in the world. There are some startling figures in public domain, even on the government websites, which would indicate that Delhi government schools have been witnessing a fall in the rate of progress rather than an upswing in its fortunes.
There have been flurry of government advertisements claiming that students in the private school were leaving in large numbers to join government schools. If that was so, in the academic years 2013-14, the number of student population in private schools was 27 per cent of the total school going children in Delhi. Today this figure has risen to almost 32 per cent. These figures for sure indicate that nobody was leaving private schools to join the government schools, as the false claims made in the advertisement paid for by the tax-payer’s money.
Another interesting facet of Kejriwal’s Delhi Model of Education is the complete downswing in the rate of admission of the students appearing for class 12 examination. In 1998-99, 44,918 students had taken the exam. In 2013-14, this number had risen to 166,257 in 2013-14, when Kejriwal came to govern Delhi. The numbers now under the Kejriwal model for the year 2021-22 are down to 164,641.
At the pace with which numbers rose between 1998-2013, in 2021-22 at least 325,000 should have appeared for the class 12 examination from the Delhi government schools. However, only 164,641 appeared. This shows that under Arvind Kejriwal’s education model the Delhi government schools are functioning only at half of the potential they possess.
The period between 1998 and 2004 was the time when the foundation of development of Delhi was late. This period also showcased how the city government ruled by Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit and centre ruled by BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee could put their heads together and work for the development of the national Capital.
And not to forget the role of the BJP leadership in the MCD, where the building projects get cleared and several approvals come from the civic body for building infra-structure even in the government sector. The period between 1998 and 2013 saw 149 new school buildings being made, 15 new swimming pools, 15 sports complexes and also sports coaching centres.
Whereas under the Kejriwal government since 2013, just 20 new schools have been built; it’s another matter that he had promised to build 500 new schools. The number of swimming pools, sports complexes and coaching centres are abysmally low. The growth in the period preceding Kejriwal’s rule could happen because different agencies under different political leaderships worked together to give Delhi a new and strong infrastructure.
The Aam Aadmi Party leadership may justify its abysmal performance in Delhi, given its habit to use nuggets of McCarthyism, saying that the BJP and the Congress were hand in gloves. After all, Kejriwal was heard recently saying that the BJP was plotting Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s back-door entry in the Prime Minister’s office.
The writer is an author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice. Views expressed are personal.