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Off-centre | Education spending isn’t just confined to one ministry; other ministries too contribute substantially

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Off-centre | Education spending isn’t just confined to one ministry; other ministries too contribute substantially

Each and every of the 28 states and nine union territories has an education budget. What is more, even when it comes to the Union government, practically every ministry spends on education

Makarand R Paranjape Last Updated:February 23, 2023 14:54:39 IST Off-centre | Education spending isn’t just confined to one ministry; other ministries too contribute substantially

School children hold a portrait of Murmu in a classroom in Surat. PTI

In the last column, we saw how the government’s expenditure on education is by no means confined to the Ministry of Education. Each and every of the 28 states and nine Union Territories has an education budget. What is more, even when it comes to the Union government, practically every ministry spends on education.

The figures, however, are hard to come by. The reason is simple. The facts and figures, distributed across so many ministries, states, and departments, cannot be found in one place. To access, collate, compile, and analyse them without a huge team and matching resources would be dauntingly difficult. Certainly, it is not a task for a single individual, however dedicated, knowledgeable, or smart to undertake on their own.

That is why, the report titled Analysis of Budgeted Expenditure on Education, 2017-18 to 2019-20. Published in 2022 is invaluable. The report is easily available, but few have bothered to pay it a closer look. It is the fruit of the enormous efforts of the Planning, Monitoring and Statistics bureau of the Ministry of Education. Produced by seven officers and five support staff in the ministry, this report is essential reading for anyone interested in the Indian government’s spending on education.

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This team trawled through close to 1,000 documents and books of accounts totalling over 80,000 pages to come up with their compilation. Usually, officials who do such yeoman service to the republic are never named and very readily forgotten. Instead, politicians and top bureaucrats, who are the face of the government, take the credit for whatever policy changes or improvement their work might induce or inspire.

That is why I must depart from tradition to actually name them. Although I will forego listing their designations, I might add that none of them is higher than “Director”, which is below the rank of even the lowest IAS officer in the hierarchy of the ministry bureaucracy. I mention this only to underscore how important the work of the so-called lower officialdom in our system actually is. Their contribution, which may be the outcome of hard, backbreaking, and grinding labour, is seldom acknowledged.

I must publicly acclaim the efforts of Joseph CF, Archana Shukla, Diksha Sachdeva, Ritesh Patel, Vishal Mani Bhatt, Jai Bhagwan, Devender Kumar and Ranjan Abhishek, the education ministry officers responsible for the report. They were supported by a technical support group comprising Pravin Kumar, Shivam Pandey, Esther Jean Dungdung, Sanjeev Kumar and Vikas Mehta. Higher up in the hierarchy, whoever actually commissioned the report must also be praised.

Now coming to the spending across ministries other than and in addition to the ministry of education, how many of us know that the following ministries have considerable allocations mainly on, but not restricted to, primary and secondary education? Ministries of Culture; Defence; Personnel, Grievances & Pension; Railways; Social Justice & Empowerment; Textiles; Tribal Affairs; Women & Child Development; and Food Processing. In addition, the Department of Post, and Parliament Secretariats of the President and Vice President also spend on education.

When it comes to higher education, the following ministries, in addition to the ministry of education, contribute substantial amounts of money: Agriculture & Farmers Welfare; Civil Aviation; Commerce and Industry; Consumer Affairs; Food & Public Distribution; Corporate Affairs; N.E. Region Development; Environment, Forest & Climate Change; External Affairs; Home Affairs; Housing and Urban Development; Law & Justice; Road Transport & Highways; Rural Development; Shipping; Statistics & Programme Implementation; Tourism; Jal Shakti; Youth Affairs & Sports; and Finance.

That is not all. The following ministries make major contributions to technical education: AYUSH; Chemicals & Fertilizers; Coal, Ministry of Communication; Earth Sciences; Health & Family Welfare; Information & Broadcasting; Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises; Mines, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy; Petroleum & Natural Gas; Power, Ministry of Science & Technology; Skill Development & Training; Space; Department of Atomic Energy; and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises. I cannot seem to find a single ministry that does not spend on education.

The figures, in tabular form, are seen here.

The budgeted provision on education of some of these ministries, as is evident, from the above table, is immense. The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare spends Rs 8,360 crore, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Rs 9,055 crore, Ministry of Minority Affairs Rs 2,869 crore, Ministry of Science & Technology Rs 12,976 crore, Ministry of Skill Development & Training Rs 29,226 crore, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment Rs 14,958 crore, Ministry of Women & Child Development Rs 20,283 crore, and NITI Ayog Rs 14,958 crore. The grand total for 2019-2020 is Rs 2,27,080 crore, with the Ministry of Education contributing Rs 92,733 crore and the other ministries and departments of the Union government Rs 1,34,347.

Given that the latter figure exceeds the former by about 150 per cent, it should be obvious that the total amount spent by all the other ministries put together far exceeds that of the Ministry of Education. If we look at the current budget, we will notice that the money allocated to the Education Ministry has gone up from Rs 92,733 crore to Rs 1,12,898.97 crore. This is an increase of about 22 per cent. If the spends by the other ministries are also considered to have gone up by a similar margin, then what the other ministries will spend will be close to Rs 1.65 lakh crore. The total of the Central government spends will thus be over Rs 2.75 lakh crore. This does not include what the states have spent. We will look at the total spends of the government in the next column in this series.

[To be continued]

The writer is an author, columnist and professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Views expressed are personal.

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