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March 30, 2024

Bengal Education Minister Accuses Modi Government of Withholding Funds for SSM, Calling it “Unethical”

West Bengal’s Education Minister, Bratya Basu, has leveled serious allegations against the Modi government, asserting that the third tranche of funds earmarked for the Sarva Shiksha Mission (SSM) has been deliberately withheld from the state. Basu’s accusations, made via a social media post on Friday, highlight the purported politicization of financial allocations for educational schemes.

According to Basu, the delay in fund disbursement is attributed to West Bengal’s refusal to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the Pradhan Mantri School for Rising India (PM SHRI) initiative—a condition set by the Centre for releasing the SSM funds. Expressing his discontent, Basu condemned this linkage between separate schemes as “completely unethical and illegal.”

“Why should a scheme be named PM SHRI,” Basu questioned, “when the state bears 40 per cent of the financial burden?” This rhetorical query underscores the perceived injustice in the distribution of responsibilities and recognition between the central and state governments.

Accusing the Modi government of indulging in “petty politics,” Basu lamented the adverse impact of such actions on West Bengal’s educational landscape. He highlighted the centrality of these funds in sustaining educational initiatives, emphasizing the detrimental consequences of their delay on the student community.

In a scathing indictment of the central government’s actions, Basu decried the vindictiveness displayed in withholding funds after their official clearance—a move he views as directly compromising the interests of students across West Bengal. His remarks underscore the broader ramifications of political disputes on the accessibility and quality of education, especially in states where such conflicts arise.

The Sarva Shiksha Mission (SSM), integral to the educational framework in West Bengal, spans across the pre-school to class 12 levels, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goal for Education. However, the current impasse threatens to undermine the mission’s objectives, casting a shadow over efforts to ensure inclusive and equitable education for all.

Basu’s assertions not only highlight the immediate financial concerns but also shed light on deeper systemic issues plaguing the education sector. By intertwining fund allocation with political compliance, the episode exemplifies the challenges faced by states in navigating federal structures while safeguarding their autonomy and principles.

As the standoff between the West Bengal government and the Centre continues, it underscores the need for a more collaborative and principled approach towards educational policymaking and resource allocation. The education of millions of students should not become collateral in political negotiations but rather be prioritized through transparent and accountable governance mechanisms.

In the broader context of India’s developmental aspirations, ensuring access to quality education stands as a cornerstone for sustainable progress. Therefore, resolving such disputes promptly and amicably becomes imperative to realize the nation’s educational goals and uphold the rights of every child to learn and thrive.

In conclusion, Bratya Basu’s allegations against the Modi government serve as a stark reminder of the intersection between politics and education, urging stakeholders to prioritize the latter’s sanctity above political expediency. Only through collective action and unwavering commitment can India truly harness its demographic dividend and propel itself towards a brighter, more inclusive future.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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