KVS decision to increase tuition fee is unconstitutional, contrary to Articles 21 and 21-A of the Constitution. Article 21-A of the Constitution very clearly mandates the State to provide free education to all the children in the age group six to fourteen years. KVS is a State funded school and therefore, there is no question of charging of any fee from the students. Instead of increasing fee, the KVS ought to have abolished all the fee as envisaged in the Constitution. All India Parents Association (AIPA) demands immediate withdrawal of the increase in fee.
It was all interesting to watch Rajya Sabha proceedings today on Constitutional Amendment Bill relating to promotional quota for SC & ST in Government Services. Is it all vote bank politics or our parliamentarian are really serious to do justice with the deprived section of the society?
From 22 to 28 December 2012, I will be visiting some of the remote villages of Amravati District of Maharashtra to make a holistic study of implementation of various social laws like Forest Act, Employment Guarantee Act, Minimum Wages Act, Right to Education Act etc and impact thereof on the living conditions of the villagers. Friends may suggest to add anything more to this study.
Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
Lawyers + team is a group consisting of lawyers as well as non-lawyers who works for a common social cause. The primary motive of the team is to make people aware of their Right to Education (RTE) and Right to Health (RTH), especially the vulnerable section of society i.e., the Slum Dwellers who are seldom aware of their legal and basic rights. This awareness programme is carried out by the Lawyers + Team of Social Jurist led by Advocate Ashok Agarwal by visiting a slum area every weekend. This small but strong & substantial social affair continues for two hours. The team starts its activity at 8.00 am and seeks to cover the large portion of that area and disseminate their objective by interacting with the slum dwellers (door to door) on right to education and right to health. To make it more influencing, hand-bills, postcards and visiting cards of Advocate Ashok Agarwal is circulated all around so that it can have a striking effect on people. Moreover photographs are also captured by the team of the present scenario of that area.
The hand- bill exhibits on one side the specific and most important points on RTE & RTH in brief. In addition a list of few contact persons including lawyers & non-lawyers is provided (especially personal & official contact details of Adv. Ashok Agarwal), making it convenient for people to approach them any time in need. The other side of the hand-bill furnishes a list of 46 private hospitals which are constructed on government land and as per the Supreme Court orders these hospitals have to provide free medical treatment to the poor patients (whose family income is below 7254/- p.m). 10% (IPD) bed and 25 % O.P.D is reserved for the poor patients. The post cards are mainly distributed to the school children so that they can write down their grievances highlighting serious violations of right to education regarding their school teachers or any problem related to their school.
A brief description of few visits conducted by Lawyers+ Team
1. MADANPUR KHADAR, SARITA VIHAR RESETTLEMENT AREA (Dated: 09/09/2012)
The team comprising of around 10-12 volunteers reached the decided place at 8:30 am. Madanpur Khadar, resettlement colony. It occupies a vast area in Sarita Vihar, but the houses in this colony are very closely and compactly built. The visit started by distributing hand-bills and post cards in the usual manner. People were also made aware about their legal rights and the team activity. Thereafter, the Team held a RTE PIL Postcard Campaign meeting with the school going students of the area. Over 200 students of classes V to XII of MCD and Govenment Schools in Madanpur Khadar area participated and 185 students wrote postcards addressed to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice highlighting serious violations of right to education.
2. VASANT KUNJ JHUGGIES (Dated: 16/09/2012)
The very foremost thing you get to see on reaching the vasant kunj slum area is- almost whole slum was smothered around the water tankers for filling up their containers. We were guided by Prof. Nalini Juneja who is a resident of Vasant Kunj and very much familiar about the slum. On interacting with them it was found that scarcity of water is a big problem prevailing in that area and to fill water from tankers is a routine work which consumes their lot of time. Literacy rate is very low in this area. Slum dwellers were seem to be least bothered to send their children to school. But, there were few children who were studying in good public schools too. One of the children was admitted to Delhi Public School.
There was a boy who was suffering from a skin disease and was unable to treat it properly, though his family was spending lot of money on his daily medicines. The mother was advised and referred to a good private hospital by the lawyers plus team.
It was also found that in one slum, a child was missing and according to them there were rise in the kidnapping cases in that area.
3. ANNA NAGAR (Dated: 02/10/2012)
The Slum was adjacent to World Health Organization, India separated by a big naala (drainage). There literacy rate decreases as we go inside the slum. There was indication of massive illiteracy. It was found that one NGO was already working there for years and trying to improve the condition of the people in slum. The small portion of that slum is from tamil society whose occupation is mainly rag picking. We have felt that main problem of this tamil community was their poor understanding of hindi (local language) and sanitation problem. There were many children who were in bad habit of chewing gutkas and who were least interested to join any school.
4. OKHLA (Dated: 14/10/2012)
Our Lawyer plus team led by Adv. Ashok Aggarwal reached the place with around 10-12 volunteers. We reached by 8.30. and continued till 10.30. There was a media team of AAJTAK, they have covered our activities and have interviewed Advocate Ashok Agarwal to know the programme in a better way. The area was muslim dominated. It was very near to Jamia Milia Islamia University and one Urdu University. But on entering the caves of the slum, the whole light of knowledge disappeared because the slums started crying out of problems within. It’s a big slum consisting of scattered community like rag pickers, Bangladeshi migrants etc. But one common problem all were facing, for e.g. illiteracy, unawareness and unhygienic environment. There were open drains(which become worst during rainy season), garbage , mismanagement of sanitation etc.
5. WEST VINOD NAGAR, MAYUR VIHAR, PHASE-I (Dated: 28/10/2012)
The slum is located on the side lane of the main road but still the condition was very poor. It was a mixed community. People were not aware about their rights and there were many legal issues relating to ration card. All problems were due to lack of legal literacy. This community was full of children, so we have found lots of cases pertaining to right to education law.
The team has observed that:
• There were many cases of corporal punishment. In that sequence one of the child was hit by iron scale leading to a major hurt on his finger, which was still not medically treated. He was suggested a private hospital by team leader. There were some students who said that they are hanged and thrown with the help of their ears. The intense pain was easily expressed by the children of that slum but with a smile. The expression was through the postcards which gives the aggrieved children an opportunity to participate in law implementation. It was provided by the leader of our team.
• Good thing was maximum children of this slum were admitted to the school. Everybody told that school is very near to their place, so nobody escape the opportunity. We can deduce from this fact that if the access to basic services is easily available, almost everyone approach it but with legal awareness, all these approaches of welfare State will come true.
6. JANTA COLONY SLUMS, JAFFARABAD, SEELAMPUR: (2-12-12, 9:00-11:00 P.M)
We have started our slum visit with a narrow lane which was hap hazarded with lots of people, livestock, garbage, children running by etc. As every slum area has its own character, and among our other visits of slum, this slum was bigger and most narrow and complex with most untidy environment. It was mainly industrial area surrounded by small house structures. The worst thing about these small scale industries was the number of child labours working inside. Many were found illiterate citing economic conditions they were bound to work and loose the hands of education.
While going inside the lanes we have found that the children who are with their family they at least send their children to school but there were cases where the children were withdrawn from school and were still struggling for school admission, for e.g. one woman was telling that she took her child to a school but they refused to take him due to age determination certificate. She has revealed that teacher asks for janampatri from her. There were many cases of illiteracy due to child labour in this area. One middle ages person was suffering from some infection in his hand since long but was unable to get right medical treatment; the team leader referred him to good private hospital with no fee as he was coming under EWS.
There were lots of children in this area and was showing denial of right to health of children. There were butcher shops with no proper hygiene. As much as we were entering the depth of this slum, we could smell the mismanagement of sanitation. Overall it was children dominated area but with lots of child labour and illiteracy.
ALL INDIA PARENTS ASSOCIATION
Agarwal Bhawan, G. T. Road, Tis Hazari, Delhi – 110054
Shri Akhilesh Yadav
Government of Uttar Pradesh
5, Kalidas Marg
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Subject: Speak English or Pay Fine - Objectionable rule prevalent in St. Thomas School, Indirapuram, U.P.
The parents have brought to our notice the highly objectionable, unreasonable and illegal rule imposed by St Thomas School, Gyan Khand-II, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad upon its students. Under this rule, the students are required to compulsory speak English even for personal communication amongst each other within the school premises. If any student is found speaking in Hindi, his or her I-card is confiscated and he or she is made to pay a penalty of ten rupees to get the I-card back. Teachers have been assigned the task of monitoring the implementation of this rule and to keep an eye upon the students for this purpose. It is to be noted that the school does not give any receipt in lieu of the penalty paid, nor is there any transparency about how much money is collected by way of this exercise, towards which fund it is appropriated and how it is utilized.
However, the larger question is of the freedom of expression, personal liberty and respect for one’s mother-tongue. Firstly, such sort of a gag-order against Hindi-speaking is grossly violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of our Constitution. The Preamble to our Constitution also guarantees liberty of expression to all its citizens. It is also a well-recognized human right which features as Article 19 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of choice of language is integral to the freedom of expression. The absolute restriction upon Hindi-speaking is by no means a reasonable one and therefore cannot be sustained.
Secondly, an institution can determine the language of official correspondence, but so far as personal communication is concerned, it is nobody’s business to dictate which language is to be used. It is purely a matter of personal choice. By commanding the students to use only English in their conversations itself is a violation of their personal liberty and privacy. Further, it is implicit in this dictat that the teachers assigned the task of monitoring the implementation of this rule shall be spying upon and listening to all the conversations between the students all the time, which is a gross violation of the students’ privacy. The students may have several topics of discussion amongst each other including teachers’ performance and the school-which are best left free from the teachers’ spy-network.
Thirdly, it is unnatural to expect an individual not to speak his mother-tongue in his daily life. Even when an individual settles away from his linguistic territory, he still continues to use his own language in his interactions with people belonging to his own linguistic community. In addition to natural tendency and instinct to speak one’s mother-tongue, it is also a question closely related to one’s cultural self-esteem and sense of homeliness. Even some of the teachers of the school who belong the Malayalam speaking community converse in Malayalam amongst each other in the school and there is no reason why only Hindi-speaking should be so penalized. The Preamble of our Constitution assures “dignity to the individual”. When a student is penalized for speaking his own mother-tongue, it is very likely that his self-pride or sense of dignity and linguistic sentiments are hurt. Speaking one’s own language is thus equated to committing a wrong by way of this rule which is derogatory to Hindi as a language. Howsoever laudable the purpose of preparing the students for the global jobs market may be, it cannot justify such punitive measure which compels a child to give up his first language, his vernacular. English is only a second language to the students and it cannot forcefully be imposed as a replacement of the first language.
It is needless to emphasise that Hindi has been declared by the Constitution to be the Official language of the Union under Article 347 of our Constitution. It is highly useful to help students retain their touch with Hindi and also to polish their expression ability in Hindi. This would not only better equip them for their future but also help promote interest for the highly rich Hindi literature, which is the most authentic source of understanding our society. The over-emphasis upon English speaking at the cost of Hindi is resulting in ignorance of Hindi literature amongst the young generation. This phenomenon is not only affecting the development of the literature but also resulting in widening of the urban-rural divide. The balance between global and jobs-market compulsions on one hand and the need for understanding our society and urban-rural cohesion on the other hand has to be meticulously maintained as the same is to have a crucial bearing upon all aspects of our country’s future in the times to come.
I sincerely appeal to you to reflect upon the issue, look into the same and issue appropriate directions to this school to stop this practice, thereby giving out a clear message to the all other schools and the society at large. Further, since the money has been illegally collected by the school, the school must be instructed to refund to the students all the money so collected and not to indulge in any such illegal collections from the students or parents in future.
Ashok Agarwal, Advocate
National President, AIPA
M: - 09811101923
Lawyers plus Team of Social Jurist led by Advocate Ashok Agarwal will visit J.J.Camp (Slums) Shabad Dairy, Delhi-42 on Sunday 09 December 2012 from 9.00 am to 11.00 am to interact with the inhabitants (door to door) thereof on right to education, right to health and labour rights. From 11.00 am to 1.00 pm, there shall be RTE PIL Postcard Campaign in which over 100 students of classes V to XII of the Government Schools of the area are expected to participate. Those interested to join us may please reach A Block Bus Stand, Shabad Dairy, Bawana Road at 9.00 am sharp. Contact Person Dharamveer Kumar M-9711369191