THE recently released National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF) has once again reiterated the need to provide for ‘equal opportunity to all,not only in access but in the conditions of success ’ (N CERT: 2000; earlier stated in NCERT, 1998:4). It specifically raises the concern of educational deprivation of communities such as the Scheduled Castes (dalits) and Scheduled Tribes (adivasis).
There is no doubt that the 93rd Amendment to the Constitution is poised to effect an expansion of reservations that may, at long last, begin to change the social composition of elite sectors of Indian higher education. However, most people involved with elite higher education – a sector overwhelmingly dominated by the upper castes – remain either actively or certainly passively opposed to the expansion of reservations.
The journey of post-colonial India presents a mixed but depressing picture. Despite significant achievement in some sectors and dimensions of economic development, the state has massively failed in addressing basic human needs like food, shelter, education and health. However, the biggest failure is that the poor, marginalized and deprived groups and communities have remained excluded from the fruits of economic, social and human development. This failure sharply highlights the persistence of widespread inequality.