Babu-nomics: Of schools and fixers
Here is the latest episode in the ‘fasting’ against-this-or- that phenomenon. In Coimbatore, the Students Welfare Association of Parents has threatened to fast against private schools collecting exorbitantly high fees without providing receipts for the same. The allegation is that schools don’t provide receipts because they collect higher fees than what has been ‘fixed’ by the government.
A year or two ago the Government of Tamil Nadu in a moment of profound wisdom appointed a committe to look into the matter of prescribing the appropriate annual school fee the management may collect per student. A retired High Court Judge was entrusted with this responsibility of fixing the income of some 10,934 schools. The honorable Judge then opined in a thickly bound report that such and such like schools may collect such and such amounts as fees.
Some 6000 schools did not agree and went to Court instead. They won but the government went to the Bench and proved a point. Later on another committe by yet another Honorable Judge was appointed to re-look the entire fracas. This Honorable Judge to his credit produced another thick, bound report stating such and such like schools may collect such and such amounts as fees. Most schools have now given up – tired of fighting the government.
All through the two year drama of this ill-conceived, harebrained idea nobody in the media or the opposition or the private school managements seem to have pointed out the obvious, naked truth staring at the silly face of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
What if the schools are not able to sustain their operations with government ‘fixed’ revenue? How will schools pay good salaries to teachers if their income potential is fixed artificially? How will schools provide good facilities like buses, physcial training equipment and so on if they wont have money to buy the same – thanks to the Government ‘fixing’ their income? What happens if school management don’t want to run these schools anymore if they can’t earn the profit they believe to be rightfully theirs?
The answers are simple: schools will bribe Government to look the other way when they go about collecting the fees they want. The only stakeholder to come out winning is the government babu who stands to benefit from such bribes. The gravy train begins, the babuconomy grows even bigger and entrepreneurs have been effectively discouraged from starting new schools. The proverbial goose has been killed.
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