Both Punjab and Delhi have similar population size of around 30 million. But there the similarities end. While the area under NCT is 1,480 square Km, Punjab is spread over 50,000 sq. Km. Delhi is governed by both the central and a state government and is flush with funds. While Delhi’s per capital income is three times higher than the national average at over Rs. 3 lakh, Punjab’s is Rs. 1.19 lakh, higher than the national average of Rs. 95,000. The Government of NCT of Delhi also has limited responsibilities, prompting the Punjab education minister to derisively say that Arvind Kejriwal is administering a municipality.
As the war of words continues, we caught up with former hockey Olympian and Punjab’s education minister Pargat Singh to get some clarity. Excerpts:
Punjab’s contractual teachers have been protesting and demanding regularisation for several months. What is coming in the way of a resolution?
The issue is old and remains unresolved largely due to conflicting interests of different teachers’ unions. Due to the Centre’s half-baked policies, state governments suffer. The Centre created teachers’ posts under various schemes and even recruited the teachers. So, these teachers were not employed by Punjab Government. But after 2-3 years, the Centre said they cannot pay the salary anymore and the burden falls upon the state government. Many such cases have piled up over the years. That said, we can recruit these teachers in the 32,000 sanctioned posts we have, but different groups are not able to come to the same page on their various demands.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia have been meeting the teachers and giving them various assurances…
Comparing Delhi and Punjab is laughable. I do not even feel like engaging with such discourse. Mr Kejriwal has barely 2,000 schools while Punjab is a border state with over 19,000 schools. There are schools in inaccessible areas or which require river crossings. We recruit special cadre for border area schools. Delhi is a metropolitan city and the national capital. What Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is doing is just because elections are near. They have no real interest in discussing the education model. If they did, I would have been happy to engage because we can always learn something from each other. I thought Kejriwal and Sisodia are new generation of politicians so they will take things seriously and send a delegation with domain experts to study and compare the education models. But I was wrong.