Further analysis of the RTE judgment

Anup’s stimulating post on the RTE judgment sets out some of the salient issues at stake, and has initiated a discussion on what is likely to be regarded as a significant case in Indian constitutional jurisprudence.

This post on the PRS blog provides some more basic information about the judgments delivered in the case. Today’s Indian Express features a column by Pratap Bhanu Mehta which analyses the judgments in part. However, I think it fair to say that Mehta’s analysis focuses less on the reasoning of the judgments, and more on the practical issues and the political economy that underlie a discussion of the legal issues at stake. Indeed, Mehta’s claim is that the judgment is poorer for not focusing on the “real issues” at stake in the debate. Rajeev Dhavan’s analysis on the judgment is available here on the India Today website. His reasoning seems cryptic at times, but fits with Mehta’s analysis with a focus on the practical impact of contemporary policies of education.

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  • Madhav, can you explain what you mean by 'self-righteous elitism'? wouldn't every normative argument made by a person from the 'middle class' invite that tag? or did you mean something more specific?

  • Hey Tarunabh:

    I certainty don't believe that every normative argument from the middle ought to invite that tag. In this case, it seems like the piece – like other that surfaced after the judgment – is written in a self-auto biographical manner with sweeping phrases like "hideously smug" to describe society – which neither do justice to the genuine radicalism of the measure, nor help us to appreciate how this can lead to real inclusion rather than a administrative cyclone. I think that's where the debate ought to be – some pieces like PBM's have pointed us in that directed, but more are of course needed.

  • I think there's space for all kinds of articles on this issue. Mihir Sharma's article merely points out why we're in this mess in the first place- because of a feudal mindset that dominates our thinking. I think it's unfair to criticise it on the basis of some normative debate which either PBM has laid out, whenever he has, or Madhav, you feel to be more relevant. In the context of the judgment, I think it's perfectly fair to introspect why we're in this seemingly hopeless situation of disparity and to my mind that 's what the piece does. Of course the measure (RTE) can make "real inclusion" possible; that does not in any way derogate from the fact that we as a society are "hideously smug" and could never imagine on the whole our drivers and domestic help sitting at our dinner tables let alone their children be schoolmates of our children. That's the core of the issue which the article targets perfectly. Perhaps that's why it makes some uncomfortable.

  • Ajat, I couldn't agree more. I agree with Madhav that this issue requires a very good understanding of the regulatory problems involved, but that should not mean that normative analysis like that of Sharma's is not useful. If we set the bar of originality in newspaper columns so high, very little material will remain publishable. public cultures need to be reminded of core values by affirming them publicly, even at the cost of repetition.