Skip to main content

UP girl student's suicide: 'Preposterous', private schools, MLAs backing accused

By Sandeep Pandey* 

On 31 July, Class XI student Shreya Tiwari at Children’s Girls College in Azamgarh allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the 3rd floor of the school building. The college principal, Sonam Mishra, and the class-teacher, Abhishek Rai, have been arrested. The private schools across Uttar Pradesh observed a day long strike by keeping the schools closed and a local parents’ association called upon the parents to not send their children another day as a protest against tyranny of private schools. In U.P. Legislative Council representative of teachers’ community demanded the immediate release of teacher and principal.
According to the mother Neetu Tiwari, when she reached the school along with her husband and younger son, she found the body in mysterious circumstances. Her clothes were torn from various places, there was blood all over two legs, two teeth were broken, eyes were open, the undergarment appeared to have been put on body after her death and the blood stains was washed away from the place where she was supposed to have fallen down. 
Neetu believes that her daughter, who was aspiring to be an IPS officer, was strong enough that it would require more than one man to subdue her. She thinks that even if Shreya was not sexually abused, she was definitely tortured inside the Principal’s room. Shreya was apparently inside the principal’s office for more than an hour according to informal information obtained from police after inspection of the cameras installed in school. 
The school authorities claim that a mobile phone and something ‘objectionable’ was found inside her bag. According to some students she was also taken around to different classrooms and humiliated by telling the students about what was found inside her bag. Now whatever objectionable things may have been found in Shreya’s bag, who gives the right to school to humiliate her?
But coming to the main incident, irrespective of whether it was murder or a suicide, the school principal and teacher are guilty and were initially rightly arrested. It is preposterous that private schools demanded their release and our people’s representatives supported this demand in Legislative Council, instead of being sympathetic to the grieving parents. 
This is an indication of how increasingly politicians have now greater stakes in commercialization of our education and criminalization of our politics. Needless to say these are disturbing trends. On the third day after the matter was raised in Legislative Council, now the two accused have been released on bail and the police is claiming to investigate an angle of affair of the girl with some boy.
The private schools don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want to honour the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and the special provision under section 12(1)(c) of this Act as part of which at least 25% children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker section can study for free in private schools. They simply ignore the provision.
Parents being fleeced by private schools and being taken for a ride is a common story. There have been many protests outside private schools against arbitrary increase in fees or some such issue. Neetu’s husband Ritu Raj Tiwari runs a small business and the family belongs to a lower middle class background. They were not in a position to pay Rs. 600 montly bus fees for three months together after paying Rs. 2,500 as monthly fees for Shreya. 
Whichever countries in the world have achieved goal of universalization of education have done it through Common School System
Neetu repents that government schools are not of such a quality that any parent wanting to give good education to their children would risk sending their children to government ones. But if for some reason parents are not able to make full payments as demanded by private schools the children face the risk of being humiliated in the classroom which can be psychologically quite traumatic for them.
On the other hand whichever countries in the world have achieved the goal of universalization of education have done it through the Common School System, a recommendation of Kothari Commission which has been pending before the Parliament since 1968. Common School System implies government run, financed and regulated schools to which all children have access. All developed countries and many developing countries have implemented this idea. It is not clear how India aspires to be a developed country without implementing the CSS.
Private schools will never remain accountable to the government. If we have to prevent incident like the one described in this article, it is one more reason that now India must nationalize education and implement CSS.
Will it require all private schools to shut down? That is not necessary. If somebody wants to run a private school out of passion to provide good education they should be allowed. There are a number of creative private education initiatives around the country. But in such a case the condition should be that private schools will have to raise resources from elsewhere in order to make education free for the children. 
If schools are run for imparting education and not making profit then schools will become child friendly and remain accountable to parents and government. A lot of corruption in education department will also end with the ban on commercialization of education.
It is high time that policy makers in India consider implementing the tried and tested idea of CSS and contribute towards building an enlightened society rather then producing highly competitive but not always balanced individuals on one hand and large body of young who complete their education using unfair means and are not in a position to contribute to the society or economy in any meaningful manner.
*Magsaysay award winning social activist-academic; general secretary of the Socialist Party (India); has been a member of Central Advisory Board on Education of the Union government



A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.