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Education is essential for a functioning democracy

Disparities in caste, language, and religion still pose obstacles to our democracy even after 75 years of independence.

In a democracy, citizens elect representatives to ensure a good life and equitable opportunities for advancement. The electorate's calibre determines the calibre of public representatives, and voters are the source of both problems and solutions. In India, approximately five million primary school students lack basic reading and numeracy abilities, with many struggling with basic math and reading comprehension. Less than half of students continue their education beyond Class 12, with just slightly more than 50% reaching that level. The New Education Policy highlights that millions of Indian children do not study the NCERT curriculum, which covers math, science, literature, history, social science, geography, English, and fine arts. To improve democracy, the government should provide high-quality education up to Class 12 through a unified NCERT syllabus for at least 70% of the population. Participation from retired public workers, experienced educators, educated young people, and the media is crucial. Poverty, like inadequate education, contributes to the breakdown of democracy, as impoverished individuals believe voting wisely won't make a difference in their lives. Poverty and joblessness have increased as a result of the epidemic. Research by Azim Premji University found that 230 million people's daily income was less than the Rs. 320 national minimum wage. India is ranked 94th out of 107 nations in the Global Hunger Index (2020), which is determined by taking into account the overall undernourishment of the population, child stunting, wasting, and child mortality.

The Indian government plans to spend Rs 1,15,570 crore in 2020–21 to provide food subsidies to 80 million people, despite India's poor ranking in the Global Hunger Index. Instead, the government should focus on creating an environment where individuals can make a living while maintaining dignity. The era of automation and artificial intelligence could make it difficult for 142 crore people seeking good work in IT, services, industrial, and urban sectors. Focusing on one sector could force millions of untrained peasants into urban slums. Providing job opportunities in agriculture, tourism, horticulture, weaving, fisheries, pilgrimage tourism, and animal husbandry could contribute to inclusive growth. The migration of young people from rural regions to cities for menial labour causes poverty and instability, leading to the abandonment of industries and the seizing of natural resources. Providing villager guidance on how to make a living from the natural sector economy is crucial.

Despite 75 years of independence, divides based on caste, language, and religion persist in India, hindering voters' freedom of thought and free will. National parties often rely on caste leaders to maintain power, and their influence on ballot selections is not promising. The expansion of minority and majority community vote banks also obscures voters' ability to select competent leaders. Legitimate nationalist organisations should focus on strengthening existing societal differences rather than widening them. The absence of honest and intelligent individuals in politics has weakened democracy, but well-educated individuals must run for office to raise voter consciousness and promote democracy. Voter education contributes to inclusive democracy and the election of excellent leaders. India's democracy is insufficient, with only 81% of its population being graduates. A functioning democracy requires high-quality education, economic diversity, and the involvement of morally upright and educated citizens in the political process.

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