Five years after the UPA launched a plethora of big-bang education schemes targeted at young India ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, a desperate funds crunch is preventing a repeat in the last full-fledged budget before the 2014 polls.
Finance minister P Chidambaram has conveyed to HRD minister MM Pallam Raju that the budget he delivers in Parliament on February 28 may not promise any significant increase in allocation for education, top government officials have confirmed to HT.
In fact, India's education budget may even be snipped, as the government tries to juggle social sector priorities like the food bill, with a burgeoning fiscal deficit that threatens the country's investment ratings.
"We'll just be happy if there's no cut in our budget," Raju said last week when asked about his expectations from the budget.
Over the past decade, India's central education budget has increased by 750%, from Rs.9,861 cr in 2003-04 when the Manmohan Singh government first took office, to Rs.74,056 cr in 2012.
Singh described the 11th Five Year Plan as an "education plan."
Ahead of the 2008-2009 elections, the UPA government had announced the establishment of 8 new IITs, 8 new IIMs, a scheme to subsidize education loans, and the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.