“I have a heart full of dreams
To emulate Lakshmi, my neighbour,
Who merrily goes to school;
To wear skirts in gorgeous colours;
To become a Collector and travel in a car;
But, alas, trapped in a heap of matchsticks
I am still far from free!”
Etymologically, the word education is derived from the Latin term ēducātio (“a breeding, a bringing up, a rearing), from ēdūcō (“I educate, I train”) which is related to the homonym ēdūcō (“I lead forth, I take out; I raise up, I erect”), from ē- (“from, out of”) and dūcō (“I lead, I conduct”). Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts. In its narrow, technical sense, education is the formal process by which society deliberately transmits accumulated knowledge, skills, customs and values from one generation to another, e.g., instruction in schools. It means the development of character or mental powers by means of giving intellectual, moral and social instruction especially as a prolonged process. Indian society is characterized by its diversity be it in terms of religion, caste, region or language. This kind of diversity gives rise to people with very different kind of family backgrounds and demographic characteristics. Though diversity in any state is considered a healthy phenomenon but only when people of different caste, religion or region are provided with same kind of opportunities and growth prospects in terms of access to education, employment and other fundamental services. There should not be any kind of discrimination between individuals based on their caste, religion, region or sex. In this light, if we observe Indian society we find that, based on caste and ethnicity, it suffers from substantial inequalities in education, employment and income. If the inequalities are arising due to differences in level of efforts made by individuals of different backgrounds then it is morally acceptable but if inequalities are due to circumstances beyond the control of an individual such as caste, religion, region of birth, sex, ethnicity and so on, then it is deemed unethical and unacceptable and also calls for compensation in some form or other, from the society, to those who have suffered due to inferior circumstances. In the case of India this problem becomes much more relevant since historically the Indian society is severely divided into different caste, religion and other social group structures with several groups enjoying privileges more than other groups just because of their superior social status. So, as far as India is concerned, it is very important from the point of view of both academic interest as well as policy implication, to estimate the extent of inequality due to different circumstances of people as it will help in going to the root cause of prevailing income or wealth inequality, evaluating the age old government programs aimed at bringing equality in society, developing policies for bridging gaps between different sections of society and thus leading towards a state which is more just and equal.
1.1 A BRIEF HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN INDIA
Monastic orders of education under the supervision of a guru were a favoured form of education for the nobility in ancient India. The knowledge in these orders was often related to the tasks a section of the society had to perform. The priest class, the Brahmins, was imparted knowledge of religion, philosophy, and other ancillary branches while the warrior class, the Kshatriya, was trained in the various aspects of warfare. The business class, the Vaishya, was taught their trade and the working class of the Shudras was generally deprived of educational advantages. Secular Buddhist institutions cropped up along with monasteries. These institutions imparted...