Should There Be A Minimum Educational Qualification To Contest Polls?
One of Ashok Gehlot’s first acts as chief minister of Rajasthan was to do away with the minimum criteria for civic polls set by his predecessor Vasundhara Raje.
The Raje government had made class X as the minimum qualification to contest in Zila Parishad or Panchayat Samiti elections, while running for Sarpanch meant one needed to have a minimum qualification of class VIII for general category and class V for backward classes.
The move has once again raised the debate of whether a minimum education qualification is needed for elected representatives.
BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar—who has written to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Election Commission seeking minimum educational qualification for members of legislative assemblies and parliament—told BloombergQuint that mandating minimum criteria for education will improve governance standards at all levels of society. According to him, in a 21st century India, education is easily accessible and one must exercise their fundamental rights and duties.
If elected members are illiterate, if they cannot read and write, how will they make the best decision for their village or local area?Ashwini Upadhyay, Advocate & BJP Spokesperson
Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of the Association for Democratic Reform, disagreed. Chhokar told BloombergQuint that education is still not easily accessible throughout India and until that is achieved, governments have no moral right to levy such criteria.
To image a person who is illiterate will not be unable to understand what is good or bad for his or her community, I think is very simplistic.Jagdeep Chhokar, Founder Member, ADR
At least half of the members of legislative assemblies in states, barring Gujarat and Goa, are graduates, according to data on the Lok Sabha’s website.
In the current Lok Sabha, there are 400 MPs who are graduates while 17 have completed schooling up to class X.