Friday, April 13, 2012

The Supreme Court of India & Prof Murray N. Rothbard

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India gave its much awaited verdict on The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. 

The judgment comprised of three judges which includes Chief Judge of India S.H. Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan. 

The only judge who gave dissent to the order was Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan. The Courte Order has been interpreted in many ways both positive and negative perspectives.

The best part of the order is the learning taken from the book of a great Austrian Economist Prof Murray N Rothbard. The book referred in the order is here. 

The exact text of the order is as follows: 
  • 145. Mr. Murray N. Rothbard, an eminent educationist and Professor in Economics, in his Book "Education: Free and Compulsory" [1999, Ludurg von Mises Institute, Auburn, Aliana] cautioned that progressive education may destroy the independent thought in the child and a child has little chance to develop his systematic reasoning powers in the study of definite courses. The Book was written after evaluating the experiences of various countries, which have followed free and compulsory education for children for several years. Prohibition of holding back in a class may, according to the author, result that bright pupils are robbed of incentive or opportunity to study and the dull ones are encouraged to believe that success, in the form of grades, promotion etc., will come to them automatically. The author also questioned that since the State began to control education, its evident tendency has been more and more to act in such a manner so as to promote repression and hindrance of education, rather than the true development of the individual. Its tendency has been for compulsion, for enforced equality at the lowest level, for the watering down of the subject and even the abandonment of all formal teaching, for the inculcation of obedience to the State and to the "group," rather than the development of self-independence, for the deprecation of intellectual subjects.
  • 146. I am of the view that the opinions expressed by the academicians like Rothbard command respect and cannot be brushed aside as such because, much more than anything, the State has got a constitutional responsibility to see that our children are given quality education. Provisions of the statute shall not remain a dead letter, remember we are dealing with the lives of our children, a national asset, and the future of the entire country depends upon their upbringing. Our children in the future have to compete with their counter-parts elsewhere in the world at each and every level, both in curricular and extra-curricular fields. Quality education and overall development of the child is of prime importance upon which the entire future of our children and the country rests.
Among the responses of Indian newspapers The Pioneer has expressed in its lucid editorial in a very meaningful way taking the issues of whether any justice provided for allowing privately managed schools to admit children from economically weaker sections in the society.


  1. Help me understand this better. They quoted Rothbard in favor of state intervention in education ? He must really be spinning in his grave now.

  2. "They quoted Rothbard in favor of state intervention in education ?"

    No, the dissenting judge, justice Radhakrishnan, whose position against extending the authority of the state into private education in the ways demanded by the Act was overruled by Justice Kumar and Chief Justice Kapadia, was arguing a general position, backed up by Rothbard, upon the empirically destructive record of the state in compulsory education. I do not know how he argued the constitutionality or otherise of the Act, as his dissenting opinion is quite long.

    See notes 25-37 in the article at ... Wi"Kapadia" ... on the Act.