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September 01, 2017

Essays for IBPS PO VII : Illiteracy in India- A Bane to Society

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Illiteracy in India- A Bane to Society

  • Define illiteracy.
  • Illiteracy as the mother of different issues. 
  • India, the home of half of the world's illiterates.
  • Illiteracy in India is present among housewives, poor children and rural population. 
  • Main causes of illiteracy in India.
  • Many initiatives, taken by the Government of India. 
  • All citizens of India have some social responsibilities to eradicate illiteracy in India.
"Education is the powerful weapon, to change the world."
The United Nations defines illiteracy as "the inability to read and write a MN simple message in any language." An illiterate is equal to a handicapped person who is unfamiliar with his surroundings and is unable to perform day-to-day activities like driving due to his inability to read and understand traffic symbols.

It is hard to believe that a country that had the first university of the world, now lies amongst the most illiterate number of people. India is a country of diversity in terms of location, topography, culture and richness of resources. However, these are vain and of no use without the development of the human resources. 

Every issue that our society faces is like a link of a chain. Each issue is connected to another, either directly or indirectly. The chain of issues in this society that we live in, the strongest link of that chain is illiteracy. Illiteracy is the mother of all issues as it gives birth to many other issues like poverty, unemployment, child labour, female foeticide, population burst and many more.

Spread and diffusion of literacy is generally associated with essential trait of today's civilisation such as modernisation, urbanisation, industrialisation, communication and commerce. This fact can be clarified as all the developed countries like America and Canada have very low illiteracy rates, whereas countries like India, Turkey and Iran have a very high rate of illiteracy. World Bank studies have established the direct and functional relationship between literacy and productivity on the one hand and literacy and the overall quality of human life on the other. 

India is home to almost half of the world's illiterates. If this high percentage is to be compared with the figures of other countries, India trails far behind. There also exists a regional imbalance in terms of spread of literacy. The state-wise distribution of illiteracy points out that the Hindi belt-the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh depicts a grim picture. Of the total illiterate people in India, more than one fifths are found in these region. 

India is a country of paradoxes. On the one hand, it is the third largest pool of engineers and doctors and on the other hand, around 48% of its population is still completely illiterate. The condition of women is even worse; more than 60% of the women in the country are still illiterate. 

Of the 14 crore households in our country, around 8.4 crore do not have a literate housewife. Of the 164 million children in the age group 6-14 years, 82 million i.e. 50% do not attend school. The position of other developing countries like Indonesia, China and South Korea is much better than us in the field of literacy with more than 70% of their population can read and write. 

Illiteracy in India, is characterised by wide gaps between the urban and rural populations. The rural population depends mainly on agriculture and the rate of illiteracy is high, while the urban population is more of the `employee class' and also more educated. 

Some of the causes which have resulted in the presence of illiteracy in India can be recognised. They are 
  • High rate of population growth in relation to low rate of growth in adult literacy. 
  • Ineffectiveness of primary schools in enrolling and retaining students. 
  • Traditional outlook of the lower class in using the services of young children, either for earning some additional money or looking after their younger siblings at home. 
  • High level of poverty. 
  • Low allotment of government funds to the education sector. 
  • Caste imbalance and technological barriers also affect the literacy rate. 
  • Failure on the part of several agencies to perceive literacy as part of the development process. 
A higher literacy rate is an essential requirement for any nation to bring it at par on a global platform with other nations. No nation looks a promising nation, if it has a stable economic growth rate but poor literacy rate.

The Government of India took many initiatives to tackle the problem of illiteracy in the country. The Supreme Court in a ruling, in 1993 said that children had a Fundamental Right to free education and thus, in the year 2003, the right to education was incorporated in the Constitution by the 83rd Amendment Act. Several other schemes too had been launched to ensure the right to education in the country which include
  • The National Policy of Education, 1986, declared that the whole nation must commit itself to drive away the menaces of illiteracy, especially among the young population. 
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 2001, was launched to ensure that all children in the 6-14 years of age group attend school and complete eight years of schooling by 2010. 
  • Mid-day meal scheme, to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide. 
  • Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, 2009, to enhance access to secondary education and to improve its quality. 
  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, 2015, to save and empower the girl child. 
Even though, a number of initiatives have been taken by the Government of India, it has not been able to eradicate illiteracy altogether. Even now, 26% of population cannot read and write. To overcome the issue of illiteracy, it is imperative that we first mould ourselves.

Not only the government but every literate person needs to accept the eradication of illiteracy as a personal goal. Each and every contribution by a literate person can make a contribution to eradicate the menace.

Once, we attain the power of literacy, we will become a superpower as we will have the indestructible weapon of 'knowledge'. As in the words of Barad( Obama, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Handicapped - having a condition that markedly restricts their ability to function physically or mentally
  • Topography - the detailed description of particular localities as cities, towns or estates
  • Vain - producing no result, useless
  • Foeticide -  the action or process of causing the death of a fetus
  • Diffusion - dispersal or scattering
  • Paradoxes - contradictory statement
  • Perceive - become aware or conscious of
  • At par - equal footing
  • Initiatives - a plan or programme that is intended to solve a problem
  • Eradicate - remove completely; put an end to
  • Imperative - of vital importance; crucial
  • Indestructible - non-breakable; hard-wearing.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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