Successive governments of independent India have long failed to honour a commitment to the education of children that was made in Article 45 of the Constitution promulgated in 1950. The Article appears among the Directive Principles of Part IV of the Constitution, which are in effect statements of good intention and are not justiciable—unlike the Fundamental Rights specified in Part III. These are mainly civil and political rights, while possible social and economic rights—including a right to education—were relegated by the authors of the Constitution to the Directive Principles.4 Article 45 mandated the state to endeavour to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 within a period of ten years (that is, by 1960), but successive governments failed to allocate sufficient resources, or attention, for the achievement of this goal. Over the last twenty five years, however, there has come about a significant shift in policy and practice in regard to elementary education, most strikingly with the establishment of the Right to Education in an act passed in 2009. This has made basic education a justiciable right, for the first time.
is a collaborating researcher for the New Directions in Social Policy project. At the time of his collaboration, he was a professor at the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University.