Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam: Paper - III (General Studies – II) - 03 May 2019

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-III: General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Q. “Rajasthan government has approved to do away with the minimum education qualification required to contest panchayat and urban bodies’ elections.”In this context, discuss whether having a minimum educational qualification for contesting polls is problematic or a step forward in fulfilling true values of Democracy.

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • Rationale behind Minimum Education Criteria
  • Cons of Minimum Education Criteria
  • Pros of Minimum Education Criteria
  • Conclusion


Rajasthan government has approved to do away with the minimum education qualification required to contest panchayat and urban bodies’ elections. The education criteria was introduced by the previous government. The criteria was

  • To contest the municipal, zila parishad or panchayat samiti polls, a contestant must have a minimum qualification of secondary education (Class X).
  • To contest the sarpanch elections, an aspirant from the general category must have passed Class VIII and a SC/ST aspirant must have passed Class V.

Rationale behind Minimum Education Criteria:

  • The Minimum Education Criteria was introduced in Haryana too in 2015.
  • The constitutional validity of decision was subsequently upheld by Supreme Court in Rajbala vs. State of Haryana
  • The SC had ruled that “it is the education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad”.
  • The uneducated or illiterate can be easily misled by officials.
  • Supporters claim that the criteria will incentivize women’s literacy in rural areas.
  • To ensure that people who come into governance are socially and ethically aware of their duties and responsibilities.
  • There are other criteria like two-child policy too present in states. About 12 states currently have the policy, Assam being the latest entrant into the list.

Cons of Minimum Education Criteria:


  • The criteria penalises the people for failure to meet certain social indicators. E.g.: India which is home for 35% of World’s illiterate population will be at disadvantage.
  • The already marginalised sections like Dalits, women will be excluded. g.: The literacy rate (Census 2011) for women in Rajasthan is 52% and most of the literate women are in urban areas.
  • The criteria discriminates on the lines of religion, caste and sex, because mostly those who are deprived of education are the SC’s, ST’s and women.
  • The Right to Education became a fundamental right as recent as 2002, thereby putting many at disadvantage prior to it.
  • Mainstreaming of many sections of people will be hindered.


  • It violates the right of every citizen to vote and to contest elections, which forms the basic structure of our constitution.
  • There are no minimum education qualifications for MP’s or MLA’s in the Constitution.
  • The very essence of involving people at grass-roots level envisaged in 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments will be defeated by excluding a large chunk of people.
  • The State’s ineffectiveness in imparting education will bear a brunt on the people now.
  • To mandate what makes a person good goes against the spirit of democracy.


  • Honesty, reliability, ability to connect with people, deal with crisis are traits of a leader for which education is not necessary.
  • Experiences have shown that wisdom plays a greater role than education at local governance levels.
  • As Dr. B.R Ambedkar opined, an illiterate person is not necessarily an unintelligent person.

Pros of Minimum Education Criteria:

  • The candidates will be better aware of the provisions of Constitution and cannot be misled by conniving officials or vested interests.
  • With education, the states will have to truly devolve the functions that local governments can take care of by themselves.
  • Ministry of Panchayat reports have successively highlighted difficulty in training uneducated representatives.
  • The issue of “Token Representation” or “Panchayat-Pati” system would be eliminated as education gives a sense of confidence among the marginalised sections.
  • The criteria in itself promote the awareness of importance of education among the parentswhich will benefit the generations to come.


The need of the hour is to implement the ground reforms like adult education, right to free and compulsory education better before implementing such laws. There is more imperative need to tackle challenges like criminalization of politics, transparent electoral funding currently.

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