Correspondent's Note: Inequality in education struck me as the most important story in India for GlobalPost’s Special Report on income inequality, “The Great Divide,” because it results in a vicious cycle: For the most part, the poor do not have access to a good education, which forces them to fall further. At the same time, the increasing privatization of schools has made Indian education as segregated as the American South ever was — and all signs point to it getting worse. India's school system has already been privatized. And only those who can pay hefty fees get an education.
That struck me as an existential crisis for India, because Indian society is already unequal in so many ways. India’s poorest people don't have access to basic needs like food and clean water, and huge numbers die from starvation, malnutrition, and treatable diseases. The Muslim minority ranks shockingly low by almost any measure of prosperity, thanks to historical discrimination. And while some members of the lowest castes have benefited from quotas in jobs and education, most have not.