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Bihar doubles salaries at centres for literacy with high SC, Muslim numbers; BJP flays ‘haste to cash in on caste survey’ | Political Pulse News

In its first move seemingly taking off from the caste survey, the Bihar government has doubled the salary of over 30,000 teaching staff working at Akshar Aanchal centres (adult education centres, catering to Dalit populations) and Talimi Markaj centres (set up for vocational training to Muslim girls).

K K Pathak, the Additional Chief Secretary of the Bihar Education Department, has passed a resolution, saying: “With effect from October 2023, maandey (salary/ honorarium) of shik sevak and shikshak sevak has been increased from Rs 11,000 to Rs 22,000 per month. The state government will also increase their employees provident fund (EPF) contribution proportionately and five per cent annual dearness allowance increase is also sanctioned.”

In Bihar, there are 20,000 primary schools and Akshar Aanchal centres through which people in the age group of 15 years and 45 years are given classes for foundational learning. There are over 10,000 Talimi Markaj centres.

Both of these are managed by shikshak sevaks who are tasked with identifying out-of-school children and bringing them back to school. After their enrolment, these workers encourage students to maintain 75% attendance.

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As per the findings of the newly released Bihar caste survey, Muslims constitute 17.7% of the state’s population. About 80% of them fall in the Economically Backward Classes (EBC) category. Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Araria, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Nalanda, Gaya and Rohtas districts have a huge chunk of Muslim population. The SCs account for 19.65% of the state’s population and they are spread across several districts.

Festive offer

The Opposition has said the state government is trying to derive “electoral mileage” and has not thought through its decision. BJP spokesperson and former minister Bhim Singh told The Indian Express: “This is a highly political decision. Doubling the salary of shikshak sevaks would only encourage similar demands from other contractual workers in several government departments. CM Nitish Kumar has started resorting to populism. This will put additional burden on the state exchequer. It would have been better to review their work first than award them outright in this fashion.”

RJD national spokesperson Subodh Kumar Mehta denied that the move had anything to do with the caste survey. “This is just a regular administrative decision. It is based on feedback from the ground.”

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