This year too, National Council of Educational Research And Training (NCERT) is short of book supply. So, what follows is a chocked supply from the distributors and a recurrent blame-game between book shop owners and students (and their parents). It's a same old battle for the parents who hop from one shop to another in their desperation to get the required books for their children. The situation leading to - some parents are buying books from the black market. NCERT has been adamant that enough books have been published (as per order) and all publications are available in their office, over the counter. The parents are swarming the NCERT counters, but still are coming back with empty hands.
For instance, the history and civics books for class IX, which till April 15, 2012 were not available even though the session had commenced on April 1, 2012. Thus, the book mafias consequently thrive on the same by selling books at Rs.50 in Noida, which should actually cost Rs. 30. The Delhi government has taken the copyright for classes I to VIII for the state-run schools from NCERT, yet the schools are plagued with acute shortages. Most of the books, especially those meant for higher classes are hoarded by the distributors and are sold at higher prices! In Jharkhand, around 60 lakh students (belonging to I to VIII) in 40,000 state-run schools are facing severe problem of books. Th eir books are supposed to be free under the patronage of Centre's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan - but availability is choked at some point of the supply chain. For government schools, books have to pass through 5 points before it reaches the students finally and for the private schools it has to make its way out through four points, post printing. What is even more shocking is the state's Human Resource Department (HRD) which has delayed placing the tender to appoint a printer for the books! This may lead to the non-availability of books by up to 6 months. Paradoxically, money worth of Rs.45 crores is ready, but there is no printer at the disposal.
Similar patterns emerged from Patna as well! Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students have to move from one shop to another because of the non-availability of NCERT books. Thus, the photocopies of the text books are being sold at exorbitant prices. The problem of books scarcity is further compounded by the increased prices from this year. The textbooks for classes I to VIII are seeing a price rise by upto 50 per cent, and for classes IX to XII, it's going to rise by 15-20 per cent for 2012-13. The total demand for NCERT books for the current academic year is approximately 3.5 crores. It's a lose-lose situation for the students and their parents - shortage compounded by price hike. As such the parents have been shelling out more from the black market; now with increased price the books will be even more expensive from the hoarders.
It's imperative for the HRD ministry to shorten the supply chain and maintain an online database of books procurement and sales. Moreover, NCERT needs to come up with their own shops for books sale and also keep the track of books across the supply chain. All in all, the supply chain needs to be shortened, made transparent and above all be tracked. Or else, the students would start their education with a visit to the black market and lesson of illegal hoarding as their first lesson of life.