"The tower of misery that today rests on the heart of India has its sole foundation in the absence of education" Rabindranath Tagore, poet.
The legal educational background in India is quite positive: education is compulsory until the age of 14; courses and school material are free; public schools are required to provide pupils with one meal per day. However, reality tells a different story.
As in many Anglo-Saxon countries, there is a tremendous difference between state-run schools - which are often run-down, inadequately equipped, nearly always overpopulated, with teachers that are frequently absent - and private, non-subsidised schools, whose operation is only possible through tuition fees and which are therefore inaccessible to the vast majority of the population.
The consequences are that (1) the most disadvantaged parents, often illiterate themselves, believe that their children will never be able to keep up and therefore do not send them to school, or (2) the disadvantaged children who go to school are effectively unable to keep up and ask their parents to stop going to school.