A while back I found in my hands a list of prices that CBSE books sell for. A curious little dataset, for what could you answer using this information? Well, a simple question one might ask is how expensive is education in the various classes of CBSE? One gets this chart from the data.
Almost all books a re cheaper than 250 rupees. Although this chart says nothing about the number of books needed in each class to clear the exams set by CBSE. I remember having to purchase 4-5 books. What about the sum of prices in each class?
As expected, 11 and 12 branch out into multiple streams and so have a significantly large number of books, which when multiplied by their prices puts the entire set out of reach for a lot of people.
A man below the poverty line mentioned to be INR 32 a day (IndiaToday) does not earn enough over a year to be able to afford all the books in class 11 and 12.
Besides school fees / clothing / rent this expense is critical if people must have books to learn. Even if you allow for the segregation of books equally into the main streams of learning (science, humanities, commerce) you are still left with an expense of ~ INR 5000. This is no small amount for someone earning INR 32 a day. It would take almost three months before they can even accumulate this amount.
It would seem that a system which makes access to education difficult in proportion to the need for education will only breed ignorant citizens. Although the CBSE has done tremendous work in making the books this cheap, there are still a ways to go.
If you want to see how these conclusions were reached you can take a look at the code on Github.