Study circle is Delhi-centric

The Budget is not as popular in developed economies as it is in developing countries like ndia. This is a reflection of people’s expectations and a Budget’s impact on their lifestyle. Hence, in our country, the Budget is not just a statement of accounts — it is about reforms in sectors that touch the economy, inflation, taxation and a whole lot of other things that impact the common man and businesses.

In the Human Development Index, 2010, India ranked 119 (out of the 169 countries) compared with 134 (out of 182 countries) in 2007. The existing gap in health and education indicators as compared with developed countries is large. In this respect, the finance minister has stressed on “empowerment from education”. The total allocation for education, `52,057 crores, has gone up by 24 per cent compared to last year, and almost 40 per cent of this, `21,000 crores, is for primary education. The enlarged financial support for students from socially backward community, in secondary and post-secondary institutions, is a welcome step. But the most significant aspect is putting higher education on “fast information track”. The proposed National Knowledge Network (NKN) will link 1,500 institutes of higher learning and research through an optical fibre backbone by March 2012, pushing higher education towards “internationalisation”. The concept of Innovation Council, under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda, will also be a catalysing force for enhanced quality of research in higher education institutions. It is good that states will be helped to establish state-level innovation councils.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has proposed special grants to recognise excellence in universities and academic institutions but the major chunk has gone to Central government institutions. One needs to realise that education is a concurrent subject and states are equally responsible for economic growth. There are many state universities that are doing good work. In fact, the University Grants Commission has identified several as “universities with potential for excellence” and yet none of these institution have received substantial support.

Arun Nigavekar is former chairman, UGC, former V-C, Pune University, and founder director, NAAC

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