Cabinet approves two Schools of Planning & Architecture (SPAs) in Vijaywada and Bhopal

Following is from

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for setting up of two Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh and creation of 4 core posts of Director & Registrar for each Institute with immediate effect.

The total cost for setting up of two Schools of Planning and Architecture would be Rs.348.50 cores ( Recurring expenditure Rs.82.90 cores and Non-Recurring expenditure – Rs.265.60 crores). The project would be completed by 2012-13.

These Institutes would integrate graduate, post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral education in architecture and town planning while at the same time fostering research of a high order in these areas. Research in such areas can generate significant intellectual properties, which has the potential for generating sizeable revenues.

These Institutes will create a cadre of high calibre faculty members who will be devoted to teaching, research and consultancy in all disciplines that deal with Planning and Architecture. Also, SPAs will be socially responsible institutions providing research feedback to the Government for physical development of human settlements

The Institutes would also contribute to highly competent and trained manpower that would inevitably impact positively on the economic growth of the country.



1 comment June 26th, 2008

IIT Orissa issue raised in the asembly; CM writes to PM again

See, and

4 comments March 13th, 2008

Going beyond writing letters for an IIT: Op-ed in Samaja

February 6th, 2008

IIT and politics: Editorial in Samaja

1 comment February 6th, 2008

Orissa in slumber and may miss taking advantage of the 11th plan opportunities in higher education:

Action Item: Readers concerned about this may write to the CM at to take immediate action and copy to one of the journalists in Orissa (perhaps Braja babu of at

Following is from

Orissa this time also is all set to miss the bus for Higher Education.

While the Higher Education Program for the Eleventh Five Year Plan is being final touches, Orissa is in deep slumber. 

And who will be able to wake up a sleeping state, which is at the lowest ebb of the investment plan of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), asks educationists.

The Eleventh Plan is historical because investment in HRD sector will receive a big jump.

Just follow these numbers:

Currently there are 7 Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) s that was made over 60 years; there will 8 more during the 11th Plan.

There are 23 central universities made over 60 years; 30 more will be added during the Plan.

There are no world class universities in India and planners have decided to go for 14.

There are 6 Indian Institute of Management (IIM) s that was made over 60 years; there is a plan to establish 7 more.

There is a plan to set up Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH).

Currently there is a single National Institute of Design that was made in 60 years since Independence; there is a plan to make 4 more during the Plan.

The 11th Plan’s stated goal is to take the higher education enrolment to 15 per cent.

Orissa’s higher education enrolment is at the bottom 6.1 per cent.

So Orissa must be working very hard to take advantage of the 11th plan.

Lo behold ! No home work in sight and this time also the state is going to loose heavily, feel the educationists.

Chitta Baral, Professor in Arizona State University is a worried person.

And Prof. Baral has every reason to worry.

We need a world class university and not a single soul has raised his voice for the same in the Government, lamented Prof.Baral.

This type of institution will have a budget of Rs.1000 crore. 

It  would be again a pity, if the state is going to lose the same as there is  opportunity to make a strong case.

It has the Ravenshaw University which without any affiliate colleges, matches the expected model of a world class university.

But will the State Government make such a case, asks Prof.Baral.

While Orissa is haunted by deaths due to cholera, it will be an appropriate place for setting up an Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH)

Till date the State has made no efforts to get one of the proposed 5-7 IIPHs in Orissa.

So far Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) s are concerned Orissa has not done much beyond the Chief Minister sending a couple of half-baked and impolite letters to the Prime Minister.

On the other hand, many other states have sent more detailed proposals.

Take the case of KBK Central University, in the past Orissa has made a case regarding a Central University in KBK.

However, it has not followed up on it recently.

Is not it time the State Government to follow up on this and makes a case, by pointing to the central universities in the North East, asks he.

It is not too late for many of the above; otherwise Orissa will get the pea nuts and predictably complain about Central apathy against the state.

3 comments December 18th, 2007

Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar on the 11th Plan education budget

Following is an excerpt from a report in Times of India.

Education is set to receive a Rs 2.85 lakh crore boost, with the Planning Commission increasing the allocation for the sector by a massive 19.9% in the 11th Five Year Plan.

The education budget has been classified into elementary, adult and secondary, and higher education. For elementary education, Rs 1.25 lakh crore is being earmarked, which is a major hike from the Rs 30,000 crore allocated in the last Plan.

Likewise, the share of adult and secondary education is being increased to Rs 6,000 crore and Rs 53,000 crore, respectively. As per the plan document, Rs 84,000 crore are being set aside for higher and technical education.

Planning Commission member, Bhalchandra Mungekar, said the increase in the budget for health and education is an attempt to achieve inclusive growth.

…  "The most important issue is our agenda for reforms in higher education system, where we have asked for major structural changes," he said. "Major reforms are a must like introducing credit and semesters systems and exam reforms."

The Plan has set aside resources for a massive expansion of higher education. It seeks to establish 30 new central universities of which 16 are to be set up in areas which don’t have a central university. The rest 14 are to be model universities of world class infrastructure.

According to HRD ministry, each of these 14 universities would cost around Rs 1,000 crores. There are plans for seven more IITs, seven IIMs, 10 National Institute of Technology, five Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research, 20 IIITs and two schools of architecture. There will also be 330 new colleges in educationally backward districts.


November 14th, 2007

HRD related excerpt from the PM’s address to the full planning commission

Following is an excerpt from the PIB release

There are concerns that some regions of our country are falling behind in their educational attainments and this gap must be bridged by the end of the 11th Plan. The 6000 model schools in all the Blocks, the 30 new Central Universities, the 370 new colleges in educationally backward districts and the huge expansion in the number of IITs, IIMs, IIITs and IISERs and the planned universalisation of secondary education are all going to bear fruit only if the Central and State Governments work purposefully to see that outcomes match outlays. I must emphasize the importance of quality in our institutions of higher education. The pursuit of quality requires reforms in these institutions in the way they are run. The Plan emphasizes this and I would like the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Planning Commission to work together to see how these objectives can be actually achieved. The issue is no longer one of resources. It is of planning, management and delivery capability.

November 9th, 2007

PM asks to freeze the location decisions on new central universities and elite institutions until the 11th plan is finalized

We mentioned this earlier in Following is an excerpt from a PTI report in Hindu. (New Indian Express also reports on this.)

In an effort to ensure spread of higher education avenues in an even manner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has advised the HRD Ministry not to decide on locations of proposed establishment of new central universities and other elite institutions in the country till a mechanism was evolved for the purpose.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has indicated that the Ministry should await the finalization of the XI Plan before deciding on locations for the new central Universities, IITs, IIMs, IIITs and IISERs, the PMO said in a recent communication to the HRD Ministry.

"He (the Prime Minister) has also desired that the Ministry put in abeyance all further locational decisions till a formal mechanism is evolved for this purpose," it said.

The communication from the PMO was in response to a letter of HRD Minister Arjun Singh had written last month to the Prime Minister regarding establishment of these institutions. 


1 comment October 23rd, 2007

Arjun Singh at odds with the PM, Planning Commission and the Knowledge Commission?

Our earlier report supports this to some extent. Following is  from an article in written by Ashok K. Jha.

This government, …, had constituted a knowledge commission under Sam Pitroda who, encouraged by Rajiv Gandhi, had set up Centre for Developments of Telematics and C-Dot in the early eighties, which proved a catalyst for the Telecommunication Revolution that we are witnessing today. Many prominent personalities are also the members of this commission. After months of brainstorming and research the commission recommended its suggestions to the government.
But there are some politicians in our country who accord their personal ego and interests above country’s welfare and progress. Many analysts feel that there are some ministers in this government who embody that description.
Human Resource Minister, Arjun Singh kept ignoring the recommendations of the commission for reasons best known to him only. But recently, the minister hesitatingly met the Knowledge Commission Chairman, Sam Pitroda for a few minutes and heard him out. It is speculated that the minister might have been asked to mend his ways and cooperate with the Commission.
Arjun Singh was not impressed by the recommendatation of the commission and deliberately chose to ignore the suggestions of the commission until the Prime Minister himself took up the matter and declared the road map that his government intended to follow in accordance with the recommendations. Prime Minister had announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort that very soon every state would have a central university and the number of premier engineering and management institutes would be increased. He also said that in order to impart technical training at the grassroot level, thousands of technical institutes would be opened and the private sector will also be encouraged to participate.
But the fact is that there is a shortage of technical professionals and the situation will continue to look grim unless some drastic measures are implemented speedily. Manpower has become an asset for India and this will play a greater role in the future as the world population is ageing whereas the youth constitute greater percentage of India’s population.
The world has become a global village now and if India is not able to match its pace with the rest of the world, then, very soon it will be another story of opportunity missed.
Arjun Singh does not seem to care a bit and is not willing to act unless it results in some kind of a political dividend for him.
It might sound amusing as he might himself not remember when he won any election last. In fact, in spite of being beaten in elections repeatedly, he became a minister only for his consistent loyalty to the Gandhi family. He should have realised his limitations and spent his energy in keeping his benefactors in good humour. Strangly, he became ambitious and started tinkering in everything like his predecessor, Murli Manohar Joshi used to do.

Whatever developmental strides India is making now is due to its ‘knowledge workforce’ and to gain the much aspired momentum, our education system needs to be drastically changed. But what would be the result if the minister himself starts obstructing all such initiatives on the ground that any such move would not yield any political dividends for him? The Prime Minister should act firmly now otherwise there are many politicians who can’t foresee beyond personal interests. They must be made to realise and mend their follies in the larger interest of the public they are elected to serve.

Many people in Orissa have similar feelings about Arjun Singh for:

  1. Hijacking the idea of a tribal central university that was originally proposed by the Chief Minister of Orissa.(See and
  2. For changing the name of NIS to IISER and shifting it out of Orissa. (See This was later corrected by the PM announcing the establishment of NISER through DAE.
  3. For taking away an announced for IIT in Orissa. (See
  4. For denying IIT Kharagpur’s proposal to set up a branch campus in Bhubaneswar, even after he had agree to it verbally when talking to Orissa’s CM. (See

1 comment October 20th, 2007

IBN Live: Location decisions on the remaining 4 IITs and 6 IIMs to be after 11th plan is finalized

Following are excerpts from an IBN live report. (video)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the HRD ministry to put at abeyance all decisions regarding location of eight IITs and seven IIMs till a formal mechanism is evolved. In an explicit direction to the HRD ministry, the PMO wants locations of these top institutes be put on hold till the 11th Plan is finalised. National Development Council will meet on the December 9 this year to put its stamp of approval on the plan of the expansion planned. The HRD ministry has already circulated a bill to establish 16 central universities and location of four IITs and one IIM have been fixed.

October 20th, 2007

Some details on the proposed 16 central universities

The following is from a report in Hindustan Times.

The government has chosen hybrid model of Indian and American universities for the 16 new Central Universities to be opened in the next five years.

The administrative model would be similar to Jawaharlal Nehru University, whereas the academic model is inspired by American universities. In a comprehensive project report submitted to the HRD ministry, Educational Consultants India Limited (EDCIL) has said that each university should teach at least 10,000 students.

Of these, 80 per cent of the students will get residential facilities. The report was prepared after deputy chairperson of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, proposed expansion and reforms in higher education to PM Manmohan Singh earlier this year.

Taking the suggestions into account, the EDCIL has proposed that the new Central universities will have six-year integrated courses with two-year post-graduate course and four-year doctoral programme, a mark difference from the present practice in Indian universities. The requisite of MPhil, after two years of post-graduation, for doctoral course has been abolished in the structure for the new universities.

“The concept is similar to the one in American institutions where the stress is more on research,” said Chairman and Managing Director of EDCIL Anju Banerjee. In addition to conventional, arts, social sciences, science and engineering courses, the new universities will also offer professional courses in architecture and fashion, nano-technology, bio-informatics, paramedics and information technology. However, medical colleges have not been proposed to be part of these universities.

Banerjee also said that they have also provided an option of mobility of students from one stream to another. The new universities would have semester system of education, continuous evaluation and assessment and a common admission system. “We have already circulated a Cabinet note for a uniform law for all these 16 universities,” a HRD ministry official said.

Taking a cue from American universities, the concept of schools has been recommended, like School of Engineering and School of Science. Each school would be headed by a Board of Studies to provide autonomy to each section within the federal structure of the university.

However, the overall administrative structure is similar to the JNU model with the new universities not being affiliating. The 150-page report being given final touches by HRD ministry also proposes a lower student teacher ratio of the international level to improve quality of education.

However, University Grants Commission scales have been proposed for the faculty.

October 19th, 2007

Samaja editorial on higher education

October 13th, 2007

Government considering differential fee structure for higher education

Following is an excerpt from a report in Hindustan Times.

Planning Commission Member, B Mungekar, suggested a differential fee structure for higher education at a conference of vice-chancellors on Wednesday.

Mungekar, who had drafted the new expansion and reform plan, asked vice-chancellors to consider differential fee structure with the poor paying less and those who can afford paying higher fee.

“It is not justified that a person paying Rs 5,000 for nursery classes pays Rs 50 for a MA course. Students from private schools should pay same amount of fees as they pay in schools,” he said.

He also said the commission and University Grants Commission will soon come up with a formula on a new “sustainable” fee structure for higher education. “We are talking of charging fee up to 20 per cent of university expenditure and not 20 per cent as National Knowledge Commission had recommended,” he said.

October 13th, 2007

Orissa at the bottom of the major states in terms of higher education enrollment: Orissa must get two central universities

As per the NSSO study of 2004-2005 (released in October 2006), Table 3.14.1 (of Report 516) shows that in the 15-19 age group 29% people in Orissa are attending school/college and in the 20-24 age group this number for Orissa is 6.1%. (Both numbers are lowest among all but the small states/UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.) Our focus in this posting being higher education, one may note that higher education corresponds to the 20-24 age group. 

Now the PIB says that:

The 11th Plan objectives are aimed at increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio(GER) (access rate) in higher education from the present 10% to 15% by 2012, while ensuring improvement in quality and enhancement of equity.

Now if one looks at the data below it is a no brainer that one of the 14 world class central universities (30 total – 16 to states that do not have any) must be established in Orissa.


October 11th, 2007

PM’s remarks in the full planning commission meeting

Following is from a PIB report.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, chaired the full Planning Commission meeting here today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s closing remarks on the occasion:

            “We have had a wide ranging discussion on a subject which is vital for the continued progress of our country. We have covered all the critical areas in education, although I believe that more work needs to be done to give a final shape to the Skill Development area.

            The approach presented by the note of the Planning Commission has received broad support. The proposed scale of Central Government funding for education in the 11th Plan amounts to almost Rs.2.5 lakh crores in constant prices, which is a four-fold increase over the 10th Plan. The share of education in the total Plan will correspondingly increase from 7.7% to 19.4%.  This reflects the high priority being given to education by our Government and represents credible progress towards the objective of raising public spending of the Centre and the States combined to 6% of our GDP.

            The proposals discussed today are at varying degrees of conceptualisation. While some are ready to be operationalised in a few weeks, others will take longer to take final shape. The Planning Commission, the Ministry of Human Resource Development and other Ministries concerned with Skill Development must now move quickly to operationalise the approach agreed to today by preparing detailed programmes for each of the major new initiatives.

I wish to emphasise a few points in particular:

1. Focus on Quality Education in Elementary Education

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan has made breakthroughs in providing universal access in most parts of the country even though I recognise that the quality and quantity of high incidence of drop-out rates I think constitute, I think serious drawbacks. It must now move to a phase where the goal would be to extract the maximum value for the money being spent. It should rapidly move its focus to quality improvement. It should even be called the Second Phase of SSA. The Ministry of HRD should work out minimum standards which must be met by all schools, whether public or private, and also chalk out the details of how to ensure that the objective is actually achieved. Special attention needs to be paid to districts with concentrations of SC, ST and minority populations. The Mid Day Meals (MDM) scheme has to be rapidly expanded to cover 60 million additional children at the upper primary level by the end of year 2008-09 and I am glad to report that the Cabinet had today approved this ambitious proposal.

2. Secondary and Higher Secondary Education

            We are setting out a goal of universalising secondary education. This is clearly the next step after universalising elementary education. While the goal is laudable, much work needs to be done before we are in a position to launch the Scheme for Universalisation of Access for Secondary Education (SUCCESS). Its details need to be quickly spelt out and discussed with States so that we are fully ready to launch it from the year 2008-09. We must not underestimate the complexity of this task as the principles for universalising elementary education cannot be easily transferred to secondary education. The physical, financial, pedagogical and human resource needs are quite different. We also need to recognize the role currently being played by the private sector and the policy design must factor this in. Detailed strategies and plans would need to be worked out rapidly for each state. Special attention would need to be paid to Districts with SC/ST/OBC/Minority concentration. The points that are made by Shri Sharad Pawar when we are dealing with children from disadvantaged background I think their special needs need to be kept in mind. The recommendations of the Sachar Committee need to be seriously considered and factored into our planning processes while planning for this programme.

To kick start the initiative, the proposal for setting up 6000 high quality model schools with costs to be shared by the Centre and the States needs to be finalised within the next few weeks. The mechanism for setting up and managing these schools – whether in the government sector or through private participation in some aspects – should be worked out by the Ministry of HRD, in consultation with the Planning Commission. It must be recognised that about 60% of secondary schools are under private management and the Ministry and the Planning Commission should focus on incorporating the role of the private sector wherever possible. An outline of the proposal should be available within two months.

Expanding secondary education would run into capacity constraints on many fronts – in getting an adequate number of mathematics and science teachers, in ensuring better attendance of teachers, in ensuring a high quality of education and in ensuring accountability of schools. This would require attention to be paid to teacher training and  managerial control aspects. The Ministry of HRD, there is no doubt that  elaborate specific proposals for meeting this need.

3. Higher Education

The Higher Education System has been relatively neglected in the past decade. It was the investment made in this system in the 50s and 60s which has given us a strong knowledge base in many fields. We are committed to rapidly expanding this sector as well.

There is now general agreement on setting up 16 Central Universities in States which do not have a university, 14 Central Universities in other States, 8 IITs, 7 IIMs and 5 Indian Institute of Science, Education & Researches. I am already getting requests from a large number of states for locating these institutions in their states. I am sure that with the large number of institutions we are considering, we would be able to satisfy every state to some extent.

Some of these universities/institutions should, ab initio, be targeted to achieve world class standards. For the Central Universities aimed at world class standards it will be necessary to be more ambitious in terms of infrastructure, especially if they are to include departments of science, medicine and engineering. This involves higher costs. The scope for private participation in these universities should therefore be systematically explored. The location of these institutions should be determined in a manner which balances the desire for achieving a greater geographical spread with the potential synergies arising from co-location. Location decisions should not be purely based on land availability. We should encourage States to compete for the location of these prized Central Institutions.

These are decisions which would define the educational growth trajectory of states for many decades to come and must be taken with utmost care.  The details and the roll-out of this high visibility programme should be worked out by an Inter-Ministerial Group consisting of the Ministry of HRD, the University Grants Commission and the Planning Commission and outside experts which the Planning Commission can appoint within a fortnight. Locational decisions should be taken within the next two months.

Once the broad policy framework is clear, we should make a start with detailed planning for the proposed Central Universities aiming at world class standards. The proposal in the Planning Commission note to set up distinct teams, to go into details of the structure and operationally relevant issues for each university is a good idea. We should have a creative approach to the design of these new centres of learning. Ideas such as common entrance tests, the semester system, flexible syllabi, student body diversity, inter-institutional student transferability, faculty recruitment and transferability, autonomy and governance reform should all be well thought out in this design. The final approval of funding for these universities should be given on the basis of the reports of these teams.

We should also seriously look at the proposal for fee increases to reasonable levels in a graduated manner accompanied by a scheme of extensive scholarships and loans which would ensure that no student is denied education because of his or her financial constraints This is a reasonable approach and the Planning Commission should work out these proposals in greater detail.

We must also seriously examine the role of private initiative in supplementing public funding for higher education. We obviously cannot rely on the private response alone but we should welcome it as a supplement. I believe that there is a role for private initiative in this area. Many states have developed good quality private institutions. We should carefully examine the policy issues that need to be addressed to promote growth of such institutions in the future.

Finally I would like to draw attention to an aspect of quality education that has been touched upon but not adequately elaborated. The IITs and IIMs have acquired a “star status” globally and we have ambitious plans of expanding the number of such institutions. However, there are large potential capacities within existing institutions which can be easily captured. Some of the existing IITs and IIMs are well endowed with land and have the capacity to expand the size of the student population by three fold. We are currently planning an expansion of 54% for providing reservation to students from other backward classes (OBCs). In fact I feel we should set up a committee to go into the optimum capacity of the existing IITs and IIMs. The Planning Commission and the Ministry of HRD should set up a group for this purpose.

The role and functions of apex institutions like UGC, All India Council of Technical Education, Medical Council of India, etc, need to be reviewed in the context of the large number of changes that have taken place in higher, professional and technical education in the last many years and the demands of a new knowledge economy.  The Planning Commission in consultation with the Ministry of Human Resource Development and other concerned Ministries should set up a Working Group to suggest a specific reforms agenda in this area.

4. Vocational Education

One area where I believe that we have slipped a lot in our commitments is in vocational education and skill development. I had mentioned on 15th August that we will develop the capacity for enrolling one crore children under this stream. The proposals, however, are too sketchy – both in vocational education and skill development. I would like to Planning Commission, in consultation with all concerned Ministries to finalise this proposal before 2nd October so that we see some real action on the ground this year.


            In conclusion, I compliment the Planning Commission and the Ministry of HRD for having put in sustained effort in giving shape to our commitment to improve the quantity and quality of our education system. However, what I would like to emphasise is that we cannot discuss options endlessly. We need to work with a sense of urgency and work to fixed timelines if we have to see action on the ground. Otherwise, we will continue with a theoretical exercise within these four walls for some more years. We need to work hard to ensure that all that we have agreed today takes off in a reasonably short time frame. Proposals for setting up 6000 schools covering all blocks, having 30 Central Universities and providing large capacities in vocational education must be finalised within the next two months. Locational decisions must be taken fast. It is only then that the common man will have faith in our ability to deliver on our promises.”

2 comments September 14th, 2007

Another PIB: Central university in each state

Following is yet another PIB report on this.

Subject to the Plan being finalized, it is proposed to establish 30 new Central Universities during the XIth Plan and the first two years of the XIIth Plan period, and to provide assistance for establishing one college in each district with low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education.

Action for establishment, in the first phase, of one Central University, in each of the 16 States which do not have a Central University, so far, namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujrat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kasmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerela, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, has already been initiated.

The targeted GER, as against the present level of approximately 10%, is at least 15% by the end of the XIth Plan and 21% by the end of the XIIth Plan.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shri M.A.A.Fatmi in a reply to a question raised by Smt. N.P.Durga in Rajya Sabha today.

2 comments August 29th, 2007

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