Sunday, November 05, 2006


Orissa gets dismal allocation of higher education from center

NSSO study shows widening urban-rural gap
Chetan Chauhan
New Delhi, November 4, 2006

The latest National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) findings put the gross enrolment ratio in higher education at just 11.4 per cent as against University Grants Commission claim of 13 per cent.

The NSSO clearly demonstrates a widening urban-rural gap in education, girl child and weaker sections not reaching the highest level of competitive education and dramatic fall in classroom attendance as students reach higher level of education.

With higher education infrastructure growing mostly in urban areas, as many as 20 per cent of urban youth are enrolled in colleges as compared to just 7.9 per cent in rural India. Orissa, which gets dismal allocation for higher education from the Centre, has only 4.1 per cent rural youth enrolled. Similar pattern is observed in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. The exception are the north-eastern states, where most universities are funded by the Central Government, with overall higher education enrolment figure close to 40 per cent.

The debate over reservation to socially weaker sections in admission in higher educational institutions gets an interesting backing from the report findings. The study says the forward castes are much ahead of SCs/STs and OBCs when it comes to enrolment in colleges. As compared to just 8.2 per cent for SC, 8.9 per cent for STs and 9.5 per cent for OBCs, the enrolment figure for forward castes is about 17 per cent. However, their enrolment at primary level is comparative with forward castes.

The social bias against the girl child is clearly evident from the NSSO findings. Though 79 per cent of the girl population enrol in schools only 7.7 per cent reach higher educational institutions. The enrolment rate of boys in colleges is almost double than that of girls even though the difference in admission between the two at primary level is just five per cent.

If the girl is born in the weaker section, reaching higher education becomes even more difficult. Only 4.9 per cent Scheduled Caste girls reach higher education, with girls in Other Backward Classes slightly better with 5.8 and as high as seven per cent in Scheduled Tribes. But among forward castes, the number of girls taking admission in colleges is as high as 13 per cent.

Earlier this week, UGC chairman SK Thorat at an ASSOCHAM seminar on higher education had called private participation to bridge these disparities.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Bihar demands an IISER or NISc: Patna Daily

Bringing an NISC or IISER in Bihar
by Dr. Rajkishore Prasad
Lecturer, Department of Electronic Science, BRA Bihar University, Muzaffarpur.
(At present Research Fellow, Japan)

Oct. 16, 2006

The two acronyms NISc and IISER stand here for National Institute of Science and Indian Institute of Science for Education and Research, respectively, with modality that former became a history on paper within our political arena and later is present and a reality. Our whole nation is depleted of the Center of Excellence (COE) in science. Naturally, human resources with excellent scientific abilities are in minority but needed in majority to provide impetus to support up hill journey of our changing economy and society. Absence or any weakness in supporting scientific thrust will have adverse effect on the development of knowledge supported economy and society. The last NDA led central government came to realize this fact with serious plan to improve scientific caliber of the country. India needs scientists for which COEs are required to provide training of sciences to youngsters. But most of the young brains are reluctant to choose basic sciences as their career due to unsecured future. This matter of national concern was pointed by the former Hon'ble Minister for Human Resource Development, Professor Murli Manohar Joshi on the occasion of the golden Jubilee function of UGC. His observation was as under: "The undergraduate education in pure sciences is a matter of serious concern. We are going to face shortage of good researchers in a few years time particularly in our premier research institutes in the field of Atomic Energy, Space, Bio-technology, Energy, Oil exploration, Communication and so on. We will have to focus at 10+2 level and "catch them young" for integrated 5 years teaching programme with a possibility of exit after three years".

The NDA led government announced to open four National Institutes of Science across (East: At Bhubaneswar in the proximity of Utkal University, West: At Pune in the proximity of University of Pune, North: At Allahabad in the proximity of Allahabad University, South: At Chennai in the proximity of Anna University) the country. However, at none of these places, NISc came into existence and in between central government was changed. The present UPA led central government is silent over the issue of NISc, however, has announced to open similar institutes named as IISER at Kolkata, Pune, Kanpur and Chandigarh. It seems matter of NISc is gone. It is also not known if the IISER is modification or replacement of NISc but aims and objectives of both types of institutes are similar. Till today IISERs have been brought into functional existence at Kolkata and Pune and they have announced for admission in the first session starting from August, 2006. Establishment of IISER can be taken as a unique step to safeguard declining science education in the country. Some of the important and special features of IISER can be observed as under

I. IISER will be an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. It will serve as research universities of the highest caliber and will provide teaching as well as research training of excellent quality in the basic science subjects.

II. IISER will offer 5-years integrated Masters and post-bachelors and post-Masters Ph.D. programs. Beside this doors for the integrated programs will be open for all those graduating in science from different universities. The integrated programme will be flexible and student can leave this taking master degree after four years if not willing to do doctoral programme. Also, an M.Sc. degree holder from outside can get entry into PhD programme of the IISER. There will be options and opportunities for the post-doctoral and research positions. Students will get scholarship on the basis of merit.

III. IISER will provide multidisciplinary science education and specialization. Traditional borders will be highly flexible. Thus curriculum of IISER will be multidisciplinary.

IV. The academic programmes will be semesterized with options for specialization in multiple disciplines of basic sciences based on a flexible credit system.

V. Apart from classroom instructions, IISER will equip students with skills of other areas such as scientific inquiry, problem solving, communication skills, computational sciences, electronics and instrumentation, workshop and glass blowing practices. IISER will be an institute of international standards and provide research opportunities in the frontier areas.

VI. The full fledged IISER will accommodate more than 2,000 students in integrated master, doctoral and post doctoral programme, with about 200 excellent faculty members.

VII. Obviously, this new initiative of central government to popularize and pave science education and research will produce excellent scientific manpower thought the country and lead to development of superlative infrastructure, industry and other related developments in the native state of institution.

One of the most important features of the course pattern of IISER is that it will be multi-disciplinary in nature. Multi-disciplinary education in science will be helpful in developing flexible cognitive style and will train students for wide range of potential, for gaining excellence in multiple fields. It has been seen that the process of getting specialization becomes faster after adequate multidisciplinary training. This will develop specialization in students at higher levels of study or at work place. Such difference from traditional science education will increase possibility of student motivation and aptitude. It is like making Jack of all trades and master of many trades. Sometimes becoming jack of all trades is better than mastering one because it makes you master of integration, association, and conceptualization which bring distinctive specialization in future. If we see the list of polymaths e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, who was engineer, physician, painter, inventor, musician, astrologer, alchemist and architect, it is very easy for one to imbue that they were mastering many disciplines, capable in integrating knowledge of different trades and had shown unique convergence with diverging skills .

Fortunately, land of Bihar has also given many polymaths among which name of Chanakya is well known, but this land has been kept blanked with IISER, a setup with hope to produce pundits of sciences.

Bihar needs NISc or IISER

Bihar is a developing state and its development shares a great meaning with the developed India. Bihar shares about 8.9 % of the total Indian population, however, it lacks in centers for training human resources. In the name of central educational institute it has an NIT at Patna which is not newly established but is modification of a pre-exiting state; government-run engineering college. We may hope that NIT Patna will establish itself as a COE in the area of engineering in the coming years. However, for science subjects Bihar has nothing like national institutes except different departments of sciences with state-run universities. These departments are conspicuousness for lacking infrastructure, research funds, and skilled trainers. I do not like to blame existing faculties but mean to say that sharpness of a sword goes if it is put permanently in its case.

How existence of IISER in local can be beneficial can be imbued from course patterns offered by it. Its door will also be open for students graduating / mastering in science from other universities. I am sure that establishment of such institute will increase percentage of students from Bihar seeking higher education in science. As per India Science Report, less than 0.6% (not exactly mentioned and may be somewhere below this); Bihari students migrate to other states for taking science education at higher level. This is so because there is imbalance in distribution of such institutes. Also, getting higher education outside is costlier and every aspirant cannot afford it despite his/her will to continue higher education in science. Such migration of student also leads to the development of infrastructure to states where they study. The absence of central institutes has made Bihar the least central fund fetching state for the technical education. From [2], it is amazing to know that while Central Government spends Rs. 100 per person in Delhi, it spends Rs. 59.5190 in Uttaranchal, Rs. 59.2818 in Arunachal Pradesh, Rs. 43.8686 in Assam, Rs.19.0718 in Himachal Pradesh, Rs. 15.8650 in West Bengal, Rs.14.1825 in Karnataka, Rs.10.0440 in Tamil Nadu, Rs.9.6488 in Maharashtra, Rs.9.6432 in Uttar Pradesh, Rs.9.1463 in Jharkhand, Rs.9.0617 in Andhra Pradesh, Rs. 8.1865 in J&K, Rs.7.5542 in Punjab, Rs. 4.81 in Haryana, Rs. 4.46 in Kerala, Rs. 4.17 in Chhattisgarh, Rs. 2.7 in Gujarat, Rs.2,29 in Orissa,Rs.1.46 in Rajsthan,Rs.1.05 in Bihar (Data 2005-2006) for the technical education. Such imbalance in distribution of Central funds for education cannot be described as good sign for the development and integrity of India. Unfortunately, such imbalances have been totally uncared while establishing new institutes like IISER. On the basis of this Bihar is one of the most suitable states for opening an IISER.

The opening of IISER or similar institutes in Bihar will also be beneficial for the local universities. Faculty and students of local universities will get chance to have interaction with scholars, researchers, for participation in quality improvement programs, to know ongoing researches in the frontier areas. This all will create a new will and zeal that will not only pave broken links of science education and research but also motivates students for pursuing higher studies in science and making it as their profession. One can hope that IISER will play pivotal role in establishing strong relationship with the neighboring universities and other educational institutes to share faculty, research, development and infrastructure to achieve global level excellence in the field of science education and research.

Unfortunately, no serious steps have been taken so far to bring an IISER in Bihar. It will be not out of place to mention that like everything science education and establishment of institution for it is a politicized. Claiming with all our plus points will not bring IISER, if political leaders from our state do not take interest. Establishment of IISER will be a political decision, because many states are in the race for it with academic environment better than ours. However, denial to give IISER to Bihar on the basis of ill conditions of the existing educational system is a step to further widen regional imbalances and deliberately debarring Bihar to develop. I have been raising this issue from 2004. I become very hopeful about my demand when hon'ble president stressed need of IISER for Bihar while he was addressing joint session of our legislators in March, 2006. It's a new hope. Also when I talked, through BBC, a few months before with hon'ble union minister for S&T, he was also in favour of opening an IISER in Bihar. Appreciating my efforts, our BiharBrains (details can be seen at, has formed recently a core-committee to make the demand emphatic and successful. I am also one of the members of the committee and it is in the process of making final report, however to make our attempts successful close cooperation of all intellectuals of Bihar is needed. One of the important steps in this direction happened when I met hon'ble union minister Sri Ram Vilas Paswan for the same in July 2006, in Tokyo. He promised to bring an IISER in Bihar. We hope our government and hon'ble ministers in the central government, MPs and all other higher authorities will show their serious concerns in bringing an IISER for Bihar.

Friday, September 29, 2006


stark disparities in regard to educational and R&D institutions said Prof Rao: TOI

PM's scientific adviser finds Plan paper weak
[ 30 Sep, 2006 0109hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

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BANGALORE: C N R Rao, scientific adviser to the Prime Minister, has criticised the Planning Commission's approach paper for the 11th Five-Year Plan, dubbing it as 'weak' and 'confusing'.

In a strongly-worded letter to deputy chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Rao said, "I find that the document as a whole is rather weak and not sufficiently focussed. I feel that few important aspects need to be highlighted... some sentences are confusing."

He took exception to the commission's view that while some institutions of higher education compare well with the best in the world, the average standard is much lower.

Rao said, "There are no institutions in India, as far as I know, which are comparable to the best of the institutions in the advanced countries."

He also highlighted stark disparities in regard to educational and R&D institutions. "Over 60% are located in just six to eight states.

The planning process needs to address these institutional disparities for their influence is so great on the distribution of employment opportunities in the country," the note states. "

It is timely and important that India invests imaginatively and largely in higher education, with research of quality. The numerical challenges are daunting. Annually, we produce around 5,000 Ph.Ds in science and about 800 Ph.Ds in engineering.

"If India has to lay claim to being a knowledge-based economic power, the number of Ph.Ds of quality by world standards should be five times the number that we are currently producing," it states.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Foundation stone for IISER in Punjab; IIM and National Inst of Physical Health coming soon

AN IIM soon in Mohali

Manmohan Singh lays stone for IISER; MoU signed between Punjab govt and Public Health Foundation of India for NIPH in SAS Nagar

Varinder Bhatia

Chandigargh, September 27: September 27 will go down as a red letter day in the history of SAS Nagar. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today not only laid the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at NIPER, but also promised the new district a first-of-its-kind National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) and an Indian Institute of Management (IIM).

While the groundwork for NIPH was done with the PM presiding over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Punjab government and Public Health Foundation of India, Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh promised an IIM soon.

The action-packed evening in Mohali started with the PM laying the foundation stone of IISER soon after his arrival around 6 pm.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Singh said: “I am delighted to lay the foundation stone of a new temple of learning in Punjab. The Department of Atomic Energy is setting up a similar facility at Bhubaneswar. It is now the turn of Punjab to claim its rightful place in the evolving knowledge economy of India and to become a first ranking state in science education.”

Earlier, Sudeep Banerjee, Secretary, Higher Education, HRD Ministry, welcomed the PM and briefed the audience about IISER. “It will be the third one after Kolkata and Pune, which have already started functioning this year and are attracting good response both in terms of faculty and students,” he said.

MP Pawan Kumar Bansal used the opportunity to demand an Indian Institute of Management for the tricity. Responding at once, Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh not only promised an IIM in SAS Nagar, but also said it would be done shortly.

Thanking Arjun Singh for granting another premier institute to SAS Nagar, CM Capt Amarinder Singh underlined the need to improve the education system in the country.

“Much needs to be done at the school level. The education at school level should be world standard. Our government has brought computer literacy to the level of Class X and above,” he said.

On the occasion, representatives of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Punjab government signed an MoU for the first of the five NIPHs to be set up in SAS Nagar. The institute would train 1,000 healthcare professionals annually.

Punjab Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), Union Minister Ashwani Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were also present on the occasion.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


A K-PhD education proposal sent to the Knowledge Commission

Dear Knowledge Commission of India:

1. Primary Education: The Right to education bill (draft) is a step
in the right direction. However, India needs to move quickly from
Right to Education to Right to choice of education. It is not enough
that every kid can go to some school. Since our (yours and mine)
kids have a choice of what school to go to, similarly every kid and
parents should have a choice. The choice of kids from economically
disadvantage families or kids in remote villages should not be
limited to a (state) school which may or may not be functioning. In
the US two related ideas are being implemented in various states:
vouchers and charter schools.

Vouchers: It is implemented in Ohio where economically disadvantage
families are given vouchers from the state (close to an amount the
state spends per pupil) and they can use that money to go to
whichever school (even private) they chose to.

Charter schools: It is implemented in Arizona and many other states.
Charter schools are privately managed schools, but they get funding
from the government based on the number of students they have at a
rate close to the amount the state spends per pupil.

The current draft of the right to education bill (of India) requires
private schools to set aside 25% seats for economically advantage students and the government promises to pay at the rate spent per pupil otherwise.
However it is not clear what happens if a school
has 100% or 80% students from an economically advantage background.

I think the charter school idea should be explored in the Indian
context. Being assured of funding at a per pupil basis, various
private organizations will be motivated to open charter schools in
remote areas, and thus provide school choice to families living
there. Similar to the overseeing of private engineering colleges by
AICTE, a body can be created that would look after some aspects of
the charter school, but would otherwise leave the management to
private bodies.

Pointers to Charter Schools in AZ:

More on charter schools:

Vouchers and Ohio's implementation:

Right to Education bill (draft) of India:

(2) Higher education: Despite the brand name of IITs, and IIMs,
India is falling behind in research; and its national institutes and
central universities have a skewed distribution across various
states of India. (The poorest states like Bihar, Orissa and
Rajasthan have none beyond the NITs.) There is now a political will
as well as available funds to correct both and several committees
are working on it. Following are some of my thoughts.

more IITs: Since the idea of establishing a few more IITs was
proposed few years back, several institutions were evaluated and 7
were shortlisted. However the evaluation process excluded the NITs,
several of which are better ranked (see ) than 6 of the 7
initially shortlisted. Now a news report (see,0035.htm ) says that
the shortlist is further reduced to 5 and the plan is to make them
IIEST (Indian Inst of Engg Sc and Tech) instead of IITs.

Following are my suggestions:

(i) IT BHU should be upgraded to an IIT, as it is already ranked
higher than two of the IITs and it is better than all the NITs. However this will further skew the distribution of national institutes across India
(see ).
It is taken care of by implementing the suggestions below.

(ii) IIEST: 5-1 = 4 of the shortlisted institutes (Bengal engg
coll, CUSAT, Osmania, Andhra) are ranked lower than many NITs. (see )
Hence it does not make sense for these schools to have a higher
standing and funding than NITs. It is also unfair to the NITs. Thus besides the 5-1 = 4 shortlisted institutes to be made IIEST, 5-6 NITs that are as good or better than these 4 shortlisted institutes should also be made into IIESTs. Over the years efforts should be made to have an IIEST in every state through upgrading. Also, when an NIT is upgraded to an IIEST in a state, another engineering college in that state should be upgraded to an NIT. Thus in 10 years every major state (for example all states that have
an NIT now) should have an NIT and an IIEST.

(iii) new IITs: There will still be a need for the top branded IITs.
However, to protect the brand name, new IITs should be made with utmost care. But the issue of finding top faculty as well as the issue of funding remains. To counter that, as well as for regional balance the following strategy should be used.

Mini-IITs should be established in five to six states (such as
Orissa, Bihar, Rajasthan) that are way behind (see ) in terms of national level institutes like IITs and IIMs, with a plan to make them into a full-fledged IIT in 10 years. Each of these mini-IITs would have a mentor from among the existing IITs whose mandate would be to make the new IIT. For example, IIT Kharagpur has an extension center ( )
in Bhubaneswar (in Orissa which does not have an IIT or IIM)
that currently offers PGDIT ( )
This can be declared as a mini-IIT and IIT Kharagpur
can be given responsibility to turn it into a full-fledged IIT in 10
years. They can start with graduate programs, and add one department every year, introduce undergraduate programs in 3-4 years, and so on, until it becomes a full-fledged IIT in 10 years.

(iv) Central universities in backward district + KBK clusters +
extremist affected districts:

Similar to the central universities in the north east, comprehensive
central universities should be established in backward district clusters (plus the super backward region of KBK districts in Orissa) of India. This will lead to more educated people moving to those districts; more opportunities for students there to pursue high quality higher education; and most importantly this will lead to the districts producing more local teachers (etc.) who have a higher chance of staying there.

I hope the above thoughts are useful to your commission. I would be
happy to elaborate on them further.

best regards

Chitta Baral
Professor, Arizona State University

Saturday, June 24, 2006


After AIIMS, Ramadoss' aim is school

Is the Health minister, a central minister or a minister of Tamil Nadu.
If he only looks after his own state, who will look after the rest of


NEW DELHI: Having sent shockwaves through AIIMS, health minister A Ramadoss is set to ruffle feathers at the Public Health Foundation of India by announcing that one of its Rs 100-crore health schools will come up in his home state, Tamil Nadu — before the body even got around to examining the proposal.

PHFI, whose six-member executive committee and 20-member board includes luminaries like Amartya Sen, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Rajat Gupta, R A Mashelkar, Harpal Singh, P C Chatterjee, Shiv Nadar, Rohini Nilekani and Thomas W Lamont besides PMO officials, has decided that two schools will come up. One will be in NCR, while the location of the second is yet to the decided.

Not for Ramadoss though. The minister is quite clear that apart from one school in north India, the other should be in his native Tamil Nadu.

Ramadoss told TOI from London, "The foundation will initially set up two public health schools, one in north and the other in south India. I have been trying to make TN the other state besides NCR."

The minister pointed out that he had "written two letters to Jayalalitha (when she was CM) asking her to allot land. But I haven't received any reply in the past six months. The new TN government has already allocated 50 acres for the school. It will come up near Chennai for certain."

Friday, June 16, 2006


Pioneer: A lion's share for own TN, with love from Ramadoss

In India it seems to be an acceptable norm that a minister will usurp a big part of his budget to the state from which he/she comes from. Earlier we discussed the HRD example. This is an example from the health ministry.

I don't know why don't the ministers and the PM understand that the central ministers are ministers of the country. They are suppose to spend the budget equitably across the whole country. Not just allocate it to their constituency or their allies constituency. For that they are given MPLAD fund.

India must learn from the approach used in US. For example, when base closing across were decided the rules were adopted such that every state was treated fairly. Similarly most budget allocations in US is done using set formulas. (There is some special allocations, referred to as pork, but that is the exception rather than the norm.) In India it seems the norm is that the minister of XYZ truies to spend a big part of their budget in their
own or in their allies' constituencies. What is shocking is that even the PM
and the Finance minister are not above this. (See analysis in )


A lion's share for own TN, with love from Ramadoss

Yoga Rangatia | New Delhi

State gets funds for 8 hospitals, despite failing to reveal earlier accounts
---- Charged with nepotism in premier institutions, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has flouted guidelines to favour his home State with Central funds.

In the last two years, Tamil Nadu walked away with one-third of the funds meant for upgradation of public hospitals across the country. Eager to route monetary aid to the State, the Health Ministry also put on hold its own guidelines to not to release fresh funds unless accounts of funds earlier released are not provided.

In the last two years, of the 30-odd hospitals across the country given one-time grant to purchase equipment and ambulances, eight are from Tamil Nadu. This is despite the fact that the State is yet to give an account for the funds released as early as 2004.

Public hospitals in Tamil Nadu received Rs 12 crore between 2004 and 2006 under a Centre-sponsored scheme. Rest of the States have to be content with about Rs 36 crore the Health Ministry granted them in the same period.

The Central funds are allocated to set up trauma care units and to procure surgical equipment, X-ray machines and ambulances. These aids are perceived as bounties as owing them hospitals award lucrative contracts to procure buy medical equipment and support construction work. Tamil Nadu has been favoured for fund disbursement even after it has failed to account for Rs 5.48 crore released since 2001. Utilisation certificates for money released to public hospitals in Perampur, Omalu, Villupuram and Chengalpattu are awaited since 2004. Those hospitals favoured by the Health Ministry are located in Thanjavur, Tambaram, Melur, Tensaki, Padmanabhapuram, Cuddalore, Namakka and Vellore.

In fact, a handful of major States received money in Dr Ramadoss' tenure. Besides Tamil Nadu (eight hospitals), other States that received Central assistance are Arunachal Pradesh (one hospitals), Andhra Pradesh (two hospitals), Gujarat (three hospitals), Haryana (two hospitals), Kerala (one hospital), Karnataka (one hospital), Madhya Pradesh (five hospitals), Nagaland (two hospitals), Pondicherry (two hospitals), Rajasthan (two hospitals) and Uttar Pradesh (two hospitals).

The Tenth Five Year Plan envisaged a trauma care centre for every 100 kilometres of the highways to bring down incidences of death due to accidents. Public hospital along the national highways with at least 100-bed capacity and staff for emergency care are eligible for the funds. A sanctioning committee headed by additional secretary screens the application from States on the basis of their existing infrastructure for emergency care, staff and past record on fund utilisation.

A one-time grant of Rs 150 lakh in each hospital for purchase of well-equipped ambulance, basic essential equipment required for accident and trauma services, communication system, and provide for infrastructure in control room, blood bank, examination room, intensive care unit and burn beds, operation theatre. The scheme envisaged preference for hospitals situated on the national highways, preferably at Golden Quadrilateral and East-West and North-South Corridors.

But when it comes to Union Health Ministry, all roads lead to Tamil Nadu. And funds follow.

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