NEW DELHI: Before he turns his full attention to a tough re-election bid from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, Human Resource Development Minister MM Pallam Raju has three items on his must-do list.
The minister wants to see through an ordinance to set up the Indira Gandhi National Women’s University in Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli; the finalising of the executive order allowing foreign universitiesto set up campuses in India; and the establishment of theNational Education Commission.
On the first item, the government is keen to go ahead with setting up the country’s first central university exclusively for women in Rae Bareli. Sources indicated that the government was keen to go ahead with the central university though the matter would have to be discussed in cabinet before an ordinance was issued.
The Bill to set up the Indira Gandhi National Women’s University in Rae Bareli was introduced in the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session last year. The standing committee, which has supported the idea of an exclusive university for women, submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha only in January, leaving little time to ensure the legislation was passed by parliament.
Setting up the central university in Rae Bareli is not without political significance, especially in an election year. However, the government has argued that locating the university in the district made sense as it is educationally backward and well connected to the major cities of the state. Additionally, the government has argued that it would be a fitting tribute to the country’s first woman prime minister, Indira Gandhi, who represented the constituency.
As for foreign universities enter India, Raju is seeking an executive order allowing them to do so. In September, the ministry, on the basis of the powers vested in it through the UGC Act, prepared an executive order setting out rules and regulations permitting foreign education providers to set up campuses in India on their own and award foreign degrees. The rules are yet to be formally announced as the law ministry is still vetting the order.
Raju is likely to seek Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to speed up the process. Officials indicated that it is unlikely that there will be a holdup because the idea of permitting foreign universities to operate in the country was high on the priority list of Kapil Sibal during his tenure as the HRD minister.
However, Raju may have to shelve the third item on the agenda—the appointment of the third National Education Commission. On August 15, 2011, Prime Minister had announced that the government would set up an education commission to work out the vision, objectives aand goals of the education system.