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President promised more than possible

delhi Updated: Jun 08, 2009 02:11 IST
Vikas Pathak
Vikas Pathak
Hindustan Times
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Can a government promise speedy implementation of a report by a panel that hasn’t even finalised it? The UPA government has done just this.

The faux pas was made in President Pratibha Patil’s address to newly elected MPs last Thursday.

The President said: “My Government will initiate steps within the next 100 days on … a National Council for Higher Education as recommended by the Yashpal Committee and the National Knowledge Commission to bring in reform of regulatory institutions.”

The irony is that the Yashpal Committee hasn’t even submitted the report. What’s been submitted is an interim draft.

Professor Yashpal, the man heading the panel, admitted as much to Hindustan Times. “The final report should come out in 2-4 days. On Monday we’ve have called a meeting of about 25 committee members. Things should be through soon. Ho jaayega yaar (it will be done),” he said.

“Infer what you want, the final report will be in before June 30,” said a senior human resources development ministry official, requesting anonymity since he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Some members of the committee had earlier complained said that the draft wasn’t properly circulated among them and they hadn’t got enough time to respond.

Some of the members’ objections related to what has been promised: replacing multiple educational regulators such as the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education, the Medical Council of India, the Bar Council etc., by one National Council for Higher Education.

For instance, there is no consensus yet on a single regulatory body to replace the UGC – the agency that provides funds and maintains standards in institutions of higher education or the AICTE – the body looking after technical education in the country.

But the president promised a single regulator on the basis of a non-existent Yashpal Committee report. In a damage-control exercise, said an official on condition of anonymity, the report is being finalised in a hurry.