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Sibal's foreign education dreams face test today

delhi Updated: Jan 31, 2011 01:26 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi

Kapil Sibal's human resource development ministry faces a tough test on Monday when MPs opposed to a landmark proposed legislation to allow and regulate foreign institutions in India plan to grill the Centre on the Bill.

Interviews with MPs from different political parties represented on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD suggest that not only the Left, but even other parties like the AIADMK, the BSP and the JD(U) may oppose the legislation.

MPs from other parties on the House panel - which on Monday has summoned human resource development ministry officials for discussions on the foreign educational institutions (entry and operations) Bill - told HT that they too may raise concerns.

"We are totally opposed to this legislation. It will lead to the commercialisation of education. We will oppose the Bill," said PK Biju, CPM MP and member of the House panel on HRD. Prasanta Kumar Majumdar of the RSP - a part of the Left Front - is also on the panel.

What worry the government most though, sources said, are concerns that MPs from the Congress itself may criticize the Bill. Congress MP and general secretary Keshava Rao had launched a scathing criticism of Sibal in the Rajya Sabha, forcing a stalemate on the Educational Tribunals Bill aimed at setting up dedicated tribunals for higher education disputes.

"It is not only us, there are Congress MPs too who are concerned about the Bill," Biju claimed. The AIADMK, BSP and JD(U) - each of which have two MPs on the standing committee - are also uncomfortable with the Bill.

Former cricketer and BJP MP Kirti Azad has said his party had not finalised its stand on the Bill so far. BJP sources said the party would not oppose the entry of foreign universities in India but would raise concerns about the specific parts of the Bill.

"The manner in which the government is bringing legislation after legislation in education, is strange," argued Azad.

"What is the point of legislations that may have great intent, if they cannot be implemented," he said.