The human resource development ministry is launching probes to review the performance and functioning of India’s four apex social science research bodies, at a time when they face questions over whether they are fulfilling their mandate.
The Indian Council of Historical Research, Indian Council of Social Science Research, Indian Council of Philosophical Research and Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla will be scrutinised under the plan, government sources confirmed to HT.
The reviews come even as the HRD ministry is locked in a legal battle against deemed universities which a ministry review last year found substandard and undeserving of the tag.
HRD ministry sources clarified that unlike the deemed university review which was aimed at cleaning up higher education, the review of the apex research councils is aimed at identifying areas where the institutions may need to improve. The
Memoranda of Association between the research councils and the government allow for such reviews.
“We do not expect the reviews of the research
councils to throw up anything like what the review of the deemed universities did,” a source said.
But sources conceded that they have received several complaints ranging from alleged corruption by administrators to inefficiency, lack of transparency and failure to meet targets on projects for which they received public funding. “People have a right to know what is happening inside these institutions,” another source said.
The review panels will examine whether the research councils have been successful in promoting research in their subjects, levels of transparency, inter-disciplinary research and collaboration with other institutions. They will also evaluate the quality of research promoted by the councils.
The four research councils were all set up in the 1960s and the 1970s to promote research in social sciences. A key motivation behind setting up these institutions was to encourage indigenous Indian research in subjects where British research — and perceptions drawn from that research — dominated Indian academic discourse.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has already nominated several academic experts to the four different review panels that will probe the performance of the councils over the past five years, sources said.
Sibal has nominated economist Kirit Parikh, former Delhi University Vice Chancellor Deepak Nayyar and former Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia as members of the ICSSR review panel, it is learnt.