Govt approves first central varsity for UT of Ladakh
Nearly a year after the reorganization of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state into two union territories (UTs) including Ladakh, the Narendra Modi government has cleared the decks for the first Central University in the latter, which will also host a Centre on Buddhist Studies, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
The move is aimed at addressing the huge vacuum in higher education in the new UT, with many students having to venture out to other states.
While the formal decision will be taken after the proposal is moved by the HRD Ministry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in favour of a separate Ladakh university, the people said, as at least 10,000 Ladakhi students have been forced to enrol in educational institutions outside the UT. Barring engineering and medical education, the proposed university will offer degrees in all courses including liberal arts and basic sciences.
In 2018, the then government of Jammu and Kashmir state set up a Ladakh University, but this was a so-called cluster university created by pooling all the resources of existing colleges of Ladakh.
The creation of Ladakh university was discussed in a meeting on July 20 to review the progress made a year after J&K was reorganized on August 5 last year. Chaired by the Prime Minister, the meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials.
According to the HRD ministry’s proposal, the Ladakh Central University will also cater to students from Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh once the Rohtang La tunnel opens this year and ensures round the year access to Leh via the Jispa-Sarchu-Upshi route. The university will have a Centre for Buddhist Studies to cater to the largely Gelug (to which the 14th Dalai Lama belongs) and Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhist population of Ladakh.
While a decision on not allowing students from the Kashmir Valley enrol in higher education institutions in Pakistan -- the country even has a quota for students from Kashmir -- is still awaited, PM Modi reviewed the development in the two UTs over the past year.
The people cited in the first instance said the Prme Minister wanted specific improvements in the UTs highlighted in the coming days. He did not want the development debate to digress into the achievements of the state police and security forces on the counter-terrorism front.
Indian parliament passed laws and resolutions on August 5 and 6 last year to scrap Article 370 of the constituton, which gave the erstwhile state of J&K special status, and split it into two UTs. The move, the government believed, would help it focus on development in the state, and also address the issue of terror.
Even though the government is clear that vested interests within and across the border will try and vitiate the atmosphere close to August 5, there was consensus in the meeting that the development agenda in both the UTs should not be derailed at any cost, the people added.