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Arjun shoots at higher target

The minsiter seeks more funds and reminds PM of promise to allocate 6 pc of GDP for education, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2007 01:42 IST

The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has run into a sea of budget blues over fund-allocation. With an eye on the onerous task of implementing 27 per cent reservation to the OBCs, and the universalisation of education, HRD Minister Arjun Singh is learnt to have written two letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling for more funds and reminding him of the UPA government’s promise in its common minimum programme of allocating 6 per cent of the GDP for education.

His ministry had sought about 139 per cent greater funds for education in this year’s budget, over last year’s allocation. The Planning Commission, while increasing the allocation for the ministry, restricted itself to Rs 27,099 crore — a ‘paltry’ 30 per cent rise.

In his two letters, Arjun Singh has sought higher allocation of funds for education — from elementary education to higher education —- citing the need to improve the country’s knowledge base.

He had sought Rs 15,000 crore for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, clubbed with Kasturba Bal Vidalaya scheme (as against Rs 8,800 allocated for the sector by the Planning Commission).

Singh also feels that the UPA government’s plan to implement 27 per cent OBC reservation would simply not take off, given that the Planning Commission has allocated a “grossly inadequate” Rs 2,000 crore for opening three new IITs, four IIMs, two Schools of Planning and Architecture and two Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, apart from new Central universities.

The impact of this measly allocation, say HRD officials, would be felt on the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) — of OBCs — in higher education. The government had proposed to improve GER to 15 per cent gross by end of 11th plan period, which may now not be met, an official said.

Singh has urged the Prime Minister to intervene to raise the allocation for his ministry to the 6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) as promised in the UPA government’s common minimum programme.

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First Published: Feb 19, 2007 01:42 IST