Money no problem: Govt

The government has also floated a few options to tackle the faculty shortage that would result if seats were increased.

india Updated: May 27, 2006 02:44 IST

A fund crunch won't trip the government in its effort to sweeten the bitter quota pill. The Planning Commission believes there is enough money to increase seats for general category students in institutions of higher education-- the compromise formula being peddled by the government to end the reservation row.

The government has allocated Rs 10,000 crore to implement the quota regime, a commission member said. “There will be enough money to implement the quota in next year's budget.”

How the money will be distributed to the centres of learning will, however, be figured out by the sub-group on education, likely to be constituted in June to study the 11th Five-year Plan. The money won't be released at one go. For the first year, Rs 4,000-5,000 crore will be adequate to kick-start the quota regime. “Infrastructure for increased student intake can't be built in a year. It takes time and funds can be allocated accordingly,” an official said.

The increased allocation for the education sector in the current budget-- 31.5 per cent, the highest for any sector-- will also ensure the government doesn't have to scrimp.

Already, additional funds to tune of Rs 200-300 crores have been released to increase student intake in many universities and IITs. “They can start working on increasing the intake before the next budget,” an official said.

The HRD ministry may have more at its end, officials say, as the allocation of Rs 10,041 crore for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan may see some reduction. Allocation for infrastructure in over 10 lakh schools has already been made.

The 11th Plan is also expected to bring more funds for the education sector given that the PM has already emphasised the need to increase the reach of higher education in the next plan period. The government is also examining the Tapas Majumdar committee report on increasing allocation for education to six per cent of GDP. The report has recommended staggered increase in three to four years to meet the target.

The government has also floated a few options to tackle the faculty shortage that would result if seats were increased. They include employing retired teachers, relaxing recruitment rules, ad-hoc employment of research scholars as teachers. Optimum usage of labs by allowing more than one institute to use them is another suggestion on the menu.

The final word will, however, rest with the oversight committee to be constituted by the PMO.

First Published: May 27, 2006 02:44 IST