The Finance Minister while presenting the budget mentioned that his priority was growth which was not possible unless and until there was an inclusive sustainable development. He also mentioned that Human Development was his priority given the fact that India has a demographic advantage. It was necessary that the Government invests in skilling the youth of India so that they are employable. While overall the budget has nothing much to give to Higher Education, it gave substantive encouragement to Skill Development initiatives and to the weaker and marginalized section of the society.
It is in this regard that his announcement of Rs.1000 crores to NSDC for program development and to encourage institutions to set up such programs is a welcome announcement. At the same time, to increase the demand among youth for vocational education he has incentivized students by giving them a reward of Rs.10,000 after successful completion of the program. This should lead to the growth of Vocational education and help create an ecosystem for vocational education.
Sports has been a major concern in the institutions because of lack availability of sports coaches in India. Setting up of an institute for sports coaching in Patiala should help overcome this problem.
To encourage marginalized sections of the society to pursue education, scholarship fund of Rs. 5284 crores should go a long way. Giving Rs.100 crores each to national institutions of excellence like Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University and TISS, Guwahati campus etc. will certainly help these institutions renew themselves as also expand the facilities. It should also help them to focus in the core areas.
An announcement to the effect that the funds incurred for installing incubators in the academic institutions will qualify for being part of CSR spent is again a welcome move. This will help encourage growth of entrepreneurship programs in institution at the same time this will also help in promotion of science and technological entrepreneurship. The most likely impact of this announcement will be that corporate will be encouraged to fund incubation activities.
The financial allocation of Rs.65867 crores is an increase of 17%. Of this Rs.27258 crores Sarva Shisksha Abhiyan and RTE this should definitely help enlarge the scope of both these initiatives which are critical for creating a literate and educated population.
I do hope that the increase in the outlay will help MHRD initiate programs in some of the most critical areas highlighted by the Planning Commission in its 12th Plan that is Faculty Development, Industry Institute Relationship for employability enhancement and Quality Improvement.
This should help HRD to invest money in taking up some of the programs on a priority basis in Higher Education specially Faculty Development and quality improvement. However, the education sector has been asking infrastructure status which the government has still not agreed. To that an extent it is a disappointment because if Education infrastructure has to grow, we need to have the same incentives as those available in other core infrastructure area.
To encourage FII and FDI and PE fund investment in Higher Education it is necessary to give it an infrastructure status and allow `for profit’ education. Also MHRD should announce faculty development mission on a priority basis.
Dr. Rajan Saxena is Vice Chancellor & Distinguished Professor of Marketing at NMIMS University Mumbai and he can be reached at : [email protected]