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Dr S.S. Mantha who has been appointed as the Chairman of AICTE was felicitated by the Forum of the Management Institutions, the Forum of Minorities Institutions and the University of Mumbai College Principal's Association (UMCPA) and Consortium of Management Education (COME) at Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, on Sunday, 8 Jan 2012. 

Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Dr SS Mantha, Chairman –AICTE, Dr Rajan Welukar, Vice Chancellor, University of Mumbai, Vijay Khole, former Vice Chancellor of University of Mumbai, SK Mahajan Director of Technical Education, Dr Ajit Singh, President, and Forum of Minorities Institutions. Dr (Prof) Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, Welingkar Institute, welcomed the distinguished gathering as he congratulated Dr SS Mantha on his taking over the mantle of leadership in higher technical education as Chairman, AICTE. The august audience also included esteemed deans, directors and principals of management institutes, engineering colleges and senior members from the Senate of University of Mumbai. 
Dr Salunkhe in his congratulatory address on Dr Mantha’s appointment assured him the support of the entire educational community in his efforts to transform the higher technical education scenario with his stress on an expansive, inclusive and bottom to top approach. Dr Salunkhe said the fraternity looked at his appointment as a seminal step which will leverage upon the strength of the nation in terms of knowledge, technology, colossal youth segment and diversity of population to create thought leadership and a competitive edge for our country. He also expressed the keenness of the educational fraternity to contribute to the positive transformation under Dr Mantha’s multi- faceted leadership. 
Expressing his thanks for the sentiments expressed at his appointment, Mantha mentioned that the canvas of the AICTE was quite large as it included Engg, Architecture, Pharma, B Schools, Hotel Management and many more, adding to the complexity of the task on hand. It would be his endeavour to develop national database of institutions, working with the World Bank mapping facts and figures depicting the current status of the technical education. Also he would try to adapt the best global practices to raise the standards of the same. 
Mentioning the transformation higher technical education is going through he said managing changes is really demanding in the face of the given demographic inequity, diversity and disparity. Dr Mantha expressing his concern over the issue of a large number of school drop outs said the Council would work on feasible policies to bring them back to the classrooms.  Gross Enrollment Ratio is also a similar concern; India has a sad GER of 15 percent whereas the developed countries have it in the neighborhood of 65.
The colossal segment of the young population that would be around 400 million by the year 2020 has to be accommodated in terms of their need for higher education as per their aptitude and capabilities to equip them with relevant skill-sets. The inequity in the distribution of the educational institutions has to be worked upon and thus ensuring the rural areas a fair share of institutions for higher education.
Education cannot be totally market- driven considering the prevalent socio-economic disparities in the Indian set up though it cannot be totally free .Vocationalisation of higher education has to be worked upon along with good financial models that would enable aspirants to enroll themselves for higher education with a provision of paying later. 
Dr Mantha highlighted the need of striking a judicious balance between research and teaching, to bring out the best in both. On earlier occasions Dr SS Mantha had expressed his thoughts on establishing synergy between various departments of educational institutions with respective industrial sectors which would work to the advantage of both. Under his leadership AICTE is also in the process of setting up incubation centres at the top rung institutions, thus encouraging and supporting research.
In his signature style of humor Mantha wrapped up with the comment that regulatory body is always the target of criticism and scrutiny; and he was ready for the same too while  he strove to ring in the required changes in the required domains of higher technical education. 
* The above content has been published with arrangement of PR department of  We school, Mumbai