14 July, 2016  Media: Newspaper |  Publication: Economic Times |  Edition: Delhi |  Page: 1

Javadekar Gets Going on PMO-Backed Projects

By Anubhuti Vishnoi

"Just a week in his new job, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar has speeded up implementation of key projects identified by PMO that were pending when HRD was with Smriti Irani. HRD has found a formula that will allow Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) to grant degrees. The previously contentious regulation for 'world-class institutes' are being reworked."


 

 
HRD minister takes action on long-pending issues: degrees for IIIT students, redrafting rules on `world-class universities' and free WiFi
Just a week in his new job, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar has speeded up implementation of key projects identified by PMO that were pending when HRD was with Smriti Irani.

HRD has found a formula that will allow Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) to grant degrees. The previously contentious regulation for `world-class institutes' are being reworked. And the free WiFi project is being fast-tracked and expanded. In his first key meeting held on Tuesday, Javadekar chaired the IIIT Council -the apex body governing 24 IIITs. He took the decision that the 20 new IIITs, set up as public-private partnerships (PPP), should be given deemed university status or be attached as off-campus centres of existing universities. This will allow the new IIITs to grant degrees to students passing out next year. Around 1,300 students are enrolled in these institutions.

IIITs were set up to provide more IT talent and bring in the industry's involvement and professional expertise.

The HRD ministry had earlier said IIITs funded partly by the private sector couldn't be granted a status similar to governmentfunded IITs. Javadekar's solution, officials said, puts student's interest first.

A Bill to allow the new IIITs degree-disbursal powers will be brought in, but that will be time-consuming, leaving students in a lurch, officials said. A version of the Bill is pending since 2013-14.

Officials who spoke to ET did so on the condition they not be identified.

In a late evening statement, the HRD ministry announced an `interim measure' for IIITs, allowing them to apply for the status of deemed university.

The ministry is also now clo sely aligning regulation for the so-called `world class universities' with PMO suggestions. Earlier, and as reported by ET on June 28, HRD was not inclined on following several PMO recommendations. Officials said the ministry is likely to now agree to PMO suggestions that the minimum corpus for the 20 world class universities be brought down significantly from the `1,000 crore proposed by the Irani-led ministry.

HRD is also likely to clear the PMO-backed proposal that says such course duration should be left to individual institutions.

PMO had wanted a large degree of autonomy for these institutions and HRD is likely to agree now. For example, there may be no ceilings on intake of foreign students and no penalty clauses for `not meeting quality parameters'.

The one issue on which HRD may want to retain its earlier stand is transferring letters of intent from one private backer to another. HRD is likely to say LoIs should not be transferable, although PMO wants them to be. HRD will send all regulatory proposals for legal vetting.

The project to provide free WiFi to 38 central universities -an agenda being closely monitored by PMO -has also been fasttracked by Javadekar. Marathon meetings are on at the ministry to ensure that not only do central universities get WiFi by October or earlier but all other central educational institutions are also made free WiFi zones at the earliest possible date.

HRD has asked government-owned National Informatics Centre Services to implement the project within 12 weeks. The WiFi project had been stuck for more than a year thanks to procedural issues on tenders.