Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India, has had a really hectic month. Addressing a discussion organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and US India Business Council on October 14, in Washington D.C, the minister emphasized that the government and private sector needed to work together to secure the foundation of education in the 21st century, laying down a five-point agenda for greater co-operation with the US in the higher education sector.
He added that the US universities can save on costs and efforts by partnering Indian universities and industry to engage in research and development at one-third the cost and significant time savings. However the US education regulatory criteria would have to change to make this possible.
He suggested that the Indian private sector could invest in setting up universities, and faculty and scholars from the US could then operate from India. Big US companies such as Boeing, Motorola and Ford, which have large operations in India, should invest in educational institutions in their respective fields where both Indian and the US students can study, he added.
Stressing on the need to scale up academia-industry collaboration, Mr Hari Bhartia, Chairman and Managing Director, Jubilant Life Sciences, said the Indian Government needed to provide larger research grants to attract the best talent.
Back in India, Mr. Sibal addressed a group of MPs in a bid to garner political support for getting Parliament’s approval to the HRD ministry’s bills. More than a dozen bills of the HRD ministry covering different aspects of higher education are pending in Parliament and the minister is intending to introduce two new bills in the winter session expected to start from November end.
Mr Sibal stated that he hoped that the Parliament’s winter session would not be stalled by Anna Hazare’s campaign for a Lokpal Bill and other important work would also get conducted. HRD Ministry’s bills have seen a lack of support from the opposition as well as some members of the ruling party members and the minister had failed to convince them in the house.
Andhra Congress MP JD Seelam had objected to lack of a quota policy for faculty in institutes of national importance in a discussion on Indian Institute of Information Technology Kancheepuram Bill 2011 and was supported by opposition MPs on the issue.
Another Congress MP Kesav Rao had complained that the ministry had failed to fully incorporate the suggestions on the Parliamentary standing committee on the bill to set up educational tribunals.
To avoid similar resistance to the bills in winter session, Sibal organized a meeting with MPs of Congress and other UPA allies to seek their views on these bills. Sibal would also have a similar meeting with Opposition MPs to get feedback on the bills.
Two new important legislations — the National Council for Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 and the Universities for Innovation Bill, 2011 — are supposed to be introduced in Parliament’s winter session.
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