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'We Have To Find A Middle Ground'
Union HRD minister Arjun Singh looks visibly pleased after the cabinet approved his ministry's suggestion on regulating entry of foreign universities. Singh spoke to
Outlook about the inevitability of foreign universities coming to India. At the same time, he insisted on regulating their entry. Excerpts:
The cabinet has approved the Foreign Education Institutions Bill. But the Left has reservations. How do you plan to take them along?
My access to the Left will hopefully allow me to convince them that in the emerging scenario, it is not possible to prevent foreign institutions from coming in. We have to find a middle path and draw up a roadmap for that, which implies working within a regulatory framework.
You seem to have a scored a victory over the commerce ministry by having the regulatory framework included in the bill?
It is no one's victory. India is a big country and policy matters on education have to be examined carefully before they become law.
Do you seriously believe that Harvard and Cambridge will come to India?
Till now there is no sign of Harvard and Cambridge coming here and we can't be announcing the names of campuses even before they set up shop here. Let us hope they come.
So can we expect only second-rung institutions to come here?
There is an element of risk there. But we cannot just keep quiet. We must frame a policy for regulation.
Will the foreign universities be subject to reservation as mandated by your ministry?
National policies and programmes approved at the national level cannot be wished away by anyone. At the same time, obstacles cannot come in the way of their implementation. We have to work a way out by spelling out a framework.
What about the bill on reservations in unaided (private) universities?
The GOM has finalised its report and we hope to bring it before the session ends.
But the Supreme Court seems to have reservations and has passed orders to this effect?
As I see it, it has not ordered a ban on reservations. I can only hope for the best.