HRD minister Kapil Sibal may be happy with his achievements in the first 100 days of the government but the review of deemed universities by two separate committees of Human Resources Development ministry and University Grants Commission is turning out to be a whitewash.
While the HRD ministry’s review committee is still on the job, the UGC review panel has already given satisfactory reports to more than 30 deemed universities. If this is not enough, UGC has even been holding its full commission meeting to approve the review committee’s reports. On Thursday too, UGC met where satisfactory reports to 30 deemed universities came up for approval.
Ironically, Human Resources Development ministry’s representative who sat in the UGC meeting on Thursday is the convenor of the ministry’s review committee. “How can a ministry official associated with its own review committee sit in the UGC meeting that will approve satisfactory reports to deemed universities by another committee,” a commission member said.
Sources said barring one case, the commission accepted all reports of review committee on deemed universities. Names of more and more deemed universities that have been given clean chit were added even after agenda of the meeting was circulated. After the commission accepts the review committee report, it is sent to the ministry. UGC secretary R K Chauhan said, “I will not speak anything about deemed universities.”
TOI has accessed documents that show satisfactory report to 13 deemed universities by UGC’s review committee. This includes Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy (SASTRA) deemed to be university, Tamil Nadu; Atal Bihari Vajpayee Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh; Dr D Y Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra; Graphics Era University, Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, TN; Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences, Coimbatore; Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswar University, Mysore; and Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology, Vallam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
It has created a piquant situation that might put HRD’s review committee in a bind. What if a deemed university not found worth ‘deemed’ status by the HRD review committee has already been found satisfactory by the UGC committee? How will this contradiction be resolved? After all, deemed status is given by the HRD ministry only on the advice of UGC. Will the HRD review committee disregard clean-chit given to deemed universities by the UGC?
Goverdhan Mehta, a member of the HRD review committee, said, “This problem was anticipated. What happens if there is a contradiction by the two committees. This is something that HRD ministry has to decide.”
HRD ministry’s review committee did not make visits to deemed universities. Instead, a detailed questionnaire was sent to them after which 81 deemed universities gave detailed presentation to the committee. The panel consists of P N Tandon, formerly of AIIMS; Goverdhan Mehta of Indian Institute of Science; M Anandakrishnan of IITMadras and Mrinal Miri, eminent social scientist. Joint secretary, higher education, is the convenor of the committee.