Govt proposes to replace UGC with new commission

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday unveiled the draft of a bill to replace higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) with a Higher Education Commission.

The new commission to be established through an Act will not have grant-making authority, will promote reduced inspection system and will focus more on quality outcome at universities and colleges.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar, who claimed this is a key education reform, said the new body will be more representational. Its board will have senior bureaucrats from the ministries of HRD, skills and entrepreneurship, and science and technology, in a way ending the monopoly of HRD ministry in regulating higher education.

“The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment of the government for reforming the regulatory systems that provide more autonomy to higher educational institutes to promote excellence and facilitate holistic growth of the education system,” Javadekar said in a tweet.

He said the new Act will separate grant-making functions, end inspection raj, focus on academic quality and empower the new commission to enforce quality issues.

According to the draft bill, university and college managements found wanting and violating penalty imposed by the commission “shall be liable for prosecution as per procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code and may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years”.

The new body will specify learning outcomes for colleges and universities, prescribe teaching, assessment, research standards.

UGC reform was part of the BJP’s general election manifesto in 2014. To be sure, a similar restructuring was discussed and promoted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government but could not become a law due to lack of support from the parliament.

Over the last four years, the HRD ministry has deliberated on several models like a single regulator for higher education by merging UGC, National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); however, the plans were not taken forward.

“This Act provides for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India repealing the University Grants Commission Act, 1956,” said the draft bill which is open for public feedback till 7 July.

“Whereas for promoting uniform development of quality of education in higher educational institutions, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion, Whereas the existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to University Grants Commission required redefinition based on the changing priorities of higher education and allow its growth,” underlines the draft bill on need for a change.

The new commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government. The secretary of the commission will act as the member-secretary. Of the 12 members, three members will represent union government namely: secretary of higher education, secretary of ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and secretary, department of science and technology. Besides, there will be an “industry doyen” among the board members.

[“Source-livemint”]

Govt proposes to replace UGC with new commission

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday unveiled the draft of a bill to replace higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) with a Higher Education Commission.

The new commission to be established through an Act will not have grant-making authority, will promote reduced inspection system and will focus more on quality outcome at universities and colleges.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar, who claimed this is a key education reform, said the new body will be more representational. Its board will have senior bureaucrats from the ministries of HRD, skills and entrepreneurship, and science and technology, in a way ending the monopoly of HRD ministry in regulating higher education.

“The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment of the government for reforming the regulatory systems that provide more autonomy to higher educational institutes to promote excellence and facilitate holistic growth of the education system,” Javadekar said in a tweet.

He said the new Act will separate grant-making functions, end inspection raj, focus on academic quality and empower the new commission to enforce quality issues.

According to the draft bill, university and college managements found wanting and violating penalty imposed by the commission “shall be liable for prosecution as per procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code and may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years”.

The new body will specify learning outcomes for colleges and universities, prescribe teaching, assessment, research standards.

UGC reform was part of the BJP’s general election manifesto in 2014. To be sure, a similar restructuring was discussed and promoted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government but could not become a law due to lack of support from the parliament.

Over the last four years, the HRD ministry has deliberated on several models like a single regulator for higher education by merging UGC, National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); however, the plans were not taken forward.

“This Act provides for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India repealing the University Grants Commission Act, 1956,” said the draft bill which is open for public feedback till 7 July.

“Whereas for promoting uniform development of quality of education in higher educational institutions, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion, Whereas the existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to University Grants Commission required redefinition based on the changing priorities of higher education and allow its growth,” underlines the draft bill on need for a change.

The new commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government. The secretary of the commission will act as the member-secretary. Of the 12 members, three members will represent union government namely: secretary of higher education, secretary of ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and secretary, department of science and technology. Besides, there will be an “industry doyen” among the board members.

Delhi govt to launch campaign to control rising number of cases of dengue, malaria

New Delhi: In the backdrop of rising number of cases of malaria, chikungunya and dengue, the Delhi government has decided to launch a major campaign to raise awareness among people about methods of prevention.

Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Tuesday, however, said the proportion of cases being reported in Delhi are “far less” as compared to some of the other states, like Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

At least 30 fresh cases of dengue were reported last week, taking the number of people affected by the vector-borne disease in the city this year to 180, according to the latest municipal report.

The total number of malaria cases recorded till 22 July has shot up to 230 while the chikungunya cases stand at 195, it said.

“In a week’s time we are going to start a big campaign to raise awareness about prevention of vector-borne diseases. We are already working in collaboration with MCD to put up hoardings on the theme, and we will also involve the masses in our campaign,” he told reporters.

Jain, quoting figures of the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) said, till 16 July, at least 23,094 cases and 32 deaths due to dengue have been reported across the country, while Delhi has only 180 cases.

Also, two deaths due to swine flu have been reported in Delhi, but fatalities due to this disease recorded in Gujarat and Maharashtra are quite high, he said.

“We are prepared and have adequate stock of medicines and we will make more arrangements as per the situation,” he said.

Authorities in Delhi fear the cases in the city may rise as the season for the vector-borne diseases begins from mid-July and generally lasts till November-end.

Cases of all three vector-borne diseases have been reported much earlier this time, which doctors have attributed to early arrival of the monsoon.

Of the 230 malaria cases, 116 affected people were residents of Delhi while rest of the cases diagnosed were traced to other states. At least 57 cases have been recorded this month.

Of the 195 chikungunya cases, 127 of the affected people were residents of Delhi while the rest were from other states.

[“Source-firstpost”]

No concessions for Apple, but govt to review mobile manufacturing policy to boost the sector

apple_reutersNEW DELHI: The government won’t offer any special concessions to Apple but is reviewing its entire policy on mobile phone manufacturing as part of an effort to promote the ‘Make in India’ initiative, officials said. This could meet some of the demands that Apple has made apart from benefitting other phone makers as well.

Apple had sought the concessions to set up plants in the country. The issue will be examined in depth at a high-level meeting with Apple executives next week. On Apple’s wish list is said to be a 15-year customs duty holiday on the import of iPhone kits, new and used capital equipment, and consumables. Apple’s requests are being considered by three government departments — revenue, industry and information technology.

IPHONE

India needs to support an iconic brand like Apple for the success of the Make in India campaign, officials said. “Our import duty is high,” one of them said. “As long as they are getting into exports, our objective should be to give them lowest duty so as to ensure that their product is competitive. Hence we may even relook at the policy as a whole.” Another official said no decision had been taken but that concessions cannot be given to just one company. “Normally, similar dispensation has to be given to others similarly placed,” he said.

The Make in India programme is aimed at encouraging investment in manufacturing to drive job creation in the country and thereby boost growth and raise incomes to lift people out of poverty.

Apple had earlier sought permission to set up fully owned retail outlets by forgoing the compulsory 30% local sourcing rule on the ground that it was bringing cutting-edge technology to India. The finance ministry didn’t allow the exemption.

Explaining the rationale behind a fresh look at the trade policy, the first official said India cannot be isolated from the rest of the world. “India has to follow same set of principles prevalent elsewhere which has helped players to become global manufacturers,” the official said.

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In its application submitted to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the commerce ministry, Apple has sought full duty exemption on manufacturing and repair inputs (raw materials), yield loss on inputs, components, capital equipment (including parts), and consumables for smartphone manufacturing and services/repair for a period of 15 years for both domestic and export markets. Currently, 12% duty is levied on fully imported phones while 12.5% countervailing duty is charged on the import of mobile phone equipment, discouraging global manufacturers from setting up production bases in India.

Apple is betting big on the India market where it currently holds a market share of just 2% as growth slows in developed markets like the US and China.

Apple’s products are manufactured in six countries — mostly in China but also in South Korea, Japan and the US.

As many as 42 companies make mobile phones in India, including Chinese firms Huawei and Xiaomi. No other company has approached the government for any incentives, people with knowledge of the matter said.

During his visit to the country last year, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook had said India was the next big market for the company. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged Cook to set up factories in India when they met during that trip.

[“source-ndtv”]