By Prof. Chitta Baral
How can it be?
The Moily committee was established to figure out ways to implement additional reservations for OBC categories in various centrally funded institutions across India in such a way that the number of seats currently available for the general category students does not diminish.
The Moily committee has come up with a road map of extending the capacity of the various centrally funded educational institutions by 54%. For the existing institutions it gives an estimate of additional expenditure so that these institutions can increase their intake by 54% without affecting their quality parameters such as student-teacher ratio.
The pages 84-86 of the Moily committee report – available in the planning commission web site – lists the various centrally funded institutions under its purview and estimated expenditure for those institutions. We used that data to see how much the Moily committee recommends spending in various states of India. In this we focused on the HRD ministry funded institutions and did not consider the medical and the agricultural institutions as they are funded by other ministries. Moreover the existing inequity in medical spending is being corrected through the establishment of 6 new AIIMS-like institutions and upgradation of several existing institutions.
We found that the committee recommends spending Rs. 97.94 per person across India. Among the states, the expenditure per person is highest in Delhi (Rs. 1685.64) followed by Uttaranchal (Rs. 585.16), Tripura (Rs. 158.72), Himachal Pradesh (Rs. 128.3), Assam (Rs. 127.52), Meghalaya (Rs. 122.92), West Bengal (Rs. 122.09), Jharkhand (Rs. 117.48), UP (Rs. 110.99), Manipur (Rs. 109.43) and Mizoram (Rs. 98.29). On the bottom end Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Sikkim have zero estimated expenditure, followed by Bihar (Rs. 13.13), Andhra Pradesh (Rs. 24.46), Rajasthan (Rs. 25.08), Gujarat (Rs. 30.82), Orissa (Rs. 33.59), Kerala (Rs. 49.24), Madhya Pradesh (Rs. 49.35), Maharashtra (Rs. 59.67), Haryana (Rs. 62.84), Chhatisgarh (Rs. 70.51), Nagaland (Rs. 70.86), Punjab (Rs. 81.06), Karnataka (Rs. 91.96), Tamil Nadu (Rs. 97.36) and Jammu & Kashmir (Rs. 97.76). The spreadsheet that calculates these numbers is available at http://www.equitableindia.org.
The above numbers are additional expenditure estimate in lieu of the 54% increase in seats and do not include the regular expenditure. The regular expenditures are not easily available as in the Indian budget the expenditure for all IITs are given as a single number, and the same is true with respect to the IIMs, the NITs, and the central universities. Nevertheless, the above numbers give a good idea of the later numbers.
In the past, news items such as Chetan Chauhan's November 4th article in Hindustan Times gave some partial information of inequity in state wise higher education funding and its impact. In that article he says: "as many as 20 per cent of urban youth are enrolled in colleges as compared to just 7.9 per cent in rural India. Orissa, which gets dismal allocation for higher education from the Centre, has only 4.1 per cent rural youth enrolled. Similar pattern is observed in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. The exceptions are the north-eastern states, where most universities are funded by the Central Government, with overall higher education enrolment figure close to 40 per cent." Using the Moily committee numbers, for the first time an average citizen can get a clear idea on how India has discriminated and continues to discriminate among its states with respect to HRD spending on centrally funded institutions. Thus, unless balancing mechanisms are used the Moily committee recommendation further worsens the existing inequity.
Fortunately, there have been second hand indications that the HRD ministry may take some balancing actions. In particular, three IITs have proposed branch campuses with the aim to make them full-fledged IITs with similar number of students within a few years: Besides a proposal for a research campus in Kolkata, IIT Kharagpur has proposed a branch campus in Bhubaneswar, Orissa; IIT Madras has proposed a branch campus in Kerala; and IIT Bombay has proposed a branch campus in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. We sincerely hope that the HRD ministry formally approves and announces these initiatives at the earliest so that subsequent approval of the Moily committee recommendations will not be seen as worsening the inequitable distribution of HRD money in centrally funded institutions. In addition similar initiatives must be made with respect to Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, the other three big states at the bottom of the HRD spending figure. The established IIMs, many of which are having difficulty in finding adjoining space for expansion, should follow the lead of IIT Kharagpur, Madras and Bombay and consider establishing branch campuses in other states. Finally, we hope that the planning commission and the HRD ministry will notice the correlation and causal connection between the higher education enrollment figure of close to 40 percent in the north east states and the fact that most universities in those states are centrally funded, and adopt a similar approach to the backward and super backward districts of India. In particular, they should plan the establishment of multi-campus (a la Delhi University and Allahabad University) distributed central universities in backward district clusters of India. We will elaborate on the why and how of this in the sequel.
(The writer is a Professor in Arizona State University, USA , readers can contact him in this email id: firstname.lastname@example.org )