Friday, February 29, 2008

The Biggest B of them all

I don't know about you, but to me it has always been the Budget, whose 2008 version will be presented in the Parliament today at 11:00 a.m. in a speech by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

The day before this event, a report card of sorts is presented to the nation, and it's called the Economic Survey. It has, among other things, the government's candid assessment of how well the country did during the last year, and where we are today. While it does contain some stuff about what the government's priorities should be for the coming year, it leaves the stirring words (and a huge amount of boring details) to the Finance Minister's speech, and to the Budget itself.

Given my own interest in higher education, let's see what this year's Economic Survey has to say about this sector. The section on education (all of two pages, pdf) is in Chapter 10. Social Sectors. While I leave it to you to find out what it says about primary and secondary education, I want to extract here its content on higher education:

10.27 There has been significant growth in higher education during the academic year 2005-06. According to the University Grants Commission (UGC), enrolment in various courses at all levels in universities/colleges and other institutions of higher education in 2005-06 was 11.34 million as compared to 10.50 million in the previous year. Out of this, the number of women students was 4.58 million constituting 40.39 per cent. There has also been a significant expansion of central institutions of higher education in recent years (Box 10.6). With the increased demand for higher quality education, training of teachers has become even more important and out of box thinking is required to ensure adequate supply of quality teachers.

This document also has a section (Box 10.6) highlighting "recent expansion of higher educational institutions":

  • Two State Universities in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura were converted into Central Universities and a new Central University has been established in Sikkim. With this, all the eight States in the North-eastern Region have at least one Central University each.
  • Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, which was earlier a Deemed University, has been converted into a Central University.
  • Two Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) were established during 2005-06 at Kolkata and Pune, and a third one at Mohali in 2006-07. Two more IISERs have been approved at Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram during the Eleventh Plan.
  • The 20 National Institutes of Technology (NITs) were earlier being managed by individual registered societies. They were brought under a common statutory framework during 2007-08 by enacting the National Institutes of Technology Act which came into force on 15.08.2007.
  • The seventh IIM, namely the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management, has been established at Shilong in 2007-08. It will admit the first batch of students in 2008.
  • The Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design & Manufacturing, Kanchipuram, has also come into being during 2007-08.

I looked around, but could not see anything specific on scientific and technological education and research.