Last year, the IITs were allocated a whopping Rs. 1111 crores under Plan spending -- this represents fixed, one-time costs for infrastructure, equipment, etc. This figure is referred to as the Budget Estimate (BE-07). But, they are estimated to have spent only 335 crores (Revised Estimate, RE-07)! If you look at this year's allocation, it appears to be way out of line with the actual performance: BE-08 is back up at 1020 crores!
The story is the same for IISc. The corresponding figures are 196 (BE-07), 40 (RE) and 130 (BE-08) crores. For the IIMs, they are 103, 43 and 88 crores.
So, what's going on?
This requires going back to what happened last year, when the allocations (BE) went up to 1111 crores from 253 crores in the year 2006. For IISc, the allocation of 196 crores was way higher than 85 crores in 2006. For the IIMs, the 2007 figure of 103 crores was nearly three times the allocation of 35 crores in 2006.
But this only pushes the question back by one year. What happened in 2007 that called for such huge increases in allocation for IITs and IIMs?
The short answer is: OBC reservation. Recall that this reservation policy was to be implemented by increasing the intake in all the Central Government institutions. The huge increases in 2007 allocations over 2006 were meant for taking care of this. However, the Supreme Court stayed the process of implementing the new reservation policy, and this enhanced allocation went unspent.
Thus, a fairer comparison should be in terms of the revised estimates of the previous three years; remember, RE is the government's best guess -- at the end of the financial year -- of how much was spent during the previous year. Let's look at the RE figures for 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.
|Institution||RE 2005-06||RE 2006-07||RE 2007-08|
Now, the picture is clear. Except for IISc, whose plan expenditure shot up to 85 crores during 2006-07, the other institutions seem to be following a trend. But, happily, it's also an upward trend that appears to be accelerating (again, IISc seems to be an exception here).
So, what's the deal with this year's allocations that are -- just like last year -- way out of line with the trend? Compared to what the IITs spent last year (335 crores), hasn't this year's Budget lavished them with 1020 crores?
The notes at the end of the Expenditure Budget says that the enhanced allocation "also includes a provision of Rs.771 crore towards implementation of Oversight Committee recommendations for meeting the requirement for enhanced number of students."
In case you are wondering what that Oversight Committee is all about, why, it's the same committee that made recommendations about implementing OBC reservations!
As Yogi Berra put it so well, "It's like déjà vu, all over again!"
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I thank my colleague U. Ramamurty, who brought this stuff to my notice, for helping in untangling this stuff.