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Indian partner clause for foreign universities

New Delhi, April 29: Human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi today said he will not allow foreign universities to set up branches in India unless there is “equal participation” by Indian universities.

“We are even at present trying to keep foreign universities at bay. They will come in only on the basis of equal partnership with Indian institutions. If we make 50 per cent of financial investment, foreign universities must also give an equal share,” Joshi said in a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the functioning of his ministry.

“As long as I am the HRD minister, I will not allow the education sector to be opened up for commercialisation or allow it to come under any Western influence,” he stressed.

Slamming the Opposition charge of “saffronising” education, Joshi said: “Proper projection of the country’s history and tradition is not saffronisation. It is only recognition of the fact that India has great culture and tradition.”

Hitting out at Left party members, Joshi quoted Karl Marx as describing India as a country of defeat with no history and asked “should we teach our children this history”.

He made it clear that the human resources development ministry has not yet taken a decision on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) provision of opening up the education sector to the international market.

The WTO mandate requires the signatory countries to open up their service sector, which includes education, to foreign participation.

“We still have not given the go-ahead for opening up the education sector. We are talking to state governments, universities. The National Educational Institute of Planning and Administration has prepared an outline on the subject,” said Joshi.

The Opposition members had alleged during the discussion that the government was keeping its plans on WTO a secret. “There is absolutely no secrecy in this. We are discussing the subject with state governments, universities, UGC and the Neipa,” said the minister.

Apprehensive of an influx of foreign institutions in future, the human resources development ministry is preparing an action plan to guard its preserve in higher education and stem an unbridled entry of foreign institutions into India.

The changes in the University Grants Commission Act proposed by Joshi’s ministry include a recommendation that the UGC monitor not only Indian but also foreign universities.

“We have decided to rename the UGC as the ‘Higher Education Development Council’ which will have a wider role than merely being an agency for disbursing funds to universities,” said the minister.

The government’s grants to universities would hereafter be “performance-oriented”, Joshi said, adding that 11 universities have been identified as centres of excellence, five as potential centres of excellence and 100 colleges as individual centre of excellence.

He conceded the need to open up education to private investment but said it cannot be at the cost of the government withdrawing from this sector.

“We will never allow the government to abdicate its responsibility in the education sector. We must give weightage to community participation in any education programme,” said Joshi.

He told the Rajya Sabha the government will bring a Bill to operationalise the 83rd constitutional amendment making education a fundamental right.

“Our discussions with various organisations and state governments are over. The moment the Law Commission gives the go-ahead, we will bring the Bill before the Cabinet,” said the minister.

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