The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM's Pitroda jolt to Arjun

New Delhi, Dec. 25: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has set in motion a process of revamping the entire education system while human resource development minister Arjun Singh is busy cleaning up the legacy of Murli Manohar Joshi.

The Prime Minister has appointed Sam Pitroda ' a technocrat who changed the face of telecommunications in the country during the Rajiv Gandhi regime ' as the head of an experts' committee that will look into a range of issues related to education reforms.

The Prime Minister's Office had written to the HRD ministry a month ago, suggesting structural changes in the education system not just with regard to primary education but all other aspects. 'This includes public-private partnership as well as entry of foreign universities,' said an official.

This month, Manmohan Singh brought in Pitroda to suggest alternatives in the system.

'The announcement at first caught the HRD ministry unawares,' said an official.

When Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, he had set up five committees, which included those for substantial food, clean water and adequate shelter.

Pitroda was the guru of the technology mission, which turned out to be the most successful.

The HRD ministry under Arjun Singh already has a plethora of committees. Soon after taking charge, he reconstituted the Central Advisory Board of Education, which in turn set up seven sub-committees. They are expected to submit reports in a couple of months.

The ministry also intends to set up an education commission that will offer suggestions on education reforms. 'It is still unclear what so many committees will do. There is bound to be duplication,' said an official.

The Prime Minister, however, has his own vision of education reforms that is different from Arjun Singh's perception.

Manmohan Singh had told a news conference that education should not be manipulated either by the Right or Left fundamentalists ' a statement that triggered a wave of protests from sections of the Left.

Arjun Singh, on the other hand, stressed that the education system had to be cleaned up. He undid the decisions of Joshi, his predecessor, one by one ' first, the BJP leader's decision to drastically slash IIM fees was scrapped and then the educational institutional heads appointed by him were shown the door.

The Prime Minister's intervention and Pitroda's entry into the HRD ministry make it clear that Manmohan Singh wants to speed up educational reforms.

He has held several rounds of talks with Pitroda on e-governance, education, science and technology.

Pitroda later told reporters that in an era of globalisa- tion, the Prime Minister is keen to push the frontiers of education.

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