Monday, November 20, 2006


HRD Ministry asks State for comments on tribal varsity

HRD Ministry asks State for comments on tribal varsity

Deba Choudhury | Bhubaneswar

With the reservation controversy still creating a turmoil of sorts in the country, the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry has more recently come up with an idea of setting a tribal university at Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh, with campuses proposed in several tribal dominated States including Orissa.

The Human Resource Ministry has invited comments on the proposal from various Ministries of the State including Home, Tribal Affairs and Agriculture. The proposed Indira Gandhi National Tribal University will encourage studies on tribal art, culture and traditions, forests and natural resources. Tribal students will be given priority in admission.

Amarkantak falls under the Fifth Schedule area and is close to the other tribal-dominated States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra. The Sixth Schedule areas will subsequently be covered under the university. The D Swaminathan Committee, set up by the University Grants Commission, recommended the setting up of a university exclusively for promoting tribal culture and providing tribals access to higher education.

Now how an Orissa campus will help the State is a question perhaps even the Government has no answer to as the universities extant in the State do not function properly due to lack of resources and scanty financial allocation by the UGC. Time and again the poor State has been crying hoarse for a Central university since 1991. During the time of Biju Patnaik, the State had asked the Centre for up gradation of Utkal University to Central university status. However, the concerned Ministry, vide letter 14-71/90 UI on May 7, 1991, stashed it.

The Centre established three Central universities in 1994 at Kohima in Nagaland and two in Assam at Silchar (Assam University) and at Napaam (Tezpur University) in addition to the Central University (North-Eastern Hill University) in Shillong established in 1973. Not only these Central universities but also other Central universities were created by Special Act of Parliament from time to time. However, Orissa's cause remained unheeded.

Moreover, in 2005, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, urged the Centre to allot a Central university for KBK region but it was turned down.

However, spending 0.69 per cent of GDP on higher education and not conceding Orissa's demand to allot a Central university, though UGC guideline says the State with no Central university shall have to be given at least one, the union HRD Ministry's newly proposed tribal university with Orissa extension seems to be an act of providing a doll to please a crying baby.

My thoughts:

I think the state govt should answer that:

(i) We want a central university in KBK and we are in the process of sending a
proposal for its inclusion in the 11th plan.

(See for data and logic for such a
university. )

(ii) Since our plan is specific to KBK and its adjoining districst we request that
the Amarkanta Tribal University have campuses in the other
tribal districts of Orissa, namely Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundergarh,
Sambalpur, Deogarh and Jharsuguda. The first 3 should have the highest
priority based on their tribal percentage.

Moreover these above districts are close to Amarkantak and
very far from KBK and KBK needs its own central university.


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