LESS THAN a month after losing architecture education to the Urban Development Ministry, the HRD Ministry has been asked to hand over four schemes funding polytechnics to the Ministry of Skill Development. According to sources, the decision was communicated through an order despatched by the Cabinet Secretariat last month. Although the HRD ministry headed by Prakash Javadekar initially resisted the proposed change, it later agreed to transfer the four schemes — ‘Setting Up of New Polytechnics In Unserved & Underserved Districts’; ‘Scheme of Community Development Through Polytechnics’; ‘Construction of Women’s Hostels In Polytechnics’ and ‘Upgradation of Polytechnics’ — to the Ministry of Skill Development headed by Rajiv Pratap Rudy by April.
While polytechnics are set up by the state governments, the Centre has been assisting them financially through the four schemes covered under the ‘Sub-mission on Polytechnics’ started under the 11th Five Year Plan. For instance, under the scheme ‘Setting Up of New Polytechnics In Unserved & Underserved Districts’, the HRD Ministry is investing Rs 12.3 crore in every polytechnic set up across 300 districts. Similarly, the Centre is providing Rs 500 crore to state governments under the ‘Construction of Women’s Hostels In Polytechnics’ scheme.
There are over 4,000 polytechnics across the country. They help in preparing skilled manpower for the organised, unorganised and service sectors. Generally, polytechnics offer three-year diploma courses in conventional disciplines such as civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. However, over the last two decades, many polytechnics have started offering courses in emerging disciplines such as electronics, computer science and medical lab technology.
Currently, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) regulates polytechnics and sets minimum standards of education to be imparted by them. It’s not clear if the handing over of the polytechnic schemes also means that these institutions will now be regulated by the National Council for Vocational Training under the Ministry of Skill Development.
When contacted by The Sunday Express, K P Krishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development, confirmed that the ministry had received the order on transfer of the schemes. “We are studying the order and getting ready to implement it. What I need to do precisely to implement this order, I can only say after I have studied it in depth,” he said.
Higher Education Secretary K K Sharma did not respond to questions emailed on Friday. The move comes less than a month after the Cabinet Secretary’s decision to take architecture education out of the HRD Ministry’s purview and allocate it to the Urban Development Ministry. As first reported by The Indian Express on March 9, HRD will lose the power to regulate architecture education once the change is formally notified through an amendment to the Allocation of Business Rules 1961, which enlists responsibilities of each ministry under the union government.
The transfer of the four schemes has been justified on the ground that polytechnics will be best served under a ministry that deals directly with the subject. The decision to take the Council of Architecture out of the HRD Ministry’s purview and allocate it to the Urban Development Ministry was also made for the same reason.
This is the third time the HRD Ministry has been made to give up one of its responsibilities after the NDA-II government came to power. In March last year, the government moved copyrights from its ambit to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). The decision to take architecture education out of HRD’s control was communicated in the first week of March.
Rudy had earlier proposed that AICTE should be transferred from the HRD Ministry to the Skill Development Ministry in order to create a holistic skill ecosystem. The HRD Ministry, however, is not keen on such a transfer.