The NDA government is set to take architecture education out of the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry’s purview and allocate it to the Urban Development Ministry, sources have told The Indian Express. The decision was taken even though the HRD Ministry had opposed the proposal in a meeting held at the Cabinet Secretariat last month. The then higher education secretary V S Oberoi, who retired on February 28, had attended the discussion.
The move was subsequently communicated by the Cabinet Secretary’s office to the two ministries last week. The change will be formally notified through an amendment to the Allocation of Business Rules 1961, which enlists responsibilities of each ministry under the Union government.
The Architects Act, 1972 under the Department Of Higher Education in the AOB rules will be deleted through a gazette notification, sources said. This law provides for registration of architects, maintaining standards of architectural education, recognition of qualifications and standards of practice to be complied with by practising architects. With the transfer of the Architects Act, HRD Ministry will no longer be in-charge of regulating architectural education through the Council of Architecture (CoA).
The decision has been justified on the ground that architecture education will be best served under a ministry that deals directly with the subject. This comes at a time when the CoA is locked in a fierce turf war with the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). The latter is backed by the HRD Ministry.
According to the HRD Ministry, the CoA, on several occasions, has interfered in architectural education beyond its mandate and encroached on the role of AICTE, which is expected to maintain standards of technical education, including architecture. The CoA, the ministry has maintained, was set up through the Architects Act only to provide for the registration of architects and related matters.
To curb CoA’s alleged transgressions, the HRD Ministry, under the UPA II government, had introduced a Bill proposing amendments to the Architects Act in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 to allow the ministry to take over the Council in case it oversteps its brief. However, the ministry, after Prakesh Javadekar took charge, moved a Cabinet note to withdraw this Bill from the Rajya Sabha citing a need for wider consultation.
It’s unclear at this moment if Urban Development Ministry will take the same Cabinet note forward or redraft another one. This is the second time the HRD Ministry has been made to give up one of its responsibilities. In March last year, the government transferred copyrights from its ambit to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
The move also gains significance against the backdrop of Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy making a case to take AICTE over from HRD Ministry. The proposed takeover, as suggested by Rudy, will help create a holistic skill ecosystem, which he believes is incomplete without bringing the engineering streams under his ministry’s fold. The HRD Ministry, reportedly, is not keen on such a transfer. The Indian Express could not reach CoA President Biswaranjan Nayak for a reaction.