Apropos Ramesh Ramanathan’s “Mantra for a 60-year-old”, Mint, 13 August. The mantra to galvanize India towards excellence could be the new discipline excenomics—the study of excellence in all its forms. Hope there are some takers. The vice-chancellor of Delhi University has written to me evincing interest. Economics pursues material progress, excenomics will attempt the integration of wisdom and knowledge, wealth creation and distribution, ethics as an interdisciplinary subject. Managers mostly pursue maintenance of the status quo while leaders imbued with insights from study of excenomics would attempt change and betterment.
Your report “DND may remain private for 70 years” and the quick edit thereon captioned “A bridge for keeps?”, Mint, 23 August, are timely and are appreciated.
Mega projects involve astronomical outlays. The public private partnership (PPP) mechanism needs to be watched carefully as it is only in the details, such as the one you have reported and commented on, that one can notice its drawbacks.
Your calling upon the government to come clean on similar clauses will receive wide public support.
In fact, it will be helpful if the Planning Commission, which is rightly taking greater interest in the correct formulation and implementation of PPP projects, comes out with a white paper on infrastructure projects, joint ventures (JVs) and PPPs.
The issue is the way mega projects are implemented. Recently, there were media reports to the effect that government gave instant approval for extension to the private sector partner modernizing Mumbai airport.
This happened no sooner than the issue was raised in the meeting even while the agreement provided for strict penalty clauses in such contingencies! Another similar report talked of the private partner modernizing Delhi airport, utilizing land belonging to the government for real estate development and netting a clean Rs3,000 crore. The public is in the dark as to whether the government was aware of this or whether it is an unintended bonanza for the developer.
Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General are years away and it’s not even clear whether power purchase agreements and JVs are within its purview. Parliament has little time to debate these matters. Thus, it is only to financial newspapers that people can look for a critical review of the way these projects are handled.
The analysis by Premchand Palety, “... AICTE: The saga continues”, Mint, 13 August, is an extension of an old story of bureaucrats versus technocrats. Who would have the last word in matters of economic enterprises? The situation in higher education has become more complicated due to the lack of a firm Union government policy.
We are dealing with a modern India, a globalized India. Most bureaucrats at the top belong to a bygone era. They lack the conceptual framework of what is good or what is bad for the country.
What is needed is parliamentary legislation for an all-India autonomous body to deal with all aspects of higher education, including distance education.
The body should comprise educationists who have made it their motto to make Indian education reach the highest levels of excellence.
The present mess is mainly due to multiple authorities without well-defined powers and responsibilities. In the well-known Bharathidasan case, the Supreme Court directed the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to keep off the universities. But even now, AICTE babus try tinkering with such cases. Similarly, the Distance Education Council, an appendage of the Indira Gandhi National Open University, seeks to lord over other universities.
Palety is right when he argues why B-schools or, for that matter, modern enterprises should accept babus as persons- who-know-all?
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