There were indications this weekend that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) may have signed off on making Avtar Singh Yadav the full-time chairman of AICTE, India’s regulator of business and engineering colleges, at the behest of human resource development minister Arjun Singh. If true, this decision is ill-timed, unfortunate and a blow to upgrading professional education standards in India.
Months of persistent highlighting by Mint of the chronic irregularities in the functioning of the regulator, including Yadav’s own behaviour—he was drawing a pension and a salary that he only paid back after the news report—led to the parliamentary standing committee on human resource development, which includes Rahul Gandhi, asking for public comments on reforming AICTE. The Knowledge Commission’s Sam Pitroda has asked for a total rethink on the regulator and industry body Ficci has sought to abolish AICTE’s licence raj.
So, why is the PMO bowing to pressure from Arjun Singh? Should it not at least wait for the parliamentarians to conclude their review?