The government has appointed Ram Avatar Yadav as the full-time chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education, or AICTE, the troubled regulator of private engineering and business colleges in India.
Yadav’s tenure will be for three years, confirmed an official of the ministry of human resource development, which oversees education.
Yadav was previously the acting chairman and vice-chairman of the regulatory body.
AICTE chairman Ram Avatar Yadav (Photo by: Ramesh Pathania / Mint)
Yadav didn’t return calls and text messages seeking comment. He had declined to meet a Mint reporter on Monday.
Yadav is widely seen as having the backing of the politically influential human resource minister, Arjun Singh, who has actively pushed for the appointment despite significant concerns about the efficiency and efficacy of AICTE in recent years.
The regulator has had to face criticism from colleges, some of which had accused the body of corrupt practices in granting licences as well as expansion approvals.
A parliamentary standing committee on human resource development, which includes Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, is currently looking into the functioning of AICTE, and has asked for suggestions from the public to improve its functioning. At least three private colleges told Mint they have sent their comments to this panel, which is yet to meet.
Yadav too has been under scrutiny for drawing both a salary as the head of AICTE and a pension from the University of Delhi, where he once worked.
Following a Mint story, the ministry said it had started an inquiry.
On 28 March, Mint reported that Yadav had returned much of the pension.
Yadav’s confirmation as full-time chairman drew protests from some private colleges.
“This is unfortunate,” said M.L. Shrikant, chief executive of the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai, whose business school struggled for years to win approvals from the regulatory body. “It shows that the powers that be are indifferent to public opinion.”
The SP Jain Institute’s battles with AICTE were also subject of Business Case columns in Mint by columnist Premchand Palety.
Corporate lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) went as far as to say the body should be scrapped. In a report released earlier this year, it called the AICTE a vestige of the “inspection raj”.
Ficci representatives declined to comment on the appointment.