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Panel recommends quota for girl students in IITs

  1. News: Timothy Gonsalves panel has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in the number of female students entering the prestigious institutes
  2. The committee is learnt to have suggested creating up to 20 per cent supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats
  3. The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the joint admission board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from this year or from 2018
  4. The number of seats for male candidates will not be affected and this will help IITs achieve the 1 lakh target by 2020
  5. Also, only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered

[op-ed snap] Improving India’s scientific capabilities


  1. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to place India among the top three countries in the world in the field of science and technology (S&T) by 2030
  2. At present, India performs below its potential on just about every indicator of scientific progress and achievement
  3. Be it the amount of public and private funding earmarked for research, the number of prestigious awards won by Indian scientists working in Indian institutions, the number of patents registered in the names of Indians or the number of articles published in well-known peer-reviewed journals


  1. India has a long civilizational history of scientific achievement
  2. Today the list of Indian scientists who have won the world’s most prestigious award, the Nobel, begins and ends with C.V. Raman
  3. The longer list of Indian-origin and Indian-born winners has 16 mentions

Early indicators that give us some idea of the government’s plans and priorities:

  1. The government’s focus on improving science education at the school level
  2. PM spoke of scientists helping develop course modules
  3. He also mentioned scientific social responsibility wherein premier laboratories and research institutions could partner with nearby schools and colleges to create an environment that supports scientific education and innovation
  4. The second issue that the government is focusing on is strengthening the links between S&T and industry
  5. Currently, much of the funding comes from the government while private-sector investment (in the form of research and development centres, for example) is below par

HRD Ministry report:

  1. Noted that as many as a million teaching positions in government schools across the country are lying vacant
  2. Successive status of education reports show that educational outcomes among Indian school students are falling at an alarming rate
  3. The situation in institutions of higher education is hardly any better
  4. Elite institutions such as the IITs are the exception, and they too struggle to compete globally
  5. Research institutions also suffer from government interference and lack of funding which, among other problems, makes them unattractive to rising talent that prefers greener pastures abroad

The government needs to make large efforts to make science more glamorous. If there is to be real progress, it will need unglamorous, ground-level work.


Good analysis on education and innovation ecosystem in India. Note it for essay.


  1. In the QS World University Rankings 2016-17, only two Indian institutions ranked among the top 200 universities in the world: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (rank 152) and Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (rank 185).
  2. There have been plans that S&T investments from the public and private sector in India should be made to 2% of GDP (gross domestic product), the figure still hovers at around 0.9%
  3. In comparison, South Korea leads the race, investing 3% of its GDP in S&T, while Japan follows close behind.

Comprehensive training for Vice-Chancellors, registrars soon

  1. Who: The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  2. What: Comprehensive training modules for administrative officers of Central Universities in India
  3. Why: In order to help the institutions excel in the years to come
  4. Many academics do not have working experience of running the nuts and bolts of administrative work once they become Registrars
  5. There is a need to incorporate such every day administrative training
  6. The training will also help institutions understand how they can climb up the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings

Degree screening goes digital

  1. What: Union Cabinet approved the establishment of a National Academic Depository (NAD)
  2. Now, all academic degrees, certificates and awards in the country would soon be digitally available for verification
  3. Academic institutions would be directed to upload and authenticate all documents in digital form
  4. Why: This measure will help tackle the menace of fake degrees
  5. NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) and CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL) would operationalise the NAD

Review ‘No Detention’, give States discretion to hold exams : CABE II

  1. The ‘No Detention’ policy does not allow any student to be failed till class VIII
  2. It may now be left to the discretion of States
  3. A decision was taken to amend the current provisions of the Right to Education Act (RTE) at the meeting

Review ‘No Detention’, give States discretion to hold exams : CABE I

  1. Where: 64th meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE)
  2. Issue: Most of the States complained of deteriorating learning outcomes because of the ‘No Detention’ policy
  3. Earlier, sub committees constituted by CABE had also recommended that the ‘No Detention’ provision should be reviewed
  4. CABE is the highest advisory body in the country on education and comprises the Centre as well as States
  5. It decisions are, however, recommendatory in nature

UNICEF report shows results of integrated schools in Rajasthan

  1. Context: State of the World’s Children’ report for 2016 released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  2. The repot highlighted the success of the newly-introduced transformative education programme of Rajasthan
  3. The programme has led to the establishment of an integrated school and an elementary one in each village panchayat of Rajasthan
  4. Enrolment: Preliminary results of the schools are encouraging, with a 6% increase registered in enrolment in comparison with the last year
  5. Vacancies for teachers have reduced from 60% to 33%
  6. The two categories of schools, promoted by the State government’s Education Department, are Adarsh Vidyalayas for classes I to XII and Utkrishta Vidyalayas for classes I to VIII
  7. The existing senior secondary and middle schools have also been converted into schools under the new category

SC withdraws 2013 order on medical entrance test

  1. Context: Govt.’s effort for single common entrance test system for MBBS, BDS and post-graduate medical courses
  2. News: Supreme Court recalled its 2013 judgment declaring the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) unconstitutional
  3. Reason: Court saw it as an interference in the right of the State and private medical colleges to administer
  4. NEET: It is meant to end rampant corruption in medical admissions, especially payment of huge capitation fees or donations in private colleges

Centre ranks 3,500 campuses

  1. News: The Union Human Resource Development Ministry will release rankings of Indian educational institutions based on the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  2. Significance: The NIRF aims to make the process transparent, as the data provided by the institutes was verified
  3. History: Earlier, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council assessed and assigned score to Indian higher education institutions
  4. Institutes were assigned ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or ‘D’ grade, based on an assessment
  5. NAAC: It is an autonomous body under the UGC

Learn about National Institutional Ranking Framework

  1. Basics: It is the first comprehensive framework to assess Indian institutions
  2. Parameters: Teaching, learning and resources; research, consulting and collaborative performance; graduation outcomes; outreach and inclusivity; perception
  3. Significance: The ranking system will promote excellence in education in a competitive environment
  4. Magnitude: Nearly 3,500 institutions took part in the exercise

Learn more about University Grants Commission (UGC)?

  1. Objective: Provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges
  2. Historical background: Statutory body set up by Act of Parliament in 1956, and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education
  3. Previously, UGC was formed in 1946 to oversee the work of the 3 Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and, Delhi
  4. University Education Commission: Set up in 1948 under Chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan
  5. Recommendations: UGC be reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom

UGC tells universities to celebrate Matribhasha Diwas on March 3

  1. Context? To promote the use of mother tongue on March 3 this year, as February 21, the day declared by UNESCO as Mother languages day, happen to be a Sunday
  2. The commission has also asked universities to hold various activities to celebrate “Matribhasha Diwas”.

Ministry of HRD launched All India Survey on Higher Education

The Union Minister of Human Resource Development launched the Sixth All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) in New Delhi.

  1. The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) has shown significant improvement from 19.4% in 2010-11 to 23.6% in 2014-15.
  2. The target of 30% GER by 2020 as envisaged in 12th Plan would be achieved.
  3. Increase in overall enrolment from 27.5 million in 2010-11 to 33.3 million in 2014-15.
  4. Gender Parity Index (GPI), a ratio of proportional representation of female and male, has marginally improved from 0.86 to 0.93.
  5. HRD Ministry will explore the feasibility of replicating best practices like ‘Jnana-Samnvay’ of Karnataka at national level.

Cabinet approves Setting up of 6 new IITs

Setting up of six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu, Kerala and Karnataka.

  1. Each IIT will have a sanctioned strength of faculty members, with a faculty-student ratio of 1:10.
  2. Cabinet has given its approval for operationalisation of IITs initially by forming of Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  3. In order to give a legal status to them till the amendment for their incorporation in The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 is enacted.
  4. It should be noted here that the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961, contains no provision to enable establishment of new IITs.
  5. Hence, for the establishment of every new IIT, an amendment to the Act is necessary.

What is the purpose behind GIAN?

  1. It is a short-term teaching programme.
  2. It seeks to provide best international experience to students by increasing footprints of reputed faculty at Indian institutes.
  3. It aims to create avenues for collaborative research with international faculty.
  4. It will motivate the international scholars to work on problems specific to India.
  5. The courses will include students not only from hosting institution, but also from other colleges and universities.

MHRD launches The Global Initiative of Academic Networks

  1. GIAN is a new and catalytic programme of the MHRD having potential for far reaching impact.
  2. The project seeks to rope eminent scholars from abroad to teach at centrally-funded institution.
  3. It is intended to enlarge the interface of India’s institutions of higher learning and globally recognised academic institutions.
  4. The faculties will interact and partner with their counterparts and with students, and deliver specialised courses.
  5. The GIAN programme offers a basis and a platform for a long-term cooperation towards international academic collaboration.

How’s UGC different from AICTE?

  1. UGC and AICTE are 2 apex organisations that cater for the higher studies in India.
  2. One of the main differences between AICTE and UGC, is that the former is exclusively formed for technical education.
  3. UGC is charged with approving & providing funds for universities in the country.
  4. The AICTE is only a statutory body, which deals with co-ordinated development and proper planning.

What do I need to know about UGC?

  1. UGC = University Grants Commission
  2. It was formed in 1946 to oversee the work of the three Central Universities of Aligarh, Banaras and, Delhi.
  3. It was under the Chairmanship of S. Radhakrishnan that UGC was reconstituted on the general model of the University Grants Commission of the UK.
  4. In 1956, by an Act of Parliament, it was recognised as a statutory body of the Government of India.


Do you know that UGC is also called User Generated Content in the social media parlance?

What is Bharatvani project?

  1. Bharatvani is a project with an objective of delivering knowledge in and about all languages in India using multimedia formats through a portal.
  2. This portal is proposed to be all inclusive, interactive, dynamic and moderated.
  3. It is proposed to develop it as the largest language portal in the world by aggregating multimedia content from all Indian writers, govt. and non-governmental institutions.
  4. The project will present the country’s linguistic diversity in cyberspace.

UGC plans world’s largest language portal

  1. The UGC has proposed an all-inclusive and interactive portal, where knowledge in all Indian languages will be collected and disseminated.
  2. All universities and colleges will share digitised and non-digitised material in various languages available with them for the ambitious ’Bharatvani’ project.
  3. The idea is to make India an Open Knowledge Society, in the era of Digital India.
  4. According to the 2001 Census, there are 122 scheduled and non-scheduled languages and 234 mother tongues.

HRD Ministry sets up exclusive panel on Sanskrit promotion

The panel has been asked to recommend measures to integrate the study of Sanskrit with other disciplines like physics, chemistry, maths, medical science.

  1. The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has constituted a 13 member expert committee exclusively on Sanskrit.
  2. In its attempt to revive interest in the ancient Indian classical language Sanskrit.
  3. The expert committee would be headed by former chief election commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami.
  4. It will suggest changes in Sanskrit education in schools and universities and ways to impart Sanskrit education through modern tools.
  5. This Committee also has been tasked to chart out an action plan to develop the language in the next 10 years.

Panagaria for cooperative federalism in higher education

  1. NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson pitched for idea of “cooperative, competitive federalism” to be implemented in the field of higher education.
  2. This will enable the best practices of one State can be replicated in the others, instead of borrowing ideas from other cultures and countries.
  3. There is a huge variation in the learning curve within India and the achievements made by a few States could easily be adopted by the others.
  4. He credited the proliferation of engineering and management colleges both in the public and private sector for the growth that India saw in the past few decades.

In national interest, scrap quota in higher education institutions: SC

Emphasising what the apex court held 27 years ago, the bench said it is now “inclined” to convey the same message to the government over reservation in institutions of higher education.

  1. Regretting that some “privilege remains unchanged” even after 68 years of independence.
  2. National interest requires doing away with all forms of reservation in institutions of higher education.
  3. To make merit the primary criteria for admissions into super-specialty courses, the ground reality remains that reservation often holds sway over merit.

SC had ruled in 1988 in two judgments, had said “there should really be no reservation” since general interest of the country for improving the standard of higher education.

IITs asked to partner industries for funding research projects

  1. Mandate is to train very high quality manpower and produce outcomes that are relevant for the design and manufacturing industry.
  2. IITs can soon start applying for government money to fund research.
  3. HRD Ministry earmarked Rs.250 crore per annum for fostering “very high quality” research in the IITs.
  4. Under ‘Uchatar Avishkar Yojana’, which will have industry partners with the institutions of excellence.
  5. This proposal will shift the focus from fundamental research to applied research.

HRD Ministry forms panel to review fellowships

  1. The MHRD has appointed a review committee to examine the issue of payment of fellowships to students.
  2. Earlier, UGC decided to discontinue the fellowship, on the grounds that the scheme lacked accountability and transparency.
  3. The Ministry announced that fellowships will be paid to both NET as well as non NET students, till the committee submits its report.
  4. The non-NET fellowship provided financial assistance of Rs 5,000/month for 18 months to MPhil students and Rs 8,000/month for 4 years to PhD students.

The committee will consider the economic and other criteria for eligibility for non-NET fellowships, recommending guidelines for the selection, coverage, award, and administration of the non-NET fellowships.

Centre keen on single exam for IIT admissions

The HRD ministry is keen to do away with the current format of students taking the JEE-Mains and JEE-Advanced.

  1. It wants to replace it with a one exam, one rank and one counselling system, which it asserts is more scientific.
  2. The single exam system is primarily aimed at reducing stress, it also seeks to address proliferation of coaching institutes that charge exorbitant fees.
  3. Two-tier exam system also adds to the financial burden of students.

HRD Ministry calls off global education meet

The first international summit on education, which was announced with much fanfare by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is called off.

  1. The event that was expected to have ministers and in-charges of education from 180 countries as participants, was scheduled to take place in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  2. The idea for the education summit can be traced to the Vibrant Gujarat Investors Summit in 2013, when the Gujarat government organised a special event related to education with participation from over 20 countries.

India to rank its higher centres of learning

It empowers the institutions to compete for international ranking systems like QS and Times.

  1. In 2016, India will have its own ranking system, the National Institutional Ranking Framework.
  2. It marks institutions on the basis of five major parameters, which include Teaching, learning resources; Research, consulting, collaborative performance; Graduation outcomes; Outreach and inclusivity and Perception.
  3. The methodology of ranking is open to all Indian institutions that wish to be part of the system, but is not mandatory.
  4. Framework takes into account aspects of education that are India-centric.
  5. For instance, inclusive education through reservation, research in languages other than English and upcoming private institutions.

1000 crore package for higher education

  1. The government of Gujarat announced a 1000 crore package for higher education for the students in Gujarat.
  2. The government also relaxed the age limit for government jobs for general and reserved categories.
  3. The government will provide 50% of fees to medical student and will provide Rs.25000 a year for an engineering student. The students can make use of the announcement with a condition that the annual income of the parent should not be over 4.5 lakhs.
  4. The move is aimed at controlling the ongoing Patidhar agitation in the state.

Only 8.15% of Indians are graduates

  1. As of 2011, one out of every 10 Indians in a graduate or above.
  2. The numbers were released by the Census Commissioner and Registrar General of India.
  3. The rate of increase in graduates was more in rural India and the fastest of all among the rural women.
  4. Over 60% of the graduates have non-technical degrees.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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