Did our new finance minister attempt to mislead parliament? There appears to be some disinformation in her budget speech.
Presenting her maiden budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman declared that the allocation on Education during the 2019-20 fiscal will be three times the revised estimate. But she stopped short of mentioning any figure. She just promised that the Education Budget would go up substantially from 3 per cent of the GDP to six.
While her focus remained on research and development, attracting foreign students to study in India and creating centres of excellence, the road map was far from clear, say observers.
An English language daily has pointed out that when it came to the rankings, Ms. Sitharaman’s ministry let her down on facts which are available in the public domain. Thus, a question arises: how can we believe the rest of the budget speech claims?
The Minister stated that for the first time Indian Institutes appeared in the list of the top 200 universities in the world after 2014. She said for the first time Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi, Indian Institute of Science – Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology – Bangalore.
However, the ‘real facts’ are very different . All Indian Institutes of Technology were listed at rank 41 in the annual QS World University Rankings in 2004. Incidentally, from 2004 to 2014, it was the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in power.
In 2005, the IITs again appeared in the same list at rank 50. Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) first appeared on the list in 2005 and were ranked at 84 and in the same year Jawaharlal Nehru University also made its appearance at rank 192.
Continuing with this performance, IITs appeared on the annual QS World University Rankings in 2006 at 57th rank. IIMs improved their rank from the previous year and they climbed to 68th position as did JNU, which came up to 183.
In 2007, there was a miss and then again Indian universities appeared on the list in 2008. In 2008, IIT-Delhi was ranked at 154, IIT-Bombay at 174. It was the first time both the universities made it to the list separately. In 2009 too, Indian institutes were on the annual QS World University Rankings. IIT-Delhi fell to 181 and IIT-Bombay climbed up to 163.
The question remains, why did Ms Sitharaman or her department resort to disinformation?
Mohit Brahma, barefoot journalist, Guwahati