The much awaited maiden Budget of the new government is behind us now. It could have been an Interim Budget and in that sense only an augmentation for the year—but it had all the fanfare associated with a regular Budget. Across the globe, education as a sector needs government patronage to flourish and so Union Budget is always watched with keen interest by the sector.
There are many interesting and forward looking aspects in this Budget. I am glad that the government has taken notice of the huge deficit in the faculty/teacher availability. The Madan Mohan Malviya Scheme for Teacher Training is a welcome initiative. This would bring the much needed attention to this important profession. The details of the scheme and the extent of its influence in the existing scheme is to be seen. Along the same lines is the allocation of R100 crore for setting up virtual classrooms. This is the age of MOOCs and Khan Academy and it is heartening to see something along the lines planned to leverage technology. This could well, partly at least, solve the faculty shortage issue—but more importantly, it breaks the geography barrier for education, provided it is done in the right fashion. Else, it will also become another investment along the lines of National Mission in Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT).
The NDA has also stuck to its inclusive development agenda. The allocation of R300 crore for National Center for Himalayan Studies in Uttarakand and R100 crore Sports University in Manipur as well as an allocation of R500 crore for plans to set up 5 IITs (Jammu, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala) and 5 IIMs (HP, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra)—all of them clearly underline the effort to spread out institutes of national importance far and wide. So is the announcement on four AIIMS like institutions to be built in Bengal, AP, Purvanchal and Jharkhand and 12 government medical colleges across India.Similar on the development agenda are the following two announcements—the oft-repeated poll promise on upgrading Madarasas with an allocation of R100 crore and skill programme for youth to be trained in traditional trades with an allocation of R100 crore. In my view, this signifies the importance of continuing traditions and nurturing them. This also would mean some of the uniqueness of these institutions—who are not a part of the main stream development, is protected.
The provision of R365 crore to