Don’t know where BASE is headed: Priyank Kharge

Don’t know where BASE is headed: Priyank Kharge

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge. DH file photo

The Bengaluru Dr BR Ambedkar School of Economics (BASE) was launched last year amid much fanfare by the previous Congress government which promised to make it on a par with the London School of Economics (LSE). 

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge, who conceptualised the idea two years ago, is now pushing for “course correction” as he fears BASE is not functioning as intended and had become another regular institution. 

“My idea was to build a world-class school of economics in Bengaluru that can cater to the Indian socio-economic demography,” Kharge said. “We did all the homework - visiting the LSE and getting them to agree to set the course curriculum - and put it to the Higher Education department. I don’t know where it is headed,” the minister rued.

The inaugural academic session of BASE was flagged off by former prime minister Manmohan Singh last October. A total of 50 students were selected for the first batch. 

In February this year, the government passed the Bengaluru Dr BR Ambedkar School of Economics University Bill, 2018, to develop BASE into a university and as an institution of excellence in the area of economics and other social sciences at a cost of Rs 250 crore this year. But there has been little progress since.

“I’m not sure who the vice-chancellor is now,” Kharge said.

“The government sanctioned Rs 200 crore from the Social Welfare Department. I’ve spoken to the Higher Education Minister that we need to plan it and get the institute back on its feet.” 

BASE is currently functioning out of makeshift infrastructure on the Jnanabharathi campus.

BASE is due to get its own campus on 43.35 acres of land on the Jnanabharathi premises for which the plan is ready. 

Kharge has suggested developing BASE as an autonomous institute on the lines of the National Law School of India University.

“There should be minimum interference from the government. It should be run professionally. If you want a world-class institute, you need collaborations, national-level studies to be commissioned and good people on board,” he said.

Kharge clarified that BASE will not be brought under the Social Welfare Department. “This is a top priority for me because I was the one who initiated it. I’m trying to push for BASE not to become a regular university.”

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