Rotten state

The corruption cases, inquiries and the actions taken against senior officials of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) show how deep the rot has gone into the working of even the foremost national institutions. The AICTE is a supervisory and regulatory body which has a crucial role in the country’s technical and management education. The top leadership of the body has been found to be involved in irregularities which have a bearing on the standards and functioning of many institutions under its care. It is not a lone case of corruption against a single individual. The chairman and other senior officials have been placed under suspension by the Union Human Resources Development Minister and the entire AICTE is under a shadow. The chairman, who was investigated by the CBI in a corruption case, refused to step down and had to be suspended. The third senior-most official was arrested by the CBI last month and is in jail now. He had allegedly accepted a bribe for inspection and approval of an engineering college in Hyderabad. From what has come to be known, that is only the tip of the iceberg of  corruption and other illegal practices.

More distressingly, the tainted officials have been working under the protection of the ministry for a long time. Many charges against them were ignored by former HRD minister Arjun Singh who gave them a free rein. An internal inquiry by the ministry had found two years ago that the process of grant of approval to new colleges was riddled with corruption. But Arjun Singh, instead of taking remedial action, promoted the chairman, who has now been suspended, though there was a vigilance inquiry against him. The involvement of the former minister should also be a subject of the ongoing investigation into the murky goings-on.

The role of the AICTE is crucial in ensuring that technical institutions have adequate infrastructure, sufficient number of qualified faculty members and other requirements. Its efficient and transparent functioning is especially important for Karnataka which has the largest number of such institutions in the country. The spring-cleaning which has now been undertaken in the body should lead to an improvement in its functioning. A strong and efficient AICTE can ensure better standards of technical education in the country.

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