The Indian government has asked its citizens living overseas to help overcome an unprecedented crisis in higher education funding following a cutback in grants to universities.
Education minister Murali Manohar Joshi has announced plans for an Indian Education Fund to be set up with donations from "non-resident Indians" to support the expansion of universities and research in cash-strapped areas. Donations are likely to be exempt from tax. The fund, he said, would be managed by an autonomous body of government and donor representatives.
"While donors will have a say in the way their money is invested, the government will try to see that it is channelled into areas of study that are cash-strapped," he said, prompting fears of a conflict between donor and government priorities.
The move is a response to a drop in government investment due in part to the privatisation of higher education. Universities were told to stand on their own feet and generate resources by raising fees, reducing expenses and securing private-sector funding for industrial research projects.
Dr Joshi said Indian universities had been able to raise only 5 per cent of the money they need.