Protests at India call to privatise

May 26, 1995

Madhavrao Scindia, Indian education minister, has made himself unpopular after barely two months in office because of his advocacy of private funding of universities.

His "invitation" to the private sector to support higher education was greeted with protests from teachers and political parties - especially on the left.

But the University Grants Commission has already prepared guidelines for private universities and Cabinet approval is expected.

Mr Scindia, an Oxford-educated former prince, is accused of encouraging "elitism" in higher education through the creation of universities that would be better equipped, less crowded, have better teachers and offer a wider choice of courses.

The all-India Federation of University and College Teachers' Associations has threatened protests while the Communist government of West Bengal has made it clear that it would not allow private universities in the state. Several overseas Indian industrialists have offered to invest in higher education.

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