Four more private varsities get the nod in Karnataka

The Hindu

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In Council, they were approved amid Opposition walkout, reservations among ruling party members

Both the Houses of the State Legislature adopted four more private university Bills on the last day of the budget session amid protest by the Opposition parties, who took exception to the indiscriminate and the hurried manner in which approvals were being granted to the private universities raising suspicion of involvement of “business interests”.

Vydehi University Bill-2013, Garden City University Bill-2013, JSS Science and Technology University Bill-2013 and Srinivasa University Bill 2013 were adopted on the last day.

Opposition members in the corridor of the Legislative Council after staging a walkout over the private universities Bill on Friday. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy

In the Council, these Bills were adopted amid walkout by the Opposition and reservations by some of the ruling party members themselves. Of the four Bills, last three were tabled and also adopted with a short span of about five minutes without any discussion. Nor did Higher Education Minister C.T. Ravi, who piloted these Bills, explain the provisions of these Bills.

Much against the norms of giving a few days time for members after the tabling of Bills to study their contents before taking up for consideration, these Bills were taken up for consideration soon after their tabling.

This irritated the Opposition members who wondered why the government was in a tearing hurry to take up these Bills. They also took exception to setting up innumerable number of private universities without creating a regulatory mechanism.

Leader of the Opposition S.R. Patil and other Opposition members expressed concern that there was a need to study the background of the people and companies who want to promote these private universities. They expressed fear that proliferation of private universities may not only increase the cost of education, but also come in the way of implementation of social jus tice.

Their views were endorsed by several ruling party members including Vijayashankar, Doddarange Gowda and Ramachandra Gowda. While the Opposition members suspected that business interests were involved, Mr. Doddarange Gowda remarked: “There is no quest for knowledge here. There is only thirst for money.”

But Mr. Ravi defended the private university Bills by claiming that only they can quickly update the syllabus in tune with the changing scenario and market requirements unlike a traditional university that has to follow various procedures to change the syllabus.

Upset with the Minister’s reply, all the Opposition members staged a walkout. In their absence, all the four Bills were adopted.

In the Assembly, Congress members Sharana Prakash Patil and N.L. Narendra Babu alleged that so many private universities may not have been approved without money changing hands. Upset with this, the Minister said he was hurt with such allegations and demanded withdrawal of these remarks. However, the Opposition members did not withdraw the remarks and said they never intended to hurt him.

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