Introducing : Communal regulatory bodies
The Prime Minister chaired a cabinet meeting yesterday and approved a bill which should stun all students of political science. This bill threatens to subjugate all institutions to the same set of people who are now ruling the country.
NARA – National Accreditation Regulatory Authority
The bill paves the way for mandatory accreditation of all higher educational institutes (except Agriculture !). The idea is there will be a number of government accreditation agencies – both at the state and central level. Every college and university must obtain a certificate from the relevant agency within a particular timeframe or face a slew of penalties including closure. The full text of the original draft bill is here. The apex regulator NARA would be responsible for registering and monitoring the functioning of the various bodies. It is also the place for dispute resolution, setting fee structures for the agencies, imposing various penalties and so forth.
Until this point there is hardly any room for quarrel against this bill. The only major point on which one might be opposed to this bill is that in one stroke the Central govt subjects all state level educational agencies. Other than that, this seems to be an attempt at driving some uniformity to the accreditation process.
What is stunning is : Yesterday 29th August 2012, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a cabinet meeting. In this meeting, the 9 members in the regulator were brought under a quota system for SC/ST/OBC/Minority and Women.
The National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010 paved way for representation of OBCs, SC, STs, women and minority as members in the authority. While tabling the Bill in the Lok Sabha on August 9, Sibal had said the amendment would also include a member of the minority community in the regulatory authority. The Bill seeks to set up the authority to register and monitor accreditation agencies.
Now the members of the NARA are selected much like the ridiculed Jan Lok Pal :
Sec 7 (3) of NARA Act – which only had 4 persons + chair, presumably the amended bill simply increases the membership to 8.
- 1 Professor from Medical field
- 1 Professor from Science & Tech
- 1 Professor from Humanities
- 1 Legal scholar
(One of the above must be a woman)
Now there is absolutely no national interest served by having a communal quota in this regulatory body. This isnt even harmless, what such a communal quota implies is that even in normal economic activity – persons of one community cannot be relied upon to adjudicate issues involving others. Actually not even adjudicate, persons of one community cant even apply well written regulations no matter how accomplished that person is while being selected for the regulatory position.
The practical absurdity of this will come out soon enough.
- 5 / 9 seats (SC ST OBC Minority Women) does not mean the remaining 4 seats are reserved for upper caste Hindu males. The other seats are fair game. This means the only way to resolve this is by a roster system. We are entering a bizarre world where appointees are selected not from the best available but from the best available within the community that has a roster opening.
- The professors have to reveal their community for selection. Even if they revealed it, a woman professor can be counted against women quota, against OBC , or against the open category. The whole scheme is a pile of anomalies waiting to hit the Supreme Court.
- If you accept this quota, you have nothing when other regulators and constitutional bodies are brought under the quota too. Why not have the TRAI and SEBI have quotas ?
This is a first, but not the last.
I have been saying this on Twitter. There is little parallel to this arbitrary communal quota in democracy. Such adhoc quotas in institutions are especially devious because they will be brought under the spell of the same political-benefit-protector from whom such regulators are supposed to act. Thank you. Jai Hind !