The budget for the financial year 2015-16 was announced a few days ago. I looked at the technical education part of the budget and here are the top level numbers:
Plan Non-plan Total (in crores)
2013-14 Actuals 6581 2655 9236
2014-15 BE 6385 3078 9463
2014-15 RE 5544 3068 8612
2015-16 BE 5996 3296 9292
BE is budgetary estimates (what is decided at the beginning of the year)
RE is revised estimate (what is likely expenditure based on first 10-11 months of expenses)
The budget reflects the tight financial situation our country is in. (I certainly do hope that it does not reflect a reduced priority for technical education.)
Overall, in the next financial year, we are expecting to spend the same amount of money that we spent in the previous financial year. If we look at the non-plan budget, it has kept pace with inflation, and to some extent with the increase in student strength. However, the plan budget is a big disappointment. There is actually a 9% reduction from what we spent in the last year. And remember, the IITs and other institutions announced in the last 6-7 years are now in the peak of their construction, and several more new institutions have been announced in this budget and the previous budget. The inflation in these two years will be around 13%. Most of the institutions (including IIT Kanpur) have not yet built sufficient infrastructure to handle the 54% student increase effected between 2008 and 2010. Now that will further get delayed. And note that the PhD assistanship (which is charged to plan budget) has been hiked by 50%. That too has to be accommodated in this budget.
The problem of IITs is more pronounced. The plan budget has gone from 2363 crores (2013-14 actual) to 2160 crores (2014-15 revised estimate) to 1835 crores (2015-16 budget estimates). The non-plan budget received an inflation-adjusted and student-intake adjusted hike in the current year (1334 crores to 1586 crores), but increases to only 1704 crores, which barely takes into account the expected inflation, but doe not take into account the larger number of students and faculty. I guess, this is a good thing as IITs would be under pressure to think of alternate sources of revenue, including gifts from well wishers, CSR, higher user charges from facilities like hostels, and also, they will be under pressure to become more efficient in doing things.
Other technical institutes continue to suffer from poor budgets. The per capita budget (whether plan or non-plan) of NITs and IIITs is significantly less than IITs. The quality of technical education will not improve in the country by just creating more IITs. One needs to improve the quality in all existing institutions, in addition to opening new institutes.
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