The Times of India | Somdatta Basu | TNN | Mar 14, 2017 |
KOLKATA: If you thought the saffron landslide in the recent assembly polls will prompt Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to mend her relations with the Centre, think again. Mamata sticks to her “state first” policy and allows her officers to attend meetings in Delhi on a case-to-case basis, the bottomline being Bengal’s interests. For instance, she has allowed state higher education secretary Vivek Kumar to attend an MHRD meeting in Delhi on Tuesday and oppose the Centre’s proposal to introduce a single national-level entry test for engineering courses from 2018 on the lines of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical entrance. Earlier, she also allowed state tourism secretary Ajit Ranjan Bardhan to take up tourism project plans worth Rs 90 crore with his Union counterpart Vinod Zutshi. On the contrary, state officials kept mum during a video conference with railway minister Suresh Prabhu earlier this month on railway security. “This has nothing to do with polls. Our CM doesn’t budge on issues where she feels the Centre is intruding upon the state’s jurisdiction,” a Nabanna official said.
The reason behind sending Kumar is to oppose the “one nation, one test” proposal because the state feels such a policy doesn’t go well with the Constitution’s “unity in diversity” model. “We will strongly oppose the proposal since we believe it will be detrimental to the future of our students and expansion policy. There needs to be many more rounds of discussions and the Centre can’t arbitrarily impose their decision on us. We have entrusted Vivek Kumar to put forward our concern and demands,” said higher education minister Partha Chatterjee. Bengal wants to retain West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination -entry exam for the engineering and technology colleges in the state -against the MHRD proposal. The Centre has plans to conduct a similar test for admission to courses in architecture and hotel management as well. The state higher education secretary may flag the dissent with reference to the disparity in science curriculum between the states, the reservation for students from Bengal and also the language problem often faced by state candidates in case the national level test is held in any language other than Bengali. “Education is in the Concurrent List. The Centre can’t impose its views on states. Instead, the MHRD should consult educationists and take their views into account before arriving at a conclusion,” the minister said. The state is also reportedly reluctant to accept the proposal of single engineering admission test because it is only recently that the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination Board was revamped and full term appointments to the post of chairman was made. A legislation was also brought in the assembly to give an entity to the WBJEEB. However, back home, the government wants state universities to follow a common syllabus in undergraduate and postgraduate programme when the academia wants universities to have the elbow room to decide on the syllabus.- Courtesy