THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 3 September 2018 (Open the black box )

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 3 September 2018 (Open the black box )

Mains Paper: 2 | Education
Prelims level: Institutions of Eminence
Mains level:  How framing of policy on Institutions of Eminence underlines need for greater vigilance, more transparency?


  • In July, the government announced an educational reform that had been on the anvil for more than two years.
  • Six institutions — three public and three operated by private bodies were designated Institutions of Eminence (IoE) and given significant autonomy in operations.
  • The move evoked a mixed response. 
  • The government was applauded for recognising that academia had to be unshackled from bureaucratic restrictions. 
  • However, the criteria for certifying IoEs drew criticism. 


  • The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry was faulted for bestowing the IoE tag on greenfield institutions.
  • The selection of Reliance Foundation’s non-existent Jio Institute, in particular, sparked controversy. 
  • The ministry was called out for the lack of transparency in the process of designating IoEs.
  • They point to the opacity that characterises policymaking processes. 
  • A three-part investigation by this paper last week, that drew on official records obtained under the Right to Information Act, opened one such black box to public scrutiny. 
  • It showed that there were strong differences of opinion within the government over the procedure of certifying IoEs.
  • It also drew attention to the controversial role of a former bureaucrat who was a part of the delegation that presented Jio’s bid for IoE status.

Needs more accountability

  • The HRD and finance ministries pushed for stringent norms on accountability, financial matters, and expertise, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) favoured a more liberalised regime.
  • The PMO prevailed on most matters of contention. It might not be accurate, however, to see this as an instance of the PMO pushing its weight.
  • The records show considerable debate between the ministries. 
  • More importantly, the PMO’s interventions brought about a more open approach in areas that have a bearing on academic freedom.
  • The PMO struck down this provision saying that it would impede the framing of inter-disciplinary courses. 
  • The PMO, however, went against the finance ministry’s argument that granting IOE status to greenfield universities.

Way forward

  • But as this paper’s investigation showed, this official brought an insider’s knowledge of framing the policy under which Jio was given the eminence tag. 
  • This only underscores the need for a more vigilant approach, especially when issues pertaining to a level playing field among bidders are involved.
  • Most importantly, the investigation highlights that transparency in decision-making processes is critical to an informed debate on policies.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

1. Consider the following statements 
1.    These selected institutions are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions.
2.    They will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students and have flexible course duration and structure. The selected institutions will have the liberty to enroll up to 30% foreign students.
3.    They will be able to recruit up to 25% foreign faculty, while there will be no such limit for selected private institutions.
4.    They will be exempted from approvals of government or UGC for academic collaborations with foreign institutions, except institutions in MEA and MHA’s list of negative countries. 
Choose the correct statement(s) from the above 
A.    1 only 
B.    2 and 4only 
C.    2 and 3 only 
D.    All of the above 

Answer: D 

Mains Questions:
1.    How framing of policy on Institutions of Eminence underlines need for greater vigilance, more transparency?


Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials