The National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill, initiated by the Union government, is an obnoxious Bill that takes away all the powers of the State governments, Nilotpal Basu, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader, has said.

In his inaugural address at a friendship conference held in connection with the 35{+t}{+h} annual conference of the Confederation of University Employees Organisations (Kerala) at the Cochin University of Science and Technology here on Friday, Mr. Basu, a member of the CPI(M) central committee, said that seven wise men (a chairman and six members) were going to decide what should be done in the higher education sector in the country, as per the provisions of the Bill.

He said the States could not do anything unless there was a green signal from these seven men.

The Union Ministry of Human Resource and Development had initiated a centralised attack on the States through some of the recent moves in the educational sector, including the Foreign Education Providers Bill and the Right to Education Act.

Pointing out that the aspect of quality in education, which was a major challenge, could not be addressed by the foreign education providers Bill, Mr. Basu said the percentage of youth between the 18-23 age group that had access to higher education was far less compared not only to developed countries but also developing countries. He said this section lacked the economic empowerment to access higher education.

Referring to some of the provisions in the Right to Education Act, Mr. Basu said that it (the Act) could never become a reality, as the State governments had to bear a huge financial burden while implementing the Act.

Blaming the Finance Commission for failing to realise that the State governments were in a difficult position to implement the Act, Mr. Basu said privatisation and withdrawal of government from the education sector seemed to be the defining feature of the Centre's policy.

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