– Mohammed Saifuddin, Yahind.com
After the first Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2003, the Indian government has announced a scheme for fifteen percent reservation of supernumerary seats to the NRIs, PIOs, foreign nationals and Children of Indian Workers in Gulf Countries. In 2004, AICTE reserved one third of this quota or five percent of total seats for the children of Indians living in the Gulf countries.
The scheme was initiated after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee promised to solve the problem of Gulf NRIs children’s admission in India. In the first PBD held in January 2003, Vajpayee said “to meet the educational needs of children of the workers in the Gulf, we plan to reserve a certain proportion of seats in our academic institutions for the children of the Gulf NRIs”.
Subsequently, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) issued the notification on 21 Jan 2004, which not only reserves one third of the fifteen percent supernumerary seats for the children of Indian workers in Gulf but also mentioned that they will be treated on par with the local candidates for admission and fee. And NRI fee should not be collected from them.
With the above regulation AICTE not only separated this group from the title of NRI but also allocated the quota of five percent seats in colleges and universities. Accordingly the notification says “under these regulations fifteen percent (15%) seats in all the institutions / University Departments, approved by AICTE, offering technical courses leading to Diploma, Degree and Post-Graduate Degree in Engineering & Technology, Architecture & Town Planning, Pharmacy, Applied Arts, MBA & MCA, Hotel Management & Catering Technology, shall be allowed on supernumerary basis from amongst Foreign Nationals / Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) / Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries, over and above the approved intake, provided that 1/3rd of the 15% shall be reserved across different disciplines in the educational institution, for the Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries”.
It further added “There shall be no NRI fees. The Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries shall be treated at par with resident citizens”.
As the children’s education is a major concern of parents, the scheme was appreciated by all sections of the Indians in GCC countries when it was initially announced. But the quota was not implemented in all the colleges and universities with true spirit. Only few colleges implemented it. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) provides a list of institutions where the seats are available for the children of Indian workers in Gulf countries.
It is surprising to note that only sixty colleges in length and breadth of India offer seats to children of Indians working in the Gulf countries. Still a large number of colleges do not implement the scheme.
The colleges are using the same AICTE notification for avoiding this quota. First of all the notification does not mandates the colleges and universities to implement the quota. As the seats are supernumerary, these seats are in addition to the actual seats allotted to the college. Hence, it says the college should have sufficient infrastructure to accommodate these additional students. Any college can simply deny implementing the quota by stating that they don’t have the required infrastructure for it.
The AICTE should work out on the modalities by offering some concessions or facilities to colleges against implement this quota. The quota was implemented in Maharashtra for the admissions to the current academic year in a big way. Many students from the Gulf countries got the admission in engineering colleges with the annual fee of Rs. 37,500 against US dollars 5000 which they used to pay previously under the NRI quota.
The scheme is excellent but it should be ensured to facilitate maximum number of students by attracting more colleges to offer admissions under this scheme. We are all aware that the Indians living in Gulf countries used to get the admission of their children in professional courses offered by private colleges through the management quota reserved for NRI students; for which they used to shelve whooping fee. Acting as vultures, the private colleges fleece the students by charging them huge fee for a seat in professional courses.
The reservations are limited only for few courses which fall under the AICTE; these are Engineering & Technology, Architecture & Town Planning, Pharmacy, Applied Arts, MBA & MCA and Hotel Management & Catering Technology. The reservations should be expanded to medical and all other courses.
On one hand, AICTE notification says that the children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries will be treated on par with the local candidates. And on the other hand, it says those who fail to get the seat under the reserved quota of 1/3 of 15%, have to seek the admission under the remaining 2/3rd quota reserved for Foreign Nationals / NRIs / PIOs. It means, children of Indians workers in the Gulf Countries have to pay much higher fee, similar to that of Foreign Nationals, NRIs and PIOs, if they fail to get seat under the reservation.
With this, that part of the notification which says there shall be no NRI fees for the Children of Indian Workers in the Gulf Countries, giving the Gulf Indians same status as residents becomes futile. In view of this part of the AICTE notification, those who fail to get the seat under the reserved quota; should be allowed to compete in the open competition, then only it will be said that the children of Indians in Gulf countries are truly treated on par with the local residents.
The Indian Workers in the Gulf countries and their children have to shelve exorbitant fee for the correspondence and distance learning courses offered by Indian universities. The annual fee of a three years bachelor’s degree course in Gulf through correspondence is around thousand dollars per year, while the fee in India for the same course would be hardly Indian Rupees 2000 – 3000.
Due to this huge difference in the fee structure, many semi skilled and blue collar Indian workers are compelled to stick to the same position and profession for long time, without any career development.
Distance learning and correspondence courses should also be brought under this scheme and fee should be equal to that of Indian residents. The students could be charged additional fee for dispatching course material and administrative services. But the total fee should not be in US dollars.