UPís latest industry: education

An educational society headed by BSP parliamentarian Akhilesh Das is among the five institutions which have been allowed to set up private universities in Uttar Pradesh.

Notifications to set up these universities were issued recently after Governor B L Joshi gave his assent to Bills passed in the monsoon session of the legislature in August.

Akhilesh Das, who is also the BSP general secretary, is chairman of the Babu Banarasi Das Educational Society, which will set up Babu Banarasi Das University in Lucknow. He left the Congress and joined the BSP in May 2008. According to Sudharma Singh, the society's director (administration), the society was set up in 1997. It runs quite a few colleges in Lucknow.

Four other private universities will be set up by trusts and societies, which are headed by businessmen or in which businessmen have an interest.

These are Noida International University at Noida, Monad University at Ghaziabad, Institute of Foreign Trade University at Moradabad and Venkateshwara University at Jyotiba Phule Nagar.

Asked about businessmen being allowed to set up universities, Higher Education Minister Rakesh Dhar Tripathi said: "They have money and thus, they can set up private universities. There is nothing to surprise. If academicians come, we will welcome them also."

The Maruti Educational Trust, headed by Aligarh-based exporter and manufacturer of building hardware Ramesh Chandra Singhal, will set up the Noida International University. "Singhal is purely a businessman. I motivated him to set up a private university," said S S Kulkarni, director of MET.

Hailing from Pune, Kulkarni came in touch with Singhal during his tenure as a vice-chancellor of private Mangalayatan University (Aligarh).

"Singhal was on the board of Governors of Mangalayatan University while I was founder VC," Kulkarni recalled. "Later, I joined Indus International University in Himachal Pradesh. In the meantime, I discussed the idea of setting up a private universities with Singhal. He accepted my proposal."

He, however, refused to accept that setting up a private university had become good business. "Singhal has interest in social service," he said.

The Monad University will be set up by the Monad Educational Society, headed by businessman Pramod Goyal. Goyal was in the steel business in Orissa. "About three years ago, I decided to set up a private university. So I left my steel business. I will concentrate on the university," Goyal told The Indian Express over phone.

As for his motive in setting up an university, Goyal said: "It will give me a new identity. I want to make my contribution to society. If I do my job honestly, it will certainly earn respect in society."

Monad University has been in existence for the last two years. "We got the letter of intent from the government about two years ago," said Goyal, an engineering graduate from Ravi Shankar Shukla University, Raipur. Former IIT directors Dr K L Chopra and A K Malhotra are members of the advisory board of his university, he said.

Shri Banke Bihari Educational and Welfare Trust in Meerut will establish Shri Venkateshwara University at J P Nagar. Sudhir Giri, trust chairman, gave credit to prominent industrialist Pawan Ruia of the Ruia Group and Dunlop India Ltd for helping him set up the university.

"I belong to a family of small farmers. My native place is Ramnagar village in Baghpat district," said Giri, who has an engineering degree from Madras University. He already runs some educational institutions in Meerut.

"Pawan Ruia and I are disciples of Guru Guruanand of Tirupati. Ruia has invested money to set up the university," Giri said. It was also Ruia who made him chairman of the Trust. "His plea was that I would be associated with the university full time," Giri said.

Moradabad-based Institute of Foreign Trade Management Society will set up the IFTM University in Moradabad. The society, established in 1996, is headed by Rajiv Kothiwal, a prominent businessman of Moradabad. The Kothiwal family is into micro-finance and runs several schools and colleges. "Although we remain in the business of micro-finance, it was my father Omkar Sharan Kothiwal who first showed interest in setting up education institutions," Kothiwal said. His father Omkar Sharan Kothiwal was Congress MLA from Moradabad in 1965.

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