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India Focuses only on Examination System - Mr. Ajay Jain, IAS, Commissioner of Technical Education

Interview Date : 11-10-2012

Ajay Jain, the 1991 batch AP cadre IAS officer, is a domicile of Uttar Pradesh. He pursued his Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur. As a civil servant, Ajay Jain worked as the District Collector of Ranga Reddy and Kurnool. He was also the Managing Director for APGenCo. from 2004 to 2009. He presently holds the office of the Commissioner, Technical Education Department. In an exclusive interview to KAB TV, Ajay Jain speaks on the technical education scenario in the country with specific reference to the State of AP. Excerpts of the interview for TCG readers.

TCG: This year engineering admissions created a lot of confusion and chaos among students. What lessons did the government learn from this whole experience?

Mr. Ajay Jain: It is a fact that there has been a delay in the start of admission process this year. This was because of various reasons. College managements,court cases and the government are all responsible for it. From next year, we would start the fee fixation process in advance so that the classes can commence in july.

TCG: The Supreme Court in strong words criticised the government’s attitude. It even went on to say that what was the purpose of constituting AfRC when the government doesn’t accept its proposals. Can you tell us what the function of AfRC is? And what is the purpose of the taskforce and the inspection it undertakes?

Mr. Ajay Jain: The AFRC has been constituted as per the directions of Hon. Supreme Court. The function of the AFRC is to fix the fee for private unaided professional educational institutes. It is an independent body headed by a retired High Court judge with State Council for Higher Education chairman as a member and the Principal Secretary as the convener apart from other administrative members. And the task force was constituted to find out whether the colleges have proper infrastructure, faculty etc. or not. The taskforce will help improve the technical education standards in colleges and inform the students about it. Similarly, for fee fixation the colleges have given certain affidavits saying that they have certain facilities, faculty etc., and based on that the fee has been fixed. So it is the duty of AFRC to know whether the affidavit given is correct or not. For ascertaining it, taskforce would be assisting the AFRC.

TCG: If you observe this year’s engineering counselling, there is a fear that over a lakh seats would remain unfilled. That will invariably lead to closure of some colleges. your views?

Mr. Ajay Jain: As the number of students is less than the number of seats, naturally, students would like to opt for the best colleges. And in such a case, students may not opt for the colleges that do not have required infrastructure or are not providing quality education. In the process, some of the colleges may close down. I don’t see anything wrong in this. If a college is not able to attract students and closes down, it’s fine. of course, we don’t have any report that the colleges are closing down. But if any college wants to close down, they have to take the permission of the AICTE. But the colleges that are functioning should follow the standards of the AICTE and should provide good quality education. That is the aim of the government.

TCG: The government said that it will oversee management quota admissions. But there are reports that some colleges are charging hefty fees. Is the government doing something on this?

Mr. Ajay Jain: Actually, we tried to bring an on-line system which somehow was not applicable this year. But as per the existing G.o., we have deputed our officers to oversee the admission process for management seats. All college managements are supposed to issue a notification about the admission process in major dailies. They should give sufficient time to the students to obtain the application form from the website and submit the application. The merit list should be displayed for a period of 14 days. yes, it is a fact that some of the colleges have not followed the guidelines. For them, the competent authority, the State Council for Higher Education, will issue notices. As per the rules, action would be taken against colleges that are charging more than the prescribed amount.

TCG: The IIT is your alma mater. If you compare the standards of IITs and other private colleges, there’s a lot of difference. Why is it that IITs shine and the private colleges fail to match it?

Mr. Ajay Jain: The quality of the faculty and infrastructure makes all the difference. As IITs are presumed to be good, good students join it and the pass percentages are also high. If it’s a good institute, the name picks up; good students go there and perform well and the institutes attract good faculty. So it goes on the upswing. Contrarily, if the institute isn’t good, good students skip it and the results too reflect it. The basic difference is the commitment of the managements.  of course, some of the private colleges are also doing really well. They need to provide good infrastructure and faculty. They should not compromise on the basics of academics like faculty, labs, libraries and internet, examination and attendance. If the basic academic standards are followed even the private engineering colleges will also do well.

TCG: Students studying in foreign universities, particularly those in the US, UK and europe, prefer to take up entrepreneurship in a big way. They even join research. But in India, there’s a prevailing opinion that all technical students should join IT, ITeS or such other service sectors. There seems to be no interest in entrepreneurship or research among students. What is the reason?

Mr. Ajay Jain: This is one of the major drawbacks of our educational system. It starts from our teaching methods. In the US and other countries, students are encouraged to do project work and research while studying. Unfortunately, in India, we are concentrating only on examination system. Right from standard one, we are bothered more about the pass percentages and grades. We do not think about other activities. But that will change. our students are performing well in the US, but the same bunch is not doing that well here. I think, a change is coming slowly, it will only further open up the system.

TCG: There’s a proposal of a common national level exam for all the engineering courses. How will that affect the students of our State?

Mr. Ajay Jain: We are still considering that proposal. We are working on it. But it doesn’t affect anybody. If a student has good basics, he will clear any exam. Whether it is IIT, AIEEE or EAMCET, our students are known for their success. So whatever be the test, students of our State will definitely perform well.

TCG: This is the start of a new academic year. What is your advice to the students? What skills do you want them to acquire so as to excel in their chosen career?

Mr. Ajay Jain: Engineering is the application of science and technology for the betterment of mankind. A student should not just try to learn or memorise the subject but he should try to apply the subject. He should be open and do more practical work. There’s no magic other than the magic of hard work. They should attend classes regularly interact with the faculty and fellow students. They should also focus on communication and soft skills apart from acquiring the domain knowledge. I wish them all the very best.