To begin with, I did not expect too much from the Budget for the education sector. Thus, I am not hugely disappointed. Three things, however, are positive in the Budget for the sector.
One, the government’s allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the National Skill Development Fund. This ensures the continued support towards skill development in different ways. I am, however, not sure about what kind of an impact this measure will have on the sector. Another good thing is the scheme for education loans being implemented by banks. This is an idea we have been pushing through for a long time. If we have to transform our education sector, we need to move ahead from funding institutions to funding individuals for which setting up of a Credit Guarantee Fund is very important. Third, is the taxation of services based on a negative list. It is heartening to see that education institutes have been included in this list which clears up the air. Education sector cannot have 12 per cent service tax slapped on it. Though I would have loved to see more thrust on encouraging investments into the education sector. A worrying thing is that it is an excessively populist budget which lacks imagination. Research grants have been announced for some universities, but that should have rather come from the human resource ministry than in the Budget.
Anand Sudarshan CEO & MD, Manipal