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Tuesday, Jul 13, 2004

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Ministry to review Shiksha fund issue

Mamuni Das

New Delhi , July 12

AFTER putting the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) fee-controversy at rest, one of the next issues which will come up for review by the Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD), Mr Arjun Singh, is the Bharat Shiksha Kosh (BSK) Fund.

The BSK, registered last year, had basically put a stop to the direct flow of `tax-free' donations of alumni associations to their alma mater. All such donations were to be routed through the BSK. As a result, fund flows from alumni to some IITs were reportedly disrupted for want of clarity on how their donations will be put to use.

The BSK Fund matter is understood to come up for consideration shortly as Ministry officials are preparing a "status report" on the issue for the HRD Minister. Meanwhile, during the past few months, the Ministry and IITs have arrived at a reconciliation to ensure that flow of funds to IITs from their alumni associations is not disrupted.

While BSK has not been tampered with officially, there has been a slight change in the reporting method wherein while the IITs can receive funds, they are required to report to the HRD Ministry after having received the funds.

"Funds now go directly to the institutes though they report to us. This was a via-media worked out with the institutes a few months ago," said a Ministry official. Earlier, IITs were not required to report the details of their receipts.

When contacted, IIT Delhi Director Prof R.S. Sirohi shared IIT Delhi's experience, "During the past few months, we have sent three cheques which were funds to IIT Delhi from the institute's foundation in the US. When we sent the first cheque to the Ministry, it came back to us with an approval in about three weeks. The second cheque was cleared within a week and the third cheque was cleared within a day."

So is BSK still an impediment? According to Prof Sirohi, "It appears as if the Ministry just wants to keep a tab on the source and end-use of funds. Now, as long as our funds reach us, we don't have any issue."

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