Bhopal 19 Apr:A new chapter was added today in the field of higher education and research facilities for the tribal population in the country when Union Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Arjun Singh laid the foundation stone of a new Central University namely Indira Gandhi National Tribal University at Amarkantak in Anupur district, Madhya Pradesh. The objects of the University shall include, inter-alia, promoting studies and research in tribal art, culture, tradition, language, custom, medicinal systems, forest based economic activities, including special studies in the flora and fauna, and advancements in technologies relating to natural resources of the tribal areas. It shall make special provisions for the promotion of educational, economic interests and welfare of the members belonging to the Scheduled Tribes.
Speaking on this occasion, Shri Arjun Singh said that this is an historical occasion and a moment of pride for the entire nation. He said that this University will go a long way in providing new direction to the youth in tribal areas in meeting the challenges of the future through education and learning. This University will have live contact and coordination with other Central universities, tribal research institutions and other higher learning and research organisations and will make use of the available knowledge from every part of the country and the world to meet its solemn objectives. He said that it is necessary to have scientific temperament, aptitude for research and respect for human values and a true faith in science and knowledge.
Shri Singh pointed out that the University will be developed into world-class institution of learning. The jurisdiction of this University will extend to the whole country. The Minister said that University will be fully funded by the Central Government through the University Grants Commission like other Central Universities. The Minister said that it is necessary to have special attachment towards the local community and special focus on the development of the local tribal areas with full dedication and commitment so as to fully meet the objectives of this University.
Referring to the inadequate participation of tribal community in higher education, the Minister said that it is a matter of serious concern as the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) is only 6.61 compared to the national GER of 11.6. The GER of girls from the tribal population is even lower which is 4.69. He said that low access to higher education for the tribal youth puts them at disadvantage in higher studies. The Minister said that there is high concentration of tribal population in North Eastern states and in the area comprising parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. While North Eastern States have at least one Central University in each State, there is no Central University especially catering to the population in the other tribal concentrated areas.
The Minister said that the University has been named after late Smt. Indira Gandhi in recognition of her deep contribution and commitment for the welfare of tribals. He said that present University will meet this requirement and will have the right to open regional centre and campus in desired areas. The Minister said that the Regional Campuses to be opened will be named after the great personalities of the concerned area like Veer Narain Singh, Goondadhur, Birsa Munda etc. so as to pay nation’s tribute to them.
He said that universities are generally established in big metros or urban areas and there are advantages of locating the universities in such areas. But the true flavour of the tribal University will come only if it is located in the midst of tribal areas. The very purpose of the establishment of this University is to make it a prime mover for development in the tribal areas hitherto neglected. He said that the seat of the University has been chosen to be a Central point in the tribal areas stretching between Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. He said that Amarkantak is a great pilgrim centre as well as source of the two important rivers of the country namely Narmada and Sone.
Shri Arjun Singh thanked the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, for ensuring adequate land and proper facilities of electricity and water for this prestigious project.
The Minister hoped that the University will soon select all its managing authorities. He pointed out that the Act of this University has a special provision to ensure adequate representation of Scheduled Tribes in various bodies of the University. The Minister said that though in 11th Five Year Plan, the Central Government is opening several institutions in the field of higher education like IITs, NITs and Management Institutions, but this tribal University will have a pivotal role among them in higher education. The Minister called upon everybody to contribute for the development of this great institution of learning.
The messages of Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, and Smt. Sonia Gandhi, UPA Chairperson were also read out on this occasion. Dr. S.N. Subbarao, noted Gandhian and founder of National Service Scheme presided over the programme. Shri Vijay Shah, Minister for Forest and Scheduled Tribe Welfare, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Smt. Jamuna Devi, Leader of Opposition in Madhya Pradesh Assembly, Shri Suresh Pachauri, former Union Minister, Shri Charan Das Mahant, former Minister in Government of Madhya Pradesh, , Shri Dalpat Singh Parastay, Member of Parliament (Shadol Constituency), Shri R.P. Agrawal, Secretary, Dept. of Higher Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India were among those present on this occasion.