Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal is fast emerging as a crusader for "one nation, one test" system. After stirring a hornet's nest with his proposal to have just one test for admissions to engineering schools across India, including the prestigious Indian Institues of Technology, he has now proposed to expand the format across all disciplines in a phased manner.
For the purpose Sibal is setting up yet another panel, headed by the Prime Minister's scientific advisory council chairman Dr C N R Rao, with representatives of IITs and IIT Council as its members to re-examine the proposal in the wake of the IITs succeeding in an add-on test besides the single test for all engineering colleges.
"The nation has to move towards a single test. There is no other choice... The single national test is not my resolution. It is the resolution of the PM's council. It is the view of C N R Rao, who symbolises excellence in education. Clearly, what I was trying to do was consistent with what the best minds in the country were thinking," Sibal said in an interview to a newspaper in New Delhi.
The proposal had come originally from the panel that Dr Rao had headed and hence Sibal has made him the new panel's chief again to pursue his proposal allegedly sabotaged by the IITs. The panel has IIT representation to persuade the IITs to come around to give up their resistance in the interest of the students.
He admitted that he did not succeed in the first attempt since the one-test formula was tweaked by the IITs. He said the new panel will not be limited to the issue of the engineering colleges but all undergraduate level courses offered by over 40,000 colleges in the country to develop a single test for all college-level undergraduate admissions. Of course, it will be done in a phased manner. First engineering, then management and so on.
Sibal went on to stress that the single engineering test idea is not dead since it has been already accepted by all the central institutes, except IITs, as also by all the deemed universities and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has also written to all affiliated technical colleges to join it. The state governments are also writing to him to join the single test, he added.