Education tops 12th five-year list

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The 12th five-year plan will put more emphasis on education, health and infrastructure, according to the Planning Commission deputy chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. The plan will also propose 'drastic action' to fix problems in the power sector. He said on that it was “probably overambitious” to aim at a double-digit growth in the five-year plan beginning next year. Though, he hastened to add that the exact growth target was yet to be fixed. He said it would be good if 9 per cent GDP growth could be achieved annually as the global economy was not doing well. “Looking forward, the world economy is not doing well. If India grows at an average of 8.5 per cent in 12th plan period, it would be counted as a very good performance. If we do 9 per cent, it will be excellent. I should add that to get 9 per cent growth or a little over 9 per cent a lot of work has to be done. If we try to take it up by 1 per cent from the 11th plan achievement, it will be 9.2 per cent,” told Ahluwalia. Though the Planning Commission had projected 9 per cent annual growth during the 11th plan, it would end up with average 8.2 per cent. “This is an exceptionally good performance compared to rest of the world,” he said. Commenting on the IMF observation that India with 10.3 per cent growth would overtake China (10.2 per cent growth), Ahluwalia said one should not get carried away by these numbers as China had been growing much faster for 30 years. Their per capita income was now much higher than that of India. “Even if India grows at 9 per cent and China at 7 per cent in next 20 years, India would still have a lot of catching up to do,” he said. Ahead of full the Planning Commission meeting on April 21 to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the approach paper to 12th plan, Ahluwalia said the government proposed to introduce the public-private partnership (PPP) model in education and health for the first time. “The human resources development ministry is now considering how to introduce PPP in school education. Of 6,000 model schools, about 3,500 are to be set up in backward areas where we cannot attract the private sector. The remaining 2,500 are to be set up in PPP mode. We will start this year, but 95 per cent of the work will be done in 12th plan,” he said. This proposal will go to the cabinet soon, he said. A cabinet note prepared by the HRD ministry is already with the Planning Commission. Ahluwalia said the PPP schools should be viewed as a pilot project of the centre. If successful, it could be replicated by state governments as school education was basically a state subject. In the past the centre had set up 900 Navodhya schools as model residential schools all over the country. These have done exceptionally well. The PPP schools would not necessarily be residential schools. Turning to the difficult power situation, Ahluwalia said, “More drastic measures were needed. We need to push five or six key issues

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