Prime minister Manmohan Singh, elected to a second 5-year term, has named leaders with deep technical expertise to his cabinet. The new science minister is Prithviraj Chavan, 63, a politician from western India who was educated as a mechanical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley. Chavan, a close adviser to Singh, spent his early years working on military electronics in the United States; recently, he has served on government commissions that direct India’s nuclear and space programs. Chavan said “funds will not be short” when it comes to his “first love,” science and technology.
In another decision, Singh appointed Kapil Sibal, a lawyer and respected former science minister, as minister of Human Resources Development, which includes the education portfolio—a sign that the government aims to continue its expanded emphasis on higher education. Sibal, 61, says he “hopes for a synergy in science and education like never before.” In his campaign-website he states that he “believes that science & technology provide the foundation for a modern and resurgent India, as well as perceives it as a vehicle that can completely transform the life of the common man for the better. He has given a new high profile to science and technology- both at the political and at the academic level.”
In the first days on his new portfolio Sibal already emphasized a new dynamism in his HE-policies. In the Indian press it was noted that “realising the middle class constituency’s keenness to access foreign universities, Mr Sibal zeroed in on the legislation that would allow foreign education providers to set up shop in India to signal that the times were changing.” Among the first files that the minister requested was the one that dealt with the entry of foreign education providers into India.