New Delhi: Insisting that the proposed central university for women be set up at Rae Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, the HRD Ministry has requested for 'in-principle' approval to its proposal from the Planning Commission which has questioned its justification.

The ministry has pointed to low enrolment and sex ratio among women and prevailing literacy rate to back its demand, reminding that "Rae Bareilly was the karmabhoomi, the political constituency of India's first woman prime minister".

It has already intimated the state government about the proposed university which it plans to set up during the 12th Plan Period.

The ministry, in a letter to the Plan panel, noted that the state has the largest population of women in the country and setting up of a women varsity will not only go a long way in empowering them but will also help them get increased access to higher education and research.

The response from the ministry came in wake of opposition from the Commission to the proposal, asking it to define "exceptional circumstances" under which a central university exclusively for women be set up at Rae Bareilly, sources said.

As the thrust of the 12th Plan is on consolidating the higher education system rather than expansion, the Plan panel was of the view if any expansion has to take place, it may be done by scaling up the capacity of existing institutions, they said.

The ministry in its reply to the Planning Commission said the proposed university would be innovative in character so that girl students do not get "bounded by traditional disciplines" supposedly preferred by women like Home Science, Child Care, Child and Maternal Health.

"Rather it is proposed that the university would develop into an institution which takes insights from women issues and their relationships and open new pathways in innovative and technological areas like nano-technology on one hand and trans-disciplinary areas in social science on the other."

It would be appropriate to locate the proposed university in Uttar Pradesh with a women population of 9.5 crore, where the sex ratio is among the lowest and the gross enrolment ratio is only 9.5 for women, far less than the national average of 12.7 per cent, the letter said.

"In view of the above, it is requested that Planning Commission may kindly give their in-principle approval for setting up of a central university exclusively for women at Rae Bareilly," it said.


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