A meeting between HRD minister Smriti Irani and the vice-chancellors of central universities had decided on Thursday that all centrally funded varsities would fly the national flag “prominently and proudly” on their campuses — all through the day and night.The flags should ideally be modelled on the Tricolour that flies at the centre of Delhi’s Connaught Place, officials said.
Commander K.V. Singh of the Flag Foundation of India, which provided the Connaught Place flag, said the pole was made of high tension steel and cost between Rs 1.25 crore and Rs 1.35 crore. The flag, made of knitted polyester in Mumbai, cost Rs 65,000, he said.
The prices of steel in India have increased by about 20 per cent since the Connaught Place flag was installed. Taking Rs 1.25 crore — the lower limit — as the benchmark, a pole of the same dimensions will now cost around Rs 1.5 crore.
The Connaught Place flag is illuminated at night by eight 1000-Watt lights, Singh said. Assuming the lights burn from 8pm to 6am — 10 hours — they will consume 80,000Wh (Watt-hour) or 80 electricity units a day. Over a month, they consume 2,400 units.
With New Delhi’s power tariff slabs — among the lowest in the country — the electricity charges for the lights work out to Rs 17,870 a month, and Rs 214,440 (2.14 lakh) a year.
India has 40 central universities. The total one-time expenditure on the poles to mount the Tricolour at central universities will be around Rs 60 crore (Rs 1.5 crore x 40).
Assuming that the costs of the cloth and of stitching have remained the same since 2014, 40 flags would cost Rs 26 lakh. With New Delhi’s power tariff slabs, emulating the lighting around the Connaught Place flag will cost Rs 86 lakh (Rs 214,440 x 40). In all, replicating the Connaught Place Tricolour at the 40 central universities will cost at the least Rs 61.12 crore in the first year, leaving aside maintenance.
The cost will go up dramatically if the decision is extended to other centrally funded higher education institutions that will admit students this year. Such
institutions include 22 Indian Institutes of Technology, 21 Indian Institutes of Management, 30 National Institutes of Technology and eight Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research — 81 technical institutions.
The total cost of installing similar flags in all these centrally funded higher education institutions, including the 40 central varsities, will come to Rs 185 crore in the first year.
WHAT Rs 185cr CAN DO OTHERWISE
• Fund full scholarships for all IIT students for two years — with some cash left in the kitty. (The student fees are Rs 90,000 a year at present, and the IITs admit just under 10,000 students each year)
• Pay almost the entire Rs 195-crore annual budget for skill-based higher education, including community colleges, one of the Prime Minister’s pet projects
• Pay three-fourths of the central government’s entire higher education scholarship budget — Rs 243 crore last year
• Fund, with a few crores to spare, the central government’s total annual budget of Rs 180 crore on information and communication technology at all universities and colleges
• Provide more than one-and-a-half times the Rs 112-crore budget allocation last year for the Indira Gandhi National Open University, which boasts 4 million students at present and is India’s largest engine of access to higher education.
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