Radiation death a `wake up call`, says Sibal

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday described the Delhi radiation death case as a "wake up call" and said the Centre was proposing a regulatory framework for educational institutions that deal with such material.

Updated: May 01, 2010, 23:48 PM IST

Bangalore: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday
described the Delhi radiation death case as a "wake up call"
and said the Centre was proposing a regulatory framework for
educational institutions that deal with such material.

"We need to look at the tragedy holistically. It is like
a wake up call for all of us," he told reporters here on
the sidelines of a function.

"We need to deal with issues of such substances, the
methodology of its procurement, handling and transportation of
its storage and ultimately of its disposal."
"We are going to write to various ministries which deal
with the issues of radiation in this regard," he said, adding
University Grants Commission will also be writing to various
universities seeking the guidelines and mechanisms to be
initiated in the universities.

The guidelines did not merely relate to dealing with
radioactive materials but also included bio-medical waste and
pesticides. Once the guidelines were put in place, the UGC
would work with the universities on the issue, in the coming
months, he said.

"We need to take care of the safety of individuals so
that incidents like India`s first radiation death in Delhi do
not occur in future."

UGC Chairman Prof Sukhadeo Thorat said the UGC was in the
process of writing to all educational institutions and
universities on guidelines to be followed in purchasing,
using, storing and disposing hazardous material, including
radioactive substance.

"They should ensure that the guidelines laid down by
various conservatory authorities are followed. The
universities must get approval from their executive councils
before using any hazardous material," he said.

The UGC was setting up a high-powered committee to lay
down a regulatory mechanism for use of radioactive and other
hazardous substances, he added.

Eleven sources of radiation were detected in the
Mayapuri scrap market where Cobalt-60 was recovered last
month. A scrap shop worker in west Delhi died due to exposure
to the radioactive material sold as scrap by Delhi University.
A few others are undergoing treatment after they were exposed
to the same material last month, whose source was traced to
the chemistry department of the University.
Sibal highlights importance of accreditation

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today
lamented that India had not yet embraced accreditation as a
process to achieve the level of excellence needed to compete
globally and asked the education sector to "put systems in
place" to take advantage of global opportunities that will
unfold in future.

"Accreditation is the most important element in
achieving excellence. Without accreditation there are no
benchmarks or basis by which we can judge quality," Sibal
said, dedicating the National Assessment And Accreditation
Council campus in the service of higher education here.

He said the 21st century would see investment in
countries which are low-cost economy but high in human
resources. The success that India has witnessed in the
services sector "will happen in the education sector", he said
but the problem was "that we are not ready for it".

"We have to ensure our systems are in place to take
advantage of the opportunities", he said.

India was destined to be a leader in education and as
India moved into era of excellence it was imperative to
"upgrade our knowledge and set systems in place".

India`s young demography coupled with low-cost and
high on quality human resources factor will see opportunities
moving to India in a big way.

"The IPL in cricket is a metaphor for what is going to
happen to India in the coming years," he said referring to the
positive elements of IPL.

"This is because the crowds are here, the market is
here and the human resources is here and naturally the money
will be here", he said, adding, the education sector will see
similar opportunities with other countries drawing their human
resources from India.

Bills for setting up educational tribunals, setting up
national accreditation authority and Foreign education
providers bill and to prevent malpractices by educational
institutions would be introduced in Parliament on Monday, he

On Foreign education providers bill, he said so far
"we had not opened doors to the foreign education". "The bill
is not only about setting up campuses" and media had to look
beyond it, he said in reply to a question that leading
universities had not evinced interest in setting up campuses
in India.

The bill is about "participation" of foreign
universities with Indian institutions and could take the form
of exchange of students, joint ventures, setting up centres of
excellence, collaborations with IITs and IIMs, providing
vocational training in areas like automotives and hospitality,
he said.