The stated act was published in the Gazette of India on 30th July 2021 and came into force on 1 October 2021. According to the Act’s Preamble, its main intent is to declare institutions of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management to be Institutions of National Importance (INI). In addition, it provides a way to research, learn and disseminate knowledge in the given fields of food technology, entrepreneurship and management. The Act establishes the National Institute of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management-Kundli and IIFPT, Thanjavur as INIs. The NIFTEM-K enjoys University status today. The Act further empowered them with functional autonomy to design courses and undertake academic pursuits to aid them to become world-class institutes, encourage outreach and ensure the implementation of government policies.
The NIFTEM was conceptualised by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) in response to continuous demands of a “one-stop solution provider” and an apex institution for various problems of the sector. The Ministry came up with the idea in 2012 and its Vision Document-2015, envisaged the creation of a world-class institution to cater to the needs of stakeholders like entrepreneurs, the food processing industry, exporters, policymakers, government and existing institutions. The need for funded and regulated research in the fields of food processing was also realised and the government decided to create NIFTEM as a solution to all these requirements and needs.
The main noteworthy provisions of this act are as under:
- This Act provides for the bodies that must be given the status of Institutes of National Importance (INI). It provides for the powers of these bodies including their status as a body corporate, with perpetual succession, property and contractual rights under Section 4. It further transfers all the rights and duties of the previous Institutes to the corresponding institutes, like property and other legal rights, employment privileges, etc.
- It further lays down the powers and functions of the Institutes including powers to provide for research instructions, to hold examinations and grant honorary degrees, to receive fees, gifts, grants and donations, etc.
- The next important provision is that the Institutes are open to all persons irrespective of gender, race, caste, creed or class, and no charges shall be levied against the provision of employment and provide for criteria to further the employment of women, specially-abled, socially or educationally backward people and for SCs and STs.
- It declares the institutes as not-for-profit entities and provides that all its money shall be invested in its growth and development, which each institute strives for self-sufficiency and sustainability.
- Chapter III deals with the Authorities of the Institute including the Board members, its members, and for their powers and responsibilities. The functions include taking decisions on policy, deciding and approving the budget, setting up departments, granting degrees, scholarships etc. It further provides for appointment conditions for the Members and Chairpersons and provides for their salaries and allowances. The conditions for filling up vacancies and resignations. A Senate has also been provided for Statutes related duties. The prerogatives of the Board and the Senate have been divided. The various provisions over which Ordinances can be passed have also been mentioned.
- A Central Government body called the “Council” has also been provided for in the Act, along with its members. Its functions, membership conditions, tenure, etc. have also been provided for. The Council has been created to ensure smoother functioning, by ensuring support from the government. The functions include laying down policy framework, providing for corporation and co-ordination for the working of these Institutes, reviewing the achievements of policy decisions, etc.
- Chapter V has been dedicated to Finances, Accounts and Audits. Grants by the Central Government have been ensured. The use of this fund, and maintenance of proper accounts and records to ensure accountability. Audits by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India have been provided for, those who enjoy the same powers to assess auditing Government accounts.
- All Rules and Ordinances in regard to this legislation must be approved by the Government in a prescribed format.
Section 5 talks about the effect of the incorporation of Institutes. The main implication of this Act is that all rights, obligations, properties, etc. of the existing Institutes shall be transferred to the new Institute. All employees of the previous Institute shall be shifted to the corresponding Institute with the same tenure, remuneration and perks. All students of the Institute shall be shifted to the corresponding institute. The same applies to all research projects etc. All suits and legal proceedings also stand shifted.
The other important implication of this Act is that it sets up a Centrally powered mechanism to ensure the smooth functioning and administration of the Institutes. The Central Government directly looks into the framing of policies and legislations concerning these Institutes. The allowances and release of funds are directly from the Government along with ensuring proper audits by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to ensure proper functioning. The powers and functions of the Institutes have been properly defined with a proper administrative mechanism to ensure smooth functioning.
This Act sets up a proper mechanism to ensure that there are no loopholes in the functioning of the Institute to maximise the outcomes. The research and educational outcomes have been stressed. The Government realises the need to ensure that smoother transactions and functioning are assured so that administrative loopholes do not impede the results.
ADVANTAGES AND CRITICISM:
The main advantage of the NIFTEM Act is merging the food sector and entrepreneurship into a single legislation. It is important to realise that the food sector holds immense potential when it comes to mixing it with entrepreneurship. This sector has been neglected too much by the previous legislative work. Only some foreign universities had catered to this need. Coming up with universities with government support that cater to this need would help this sector grow and develop immensely.
This Act takes us closer to a food technology revolution. NIFTEM, being a young institute, with the potential of developing and attaining maturity, shall aid this revolution in a country where the food sector has immense potential.
The centrally guaranteed funds and administrative protection act as a security to ensure the proper management and functioning of these institutes. The backing of the Government increases the credibility and value of the degrees and diplomas from these universities even more.
The main criticisms of this Act are that the administrative provisions are extensive, and this sometimes leads to delays and problems. The provisions of the Act, however adequate, it is important to ensure proper implementation by the executive.
Adequate provisions must also be added to ensure public enquiry into the working of the universities, especially with respect to the utilisation of funds. The processes of procurement of funds must also be made more transparent, and not just that of the utilisation of funds.
It can be concluded that this Act is legislation that solves a very big purpose of linking food technology with entrepreneurship and management. The graduates from these universities have procured jobs in good companies like Nestle, Pepsi Co. Etc. Even though these placements are more than satisfactory, there must be more focus on startups and self-employed ventures to ensure that new “Make in India” projects come up. These ventures would ensure the overall development in the field of food technology, which the Act strives to achieve. There must be some provisions that should be included to ensure smooth implementation of the hefty provisions added in this legislation. Time-bound and efficient procedures are a must that needs to be included. The Act envisages a food technology revolution, and this can be achieved by ensuring proper implementation of the provisions of the Act.