India’s premier engineering and technology institutes will include courses on government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat and Digital India, a move that could potentially intensify criticism over alleged attempts to push the ruling BJP’s agenda in education.

The recommendation, made by a committee formed by the Council of National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research, is likely to be adopted by the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), sources said.

The council is the highest decision making body for NITs and Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.

Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar chaired the meeting of the council on May 26 where a decision was taken to adopt the recommendations as model guidelines.

Opposition parties accuse the government of trying to saffronise education by including Hindutva icons and ideology in textbooks, a charge it denies.

“Courses related to national flagship programme can be introduced. The objective of this course should be to make students ready to contribute to the nation building programmes by unearthing engineering aspects involved in national flagship programme,” the panel’s recommendations said.

“These courses are mandatory for betterment of human resource,” the committee added.

Other disciplines that can be used for developing a course include smart cities, Jan Dhan, Skill India and Make in India.

This is perhaps the first time courses will have government programmes. There are 32 NITs in the country, which are funded by the HRD ministry and are almost at par with the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

Sources said no uniform policy exists in NITs on curriculum revision but it has now been made mandatory as an annual exercise.

The quality of engineering institutes, which produces over seven lakh students annually, has become a major concern for the HRD ministry as only 40% of those who pass out get jobs.

The low employability is attributed to lack of requisite skills and falling demand from the industry.

Revision of curriculum is being seen as an attempt to address that problem. The committee has also suggested introducing a new course, sustainable engineering, in all the branches. Besides, the panel has suggested taking industry inputs for curricula revision.