Monday, March 31, 2014

Leading Indian companies to help establish more IIITs

Leading corporate houses including Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) and Coal India Ltd are partnering with the government to establish a chain of specialized technology schools.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), with the help from state governments, has roped in more than two dozen companies to set up 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), two ministry officials said. This has been a key project of the ministry since the 11th Five-year Plan period that ended in March 2012.

“So far at least 25 leading companies have committed to open IIITs in a PPP (private-public partnership) mode. For example, TCS will help set up at least three IIITs,” a top MHRD official said, requesting anonymity. “Industry has been complaining about lack of industry-academia collaborations and lack of job-ready human resources. The ministry believes this initiative will set a new precedent in the higher education space. It has taken years to come through but we are happy that leading companies have joined now,” the official said.

“PPP is a good model and IIITs give a good chance to industries to partner with the government,” said S. Ramadorai, Vice-Chairman of TCS and Chairman of the National Skill Development Agency. Industries can provide training of faculties and students, set up labs, and may source eligible manpower from these institutes, said Ramadorai.

Industries will be allowed to set up their own chairs in these institutions and partner to provide customized courses based on their demand, the second MHRD official said. They will be part of the governing boards as well. While Ramadorai didn’t divulge financial details or the states where TCS will set up the IIITs, the ministry has in a status report underlined that India’s largest software exporter will partner in setting up the technology schools in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Gujarat. Mint has reviewed a copy of the status report.

Each of the IIITs under this scheme will entail an initial investment of Rs. 1.28 billion. Half of the investment will be made by the Union government, while 35% will come from the state governments and the remaining 15% from the industry partners. The Union government will also give Rs. 125 million as recurring and other expenditures per year to each of these schools. Both private and public sector companies can partner with the government for establishing the IIITs and more than one company can be an industry partner for a particular school.

According to the ministry document, both private and public sector companies as well as foundations have come on board for the IIITs. “We have joined hands with the government for an IIIT in West Bengal. The state government convinced us to join in and we are giving Rs. 100 milliom for this,” said S. Narsing Rao, Chairman of Coal India, one of the top state-owned companies in India.

Source: Mint, March 31, 2014

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