Monday, September 22, 2014

New IITs to be set up with foreign help

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government plans to establish five new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) announced in this year's budget with the assistance of foreign countries, just as the Congress did in the 1950s and '60s under then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's initiative.

The proposed IIT in Goa will come up in collaboration with well-known institutions in the United States, an official familiar with the matter said, adding that human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani will accompany Prime Minister Modi to America later this month to sign a joint declaration for this purpose. 

The partner countries for the rest of the proposed premier engineering schools in J&K, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala will also be identified soon, the official added on condition of anonymity. 

The IITs in Mumbai (then Bombay), Chennai (then Madras), Kanpur and Delhi were established in collaboration with the erstwhile USSR, then West Germany, USA and the UK respectively. IIT Kanpur, for instance, had received technical assistance from a consortium of nine leading US institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University and University of California at Berkley.

According to officials, the consortium of US institutions to help the proposed IIT in Goa will only be finalised once the two countries sign a joint declaration of intent. "The details of how many and which institutions will help IIT-Goa and in what capacity will be worked out by the joint work group, which will be set up after India and the US sign the joint declaration," the official said. There are 13 IITs at present, with as many as eight set up between 2008 and 2011 under the mentorship of the existing institutes during the second term of the Congress-led UPA government.

Most of the newer IITs continue to function out of makeshift campuses and face difficulty attracting faculty of the desired calibre. Despite such issues, the Modi government announced another five new IITs in its maiden budget for 2014-15 soon after taking charge in May. The finance ministry has allocated an initial sum of Rs. 5 billion for these institutes this year.

Responding to concerns regarding the proposed IITs against the backdrop of the wobbly infrastructure provided for the ones set up over the past few years, Irani had told ET in an interview earlier this month that she wasn't there to "fix the blame for the past but chart a course for the future".

Source: The Economic Times, September 22, 2104

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