Was establishing new IITs the right thing to do?
When in 2008 the Union government announced the establishment of eight new IITs many questioned the wisdom of this decision. Five years hence, it is time to analyze whether the step has panned out as it was intended.
Indian Institute of Technology is the hallmark of academic excellence in technical education, not only in India, but in the whole world. These Institutes of National Importance offer the benefit of unmatched brand equity to students graduating from it. A guarantee of an above-than-ordinary career that has the power to initiate a real change in the world through exceptional technological prowess and outstanding intellectual abilities is what makes IITs such a rage amongst the students and the entire academic fraternity.
Establishing of new IITs
It is a very well-known fact that there were originally six IITs, the first founded in May 1950 at Kharagpur, followed by five other IIT Mumbai (1958), Chennai (1959), IIT Kanpur (1959), IIT Delhi (1961) and IIT Guwahati (1994). Other engineering colleges like The University of Roorkee and IT-BHU were also conferred the status of IITs. However, the biggest development in this respect came in 2003, when the then Prime Minister of India announced plans to create more IITs. Following the announcement, S K Joshi Committee was established in November 2003, which laid strict guidelines for establishment of new IITs. It was thoughtfully decided that the new IITs will be spread across different parts of the country. Eventually, in the 11th Five year plan, eight different states were selected for establishment of new IITs. The eight new IITs finally established through a special act of parliament are as given below:
Was establishing new IITs the right thing to do?
It is a contentious question that has no clear response to it. While the thought that government is doing at least something to ameliorate the higher education standards in science and technology is worth appreciating, the recent reports suggest that the teaching standards at these new IITs isn’t even close to what their predecessor boast of. Students are still averse to the idea of going to the new IITs and may be this was the reason why, even after three rounds of counseling, more than 200 seats in premiere engineering institutions of the country were left vacant in 2013. The government approved the establishment of eight new IITs in India at an estimated cost of INR 6,080 crore. However, five year hence the decision, the looks of it reveal that the progress is far from satisfying. The major issues being faced by the new IITs are:
Faculty crunch: Another issue that has come to notice of the HRD ministry and the general population is regarding the acute shortage of duly qualified faculty at the newly instituted IITs, revealing the shortage to be as high as 60 percent in some of these institutes. While founding these new institutions, each of them was granted faculty strength of 90. An RTI revealed that half of the positions are still lying vacant at IIT-Jodhpur and IIT-Mandi, only 48 and 49 having been filled, respectively. The scenario in other new Indian Institute of Technology is also not very hopeful, with 38 posts lying vacant in IIT-Ropar, 17 in IIT-Bhubaneswar, 19 in IIT-Patna, 14 in IIT-Gandhinagar and 13 in IIT-Indore.
The reason behind the faculty crunch varies from geographical to lack of awareness. Most faculty members blame the remote locations of these IITs for being the biggest deterrent in the way of accepting an opportunity to work there. Since the infrastructure is still far from completion, the faculty members have to find their own accommodation and arrange for other conveniences. Most of these IITs are yet to make their presence felt across the higher educational scene in the country and hence present a far less lucrative job option for teachers, who prefer known NITs and other top engineering institutions over them.
The picture clearly speaks the sorry state of infrastructure of NEW IITs
Incomplete Infrastructure: Most of the newly established IITs are still operating out of their temporary campuses. The institutes lack proper infrastructure for all purposes which include lecture halls, library, sporting facilities and even residential facilities. This is a major put off for students who come here expecting world class facilities. Five years have passed since these IITs were founded, but most of them are still spending millions annually on rent.
Establishing the new IITs has been more of a quantitative achievement than a genuine effort towards increasing better opportunities for good education for the youth of India. However, five years is still a time period too short to come to any defining conclusion regarding the success of failure of this exercise. May be five years from now the picture will be clearer and we will have the answer to the question asked in the beginning of the discussion.
Saurabh Tyagi is an expert writer having interest in diverse topics like education, technology, career and Web 2.0. He is a social media enthusiast and a self-confessed gadget-freak, who loves to follow the latest happenings in the tech world.
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