The apex decision making body of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has broken free of the human resource development (HRD) ministry in a move that could be the first step towards allowing the IITs to govern themselves.
Empowered by independent staff and with a identity of its own, the IIT Council will now no longer need the HRD ministry to take its administrative decisions under the move, government sources have told HT .
The final decision on the plan - aimed at creating an IIT Council Secretariat - may be made at a meeting between senior HRD ministry officials and the IIT directors on May 5, the sources said.
The Council alone is empowered to appoint IIT directors and take any policy decisions binding across the top engineering schools - including their fees, reforms, administrative structure and any amendments to the law governing the Institutes.
"The IIT Council - the highest decision making body of the IITs - at present depends on the HRD ministry to even invite members for meetings or to prepare the Council's agenda. All this will change," a source said.
The IITs have decided to approach D Udaya Kumar, assistant professor at IIT Guwahati and the designer of the new rupee symbol, to design a logo for the IIT Council.
The move is a component of HRD minister Kapil Sibal's larger plan to increase the functional autonomy of the IITs.
The IIT Council - consisting of all IIT directors and chairman of boards, other eminent academic administrators and scientists - at present does not even have an office of its own.
It will now have an office - a location has been identified in South Delhi's Chittaranjan Park.
But this may only be the first step towards greater autonomy for the IITs, sources indicated.
"Once the independent IIT Council is capable of handling matters, there is a possibility that we will empower it with far greater powers and withdraw from many administrative aspects of the IIT governance system," a source said.