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IITs may be free to go abroad

delhi Updated: Aug 24, 2010 00:08 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi
Charu Sudan Kasturi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Indian Institutes of Technology may soon be legally empowered to set up campuses abroad even if their political masters oppose their international aspirations, under amendments to the law governing the technical institutions.

Kapil Sibal’s HRD ministry is proposing amendment of the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 to insert a clause specifically empowering the IITs to set up institutions abroad, government sources have told HT.

The move will mean that an IIT that wishes to set up a campus abroad will have the right to do so irrespective of the political whims of the government of the day. A future government would have to change the law to prevent the IITs from going abroad. The IITs are depending on a favourable interpretation of the Act by the government.

While Sibal is keen to allow the IITs to expand abroad, his predecessors Arjun Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi were against the move.

“It is a legal shield from political interference. The IITs will no longer be dependent on the politics or the whims of the government of the day. They can expand based on their needs and vision,” a source said.

The Cabinet last week approved the inclusion of eight new IITs and the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, under the Institutes of Technology Act. But it asked the HRD ministry to bring broader amendments to the Act, to reflect the changes that the IITs and India have undergone since the law was passed in 1961.

The proposed inclusion of a clause “empowering the IITs to set up institutions abroad” and other proposed amendments will be discussed by Sibal with Directors of the IITs at a meeting of the IIT Council on September 10. The IIT Council is the apex decision-making body of the IITs and is chaired by the HRD minister.

The HRD ministry will also use the Cabinet’s push for broad amendments to once again try and obtain sanction for the IITs to start medical schools on their own. A proposal to allow them to start medical courses was put on hold by the law ministry after the health ministry’s opposition, as was first reported by HT on August 1.

Other proposed amendments include induction of two members of the PM’s scientific advisory council into the IIT Council, and empowering Directors to make most appointments on their own.