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HRD ministry approach miffs IIT dons

india Updated: May 20, 2008 01:24 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Here’s another example of the clumsy manner in which the HRD ministry handles India’s most prestigious institutions of higher education. Three new IITs are opening next month, but no buildings, infrastructure or faculty befitting the global brand is in place yet.

Three existing IITs — Guwahati, Madras and Delhi — have been made ‘mentor institutions’ for the new institutes at Patna, Medak and Rajasthan.

Faculty from the Guwahati and Madras IITs will be deployed to teach at makeshift campuses at Patna and Medak. IIT Rajasthan doesn’t even have a ‘makeshift campus’, and will debut from its mentor’s campus at IIT Delhi.

Besides inconveniencing faculty assigned to the new IITs, the arrangement is bound to affect the quality of instruction. Taking into account the new OBC quota, the teacher student ratio will increase to 1:18 from the existing 1:12. Ideally, it should be no more than 1:9.

In April, Higher Education Secretary R.P. Aggarwal announced that IIT Rajasthan would have a makeshift campus at IIT Delhi. Ministry officials also said IIT-D had begun work on the campus.

But on Monday, authorities at IIT-D betrayed ignorance: “There is a lot of talk about it but I don’t know whether it would happen or not,” DN Jain, Deputy Director (Faculty) at IIT-D, said.

Academic circles feel the new IITs are being pushed as a political expedient with little focus on the quality that these institutions have come to represent.

Earlier this year, the HRD ministry had appointed IIT Guwahati as the mentor institution for the new IIT at Patna.
Similarly, Madras would have mentored Medak and the Delhi institute would host IIT Rajasthan in its own campus.

A professor at Delhi IIT disagreed with the concept of sharing the faculty saying it would impinge on the quality of instructions to students. He said the new academic session would start in a month’s time but the matter hasn’t yet been discussed at any length with the teaching staff.

The story at other campuses is not different. “If we have a problem, we will handle it. We have to implement the Government's orders on deployment of faculty at the Medak IIT from amongst our existing staff,” said Dr K Panchalan, Registrar, IIT-Madras.

From his comments, it was obvious that teachers in Madras weren’t very excited about the deployment plan.

However, IIT-Guwahati Director Gautam Barua claimed that there was enough staff to be spared for the new institute at Patna.