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Row over ‘on-paper’ Jio institute: Conditions apply, says government

The Jio Institute was on the elite list of six institutes announced by Union human resources minister Prakash Javadekar in a series of tweets Monday along with two IITs, the Indian Institute of Science and two others.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2018 16:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jio institute,Institutes of eminence,Reliance
Many people asked human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar on Twitter about Jio Institute’s credentials.(PTI Photo)

The Jio Institute of Reliance Foundation isn’t a ‘Institution of Eminence’ yet, said the government on Tuesday after it was criticised for giving the tag to an institute that is “still on paper”.

Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, BITS-Pilani, Manipal Academy of High Education, and the proposed Jio Institute in Navi Mumbai were awarded the Institution of Eminence (IoE) status, according Human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar’s tweets Monday.

Jio Institute was trending on Twitter on Monday and as many users tagged Javdekar about the selection.

“How did @PrakashJavdekar evaluate this Jio Institute to decide it was better than IIT M or IIT KGP or so many other Institutions? How can an Institution that is in the process of being set up be declared Institution of Eminence? What are we missing here?” said a professor at IISc-Bangalore.

The University Grants Commission (UGC), which carried out the selections, on Monday defended the move.

“At this juncture, there’s only a Letter of Intent. They’re not same as established institutions. For a greenfield institution, they should have land, equipment, building, staff, etc and for that, they need a lead time,” N Gopalaswami, head of the empowered expert committee, told news agency ANI.

“So they have been given three years’ time. It’s only after that they will be given the status,” Gopalaswami added.

R Subramanyam, secretary in the Department of Higher Education, backed Gopalaswami’s view. “As Jio institute is starting on a greenfield mode, they will only get a ‘Letter of Intent’, which states they must set up their institute within three years. If they do set up, then they get the ‘IOE’ status, right now they don’t have the tag, they only have the ‘Letter of Intent’,” said Subramanyam.

Subramanyam said Jio Institute had been given IoE status under the category for greenfield private institutions. “These are institutions that do not exist right now, but well-meaning, responsible private investors want to bring global standards to the country. These should be welcomed,” he said.

The government’s clarifications came after the Congress party accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of “favouring” Reliance Industries Ltd.’s chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani and his wife Nita Ambani.

“The illusionary JIO Institute which is yet to see the light of day has been declared as an ‘eminent’ institute. The Govt needs to clarify the basis of classification for granting such a status. #SuitBo...” the Congress tweeted.

According to UGC regulations, the HRD ministry was to select 20 IoEs--10 public and 10 private--that will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.

A committee headed by Gopalaswami picked the six institutions that showed the potential to find a place among top 500 of global rankings. The inclusion of Jio Institute riled many. Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, pointed out to the “conflict of interest”.

“It doesn’t have a campus, a website or any alumni and it has left behind prominent IITs as well as private players like Ashoka University and OP Jindal Global University. It is yet to be established but will already be marketed as a world-class institution by the government. Can’t we see the conflict of interest?” Kidwai said.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jul 10, 2018 15:06 IST