Research councils to be important parts of the innovation universities

Following is from a PTI report in zeenews.

The proposed innovation universities in the country would be supported by research councils, which would not only identify potential areas of research but also extend advisory services in other areas.

Every university for research and innovation will have such a council headed by a director. These varsities shall present its report annually highlighting its achievements on their website.

The proposed innovation universities, a Bill of which was introduced in Parliament last week, are to be set up during the 12th Plan Period.

The hallmark of the legislation is that each university would focus on one area or problem of significance to India and build an eco-system of research and training around different related disciplines.

In keeping with this objective, each of the council of the university concerned shall interface with research funding organisations, industry and civil society to identify potential areas for research in areas of enterprise.

Besides, the council will assist the teachers in obtaining funding from external sources for research projects prepared by them, according to the provisions of the Universities for Research and Innovation Bill, 2012.

The Bill seeks to set up the universities both in the public as well as the private sectors.

As per the provisions, each of these universities would offer exposure to an international classroom environment, with a minimum of 50 per cent of the students from India.

Each of the research council will be headed by a director and members, the strength of which would be specified by the board of governors of the university concerned.

The council will also provide for incubation of applications emerging from research undertaken in such university.

Importantly, it shall make provisions for research and advisory service for which it would enter into agreement with other institutes, industry, civil society and other organisations and enable the results and benefits of research to be disseminated to the public.

According to the Bill, the research council shall present its annual output on its website three years after the establishment of the university and each year thereafter.

Each of the university would have autonomy in matters of academics, faculty, personnel and finances administration.

1 comment May 28th, 2012

Odisha should pursue one of the sports and physical education university proposed by the 12th plan working group on Sports and Physical Education

The 12th plan working group report on Sports and Physical Education recommends the establishment of  four regional centres of LNUPE and 5 new sports and physical education universities or physical education colleges. Odisha must vigorously pursue the central government and the planning commission to get one of the proposed 5 sports and physical education universities.

In this regard, please send an email to the Odisha CM at with content such as given below:

Dear Esteemed CM:

The 12th plan working group on Sports and Physical Education has recommended in their report at that "for meeting the increasing demand of Physical Education Teachers and producing quality PETs, at least four regional centres of LNUPE and 5 new sports and physical education universities or physical education colleges should be opened during 12th
Plan. "

Kindly pursue with the central government regarding having one of these universities in Odisha.


Following are some rationale behind pursuing a Sports and Physical Education University. Please have a look at it at your leisure. 

While promoting sports,  besides providing good facilities (hostels, stadiums, turfs), what is most important is that the athletes are provided with opportunities to pursue some recognized degree/diploma/certificate of study so that they have alternate avenues of employment. For example, consider the story in

Following is an excerpt from that story.

Renowned national woman footballer Jhilli Munda, who has represented India at international and national events in several tournaments, is bearing the brunt of acute poverty and she is forced to roll beedis to earn her bread and butter. 

It is well known that among the athletes that join the sports hostels, only a few make it to the state and national teams and of them only a few get appropriate jobs. What happens to the rest? It is sad to read about Jhili Munda’s story above. The point is until and unless we make sure that kids pursuing a career as an athlete have a way to make a living we can not significantly improve the sports scenario in Odisha and India. Now how do we make sure that *all* kids pursuing a career as an athlete have a way to make a living. 

The way to do that is to provide them with some *relevant education* in parallel with their athletics training such that even if they do not make it to the top in sports, they can get a good job and make a living. What are some of the relevant educational avenues and programs?

Some of them are:

  • Physical training
  • Coaching in various sports
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports medicine
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Sports Psychology
  • Sports Biomechanics
  • Sports Management and Mass Communication
  • Health Sciences & Yoga
  • Sports Massage
  • Grounds Management
  • Health and fitness management
  • Sports journalism
  • Sports photography and 
  • Sports commentary.

Some of these courses are offered at the three established institutions in India:

In the 2011-12 budget there was mention of the following *new* initiatives: 

  • Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development in Tamil Nadu: With a 2011-12 budget allocation of 10.8 crores (2010-11: 9.9 crores)
  • Laxmibai National Institute of Physical Education – NE area and Sikkim Initiative: With a 2011-12 budget allocation of 15 crores (2010-11: 3 crores)
In the 2012-13 budget ( ) there was the mention of the following *new* initiatives:

  • 7. Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Developmentin Tamil Nadu has a budget of 18.9 crores.
  • 28. National Institute of Sports Science and Sports Medicine 5 crores
  • 29. National Institute of Coaching Education 5 crores

Note that none of the above are in the eastern part of India and none are in the traditional tribal areas of India.

The 12th plan has a working group on Sports and Physical Education. They have a report at .  In that report the following is mentioned.

5.15 It has been recommended that for meeting the increasing demand of Physical Education Teachers and producing quality PETs, at least four regional centres of LNUPE and 5 new sports and physical education universities or physical education colleges should be opened during 12th Plan. An outlay of Rs. 900 crore on this account during 12th Plan is projected.  
Thus we should vigorously pursue the establishment of  a National Sports Institute/University in Odisha that not only offers training in the sports Odisha excels in (Hockey – mens and womens, Football, Rowing, etc.) but also offers the above mentioned programs so that every athlete of Odisha is able to simultaneously pursue a certificate/diploma/degree in one of the above disciplines and is able to make a decent living.

Considering that Sundergarh and Rourkela area is the hotbed of Odisha athletics (mainly Hockey) and it is a tribal district, it would be good to locate the proposed National Sports Institute/University in Sundergarh/Rourkela. It may have branches in Kendrapada and Bhubaneswar to cater to the women footballers of Kendrapada and other sports persons in Bhubaneswar/Cuttack. Moreover the university in Sundergarh/Rourkela can also cater to athletes in Jharkhand.

The recent election of Mr. Dilip Tirkey as a Rajya Sabha MP can be seen/argued as an indication that the Odisha government is serious about promoting sports in a wholesome way, with particular attention to adivasis.

May 1st, 2012

200 universities in the 12th plan?

Following is an excerpt from a report in Hindustan Times.

Higher education in the country is set to get a boost with the HRD ministry finalising plans worth Rs. 80,000 crore inorder to improve access to colleges and universities.

The UPA government has embarked upon an ambitious plan to double the gross enrollment ratio (GER), from present around 17% to 30% by the year 2020. For this, there would be a need of several new universities and colleges across the country.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday told Lok Sabha that 200 new universities and a degree college in each district of India will be opened in the next five years. “We have asked for Rs. 20,000 crore for opening new universities in the 12th plan,” he said.
In addition to new institutions, many of the existing colleges will be upgraded either into universities or autonomous colleges having powers to award degrees.
The budget for revitalising the higher education will be Rs. 80,000 crore, the biggest ever allocation for higher education.
A large amount of this money will be awarded to state governments to improve higher education in rural areas. This, by increasing the Central government share in higher education funding to the states.

As of now, the Centre shares just 35% of the cost of starting a new higher education institution. In the 12th plan (2012-17), Sibal said, the government proposes to increase the Central share to 65% and 90% for the north-eastern states.

This, according to the ministry, will give an incentive to the state governments to submit proposals for starting new higher education institutes. Many state governments have been reluctant to seek funds from the Centre because they had to assure 65% funds to start the project.

April 26th, 2012

Four more new AIIMS-like institutes and 30 more upgrades proposed as part of the 12th plan; this will take the total number of AIIMS-like institutes to 12 and the total number of upgrades to 56

Following is from a report in Times of India.

The report of the steering committee on health for the 12th five year plan (incorporating reports of all working groups and deliberations in Committee meetings) has suggested opening of four new prototypes of premiere All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( AIIMS) in addition to the eight already approved.

… Union health ministry is in the process of constructing six AIIMS-like institutes in Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur and Rishikesh at a cost of Rs 847 crore each, up from Rs 332 crore that was originally estimated. There are expected to be ready by July, 2012.

The Planning Commission has given approval to two more AIIMS-like institutes in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. …

With 26 medical institutions have been approved for upgrade, the panel has said an additional 30 medical colleges established at least 20 years ago be identified for support through Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna.

“Other medical colleges, in private or voluntary sector may also be considered for upgrade and strengthening for starting new postgraduate disciplines and increasing post-graduate seats,” the report says.

In Odisha, as per the timeline, SCB medical college in Cuttack was established in 1944, VSS in Burla was established in 1959 and MKCG in Berhampur was established in 1962. All three of them satisfy the above mentioned criteria of being established 20 years ago. Considering that none of the 26 approved upgrades are from Odisha, and 4 states currently are approved for both new AIIMS-like institutes as well as upgrades (WB,Bihar, MP, UP) the Odisha government should push for all three of its existing government medical colleges to be upgraded during the 12th plan.

1 comment December 31st, 2011

Views expressed on higher education in India during the FICCI Higher Education Summit 2011

The website of this summit is Following are excerpts from the press release on Dr. Montek Ahluwalia’s speech.

Inaugurating FICCI Higher Education Summit 2011: Strategies for Expansion in Higher Education in India’, Mr. Ahluwalia said, “The challenge before planners, policy makers and educationists, both in the public and private sector, was of producing world class Indian universities that could be counted in the top 200 rating list.” In the next 20 years we must see a significant number of educational institutions in that category, he declared.

Mr. Ahulwalia also underlined the need to lend an international flavour to Indian universities by inducting international faculty. This would not happen unless the government removes the restriction on employment of international faculty, he said.

For higher education, the 12th Plan objective was expansion, equality of access and excellence. The aim was to raise the gross enrolment ration from the current level of 15 per cent to 30 per cent over the next 15 years. “Expansion of higher education has to be balanced with equality of access, especially for those living in areas where educational institutes did not exist,” he said.

Following are excerpts from the press release on Sam Pitroda’s speech.

Addressing the FICCI Higher Education Summit 2011, Mr. Pitroda said, “Higher education reforms are essential if the nation is to meet the serious challenge of skill shortage that will not allow the economy to grow at 8-10 per cent annually. While many of the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission are in the process of being implemented, we are waiting for the government to act on the recommendations retailing to reform of higher education.”

The debate on what needs to be done ought to be over, the time now is to focus on action,” he said and added that “the Bills have already been drafted but none of them have been tabled in or passed by Parliament.

Mr. Pitroda’s concern found an echo in FICCI President, Mr. Harsh Mariwala’s suggestion that although education continues to be a priority sector during the Twelfth Plan, unless the reform agenda initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the 11th Plan is carried forward within a stringent timeframe, the demographic dividend of a young population could become a demographic disaster for India as well as the world.

Mr. Mariwala hoped that the Foreign Education Providers’ Bill; Unfair Practices Bill; Tribunal Bill and the Accreditation Bill will be passed in the coming winter session of the Parliament and the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) Bill 2010 and Innovation University Bill will be introduced in the winter session of the Parliament. The delay in implementation of the reforms is a serious impediment for the economic development of the country, he said and added that FICCI earnestly urges the political leadership to take cognizance of this fact.

Mr. Pitroda said that the government was creating a US$ 5 billion National Knowledge Network (NKN) which is expected to be ready in about nine months. The network would be a state-of-the-art multi- gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network backbone for all knowledge related institutions in the country. It would facilitate the building of quality institutions with requisite research facilities and creating a pool of highly trained professionals. The NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.

Following are excerpts from a report in Chronicle of Higher Education.

 Mr. Sibal has said that private participation in higher education must be encouraged, and conference attendees agreed that if the government hopes to reach its goal of sending 30 percent of young people to college, both private and public participation are needed. The challenge, as always, is in weeding out the low-quality operators.

"The public perception of private higher education is in a range," said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, head of India’s Planning Commission, a top government policy-making body. "Many are good, but there is a problem of those not-very-good ones."

Mr. Ahluwalia argued that supply and demand will eventually eliminate the bad actors, but others disagreed.

"It will be difficult to weed them out," said M. Anandakrishnan, head of the Indian Institute of Technology’s Kanpur branch. Because there is more demand than supply, he said, it will take time for stakeholders to make discerning choices.

Another delegate, Sachi Hatakenaka, a British-based education researcher, argued that "private sector growth is good for quantity but not for quality."

… Still, said Mr. Agarwal, the next round of government higher-education planning will focus more on expanding capacity at existing institutions rather than adding new universities.

Some private players were hopeful that the government will look to the private sector more as an ally than an adversary in coming years.

November 16th, 2011

12th plan envisions to have a medical college in each of the 641 districts of India??

Following are excerpts from a report in

In order to bring down the shortage of doctors and improve healthcare services at the minutest level, the government is planning to have medical colleges in each district.

It has plans to convert district hospitals into training institute the paramedical personnel as well.

Besides, the government also plans to integrate AYUSH doctors and have capacity building programmes for other traditional healthcare providers such as Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) so that traditional care practices and local remedies are encouraged.

… As of now medical colleges are concentrated in only 193 districts of the country … The rest 447 districts do not have any medical college.

Against 335 colleges, there are about 319 Auxiliary nurses and midwives (ANM) training schools, 49 health and family welfare training schools and only 34 LHV (Lady Health Visitor) schools.

The present doctor patient ratio 0.6 per 1000 while the ratio of health workers (including midwives, nurses etc) is 2.5 per 1000.

“To fill the gap in training needs of paramedical professionals, the 12th Plan proposes to develop each of the district hospitals into knowledge centres, and 4,535 CHCs into training institutions,” says the Planning Commission report.

Odisha with its 30 districts will greatly benefit by this plan. In Odisha only 4 of its districts currently have medical colleges: they are Cuttack, Khorda, Sambalpur and Ganjam. The 26 districts in Odisha that do not yet have medical colleges are: Angul (*), Boudha, Bhadrak, Balangir, Baragarh, Balasore, Deogarh, Dhenanal, Gajapati, Jharsuguda, Jajpur, Jagatsignhpur, Keonjhar, Kalahandi (*), Kandhamal, Koraput, Kendrapada, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nawarangpur, Nuapada, Nayagarh, Puri, Rayagada, Subarnapur, Sundergarh (*). Among these 26, private medical colleges are under construction in Angul (by MCL and NTPC), Kalahandi (WODC), and Sundergarh (in Rourkela by Hi-Tech).

1 comment August 30th, 2011

Odisha higher education department’s demands to the planning commision for the 12th plan

I hope this is not all that Odisha is asking.

1 comment July 20th, 2011

Odisha must push for an ISMU branch

Following up on our earlier article, Odisha must push for an ISMU branch. The logic behind Assam getting an RGIPT branch is that Assam has a lot of petroleum related oil wells and refineries. By the same logic, Odisha tops the states in India with respect to its mineral output. Following is from a report in Business Standard.

With minerals produced in the state in 2009-10 valued at Rs 15,317 crore, Orissa has 13.10 percent share of the total value of minerals produced by major states in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh (7.70 percent), Andhra Pradesh (7.21 percent), Maharashtra (4.92 percent), Gujarat (4.65 percent), Karnataka (3.96 percent), Tamil Nadu (3.21 percent), Rajasthan (2.99 percent), Assam (2.96 percent), West Bengal (2.78 percent).

According to the Economic Survey report (2010-11), the value of minerals extracted in Orissa has gone up by more than four times from Rs 3694 crore to Rs 15,317 crore between 2002-03 and 2009-10 coinciding with the boom in the mineral market during this period.

Orissa boasts of 95 percent of country’s chromite deposit, 92 percent of nickel ore, 55 percent of bauxite and 33 percent of iron ore. Besides, the state has substantial quantity of other minerals and ores like coal, manganese, dolomite, graphite and limestone.

With the iron ore prices spiraling, this commodity naturally leads the pack of minerals in terms of production and value. The state produced 79.7 million tonnes of iron ore in 2009-10 valued at Rs 7976 crore. This is followed by coal (105.5 million tonnes valued at Rs 5548 crore and chromite (3.4 million tonne valued at Rs 1167 crore).

Similarly, iron ore constituted 95.4 percent of the total exports of minerals from the state. About 15 million tonnes of iron ore was exported in 2009-10 valued at Rs 4224 core compared to exports of 0.46 million tonnes of chrome ore valued at Rs 464 crore and 0.25 million tonnes of mineral sand valued at Rs 72.32 crore.

One of the disturbing factors highlighted by the report is that with mining and quarrying sector gradually shifting to labour saving and capital-intensive technology, the total employment in the sector has been decreasing over the years. As a result, the number of direct employment in the mineral sector in Orissa has come down from 55764 in 2005-06 to 43705 in 2009-10.

It may be noted, with mineral deposits mostly occurring in the tribal belt of the state, this sector employs substantial number of tribals.

When ISM was made in Dhanbad, that region was perhaps the leader in mineral output (mainly coal) in the country. Odisha with a variety of minerals needs an ISM branch and we must push for it hard.

Related to that recently the Chief Minister has been concerned about the coal block allocation in Odisha. Following is an excerpt from a report in Economic Times on that.

Orissa government has taken strong exception to the coal ministry’s unilateral decision to allot coal blocks without consulting the state.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh urging him to review the allocation of coal blocks in Orissa. The coal ministry has allotted 32 coal blocks with an estimated reserve of about 15,000 million tons to 56 private and government agencies.

Mr Patnaik made it clear that a comprehensive regional master plan should have been prepared prior to allotment of huge number of coal mines in inhabited and environmentally sensitive areas in the state. Focus has to be given for infrastructure development, logistic planning, land requirements, rehabilitation and resettlement, environment impact studies and mitigation measures, the letter said.

Expressing serious concerns over the adverse environmental impact in post operationalisation of such a large number of coal blocks, Mr Patnaik pointed out that coal mining would cause deforestation and air pollution. Sources close to CM’s officer said, the letter also had pointed out that it might not be possible for the state to accommodate new coal mines by jeopardizing its environmental stability. The coal ministry needs to be advised to take a pragmatic and planned approach, keeping the interests and concerns of all stake holders including the state government in mind, the letter said.

For making the 32 coal blocks functional, 325 sq km shall have to be acquired within few years and another equivalent amount of land would be needed for allied activities like coal handling plants, siding, workshop, and residential colonies for project affected people, compensatory afforestation and other infrastructural facilities including roads.

This would lead to massive displacement and consequent socio-economic and environmental crisis, the chief minister is understood to have stated in his missive to the PM. However, such large-scale land acquisition and displacement could be avoided if coal blocks are allotted and developed in a planned and phased manner, Naveen added.

Incidentally, Orissa is already on the throes of severe climate change due to setting up of huge number of coal fired power plants threatening the livelihood of farmers and fishermen who form 70 % of the state’s population shall be severely hit due to irregular monsoons and erratic rainfall patterns.

Most of the power produced shall be transmitted to other states while the people of the state shall be the unwilling victims of the effects on climate change and pollution caused by the huge quantities of green house gases (GHGs) and fly ash generated.

“Coal mining is done either underground or open cast. In Orissa mostly open cast mining is done. When coal surfaces are exposed, pyrite (iron sulfide), comes in contact with water and air forming sulfuric acid. As water drains from the mine, the acid moves into the waterways, and as long as rain falls on the mine tailings the sulfuric acid production continues, whether the mine is still operating or not. Proper and holistic environmental protection measures are not taken by the owners of coal mines”, former director general of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] and currently, chairman, Institute of Advance Technology and Environmental Studies (IATES), P. K. Jena on Thursday told “The ET”.

This reinforces our thought that the civil society andthe government of Odisha must together push for  an ISMU campus in Odisha that will specialize in all the issues mentioned above.

Please add aditional pointers in the comment section. As soon as the Malkangiri sutiation gets resolved we will start a movement to get an ISMU campus to Odisha.

1 comment February 21st, 2011

PM inaugurates RGIPT second campus in Sibsagar Assam; Odisha must use the same logic and push for an ISMU campus in Odisha (PM also inugurated second campus of NID in Jorhat)

(Thanks to Kalahandia for the pointer.)

Apparently the second campus of RGIPT in Assam was announced by the PM in August 2008. Somehow we missed it. Following is an excerpt from a report in Times of India.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday laid the foundations of the National Institute of Design (NID) and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (Assam centre) in Jorhat and Sivasagar districts respectively.

Addressing a gathering in Sivasagar, Singh said, "It is befitting that the institute has been named after the late Rajiv Gandhi, our beloved leader and former Prime Minister of India. His contribution to modernization and development of our country was immense. He believed that the application of science and technology was critical to our development process."

He added that the institute, which will be a world class establishment in the petro-chemical sector, will be constructed at a cost of Rs 148 crore from central funds. "The place will offer degree, diploma and certificate courses to unemployed youths of the state. It will also provide special research on a particular subject," he said.

The Prime Minister added that the institute’s academic year will start from August this year. He said it was a centre of the main institute at Rae Barelly and its main objective was to promote capacity building in competency related to the domain of hydro carbon sector.

Using the same logic Odisha should push for a second campus of the Indian School of Mines University in one of the mining hubs of Odisha.

As far as NID is concerned the previous Commerce minister Kamal Nath had many times mentioned Odisha as a possibility; however because of our mistakes (see herehere and here) we lost it. I hope we learn from our mistakes.

In general there are several institutions we should target for the 12th plan. See for an initial list. However, if one were to prioritize, a campus of ISMU will have the highest monetary value; as these days ISMU is almost as good as an IIT and has most of the disciplines that an IIT has. ISMU Dhanbad currently has a faculty size of 170. Its budget for 2009-2010 was 128 crores (= 85 plan + 43 non-plan) and for 2010-2011 was 122.47 (=89 plan + 33.47 non-plan) crores. In comparison, the 2010-11 budget for the 7 old IITs were a total of 1600  (= 774 plan+ 826 non-plan ) crores and the 2010-11 budget for the 20 old NITs were a total of 1317.51 (= 810 plan + 507.51 non-plan) crores. So ISM’s budget (122.47 crores) lies between the average NIT budget (65 crores appx) and average IIT budget (228.5 crores).

1 comment February 20th, 2011

12th plan spending on education to go up to $100 Billion from the 11th plan estimaite of $70 Billion

Following is an excerpt from a report in Economic Times.

"We will be spending close to $100 billion on education in the 12th plan period. This will be in addition to around $20 billion investment on IT," Pitroda said at the ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) here.

He said the government was taking measures to open up the education sector for more private and overseas investments.

"We have to liberalise the education system. What we did to the economy in 1991 needs to be done to the education now," said Pitorda, who is also the head of National Innovation Council .

He said the government had shown commitment to revolutionise the education system but the pace of development was not satisfactory.

"We have made recommendations. Minister has to act. So far, they have not acted to my satisfaction," Pitroda said, referring to the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission .

January 9th, 2011

Push for 12th plan upgradations to central university has started

Now that the 12th plan discussions have started states have started pushing for various upgradations. Earlier we reported Karnataka’s efforts regarding upgrading UVC E to an IIT. Now there is report on West Bengal’s efforts to make Jadavpur University a central university. Following is from a report in Telegraph. It also mentions President Patil’s efforts to upgrade a university in her home area to a central university.

Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has thrown his weight behind an effort to convert Jadavpur University into a central university.

In a letter last month, Mukherjee requested human resource development minister Kapil Sibal to consider a proposal to turn JU into a central varsity by an act of Parliament.

“The letter is under the consideration of the ministry. The HRD ministry will seek the views of the finance ministry and the Planning Commission on the proposal for converting it into a central university,” a source told The Telegraph.

… JU has been identified by the University Grants Commission as one of the first five universities in the country with “potential for excellence”. It has also been accorded the highest grading of “five stars” by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

“The HRD ministry will move forward on the basis of the feedback from the finance ministry and the Planning Commission on the letter from Mukherjee. The finance ministry and the Planning Commission had approved setting up 16 central universities under the 11th Plan. All these universities have already been set up. Now if they give the go-ahead, the process will be initiated for the conversion of Jadavpur University into a central university,” the source said.

A few months ago, President Pratibha Patil had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for converting Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University in Maharashtra into a central university. A source said the conversion may be possible in the 12th Plan (2012-17).

Odisha needs to make similar efforts.

3 comments January 4th, 2011

Vice President Calls for More Funds for State Universities to Improve Higher Education: PIB

Following is from

The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that higher education cannot improve in India unless State Universities, which are the backbone and represent the bulk of enrollment, are able to obtain greater funds, create new infrastructure and enrich their existing academic programmes. Delivering foundation day lecture at University of Calcutta today Shri Ansari said, anecdotal evidence suggests that the budget of one Central University is almost the same or more than the budget of all State Universities in some States. Just like the Central Government has assumed the responsibility for elementary education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, it should also vastly enhance its support to State Universities as a shared national enterprise, the Vice President observed.

Shri Ansari said, “Our Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education is half of the world’s average, two-third’s that of developing countries and around a fifth that of developed countries. Even though we have been able to achieve an economic growth rate of 9 per cent of GDP despite low enrollment in higher education, it would not be possible for us to sustain such economic growth, maintain our competitiveness and enhance our productivity without at least doubling our higher education enrollment. Unless we can increase access and educational outcomes at secondary and tertiary levels, our demographic dividend might turn into a demographic liability.”

Following is the full text of Vice President’s lecture delivered on the occasion:

“ This is a rare privilege. I do feel flattered to be invited to deliver the Foundation Day Lecture of a great and famous seat of learning, India’s oldest modern university, more so because of an ancient association of a few youthful years with this city. I also subscribe fully to what the Urdu poet Ghalib said about Kolkata which he visited around the year1830:

Kalkatte ka jo zikr kiya tu ne hum nasheen

Ek teer mere sine main maara ki hai hai

Ah me, my friend! The mention of Calcutta’s name

Has loosed off a shaft that pierces to my very soul

Voltaire was perhaps unduly cynical when he describes history as “nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.” This is certainly not true of the history of this great city which is, in a sense, also the history of modern India.

Most of us associate the year 1857 with the First War of Independence, with the heroic deeds of many, as also with the eventual failure of the effort to overthrow the foreign yoke and seek freedom from bondage. Few today would associate 1857 with another event of seminal significance. It was on January 24, 1857 that the Calcutta University Act was enacted. It was the culmination of a process initiated by Lord William Bentinck and energised by his successor Lord Auckland. The conceptual input and framework had come earlier from Sir Charles Wood. Its purpose, and ambit, was unambiguously linked to a colonial purpose, namely “to confine higher education to persons possessing leisure and natural influence” over the minds of their countrymen and who, by attaining a higher standard of modern education “would eventually produce a much greater and more beneficial change in the ideas and feelings of the community.”

The expectations from this endeavour were anticipated to be modest. The first Vice Chancellor, Sir James William Colvile, was candid about results. “We must recollect,” he said in the first Convocation Address, “that we are not merely planting an exotic (tree), we are planting a tree of slow growth.” His successor went against the tide of opinion in the British Indian establishment in the aftermath of 1857 and said three years later: “Educate your people from Cape Camorin to the Himalayas and a second mutiny of 1857 will be impossible.”

These worthy gentlemen evidently could not discern the thirst for new knowledge among segments of the public, nor could they anticipate the use that would eventually be made of it. The alumnae of this institution played a great role in the freedom struggle as also in the furtherance of knowledge in all fields. The record does speak for itself.

The proclaimed and principal purpose of the university was, and is, ‘Advancement of Learning’. There was an element of idealism about it. In a celebrated work published in November 1858, Cardinal John Henry Newman spelt out the idea of a university in terms worthy of reiteration:

“ A university is a place of concourse, wither students come from every quarter for every kind of knowledge…It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collusion of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge…It is a place which wins the admiration of the young by its celebrity, kindles the affections of the middle-aged by its beauty, and rivets the fidelity of the old by its associations. It is a seat of wisdom, a light of the world, a minister of the faith, an Alma Mater of the rising generation.”

Over the past century and a half, the ideal has retained its relevance. What has changed in response to the evolving external environment is the content, some of the methodology, and some of the end product. These were propelled by the enormity of change – political, economic, technological and cultural. A historian of our times noted at the turn of the century that “we are entering a fearful time, a time that will call on all our resources, moral as well as intellectual and material.” In this endeavour, the intellectual inputs from seats of learning and research would impact decisively on the moral and material resources needed to respond to the emerging challenges.

The need to revisit the framework for higher education in the country has been felt in recent years. This was summed up in the 2008 Report of the National Knowledge Commission:

“The emerging knowledge society and associated opportunities present a set of new imperatives and new challenges for our economy, polity and society. If we fail to capitalize on the opportunities now, our demographic dividend could well become a liability. The widening disparities in our country will translate into social unrest, if urgent steps are not taken to build an inclusive society. And our growth rate, which is faltering now, will stagnate soon, if a sustainable development paradigm is not created. “

A look at the ground reality is relevant to this discourse. Today we have 504 Universities, with varying statutory bases and mandates. Of these, 40 are Central Universities, 243 are State Universities, 130 are Deemed Universities, five institutions established under State legislation, 53 are State private Universities, and 33 are Institutions of National Importance established by Central legislation. We have a total teaching faculty of around 6 lakhs in higher education.

The structure and quality of these institutions, and their output, was the subject of critical scrutiny in the Yashpal Committee Report of 2009, tasked to suggest measures for the renovation and rejuvenation of higher education. One of its observations is telling:

“Over the years we have followed policies of fragmenting our educational enterprises into cubicles. We have overlooked that new knowledge and new insights have often originated at the boundaries of disciplines. We have tended to imprison disciplinary studies in opaque walls. This has restricted flights of imagination and limited our creativity. This character of our education has restrained and restricted our young right from the school age and continues that way into college and university stages. Most instrumentalities of our education harm the potential of human mind for constructing and creating new knowledge. We have emphasized delivery of information and rewarded capability of storing information. This does not help in creating a knowledge society. This is particularly vile at the university level because one of the requirements of a good university should be to engage in knowledge creation – not just for the learner but also for society as a whole.”

The Report goes on to say that our universities remain one of the most under-managed and badly governed organisations in society, with constricted autonomy, internal subversion within academia and multiple and opaque regulatory systems. Furthermore, university education is no longer viewed as a good in itself but as the stepping stone to a higher economic and social orbit.

The Report dwells on the increasing demand for expansion of private college and university level institutions necessitating an understanding of its implications in terms of the system’s enrolment capacity, programme focus, regional balance, ownership pattern, modes of delivery, degree of regulation, quality and credibility as well as social concerns of inclusiveness. It points out that State universities and affiliated colleges represent the bulk of enrolment in higher education and remain the most neglected in terms of resources and governmental attention.

Targeted government interventions to enhance access to elementary education through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan have been successful in quantitative terms, even though problems remain with regard to content, quality and outcomes. You are also aware that one of the focal themes of the Eleventh Five Year Plan is the expansion and enhancement of access to higher education.

Our Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education is half of the world’s average, two-third’s that of developing countries and around a fifth that of developed countries. Even though we have been able to achieve an economic growth rate of 9 per cent of GDP despite low enrolment in higher education, it would not be possible for us to sustain such economic growth, maintain our competitiveness and enhance our productivity without at least doubling our higher education enrolment. Unless we can increase access and educational outcomes at secondary and tertiary levels, our demographic dividend might turn into a demographic liability.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, gross enrolment in higher education is not directly linked to economic growth and prosperity or to elementary school enrolment. Thus, for example, some of the economically and educationally backward states with respect to literacy rate and school enrolment, such as Orissa, Assam, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have higher enrolments in higher education as compared to relatively better off states such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It would seem that enrolment is a function of a variety of social, cultural, institutional and economic processes and is significantly affected by the availability of educational infrastructure and facilities.

In addition to expansion, the other two central themes of the Eleventh Plan are inclusion and excellence. This is recognition of the fact that expansion does not necessarily ensure automatic access to the marginalised sections of the society and that quantitative expansion without maintaining quality would defeat the basic objective.

There are five questions pertaining to higher education that need to be addressed urgently:

First, we must ponder whether the existing means of instituting new universities is desirable and sustainable. Currently, Universities can be established only through Central or State legislation or through recognition as Deemed Universities on a selective basis. Legislation has been accorded to many private Universities by some State Governments, and both Central and State governments have accorded statutory status to some institutions.

Second, higher education cannot improve in India unless state universities, which are the backbone and represent the bulk of enrolment, are able to obtain greater funds, create new infrastructure and enrich their existing academic programmes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the budget of one central university is almost the same or more than the budget of all state universities in some states. Just like the central government has assumed the responsibility for elementary education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, it should also vastly enhance its support to state universities as a shared national enterprise. The Midterm Appraisal of the Eleventh Five Year Plan takes note of this option and has observed:

“Many state universities including the old and reputed universities of Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune are starved of funds and this allocation could be used for improving the conditions of the existing State universities and colleges which faces severe paucity of resources to help them retain their excellence and competitive edge….. The Central funding of State institutions should be linked to the reforms and a MOU signed between MHRD, UGC, States, universities and institutions for implementation of time-bound reforms and outcomes.”

Third, a significant focus of reform should be the college system, numbering around 26000 colleges, where most of the enrolment in higher education occurs. Sadly, under graduate education does not get the attention it deserves in universities amidst paucity of funds for qualitative development and quantitative expansion of colleges. The government is planning to establish colleges in 374 educationally backward districts in the country, representing over 60 per cent of all districts, with shared funding between the state and central governments.

Fourth, we need to liberate education from the strict and fragmented disciplinary confines of our formal higher education structures. This has become a significant impediment in the creation of new knowledge, especially in view of our stated objective of creating a knowledge society. We need to remind ourselves that the Indian Nobel Prize winners in the early part of the last century were a part of our higher education set-up. We had then allowed free interplay between science and engineering, languages and the humanities, performing and fine arts. It was at the fringes of such inter-disciplinary interaction that new knowledge was produced and existing knowledge flourished. I am aware of academic administrators who bemoan that those pursuing Mathematics could not simultaneously study Sanskrit grammar in India despite sound academic and research logic of doing so, due to systemic rigidities of our university system.

Fifth, higher education in our country must be an arena of choice, not of elimination. Increasingly, one notices that entrance and admission criteria and procedures are designed to screen out and eliminate, due to the adverse ratio of demand and availability, especially in disciplines with job potential or where the college or university reputation is likely to be a determining factor in employment. We must create avenues for skills training and vocational education so that entering universities does not become a default choice for the sake of employment, particularly for those who might not have interest in the subject or desire for higher education.

Allow me to conclude, ladies and gentlemen, by pointing out that the entire gamut of issues dealing with the rejuvenation and restructuring of higher education in India is in the public domain for an open policy debate. In the near future, we would witness civil society, policy community, academia, the government and the legislatures debating issues ranging from regulatory and governance structures, academic and administrative reforms, capacity building and teacher training, and entry of individual and institutional foreign education providers. This is a positive development and must be pursued to its logical conclusion.

It is my hope that this distinguished audience, and students, would be part of the ongoing debates on higher education. Each of you is an important stakeholder in the process and must contribute to it, not only as members of the academic community, but more importantly as citizens of this Republic. It is only with active engagement that we can hope to mould higher education as an instrumentality to achieve the Constitutional vision propounded by our founding fathers.”

This is an important speech. It gives some hints regarding what may happen in the 12th plan. It looks like there may be a significant central funding component for state universities.

December 21st, 2010

Pushing for central institutions and universities for the Twelfth five year plan (work in progress)

Update: Odisha must push for a second campus of Indian School of Mines. See for the reasoning that can be used for this.

The twelfth five year plan starts from 2012. It is only two years away. The eleventh plan fetched us a NISER (Bhubaneswar), IIT (Bhubaneswar), Central University of Orissa (Koraput), and plans for an innovation university (Bhubaneswar) and a centrally funded IIIT (Berhampur). Since all of these are in their earlier stages and there were 5+1 IISER/NISERs, 8 new IITs, 16 new/upgraded central universities, plan for 14 innovation universities and plan for 20 IIITs across the country I do not think there will be new ones of them in the 12th plan.

However, there are other kinds of centrally funded institutes and universities that were not much covered in the 11th plan, but yet there were instances of them in some parts of the country. I think if we focus on them from now it is possible that we can influence the inclusion of their establishment across the country in the 12th plan with some locations in Odisha. It is important to push these ideas as pan-Indian ideas rather than Odisha specific. Within Odisha by focusing on "backward districts" we can achieve a good distribution.

Following are some pan-Indian ideas that come to mind.

  1. Several Central Agricultural Universities in backward areas of the country, including one in Kalahandi: Currently there is a Central Agricultural University HQed in Imphal. ( I came across the news item in that says "the Union agriculture ministry had given the go-ahead to develop a central agriculture university in Jhansi". I think a good case can be made that instead of just Jhansi (in the backward Bundelkhand district) such universities should be made in several backward district clusters in India. In Odisha at one time Kalahandi was known as the Rice Bowl of Odisha. Also, with the central government’s role in harming the industrialization of Kalahandi they may be sympathetic to establish a CAU there.
  2. Several Central Institutions of Technology in backward areas of the country, including one in Balangir: Currently, a Central Institute of Technology exist in Kokrajhar, Assam. Similar ones exist in Longowal Punjab (SLIET),  and one being made in Malda (GKCIET). These are all centrally funded institutions, have rural focus and are aimed at 3-tiers: workers, technicians and engineers. See for some more details on these colleges. I think a good case can be made that such institutions be made across India in the various backward district clusters. In Odisha, Balangir may be suggested as the location as the third district cluster of the famed backward KBK region. With CUO in Koraput and and a CAU in Kalahandi, Balangir is the right place for a CIT.
  3. Upgradation of several engineering colleges to IIESTs, including the upgradation of VSSUT, Burla: Now that go ahead has been given to upgrade BESU (Bengal Engineering and Science University) to an IIEST (Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology), this idea should be expanded to another dozen or so colleges across India. In Odisha, VSSUT is the one most suitable for this upgrade. In this regard one may note that as per the evaluation in and only two government colleges (one in Pondicherry (75) and one in Hubli (77)) in India have a higher score than VSSUT’s  score of 73. Even among the colleges listed in only BITS-Mesra (76), Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore (82), Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai (80) and NIT Surathkal (77) have a higher score than VSSUT’s 73. [I am not sure if the colleges in the last list were scored on the same parameters as VSSUT.]

  5. Several National Sports Institutions/Universities, including one HQed in Rourkela: Currently there are two such institutes: Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education (LNUPE), Gwalior and Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala. Recently, a proposal was received by GOI from the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports to convert Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Youth Development, an institution deemed to be university, at Sriperumbudur into Rajiv Gandhi Central University/National Institute of Youth and Sports. I think a good case can be made that such institutions be made across India in districts and locations that are catchment areas for various sports. In Odisha Rourkela would be the right choice with a possible branch campus around Kendrapada (women’s soccer) and Jagatpur (Rowing).

  7. Additional branches of IGNTU (Indira Gandhi National Tribal University) including one in Kandhamala: Indira Gandhi National Tribal University is HQed in Amarkantak, MP. Its act mentions that the university will have branch campuses in various locations across India. The government of Odisha has proposed Kandhamala as the location of one such branch campus. This should be pushed and perhaps another campus may be proposed for the tribal areas cluster of Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj.

In addition we need to continue to push for a medical college and an engineering college as part of the Central University of Orissa, Koraput. The state government and the CUO Koraput authorities are already doing it.

2 comments December 15th, 2010

Regional Institute of Education Mysore offers 6 yrs M.Sc Ed integrated program. What about RIE Bhubaneswar?

Following is an excerpt from a report in Times of India.

The MSC Ed, an integrated six-year course (12 semesters), introduced in 2008 is the right way to master teaching skills. Offering quality teacher education programmes is the Regional Institute of Education that include innovative pre-service and in-service teacher training programmes and relevant research, development and extension activities.

The institute started as Regional College of Education in 1963, changed the name in 1994. It is one of the five such institutions established by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi. The other institutes are located at Ajmer, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and Shilong.

Prior to the six-year course, there was a two-year MSC Ed course for those who had completed BSC Ed, said Regional Institute of Education Principal GT Bhandage. "It had a good response and the students from all over the country would appear for the entrance exam. This course was conceived essentially to meet the demand of the higher secondary level in specific subjects like physics, chemistry and mathematics. Students who have passed out from this course were absorbed by Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalaya," added Bhandage.

In 2008, MSC Ed course was introduced after completion of II PUC or equivalent. The idea was to catch them young and train them with pedagogic skills and develop adequate content competency crucial to a teacher education programme, said Bhandage.

The six years integrated course is a combination of BSc and MSC. The first four years, students study physics, chemistry and mathematics while in fifth and final year they can choose a specialization subject.

After completion of the course one can get into Higher Secondary Schools or can do research.

… The admissions are made on all India basis through an entrance exam. The selection will be based on the performance in the qualifying exam and entrance exam.

For details log on to or call 514515/ 2514095.

RIE Mysore has a website at I have not been able to find a web site for RIE Bhubaneswar. I wonder if RIE Bhubaneswar offers such a course.

Considering the implementation of RTE, there is a big need for more and better trained teachers and educational administrators (headmasters, principals, vice-principals, etc.). To achieve that the government of India should upgrade the RIEs to National Institutes of Education and make them Institutions of National Importance. This will attract the attention of more good students towards a teaching and teaching administration career. The government should incraese the number of seats and number of programs in these institutes and intrdoce programs for creating top-notch Educational administrators.

1 comment April 14th, 2010

CIPET adds two exclusive R & D hubs: One of them, Laboratory for Advance Research in Polymeric Materials (LARPM), established in Bhubaneswar

The advertisement mentions that CIPET is upgrading its centers to High Learning Centers to impart B.Tech, M.Tech and Ph.D programs with exclusive R & D hubs ARSTPS & LARPM. (Note: I think LARPM was the first R & D hub to be created by CIPET and was mentioned in a Jan 2009 PIB report. But both were also mentioned in a May 2008 Economic Times article.)

As per

Technology innovation through dedicated research work by a Core team has been the philosophy of CIPET, which led to the establishment of 02 R&D centres – Laboratory for Advance Research in polymeric Materials (LARPM) & Advance Research School for Technology & Product simulation (ARSTPS) at CIPET Bhubaneswar & Chennai respectively. …

The vision for these R&D Centres have been conceived with objectives of transforming CIPET as a Global research Centre on Polymeric Materials as well as a Resource centre for newer concept development & conversion of concept into reality by Product development on commercial scales. Technology transfer, creation of Intellectual Property (IP), knowledge base with validated documentation would be the key aspects of functioning of R&D entities.

The significance of LARPM & ARSTPS is evident from the fact that they will be chaired by Director General and functioning independently under the Technology & Business development department of Corporate Office. The targets for both R&D centres have been set to pursue the objectives in mission mode. The experienced & competent faculties have been drawn from the existing pool of CIPET along with newly inducted researchers.

Operating model of LARPM & ARSTPS would be influenced with 03 “Rs”- Relevance to industry needs, Result-oriented output, Resourceful base to operate as ‘Centre of excellence”. It is worth mentioning that LARPM has already been sanctioned 03 sponsored projects from Funding agencies of Govt. of India. Similarly, ARSTPS has already initiated industry sponsored projects for Automotive, Medical & Aerospace Industries.

The identified focus areas of LARPM & ARSTPS are as follows:

Biopolymers   Innovative Product Design for Medical, Automobile, Aerospace and Packaging Industries
Polymer Composites & Nanocomposites   Product and Tool Design Conceptualization (modeling, analysis, process optimization & simulation approach )
Functional Plastics, Carbon nanotubes  

E- Manufacturing of Prototypes.


Polymer Membranes, Conducting polymers


Reverse Engineering for metal and conventional
material substitution.

Development & Characterization of Engg.
Polymers, Blends/Alloys
Fuel Cells    

The home page of LARPM is As per there are already 5 students pursuing Ph.D at LARPM. Following are concept drawings of their upcoming building.

The 2010-2011 admission ad shows the and programs that will be offered in 2010-2011. The program that will be offered at CIPET Bhubaneswar are:

  • B.Tech in Plastics Engineering/Technology (Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Chennai , Lucknow, Haldia – proposed)
  • B.Tech in Manufacturing Engineering & Technology – proposed (Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Lucknow)
  • M.Tech in Plastics Engineering/Technology (Bhubaneswar, Chennai , Lucknow, Hajipur)
  • M.Tech in Polymer Nano Technology (LARPM – Bhubaneswar)
  • M.Sc M.Tech in Material Science &  Engineering (Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Lucknow).

The only program not listed to be offered at Bhubaneswar, but offered elsewhere, is

  • M.Engg in CAD CAM (ARSTPS – Chennai)

Besides the above; all the 15 CIPET centers offer the following diplomas and PG Diplomas:

  • Diploma in Plastic mould technology (3 yrs)
  • Diploma in Plastics technology (3 yrs)
  • PG Diploma in plastic mould design (1 yrs)
  • PG Diploma in plastic processing & testing (1.5 yrs)

Finally, the Mancheswar branch of CIPET offers the following programs:

  • ITI-Fitter, ITI-Electrician, ITI-IT&ESM and ITI-Welder
  • and various short term courses and CAD/CAM courses.

From the above it looks like CIPET Chennai and Bhubaneswar are among the leaders.  However neither Odisha nor Tamil Nadu have a NIPER. (The original NIPER is near Mohali and Chandigarh.  As part of the 11th plan, new NIPERs were made in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Hajipur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Rae Bareli.) I hope Odisha pursues and gets one during the next five year plan.

1 comment February 20th, 2010

Plans afoot for Rural areas: rural universities in each backward and tribal clusters across India

Following is an excerpt from a report in India Journal.

The government of India is planning to establish 10,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in rural areas across the country for imparting technical training to youths.

Minister of State for Planning V Narayanasamy announced this while inaugurating the first national convention of rural institutes, organized by the National Council of Rural Institutes, here Oct 19.

“We have opened the flood gates for foreign investment in the education sector. Our thrust is on expanding the educational infrastructure in the rural areas by opening more institutes and universities,” the minister said.

He said plans were afoot to set up one rural university in each backward and tribal clusters across the country. Besides, 25,000 schools would also be set up in rural areas under the Public-Private Partnership mode.

Some of the existing Rural Universities in India are:

Looking for the "New Education Policy of the Nation reflects the principles evolved here in developing the rural university concept " I came across the document at which mentions this policy, but this policy was made in 1986 and revised in 1992. There is no mention of "Rural Universities" in the 11th plan. I guess the minster’s staement above may be referring to the upcoming 12th plan. If that is the case, it is a great idea to pursue it now.

If indeed as the minsiter says, a rural university is established in each backward and tribal clusters across the country Orissa could go after at least 3 such universities: one in the KBK district cluster, one in the Gajapati-Kandhamal district cluster and one in Sundergarh-Mayurbhanj-Keonjhar district cluster. In this regard we must watch out the pages of the National Council of Rural Institutes.

October 23rd, 2009

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