Archive for February, 2007

Dr. Digambara Patra responds to HRD propaganda

Dear Honorable Union HRD Minister, Government of India, Mr Singh,

With reference to the news report published in Hindustan Times on 26th Feb 2007,


The argument made by HRD ministry saying “presence of 12 centrally funded educational institutes and announced NISER forbid Orissa to get a new IIT” is also equally baseless. If it would have been the case than Andhra Pradesh has 31 such centrally funded institutions including HRD ministry sponsored central university Hyderabad and beside many DRDO
laboratories, still the HRD ministry has proposed new IIT and is also considering for two new IIEST in the state. Additionally other central institutes like IIPH and NIPER are being established in Andhra Pradesh.


Continue Reading February 28th, 2007

2007-08 budget: Means-Cum-Merit Scholarships

The following is from the 2007-08 budget speech:

Means-Cum-Merit Scholarships

20. While the SSA has improved the enrolment ratio in schools to 96 per cent, the drop out ratio continues to be high. The critical year appears to be transition from class VIII to class IX. In order to arrest the drop out ratio and encourage students to continue their education beyond class VIII, I propose to introduce a National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme. Selection will be made through a national test from among students who have passed class VIII. Each student will be given Rs.6,000 per year for study in classes IX, X, XI and XII. I propose that 100,000 scholarships may be awarded every year. In order to fund this programme, I intend to create a corpus fund of Rs.750 crore this year, and add a like amount to the fund every year over the next three years. Accordingly, a sum of Rs.750 crore will be placed with the State Bank of India, and the yield from the fund will be used for awarding the scholarships.

I like the above provision, especially the number of scholarships and the “means” aspect of it. What exactly the “means” cut-off would be remains to be seen. If this scholarship allows poor motivated students to chose the school of their choice then it will be similar to the voucher system used in Michigan. One worry is that the poor students will use the scholarship money for their family expenses and not for their educational expenses. I would also suggest that the number of scholarships be increased by at least 10% every year and the corresponding amout added to the corpus every year. Besides, private donations to the corpus should be encouraged and as the corpus grows the number of scholarships should grow.

2 comments February 28th, 2007

IISERs and NISER in the 2007-08 budget

In the 2007-08 budget there is no line item budget for NISER. Thats probably because NISER is yet to be approved by the cabinet. However, there is a significant increase in the budget of Institute of Physics and in page 5 item 9.04 it is mentioned that “the responsibility of setting up NISER at Bhubaneswar is entrusted to IOP.”

IOP’s budget (item 9.04, page 1) in 2006-07 was 4.96+9 = 13.6 crores. Its budget in 2007-08 is 32.75 + 7 = 39.5 crores. It can be safely assumed that a major chunk of the additional 25.9 crores is towards the NISER expenses. (Note that there are huge increases in the budget of couple of other institutes too. This includes Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad and Institute of Plasma research, Gandhinagar.)
In the 2006-07 budget for IISERs in Pune and Kolkata (item 70) there was a total of 50 crores which was revised to 20 crores. This line item does not have numbers for 2007-08. There is another line item (item 76) on IISER with 125 crores for the 5 IISERs: the established ones in Pune and Kolkata and the 3 proposed IISERs in Bhopal, Trivendrum and Mohali, Punjab.

Thus the budget meant for NISER compares favourably with the IISER budgets.

February 28th, 2007

Ravenshaw University is UGC approved: UCE Burla must be put on a similar path

Ravenshaw University now has UGC approval. It was only in November 2006 that it got approval from the Orissa assembly. Today’s Pioneer reports that it received UGC approval on Febriary 6th. It is now listed in the UGC website of universities in Orissa. Now it awaits the more important status of “Funded by UGC”.

UCE Burla, about which we discussed earlier in December, must be put on a similar path. It must ape BESU (Bengal Engineering and Science University) and CUSAT (Cochin University of Science and Technology) both of which are state universities and have the “Funded by UGC” status. See the UGC West Bengal and Kerala pages here and here respectively. In their attempt to improve UCE Burla, efforts are being made for it to get deemed university status. I think they should just go for a state university status and then go all out to get the “Funded by UGC” status. They should send a delegation to BESU and CUSAT to learn some of the secrets of their success.

2 comments February 26th, 2007

From mineral resources to human resources

For some time there has been discussion that Orissa government should formulate a policy of going from mineral resources to human resources. I.e., it must cajole the various mineral based industries (steel plants, aluminium plants, coal fields etc.) in Orissa to invest in the human resource development of Orissa. So far except the announced Vedanta University, and 13 crores donated by the Tatas towards the Institute of Mathematics, the others have at most contributed small amounts towards ITI type trade schools. In this regards the GOI public sectors in Orissa have not done much.

Now Orissa must take a quick lesson from Jharkhand. Today’s Telegraph reports that Bokaro steel plant has agreed to establish an engineering college as well as a medical college in Bokaro.

Continue Reading 2 comments February 26th, 2007

Picturesque Naraj-Cuttack area where Kathajodi originates from Mahanadi is on the way to become an educational hub

Picturesque Naraj-Cuttack area where Kathajodi originates from Mahanadi is on the way to become an educational hub. On the Cuttack Island in Abhinav Bidanasi there is a plan for the second campus of Ravenshaw University. On the Naraj side land has been shortlisted for NISER (National Institute of Science Education and Research) as well as the University by Shri Shri Ravishankar.

1 comment February 24th, 2007

Notes on the IIT shifting issue.

Some notes have been prepared on the IIT shifting issue. (word, pdf)
Please distribute it to appropriate people, especially lawmakers (MPs, MLAs) and journalists.

1 comment February 23rd, 2007

Business Standard: Manipal’s plan for Orissa

Business standard has an article on Manipal’s plan for Orissa. Thanks to Jitu Mishra for the tip.

February 23rd, 2007

Agami Orissa’s preparotory meeting on the IIT issue on Feb 26th; Grand-Citizen-Convention March 8th

Following is a message from Agami Orissa. Chitta

Dear Friends,

A preparotory meeting has been convened, for the burning issue of IIT in Orissa, on 26th afternoon ( 3pm to 5pm) at Faculty Club, VaniVihar. All members and also other interested persons, not belonging to Agami Odisha but strongly feel Orissa has been cheated in IIT/IIEST issue, may participate in the meeting.

Continue Reading 3 comments February 19th, 2007

Union HRD secretary visits Orissa and says no IIT for Orissa; reactions

The union HRD secretary visited Orissa on Feb 6th 2007 and confirmed that there will be no IIT in Orissa this time around. There are strong reactions to this statement. The CM Naveen Patnaik calls this unfortunate. Brajakishore Sahu writes a hard hitting article on this in Dharitri (page1, page2, page3, page4, page5, page6). has an article and also has a video clip showing the CM’s reaction.

For up to date detailed coverage on this, please visit

February 19th, 2007

Apparently Vedanta University is after some Nobel Laurates

Financial express reports that Vedanta University is after some nobel laurates. It also mentions the proposed scale of the Vedanta University: 100,000 students; 10,000 faculty; 40,000 other employess; 10,000 acres; 15000 crore investment etc.

February 19th, 2007

CM’s letter to the PM on the IIT shifting issue

The CM’s letter to the PM on the IIT issue is at If the CM, busy amidst elections, could send a letter within 2-3 days of the news coverage of the IIT shifting, we should not delay further.

We must strengthen the cause of IIT for Orissa and the hand of the CM, by each one of us at least writing to the PM and planning commission.

Continue Reading 1 comment February 18th, 2007

NID Ahmedabad will help Orissa in creating a state design center

New indian Express reports that National Institute of Design at Ahmedabad will help Orissa in the creation of a SIDC (State Initiative Design Center).

February 18th, 2007

Site selection for NISER down to two sites

New Indian Express reports that the site sleection for NISER is down to two sites. Just based on the description of the two sites it is clear that one of them is not suitable as it is only 185 acres (not 300 acres as needed) and that site has some disputes. So the Orissa government should not delay any further and get done with the paperwork necessary to handover the only suitable site in the short-list to NISER at the earliest so that they can start an architectural competition for the campus.

February 18th, 2007

Vedanta University is courting some top-notch people

I am told that Vedanta University is after some top-notch people. Until their names are formally announced we can not name them here. All we can say at this point is that the people whose names are doing the round have top-notch credentials and one of them is known Inida wide.

February 18th, 2007

Six new National Schools of Drama are in the offing: Orissa should ask for one

Pioneer reports that six new National Schools of Drama-NSD (or similar institutes) will be established in the coming years. Orissa should make efforts to have one of these new NSDs in Orissa. Currently the only NSD is in New Delhi.

February 18th, 2007

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