Md Nadimul Haque speaks on The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Sir, I’m happy to state that I come from a State which prides itself in having one of the crown jewels of education – IIT Kharagpur. IIT Kharagpur has thousands of alumni who have played a role in many fields across the world. Sir, IITs are among India’s finer institutes and it is necessary that they become one of the leading centres of excellence in the world.

It is important that the first focus should be on improving the infrastructure, research facilities and faculties in these institutes. It is really unfortunate that none of our IITs are among the top hundred institutes in the world. We actually do not figure in the top 250 in the global rankings. The present Government should invite top international institutes and universities from Europe, America and other parts of the world to bring in world-class infrastructure and research facilities in the already available IITs and also in the new IITs which the Government is planning to set up.

Focus should be more on student and faculty exchange. Joint research programmes should be initiated by both the present and the future IITs. Sir, it will improve the quality of education and will help bring in ideas and knowledge from across the world.

I would like to raise my concern over a fee hike which has happened in the IITs recently. It is unfortunate that the present Government has hiked the fees by more than 100%. I strictly oppose it and would request the Government to roll it back. Sir, there is also the question of scholarships. The amount which the students are getting at present amounts to Rs 12,600, which is very less. Sir, I appeal to them to raise it to Rs 20,000.

Sir, the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s initiatives to six IITs in Tirupati, Palakkad, Goa, Dharwad, Bhilai and Jammu and to bring the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad within the ambit of the Act is fully supported by me. In fact, we are in favour of setting up at least one I IT in each State. This will give more opportunities throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Sir, through you I would like to ask the Minister to not just focus on industry-institute relationship but also to work towards developing a strong alumni network for both cutting-edge technology as well as monetary support to IITs. The alumni network who have gained excellence in their fields and are in leading positions in multinational companies or research centres across the world should be regularly invited to the institutes and their experience and excellence should be utilised for the nation.

It is important that the Government makes sure of the availability of better choices for the students in the country itself so that the trend of going abroad after graduating from the IITs decreases. Thus more funds should be allotted for those students who want to pursue research after their college education is completed. The standards of the IITs which lag behind other IITs should also be raised so that they are brought on par with one another.

Sir, I end with this Urdu couplet:

Raat ko jeet toh sakta nahin lekin yeh chiraag

Raat ko jeet toh sakta nahin lekin yeh chiraag

Kam se kam raat ka nuksaan bahut karta.


Thank you, Sir

Sugata Bose speaks in Lok Sabha on The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Six new IITs will be set up at Tirupati, Palakkad, Dharwar, Bhilai, Goa and Jammu and the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad which is just across the border of West Bengal in Jharkhand is going to be upgraded to an IIT. Just reciting the name of these places is a wonderful reminder of the diversity of our country. Whenever I rise to speak in this august House on the subject of education there is a general expectation that I will speak about quality, excellence and merit.

Today I would want this House to think carefully over the question, what is merit? I posed this question because I feel that in our country there is a great danger of passing of accumulated caste privilege as merit. If there are huge sections of our people who have suffered historic injustice then we should be very careful not to label them as people who lack merit. It is our fault that they have not got adequate opportunities to excel in our schools of higher education.

Now it is often forgotten that the IIT Act was of course passed in 1961. But reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, 22.5 per cent, were not extended to the IITs until 1973. That was done under the Prime Ministership of Smt Indira Gandhi. And the OBC reservations were not extended until as late as 2006. I was reading an article by an anthropologist at Harvard University, named Ajanta Subramaniam, titled ‘Making Merit’, published in the Comparative Studies of Society and History, and I was startled to read some of the statistics that were given in that article about IIT, Madras.

Mr Deputy Speaker you know better than anyone else that our state of Tamil Nadu led ever since the great figure Annadurai showed us the way. The state of Tamil Nadu has empowered the backward class, schedule caste and scheduled tribes for decades.

But IIT Chennai is a Central institute, and as of 2015 (the numbers may have changed slightly since then), if we look at the figures for faculty members, there were 464 faculty members in the general category, 59 in the OBC category, only 11 in the scheduled castes category and a mere two in the scheduled tribes category.

These numbers cannot be explained by merit alone. These numbers can only be explained by conscious and subconscious bias against the disadvantaged sections of the people in our country. And that is why I said, please do not confuse accumulated past privilege as merit. Let us not have traditional cultural capital be transformed into modern capital in our institutes of technology, which are institutes of national importance.

Whenever the question of IIM comes up, we talk of autonomy. Now, of course, it is important to give autonomy to IIT directors, to chairpersons of governing boards of the IITs, and this Parliament must always preserve its prerogative which was under challenge by the HRD Ministry to declare institutes of national importance.

Now, the Hon’ble Human Resources Development Minister talks about accessibility as being one of his four mantras, and we have actually now given some accessibility in our IITs and our Central universities to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. But the question is that have we given the feeling of equal citizenship inside the portals of our great institutions of higher learning? That is why, when students at IIT Chennai want to set up an Ambedkar and Periyar Study Circle, why should the Dean of Students, at the direction of the Central Government, derecognise such a study circle? Everyone should be reading the works of Dr Ambedkar and of Periyar. So that is why it is very important to go beyond the accessibility and give a sense of inclusiveness to Dalit students or Adivasi students or OBC students who are beginning to enter in large numbers into institutes such as the IITs.

In conclusion, let me elaborate a little bit on a point that I raised during Questions Hour this morning. For some time now, in this Parliament, in response to the Budget presented by this Government, I have been saying that we should not make a ritual of setting up five new IITs, five new IIMs every year; and I think the Finance Minister listened to that point when he announced that he was going to have 10 public and 10 private institutions that would be selected to become globally competitive.

I say this because we have to think very carefully about when we should set up new institutes and when we should strengthen our existing institutes. And I say this not because I feel that the brand name of the IITs will be diluted by setting up new IITs. I’m actually in favour of having at least one IIT in every State, and I hate importing the terminology of the world of commerce into the world of learning. I don’t like the word ‘brand’ which was even used by my friend Shashi Tharoor in which he wrote on the brand IIT, but I am more concerned that we should make sure that we have the human resources to staff the new institutes that we are setting up and that is why when we select those 20 institutions that will have a special enabling regulatory framework, I think, we should choose the most promising existing institutions, a few IITs or Indian Institutes of Science, a few central universities and a few state universities.

Finally, we have paid tribute to our tribute to our Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru under whose leadership the IITs were set up in the early 1960’s but I would like to mention today, one great scientist from Bengal whose vision lost out in the post-independence period. His name was Meghnad Saha; he was the scientist who was appointed to the National Planning Committee by none other than Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1938 and of this National Planning Committee he also made Jawaharlal Nehru, the Chairperson. But there was a debate between Dr Homi Bhabha on one hand and Meghnad Saha on the other in the immediate post-independence decade. Meghnad Saha was a member of this august House but Jawaharlal Nehru listened to Homi Bhabha so that scientific research especially the atomic energy research became secretive state-controlled enterprise. Meghnad Saha had suggested that even nuclear physics research should take place in our finest universities. These were the days before the IITs.

So, I would like to also suggest to the government that while building on the achievements of the past, they should also show a new direction of policy for the future so that the IITs which are a good teaching institutions also become the venues of cutting-edge research. Let us support the best central and state universities as also incubators of innovative research, if we do that we will be paying a genuine tribute to a figure like Meghnad Saha whose grand farsighted vision was not accepted the way it should have been in the early 1950s.

With these words I would like to thank you once again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for giving me the opportunity to speak on the IIT (Amendment) Bill. These are occasions on which we can actually deliberate more broadly on education policy as a whole. Thank you very much.

Saugata Roy speaks in Lok Sabha on The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Today, I speak on The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 1961. Firstly, I oppose the raising of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) fees to Rs 2 lakh per year. It is totally against the common people, the common students. I speak from experience. Fifty-two years ago, I was admitted to IIT Kharagpur, which I left later. The fee was only Rs 20 per month, which means Rs 240 in a year. That’s why my parents could afford it. And now you are raising it to Rs 2 lakh a year. You are saying you will give loans and concessions. I think it is totally anti-people. Ask the IITs to reduce the fees immediately.

Secondly, I support the Bill otherwise for setting up new IITs in Tirupati, Jammu, Bhilai, Palakkad, Goa and Dharohar, and converting Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad to an IIT. But I want to ask the Hon’ble minister why he has allotted only Rs 230 crore for six IITs and Rs 100 crore for ISM. Why have you given so little money? Please clarify – how can IITs initiate developmental activities on this money?

Thirdly, Sir, I take this opportunity to pay my respect to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who first visualised the IIT. I pay my respect to Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, Bengal’s former Chief Minister, who offered the Hijli jail in Kharagpur for setting up the IIT. He also got Gyan Chandra Ghosh, a famous Bengali chemist, to head the first IIT. Kudos to them.

IIT Kharagpur was a pioneer in the field and for the first time it started courses in naval architecture. aeronautical engineering and agricultural engineering which were not taught anywhere else in the country. Later, four more IITs were set up but all with foreign help. IIT Kanpur was set up with American help, IIT Madras with German help, IIT Delhi with British help.

Mr Prahlad Joshi mentioned that Narendra Modi ji is setting up IITs in every State. It’s not factually correct. The fact is that the decision of setting up eight IITs were taken earlier – IIT College of Engineering Technology in Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Roorkee, IIT Bhubaneswar, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Indore, IIT Jodhpur, IIT Mandi, IIT Patna, IIT Ropar and IIT-BHU were set up during the last plan.

So it is not factually correct to say that Narendra Modi has taken the initiative. It is a good idea that we must have an IIT in every State. We must give every State the benefit of the high-quality teaching and research that IITs provide to us. In the morning, in a reply to a question, you have correctly said that in spite of the very good work done by the IITs in the past, our IITs are no longer among the top 50 global educational institutes. IIT Bombay is between 351-400, and IIT Delhi, Kharagpur and Madras are between 401-500, while IIT Roorkee and IIT Guwahati are between 501-600. So this shows how far behind we are and the best IIT we have in the Asian rankings, IIT Bombay is at 54.

So we have to do something to really improve the IITs further. I hope that the Minister will accept that something needs to be done. My submission is that you should go for fresh collaboration with top American universities and British universities like Pandit Nehru did. It’s not against the interest of the nation. You should collaborate with the top institutes of America, Britain and China to improve the standards of the IITs, to reach international standards: we have not yet reached international standards. We must raise our level to their levels.

Lastly, I would like to mention a few points. We should find out why Dr Anil Kakodkar, one of our best nuclear scientists, resigned from the Board of Governors of IIT Bombay. We should persuade these people to come to these institutes.

A member was suggesting that there should be good industry-IIT interface. But my experience says industry does not contribute a single rupee to IITs. Rather, you should reach out to the alumni. The IIT alumni are forthcoming, especially those who are established abroad, in coming forward to donate money. Please approach them for getting money as well as cutting-edge technology. These days, only cutting-edge technology can survive in the highly competitive world.

Lastly I will end by saying one small thing. Mr. Javadekar, please think of what you can do to improve patriotism in the boys and girls from IIT. I am told that 80 per cent of the students of IIT Bombay go to America, and most of them do not return. We are spending government money. If the best products of our institutions go to America, we sell out brains to make our engineers cyber coolies in America, and then it is unfortunate for the country. Don’t do it the RSS way, let us put values in them so that they love the country and stay back.

Many new IITs have come up in recent years and are also doing well. But we must take initiatives to bring them up to the level of other IITs. The Minister, I hope, will announce a programme. The Central Government runs some of the best institutions like Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research. They are good but not at par with international standards. All efforts should be made to prevent politicisation of their management and to see that the best talents get together to produce the best engineers and technologists found anywhere in this highly competitive world in which India is making a bid to sit at the high table.
With these words Sir, I support the Bill.