Elite campaign: Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad
From north to south, ISM’s cry for IIT status is being heard across the country.
After demonstrations in Delhi, the prolonged campaign by ISM students, teachers and alumni has received a shot in the arm with the newly formed six-member expert committee of IIT council deciding to meet for the first time in Chennai to discuss the issue of upgrading the 85-year-old institute on Thursday.
The committee, which has been constituted by the Union HRD department and is headed by former director of IIT-Bombay Ashok Mishra, has five other members. They are IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurty, his Jodhpur counterpart Prem Kalra, member of IIT-Kanpur board of governors Niraj Mishra, former professor of IIT-Bangalore K. Khemka and ISM director Durga Charna Panigrahi.
Panigrahi left for Chennai on Wednesday to attend the crucial meeting. “We will highlight the institute’s contributions to the development of the country and also the society,” he added.
Echoing Panigrahi, ISM registrar Colonel (Retd) M.K. Singh said: “We will try our best to convince other members of the committee. But, right now, we cannot predict anything.”
The expert committee meeting assumes significance because if the panel submits a favourable report to the IIT council that will meet on September 16, a bill will be introduced in the Parliament to convert ISM into an IIT.
ISM students are keeping their fingers crossed.
“The issue has been delayed unnecessarily. This time, we hope the committee submits a final report as soon as possible,” said student leader Shashank Shekhar.
Dreading further delay, another protester added: “We want the bill to be introduced during the winter session of Parliament. Otherwise, the upcoming elections in 2014 will again put the issue on the backburner.”
Notably, the decision to form the expert committee was taken long ago at the last IIT council meeting held on January 12, 2013. But, the process of forming the committee got delayed, as the Union HRD department could not finalise the names of the members.
ISM’s demand for IIT status started gaining ground in 2009. While the National Development Council approved the upgrade plea in 2011, the Planning Commission gave the nod last year. Besides students, teachers and alumni members of ISM are also batting for the cause.
Several politicians from across the country, including Dhanbad BJP MP P.N. Singh, Rajya Sabha members Chandan Mitra and Sanjeev Kumar, have also lent support to the campaign.