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Rs 500cr for me-too plan on IITs, IIMs

New Delhi, July 10: Finance minister Arun Jaitley today announced that five new IITs and an equal number of IIMs would be set up this year, continuing with the previous government’s efforts to widen access to higher education.

The new IITs will come up in Jammu, Chhattisgarh, Goa, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, taking the total number of these premier tech schools to 21, including eight started in the last six years.

The new IIMs will be located in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra. Seven of the 13 existing B-schools came up in the last seven years.

The Union budget has allotted Rs 500 crore for the proposed institutions.

Jaitley said the country needed more world-class centres of higher learning and announced plans to set up a Jai Prakash Narayan National Centre for Excellence in humanities in Madhya Pradesh.

Educationists, however, voiced concern over starting new IITs and IIMs at a time the existing ones were struggling with lack of infrastructure and qualified teachers.

An IIT Delhi teacher said the budget proposal does not seem to recognise that a high-rise cannot be built without a sound and sufficiently deep foundation. “Our school education system is in a complete mess. We simply cannot provide high-quality higher education in science and technology unless we set our school education system in order.”

Private institutions, too, were not enthused by the budget provisions. Satya Narayanan R., founder-chairman, Career Launcher Educate, said: “There is nothing to cheer elementary and school education, the foundation of any society, particularly that of India’s underprivileged.”

The IIT Delhi teacher said the government would need qualified people for the proposed institutions and wondered where they would come from. “What they plan to do would lead to propagation of mediocrity and dilution of whatever excellence exists in the country,” he said.

He also criticised the UPA government for setting up the new IITs and IIMs without proper planning.

Birendra Nayak, a retired mathematics professor of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, said the proposed IITs and IIMs would only serve to augment the “caste system” by being treated in the same way the older ones now treat the newly set up institutes.

IIT Kanpur chairman M. Anandkrishnan, however, said the country needed more institutions of higher study to meet the growing demand for quality education. “You have to start somewhere. Once started, the institutes will grow and establish themselves. To argue that an institute should be started after having complete infrastructure and faculty is not a correct approach.”

The allocation for the education sector has increased marginally from Rs 79,451 crore last year to Rs 82,771 crore: Rs 55,115 crore for school education and literacy, including Rs 28,635 crore for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and Rs 27,656 for higher and technical education.

Jaitley announced a “New Teachers Training Programme” named after Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, an educationist and politician known for his role in the Independence movement, to motivate teachers.

The minister set aside Rs 100 crore for setting up virtual classrooms, or Communication Linked Interface for Cultivating Knowledge, and online courses.