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Since 1st March, 1999
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IIT revamp report soon, says Joshi

Chennai, Aug. 9: Union minister for human resources development Murli Manohar Joshi today said the committee set up to review the functioning of the Indian Institutes of Technology and suggest “modifications and directions” will soon submit its report to the government.

Members of the committee, headed by Professor P. Rama Rao, have visited most of the IITs and the government would consider their recommendations, Joshi said while addressing the 40th convocation of IIT Madras here.

The minister said the funding pattern of the IITs has changed since the BJP came to power at the Centre. The earlier “block grant scheme” has given way to “performance-based funding”, he pointed out. The number of IITs has also gone up from five to seven with the new ones set up at Roorkie and Guwahati, he added.

The Centre was “currently entering into an MoU with individual IITs with the aim of preserving their character of national importance and promoting technological excellence in the country”, Joshi said.

As many as 1,146 candidates were awarded degrees by IIT Madras today in the presence of Isro chief K. Kasturirangan, who is also the chairman of the board of governors of the institute.

and Professor M.S. Ananth, the institute’s director.

Talking to reporters later, Joshi elaborated on the change in the funding pattern. He said 50 per cent of the funding for IITs would from now on be for research. “We have upgraded the 17 regional engineering colleges into National Institutes of Technology and linked the seven IITs also with them”, Joshi said but added that current output in research does not match the country’s needs.

“We want IITs to be producers and innovators…,” he said.

The minister pointed out that it has been more than 50 years since the first IIT at Kharagpur was established and the IITs’ objective of becoming world-renowned institutions in science and technology has been more than achieved. But “I wish this brand equity gives more dividends to the country,” he said.

Joshi said another committee under the chairmanship of R. Chidambaram, principal scientific adviser to the Government of India, has proposed industry-academic collaboration whereby new industry recruits will be sent to the IITs to do their Ph.D. on industry-specific problems.

The minister denied there was any difference of view between the finance ministry and his department regarding funding of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, a Centre-funded literacy programme. This programme does not require any World Bank funding, though the latter wants to participate in it, he pointed out.

Joshi asserted that as long as he is HRD minister, he would not allow the programme to be dictated by the World Bank. The state has to provide funds for such literacy schemes, he said.

If there is one area in which the Vajpayee government’s performance has been “best” in the last four years, it is in primary education, Joshi said, pointing out that the national literacy rate has gone up from 52 to 66 per cent.

Speaking at the convocation, Kasturirangan said Isro is developing a satellite-based education system called “Edusat” which is expected to be launched next year. This would be a “great opportunity” for institutions like IIT Madras which have already started developing models of such networks, he added.

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