The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Control first, IIT later

Calcutta, Dec. 1: The Bengal government today indicated that it does not want to let go of its grip over Jadavpur University and Bengal Engineering and Science University, which the Centre has agreed to consider for upgrading to “IIT status”.

Jadavpur University authorities conveyed the government’s view to a team from the human resource development ministry. The team is on a two-day “on-the-spot inspection” of the two institutions.

If the upgrade comes through, the ministry has said it is willing to contribute Rs 300 crore to JU and Rs 900 crore to Bengal Engineering and Science University (earlier known as BE College) for their development.

Contrary to terms set by Delhi ' that the state could not interfere in the functioning once the institutions were awarded IIT status ' the Left Front government today proposed a model of governance that would ensure it continues to have a say.

The team from Delhi was told that the “proposed mode of governance” should strike a “middle path” between the way the IITs are run and the system followed by state-aided universities “to work out a perfect synthesis”.

“We have informed them that each institution has its own rhythm and entity,” JU vice-chancellor A.N. Basu said.

“At Jadavpur University, we are used to a model which is completely different from that in the IITs. In such a situation, the IIT model may not work here, especially if we seek to make a transformation overnight. So, we have suggested that we arrive at a golden mean between the two systems. Only then will our aspirations and the HRD ministry’s intentions make a perfect match.”

The state government is particularly opposed to the nomination of most governing board members by Delhi, as is the case with the IITs. In JU and BE College, members are elected, an exercise the government can influence.

The JU authorities have also made it clear that the admission procedure would have to be through the state-run joint entrance examinations and not through tests conducted by the IITs.

The central team has asked for the observations in writing so that it can append them to the report that it will submit to the ministry in Delhi.

The HRD officials said they were “overwhelmed” by the “high standards of academic excellence” in both JU and BE College. They have “expressed willingness to consider the mixed model of governance that we have suggested”, JU registrar Rajat Banerjee said.

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