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Existing IITs vs Upcoming IITs


The Indian Institutes of technology are in the news again. Earlier this month, a newspaper reported the names of seven short listed colleges to be converted into IITs, as per the SK Joshi Commission. 

  The short listed institutions are the

  • Institute of Technology BHU Varanasi;

  • University College of Engineering combined with University College of Technology, both belonging to the Osmania University;

  • Bengal Engineering College Howrah;

  • Jadavpur University’s Engineering and Technology Departments;

  • College of Engineering and Technology, AMU Aligarh;

  • Andhra University College of Engineering;

  • Cochin University of Science and Technology.

             However, the government is considering the report of the Joshi Committee to constitute an expert access to the suitability of transforming seven institutions to the level of IITs, as these institutions are very below the level of the existing IITs in all criteria used for short listing. 

      But suddenly everyone is asking questions:

  • When will the new IITs materialize?

  • Which colleges will be the lucky ones?

  • On what criteria has the IIT committee selected these colleges?

    We shall try to answer these questions and also discuss the process of IITization.

The need for new IITs

The race for new IITs began even before the former Prime Minister Shri. Atal Bihar Vajpayee announced the creation of five more IITs ‘by upgrading existing academic institutions that have the necessary potential’ at a function organized by IIT Kanpur in October 2003. 

In 2002, when Roorkee University was converted into the seventh IIT (and first college to be transformed into an IIT), alarm bells rang in the capitals of southern Indian States. This was because with the announcement of Roorkee, there were three IITs in the north (IIT Delhi, Kanpur and Roorkee), but only one (IIT Madras) in south. The others were IIT Bombay (west), IIT Kharagpur and Guwahati in the east. 

Some southern states were then ruled by political parties that supported the erstwhile National Alliance government and the pressure began to mount on the Centre. 

The government then agreed to correct the ‘regional imbalance’ by establishing more IITs. Part of the problem was sought to be resolved announcing that some Regional Engineering Colleges would be converted into NITs.


SK Joshi Committee

In November 2003, the Government of India announced that the SK Joshi Committee would help in the selection of five institutions to be five new IITs. 

The committee comprised eminent academics, scientists and research administrators. The members were as follows :-

  • Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan — 
    Currently a Rajya Sabha member, formerly Chairman of Board of Directors, IIT Madras.

  • Dr. R. Natarajan — 
    Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education.

  • Prof. V.S. Raju — 
    Former director of IIT Delhi, former professor of Civil Engineering at IT BHU.

  • S.K. Joshi — 
    Chairman of Board of Governors, IIT Roorkeee and former director of CSIR.

  • H.S. Bhartiya — 
    Chairman of Jubilant Organosys and former Chairman of Board of Governors, IIT Kanpur.


Unfinished Job

The NDA government planned to announce five IITs during the general elections in May 2004, but the plan was thwarted by the enforcement of the model code of conduct announced by the Election Commission. According to this model code, the government could not announce the list of new IITs, as it would results in the favour of ruling party. 

 After the general elections in May 2004, the United Progressive Alliance government came in Centre. The new government was initially slow to react to the demand for new IITs. However due to constant pressure from different state governments and business leaders (who argued that the country needed more high quality engineers, the explosive demand from the IT and industrial sectors), the Central government decided to peep into the matter.

Colleges / Institutes short-listed for IITs

 A total of seven colleges/institutes from four states were shortlisted for conversion into IITs. Some states have selected two colleges in the hope that at least one would be selected. The colleges like the Aligarh Muslim University and the Banaras Hindu University have applied on their own, central universities. 

Let us view their merits state-wise :

Uttar Pradesh : Both the colleges — 
Banaras Hindu University’s Institute of Technology (IT BHU) and Zakir Hussain College of Engineering, Aligarh of (AMU) are part of central government universities. 
IT BHU admits students through all India IIT-JEE examination since 1972 and it is the only college which has chosen to grant admission of students on all India basis. 
Encouraged by the IIT Board (an apex governing committee of all IITs), it applied for IIT status and East German collaboration. However, the deal fell due to political reasons. 

West Bengal: The state government has put forward two of its finest engineering colleges, named Jadavpur University’s Engineering and technical Department and the Bengal College of Engineering (BEC). 
BEC and IT BHU provided mostly the faculty members to IITs during their formative years. 

Kerala: It has only one college – the Cochin University of Science and Technology – in the rare conversion into an IIT. 
This fine institute, which used to offer only post graduate courses, now also offers graduate courses in wide range of engineering, sciences, law and management. 

Andhra Pradesh: The state has put forward Osmania College of Engineering (Osmania University of Technology), Hyderabad and the Andhra University College of Engineering, Vishakhapatnam. 
The state is aggressively pushing for an IIT and it has even threatened to establish an IIT of its own, if not granted. The central government has set up a committee to study the creation of separate IIT in Telangana (after splitting Andhra Pradesh) with Vishakhapatnam as the new capital. 
If the move materializes, Andhra University College of Engineering could be converted into an IIT.

 Final Selection

So which colleges will be lucky enough to get the IIT status? 

SK Joshi Committee list shows colleges in the final round. Not all colleges will be converted into IIT. Although there is no such rule which says that there can be only one IIT per state, the IITs will geographically dispersed around the country to remove the present regional imbalance. 

Ever since the first IIT was set up at Kharagpur in 1952 – as per the recommendation of the then ‘Sarkar Committee’ – it was decided to set up IITs in different parts of the country. 

The final selection will depend upon both the quality of the college and the political push and power of the states – even those not listed in committee’s report – who those not listed in committee’s report – who are demanding an IIT might be packed by offering them other prestigious institutes such as the AIIMS, the National Academy of Science and Engineering, NITs etc. 

In the present IIT race, it is widely discussed in political and academic circles that only three colleges be upgraded : one in north (Uttar Pradesh) and two in south (Kerala and Andhra Pradesh). I do confess that this is an unconfirmed report, since the actual list is known only to the prime few cabinet ministers, and is subject to last minute changes. However, the Human Resources Development ministry does not act on the committee’s recommended consultation with the IIT Board, which will have the final say in the selection process. The government has not allocated any provision in this year’s Budget for new IITs. It is likely to demand for funding of these elite institutions will come up during supplementary budget discussions. 


Brand new IITs or Converted IITs? 
          Prior to coming up of IIT – Roorkeee, all the six IITs were established as brand new IITs, i.e., from IIT Kharagpur (established in 1952) to IIT Guwahati (established in 1992). The establishment of one IIT had an estimated outlay of about Rs.1,000 crore but the total cost came to be about Rs.1,500 crores. Alarmed by this cost escalation, the government decided to set up future IITs only by converting colleges, It will cost above Rs. 2,000 crores today to set up a brand new IIT. While a college converted into an IIT will receive a one-time grant (paid over a period of three years) of Rs. 500 crores. It will also receive an annual funding of about Rs.100 crores. 

For over dilution of IIT quality 
          There is an apprehension that with the creation of more IITs, the quality of IITs may be diluted; this fear is unfounded, since even if there are 12 IITs, It will represent only 1 percent of the present 1,200 degree engineering colleges in India which produces about 2,50,000 engineers each year. The one time massive grant received by each converted IIT (Council), such as 1:1 ratio of admitted undergraduate/post graduate student; faculty/student better; constantly updating of the curriculum; hiring of faculty with only doctorate qualification and distinguished career; participation in TEQTP (Technical Education and Quality Improvement Programmes for all faculty members) etc. 
          However when a college that does not have any affiliation with the IIT-JEE becomes an IIT, initially in terms of student quality there will be some problem, as several batches will pass out with the IIT tag without having undergone the tough IIT-JEE exam. It is also true that a new converted college will take a few years to come at par with IIT’s high academic standards and to assimilate into the IIT culture. But in the long term it will be beneficial for the country as excellent engineers will be born in our country.

About NITs 
               No discussion of IIT is complete without discussing NITs. The National Institutes of Technology were set up in 2002-2003 when the central government decided to set up NITs by converting ex-Regional Engineering Colleges as per the recommendation of the All India Council for Technical Education. 
              A total of 18 NITs have come into existence, out of a total of 23 planned originally. The decision to set up NITs was prompted by various reasons :-

  • To establish a second tier of institutes to provide quality education to a large number of students.

  • To pacify every state demanding an IIT.

  • To have a low-cost alternative of IITs; and

  • To upgrade good technical colleges.

             Once ridiculed as poor RECs, the NITs have progressed remarkably well within a short span of time. With a one time grant of about Rs.100 crore (for each NIT) from the central government, they improved their infrastructure. 
            With annual funding have been increased from Rs.10 crore to Rs.30 crore per NIT, the institutions have been able to hire quality teachers – with at least 70 percent of them as doctorates. Under the guidance of IITs, NITs have revamped their curriculum, established research programmes and improved faculty/student ratio. 
            With new industry-college partnerships introduction of new courses and near perfect campus, air of confidence prevails on the campuses across NITs. 
            NIT – Suratkal and NIT – Trichy are among the progressive NITs that resemble mini-IITs. 
            Just like IITs, NITs also admit students on the basis of an All India level exam, called the All India Engineering Entrance Examination, with 50 percent students from all India list and the rest of the seats for the state students. 
           This year about 6,00,000 students appeared for AIEEE exam for NITs, IIITs (Indian Institute of Information Technology) and other deemed universities. 
           Out of these about 8,000 to 9,000 students will seek admission to one of the 18 NITs. Thus AIEEE is as tough as IIT-JEE examination; where about 4,500 students are selected out of a total of 4,00,000 students. 
           However, it should be noted that IIT-JEE is a quiz type of an exam, while AIEEE is a high school exam.

         The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) announced the locations of eight new Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and seven Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) along with 30 Central and ‘world class universities’ to be set up in the country during the 11th Plan period. Out of the eight IITs, first announced by Prime Minister Shree Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day speech, one IIT would be set up at Indore in Madhya Pradesh while Orissa, Gujarat and Punjab would get one each. The ministry had earlier announced IITs for Bihar, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Medak district near Hyderabad has been identified for Andhra Pradesh IIT. Of the seven new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), envisaged in the 11th Plan, each one would be set up in Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. An IIM for the North-East at Shillong was earlier announced and has been named as Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management. HRD minister Arjun Singh who made the announcement today also named the locations for 16 Central Universities and a new category of 14 ‘world class universities’ to come up in state capitals and major cities. The latter are Central Universities which the government says would aspire to world standards. The 16 Central Universities would be set up in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, J & K, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Goa. In three states, existing state universities would be taken over by the Central Government and converted into Central Universities. These are Dr. Hari Singh Gaur University, Sagar (Madhya Pradesh), Guru Ghasidas University, Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) and Goa University. 
        “Establishment of the IITs, IIMs and Central Universities in the above states is subject to state governments offering adequate land at suitable locations, free of cost, for the purpose”, Arjun Singh said. According to officials, each of the new IIT would require about Rs.760 crore to make it fully functional, while an IIM would need Rs.250 crores. For a Central University, the requirement is Rs.250 to Rs.300 crores (including recurring and non-recurring costs over a period of four to five years). While intake of the new IITs would be around 2,500 students, it would be 120 per year in IIMs. 
         This is not the end of the story for new IITs. A few years down the road, more IITs are being packed with time, NITs will certainly be given preference over other institutes. This will give a reason to Karnataka (the only state in south without an IIT by then) to smile. 
         With the total number of IITs going up and with the introduction of new courses, the total seats in JEE will go up to 7,000 to 8,000, relieving some stress on students taking IIT JEE. 
         We must admit that it will be difficult for new IITs to match the aura and the prestige enjoyed by the six original IITs — Kharagpur, Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Madras and Guwahati which were set up by foreign technical collaboration, UNDP assistance and modeled on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Manchester pattern.

Article By —
Prashant Ranjan
On behalf of

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