The Rajya Sabha passed the Institute of Technology (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Tuesday, 2 August, by voice vote. This bill has paved the way for six cities across the country, including Jammu, Tirupati, Palakkad (Kerala), Dharwad (Karnataka), Goa, and Bhilai (Chattisgarh), to get new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
Earlier, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha in July 2016. Following Article 111 of the constitution, the bill will now be sent for Presidential assent.
IITs to Remain Centres of Excellence – HRD Minister
HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar maintained during a debate conducted on the bill that IITs are and will continue to remain centres of excellence. He said that he will not allow anything to lower the institutions’ high standards and that steps will be taken to improve them further. He added that quality is important to make them world-class institutes.
Javdekar also stated that there would be no financial constraints regarding funding to support the growth of the new IITs. He said that Rs 20,000 crore has already been earmarked by the government for this project.
When Congress MP Jairam Ramesh expressed apprehension over ensuring autonomy for the new IITs, Javadekar responded by saying that MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) is not represented on the Board of Governors of the IITs. He added that the ministry only facilitates finance, which will be the only area on which MHRD will concentrate.
Tackling the Issue of Lack of Faculty in IITs
There is a lack of faculty in the IITs, admitted the HRD minister, with around 30 percent overall vacancy. He said that proactive steps need to be taken as a priority to fill up these vacancies in these premier institutes. Steps would also include interviewing offshore talent to solve the issue before setting up the new institutes.
Fee structure at the premier institutes
Javedkar also discussed the fee structure, saying that physically challenged students, those from Below Poverty Line (BPL), and those from SC and ST communities will get full fees waiver in IITs and NITs. Also, students with a family income of less than Rs 9 lakh per annum will be eligible for an education loan at zero percent interest rate, which means that the fee hike is only for those whose family’s annual income exceeds Rs 9 lakh. He added that the government incurs an expense of Rs 6 lakh per year per student, and someone has to pay to support this expense.