Saturday, October 29, 2005
What do we expect from the PM, Smt. Gandhi and HRD minister? NIS/IISER and Beyond.
Following are some steps (some short term, some long term) that will not only result in a regional balance, but also result in India becoming a science and technology power house.
1. They should immediately undo the wrong with respect to the NIS and IISER. In particular, they should immediately add an IISER in Bhubaneswar to their list of new IISERs, and have an open discussion about the previously announced locations of Allahbad and Chennai.
2. They should look at the distribution of central universities, institutions of national importance etc (such as the one compiled at http://iiser.blogspot.com/2005/10/unequal-distribution-of-higher.html ) and use that to establish any new or upgraded Indian Institute of Sciences, IITs, etc. In particular, in regards to the plan for upgrading exsiting institutions to IITs they should consider the NITs and keep regional balance in mind. See http://www.baral.us/orissa.html#iit for more thoughts on this.
3. The past governments have done well in establishing central universities in the north east. The current government should look at the current deprived regions in India, especially in the mountainous region of central India with a very high adivasi population. This region is very underdeveloped and has bad infrastructure and as a result one sees activities and groups such as the Naxalites and the PWGs. The central government should focus on infrastructure development in these areas in AP, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh. Establishment of comprehensive central universities should be an important part of this infrastructure development.
4. They should consider broadening the exisiting autonomous science and technology institutions (such as the ones in http://dst.gov.in/autonomous/autonomous_index.htm )
and many others (such as the ones listed in http://www.baral.us/orissa.html#reference )
to full-fledge institutions like IITs or IIScs, not immediately but through a gradual plan.
This will balance the steps in 1-3, as steps 1-3 will mostly be with respect to neglected cities
and states, while step 4 will be with respect to metros and larger cities. This is important because we can not forget the metro and big cities while only focussing on the rest. We should not do the opposite (i.e., focussing on the metros and big cities and forgetting the rest) either, which is what is happenning now.
5. They should push the existing mega-institutions like IIT and IISc to develop research centers outside of their current location, and have a plan to gradually develop those centers to independent IITs/IIScs/NITs over a period of 15-20 years.
6. They should look at the distribution of exisiting undergraduate engineering colleges, and make sure that there is a quality institution imparting Masters and Ph.D degrees (such as an IIT, IISc, etc.) near large clusters of exisiting undergraduate colleges. This will tremendously help in improving the quality of the nearby engineering colleges, as they can now send their faculty for higher degrees locally, they can recruit faculty from among the graduates of these quality institutions, their students can do summer training in these institutions, etc.