Tuesday, January 03, 2006


A letter to the editor of Hindustan Times about their article titled "Arjun sets the record straight" appearing on page 9 of December 15th 2005.

Dear Sir:

This is in response to your article titled "Arjun sets the record straight" appearing on page 9 of December 15th 2005. It says "Singh said a decision was never taken to set up the institute in Bhubaneswar and, therefore, it would be wrong to say it was being shifted from Orissa's capital to Kolkata".

It is unfortunate that the HRD minister Singh does not consider an announcement (in December 2003) by the earlier HRD minister and by the President of India about establishment of an NIS in Bhubaneswar, a decision of the central government. The president's announcement is mentioned in the website http://www.ugc.ac.in/new_initiatives/newnis.html and one can look at his speech of Dec 28 2003 on the occasion of the golden jubilee celebration of UGC for corroboration. Moreover, a detailed project report on NIS dated May 2004 is still available in the government web site. We wonder, if the NDA government had not decided to set up the institutes, why would they have produced adetailed project report.

Finally, even if one believes the minister's statement regarding UGC's legal authority to be not a subterfuge, the proposed NISs could have been established under a different parameter, the same one as the IISERs, which happen to be almost same as the NISs in terms of their aims. Under what logic the UPA government decided to set up IISERs in Pune and Kolkata, in states that already have IITs, central universities and autonomous science and technology institutions, and scrap an NIS in Bhubaneswar which is in a state with very little HRD funded institutions and has no institution of national importance (IIT, IIM, ISI, etc.) and no central universities. This is especially puzzling when the planning
commission and the PM himself have rued the imbalance in higher educational institutions among various states. Scrapping the NISs and the decision on the IISER locations aggravate the imbalance ofHRD ministry's funding for higher education and technical education.A rough calculation shows that at present West Bengal has 10-15 times the funding under the above mentioned heading as Orissa and the ratio will be 15-20 times if the UPA government's decision topunish Orissa (UP and TN) and reward West Bengal (and Maharastra) stands.

We request the HRD minister, the prime minister and the UPA chairman to reconsider their decision and not create greater disparity among the states in the country with respect to HRD funding of higher education and technical education institutes. We also request the planning commission to not just rubber stamp the government decisions, especially when they go against their own findings and recommendations regarding the importance of bringing parity among states with respect to quality higher and technical education opportunities.


Chitta Baral
Arizona State University

Currently at: 133 Kanan Vihar, Phase 2, Patia
Bhubaneswar, 751031
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