Wednesday, March 08, 2006
March 1, 2006
Since last year the Finance Minister is trying to patronize some institutes of higher learning in his budget. He also started announcing setting up and upgradations of some institutes of advance learning too. In last budget, he announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore to help develop it into a world-class institution. It is other matter how much has actually been done with that money during the last 12 months. Some of the initiatives this year in his words are as follows:
1. A Central Institute of Horticulture will be established in Nagaland.
2. Government will also set up the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management.
3. The Paddy Processing Research Centre at Thanjavur will be developed into a national-level institute.
4. During 2006-07, Ministry of Tourism will establish 4 new institutes of hotel management in the States of Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal.
5. The existing National Institute of Port Management, Chennai, has been renamed as the National Maritime Academy, and it is proposed to upgrade it into a Central University under an Act of Parliament. The University will have regional campuses at Mumbai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam.
While I am heartened to hear about these institutes, I can’t understand why all these new institutes are coming up only in the states that are already very much developed. Why can’t the hotel management institutes be established in UP, Bihar and Assam or any NE states? Why can’t the Maritime Academy locate regional campus in Orissa? Why can’t Paddy Processing be located in Bihar?FM has also provided a separate heading for ‘Institutions of Excellence’ in his budget that says:
* Last year, I made a beginning with an unprecedented grant of Rs.100 crore to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore to help develop it into a world-class institution. This year, I must recognize another historical event. Three great Universities have entered their 150th year. These are the University of Calcutta, the University of Mumbai and the University of Madras.
* I propose to mark the beginning of the 150th year celebrations with a grant of Rs.50 crore to each University for a specified research department or a research programme in that University. On the conclusion of the year, I intend to make another grant of Rs.50 crore to each of them.
I propose to make the special grant of Rs.100 crore for an institution of excellence to a distinguished institution, the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, in acknowledgement of its pioneering contribution to the green revolution.
* If agriculture is an ancient Indian skill, biotechnology is the new frontier that India will conquer. In order to foster research and development in biotechnology, the Ministry of Science and Technology has decided to accord the status of an autonomous National Institute to the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
All these institutes of excellence are located in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab and Kerala. Is it because the politicians of the states or the bureaucrats are in decision-making bodies? Can FM or some one in the government provide a rational justification for this discrimination? Let me tell you that I felt bad also when Lalu as railway minister decided to locate a wheel-making factory in his constituency that does not provide any technical advantage or when I find many new trains starting or ending at some odd stations of Bihar.
I was not surprised when I read a news item that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar feels that his state has been ignored in respect of major projects and funds in the Union Budget for 2006-07. I suggest Nitish Kumar requests to get located the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management in Bihar.
With all the liberal views, one can’t but feel about this discriminatory behaviour. I feel the intelligentsia of the states such as UP, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam must protest.I wish, politics wouldn’t have been behind these announcements.