Tuesday, April 11, 2006
My response to Kiran Karnik
Campaign For NIS/IISER
From: Chitta Baral
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firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Apr 11, 2006 10:31 PM Subject: Re:
Kiran Karnik ,President, Nasscom, India's Reaction to our Campaign
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garbled? Dear Mr. Karnick:
Following is my response to your mail to Sachi. I am copying it to
various Delhi based editors, other members of SAC-PM and members of
the planning commission.
I would like this letter to be treated as an open letter to all of
India and refer people to the sites
for the background of how the Indian budget is drastically
increasing inequity in higher education, how Orissa (and Bihar and
Rajasthan) have been at the losing end, how blatant hijacking of an
announced for institution has taken place, and how thousands of
letters, and several news articles have not had any visible positive
impact on our neo-Kings the esteemed prime minister, the esteemed
finance minister and the esteemed HRD minister and his court. Rather
the 2006 budget http://chitta.googlepages.com/2006budget1 not only
shows their blatant disregard but their budget grabbing attitude
wherby almost all new higher education money is allocated to UPA
ruled states, the finance minister's home state and the PM's Rajya
1. You wrote: I quite understand the dismay with what is seen as a
"shifting" of the IISER from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata; however, isn't
primary education of greater concern, especially in a state like
Orissa? If so, isn't this an area in which the State govt has
greater responsibility than the centre?
My Response: Primary education is indeed of greater concern. Many of
us are making efforts in this direction. Please see
2. You wrote: Orissa is a state blessed with ample resources. If
others are exploiting its natural resources, the answer does not lie
in "Central neglect" nor in economic blockades (as some doubtless
well-meaning folks have suggested; such movements do nothing for the
poor, except bring more hardship).
My Response: I agree with the last sentence. I and many others have
made the point about protesting in way that is not economically
harmful. Please see my writing on this at
3. You wrote: Every state can find some statistic to "prove" that
the Centre is "neglecting" it. ... Certainly, pressure on the
Centre is part of the political process. However, the focus on an
IISER is really playing to the gallery. I wonder if an IIT in
Guwahati has helped to suddenly transform Assam, or whether the
celebrated IIT at Kanpur has given a boost to the development of UP?
In the heyday of the PSU, huge Central investments were made in
"backward" States (HEC in Ranchi and the steel plants in Rourkela
and Bhilai are examples). Have they brought prosperity (even
employment) to the local people? I do think we have to look at other
solutions than Central largesse.
My Response: I disagree with most of the above. Yes, there are
bogus statistics. But does that mean you completely disregard
statistics. Please have a look at the spreadsheets
http://www.baral.us/hrd06.pdf http://www.baral.us/hrd05.pdf and the
and let us know what exactly you find wrong in them.
I am sure that you agree that human resource (HR) is the most
important resource of a state or a country. Now we both agree that
primary education is important.
But do you think higher education and easy access to it is not
Yes, in the past many of the top institutions may not have had big
impact in the local area. But things are changing. IIT KGP is going
to have a medical school soon. A biotech park is coming up near KGP.
In the US Stanford and MIT have had huge impact in the immediate
area they are located in and same is going to happen in India. In
Bangalore, IISc, and the electronics public sectors (ITI, BEL etc.)
gave it the initial impetus to become the electronics and now the
software city that it has become. In Orissa, many graduates of Inst
of Physics are faculty in various colleges across Orissa.
Elaborating on that, I will give you one specific example, that
relates to NASSCOM, regarding immediate impact an IISER will have in
Bhubaneswar and Orissa. The Bhuabneswar-Cuttack-Puri area now has 21
engineering colleges with most having IT and Computer science
programs. If there was an IISER/NIS/IIT in Bhubaneswar, the faculty
of these 21 colleges would be able to pursue higher degree at the
IISER/NIS/IIT while being employed (and without leaving town), thus
improving the quality of these 21 colleges, and thus improving the
quality of graduates of these colleges, thus improving the input to
the various software companies that NASSCOM represents. (Elsewhere
we have argued how Orissa has showed that it can nurture top
institutions. Among all NITs, NIT Rourkela is among the top 6. XIM
Bhubaneswar is among the top business schools. Inst of Physics and
in BBSR does quite a bit of research. etc.)
The other point is Orissa is part of India. The Indian budget is not
central government largesse (as you say) but is for all of India,
not just for the UPA ruled states or the Finance minister and Prime
minister's home states.
How do we Indians tolerate the current government (as also most of
the past Indian governments) treating the HRD budget as their fief
and allocating most of it to the states ruled by their allies (in
this case UPA) and/or the states/cities where the FM and PM are
How come all of India (including the SAC-PM, the planning commission
etc.) is tolerating and condoning such injustice to parts of it?
How do you and others in the SAC-PM in clear conscience be part of a
body (SAC-PM) that is invoked by the HRD minister with respect to
the decision making that involves enriching states (IISER in Kolkata
and now there is a news piece about an IISER in Kanpur) that already
have top notch institutions (IIT, ISI, Central U in West Bengal;
IIT, IIIT, many central Univs in UP) and take away a proposed
NIS/IISER from a state (Orissa) that has nothing? (Please see
details on this at http://www.baral.us/nis3.pdf. )
How come all of India is tolerating and condoning (including the
SAC-PM, the planning commission etc.) such fief like behavior by its
PM, FM and HRD minister?
No wonder now they want to push 49% reservation down the
throat of IITs and IIMs.
How come Indians are thinking themselves as subjects instead as
The Indian budget is not a gift or largesse as you put it, but a
budget in which all of India should have a share.
I would urge you to have a look at http://www.equitableindia.org and
the links in its left bar and reflect on it.
Do you think such inequity is fair?
As a leading citizen of India, and member of the Scientific advisory
committee to the Prime Minister should not you help us in taking the
Indian govt (our government) to task for this unfairness; for
increasing the existing inequity; for the hypocrisy of saying (as in
case of the PM's speeches) that India should be more equitable and
then doing exactly the opposite.
As long as we Indians treat our government as kings, think ourselves
as subjects, think the government budget allocation as a gift or
largesse rather than our own budget, India will only improve in its
spots and its core will remain impoverished and backward.
We sincerely hope that you and others in the SAC-PM, in the
planning commission and in the media will have the courage to stand
up for all of India, and not just the shiny parts of it.
sincerely and with best regards
Chitta Ranjan Baral Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
Affiliate Professor, Biomedical Informatics Arizona State University
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Kiran Karnik (NASSCOM)" <> Date: Sat, 8
Apr 2006 17:02:51 +0530 Subject: RE: (Boycott Congress-Save Orissa)
HRD Discrepancy and Orissa's Backwardness are linked finds Prof
Chitta Baral To: Sachi Satapathy
As a believer in the power of technology to be used for good, I
am impressed by the campaign that you have triggered via e mail.
However, as a sympathizer of the aspirations of the disadvantaged, I
must say I have concerns. I quite understand the dismay with what is
seen as a "shifting" of the IISER from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata;
however, isn't primary education of greater concern, especially in a
state like Orissa? If so, isn't this an area in which the State govt
has greater responsibility than the centre? Every state can find
some statistic to "prove" that the Centre is "neglecting" it. The
fact is that the key factor for development is the quality of
governance, especially at the local level. Orissa is a state
blessed with ample resources. If others are exploiting its natural
resources, the answer does not lie in "Central neglect" nor in
economic blockades (as some doubtless well-meaning folks have
suggested; such movements do nothing for the poor, except bring more
Certainly, pressure on the Centre is part of the political
process. However, the focus on an IISER is really playing to the
gallery. I wonder if an IIT in Guwahati has helped to suddenly
transform Assam, or whether the celebrated IIT at Kanpur has given a
boost to the development of UP? In the heyday of the PSU, huge
Central investments were made in "backward" States (HEC in Ranchi
and the steel plants in Rourkela and Bhilai are examples). Have they
brought prosperity (even employment) to the local people? I do think
we have to look at other solutions than Central largesse.
One can go on. For every argument, for every statistic, there
will be one that counters it. Constructive solutions are required: a
movement to educate not a movement to disrupt. It is better to light
a candle than to curse the darkness, I feel.
As a well-wisher of Orissa, I do hope that this campaign, which
seems to have galvanized many, will come up with positive ideas and
use the energy and passion which it reflects for the rapid
development of the disadvantaged.
My mail box has been flooded with mails on this topic. I would,
therefore, request you to kindly take my name off the mailing list.
I will find other ways of keeping in touch with this issue. With
regards, Kiran Karnik