UNDER WHOSE SPELL THE PRIME MINISTER HAS DONE IT?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

It is sad to say that Hon’ble Prime Minister of India can act under a spell. But people of Orissa are so bruised by an order of the PM that it is difficult to believe that he could do this without a spell.

On 9th December 2003, the then HRD minister Prof. M. M. Joshi had announced that UGC had decided to establish four National Institutes of Sciences (NIS) one each at Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Pune and Allahabad. This was documented in the Ministry of Human Resource Development – Science & Technology – press release, dated 10 December 2003.

But it is shocking for Orissa that instead of establishing the planned NIS at Bhubaneswar, the Central Government has obliterated this proposal.

Government of India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) in a Press Release datelined 28 Sept 2005 informs that the Prime Minister has passed orders for establishment of an Indian Institute of Science for Education and Research (IISER) at Kolkata. The only other IISER is cleared for Pune.

The aim of the N I S that Prof. Joshi had announced in December 2003 is the same as the proposed IISER. Thus, NIS and IISER, though they differ in their names carry the same concept.

Thus Orissa is severely affected by the September 28 order of the PM. She does not have any central university, any institution of national importance (such as IITs, ISI, etc.), any reputed centrally funded institute such as an IIM, or any centrally funded IIIT or IIITM. It also does not have an autonomous science and technology / institution of the department of science and technology. The PM’s order for an IISER at Kolkata has jeopardized her chance of having one such Institute even in future. There is every reason to apprehend that as and when any additional IISER would be announced, Bhubaneswar will not be one of them, as many would then argue for a regional balance. Therefore, in a sense, the PM’s order is contributive to regional imbalance.

Candidly speaking, Orissa may not have any objection against Kolkata getting the IISER, if the NIS offered to her in 2003 is not withdrawn. To ascertain if Orissa is affected by the PM’s order, we from orissamatters.com had posted a query at the e-mail address of the PMO. It was addressed to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and was worded as follows, keeping in mind the highest limit of 500 characters:
“Dear Pr. Secretary to Prime Minister,
On 09/12/03 Orissa was offered a National Institute of Sciences (NIS)

Before it materialized, the PM has cleared an IISER for Kolkata (PIB 28 Sept 05)

Please inform: Is NIS offered to Orissa withdrawn in context of IISER cleared for Kolkata?

PM’s decision being conducive to regional imbalance and tension, clarification is needed for proper reporting”.

We are shocked to see that the PMO is not opening up as yet. Therefore, we have every reason to fear that the NIS offered to Orissa is dropped in a clumsy manner.

It is beyond all logic and acceptability that Government of India changes an educational investment decision made by an earlier government, especially related to a state like Orissa, which has, as shown above, been kept bereft of any super-specialty central institute of higher education, particularly in the field of Science and Technology. If the PM’s September order connotes to withdrawal of NIS offered to Orissa in the context of IISER cleared for Kolkata, it will certainly be disastrous to healthy growth of academic facilities in the Country.

A PTI report filed on 28 September 2005 informed that while releasing the first report on the country’s performance in the area of science, the PM had enumerated how all round progress of the country was affected by lack of balanced distribution of academic facilities. “I trust our government as well the state governments will take note of these findings and evolve policies to remedy these regional imbalances”, he was quoted to have said. It is, therefore, specifically surprising that he, while clearing the IISER for Kolkata on the very same day, failed to see how his own action in jettisoning the NIS announced for Orissa would worsen regional imbalance.

West Bengal in whose favour one of the IISERs is cleared by the PM has an IIT in Kharagpur, a central University in Shanti Niketan, two additional institutes of national importance in an IIM and an Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), and three autonomous science and technology institutions established in Kolkata.

If not under a spell, how has the PM obliterated Orissa’s legitimate due for an IISER if that stands for the NIS?

Keeping mum in this matter is not becoming of the Prime Minister of the Country.

19 comments » Write a comment

  1. 1. Higher education and research institutes have a lot of local impact. An IISc
    in BBSR would have had tremendous impact on Bhubaneswar. See details in
    http://www.public.asu.edu/~cbaral/orissa/iit-nis.html

    2. Bhubaneswar has nurtured two fine institutions.
    XIMB http://www.orissalinks.com/#ximb
    is ranked 8th in India in one of this years ranking.
    Institute of Physics (IOP) has had a big impact on not only
    Orissa but on Indian Physics. See what IOP graduates are doing
    at http://www.iopb.res.in/~alumni/members/members.html

    3. Yes, air connectivity to BBSR is less than Kolkata and we should improve it.
    But thre are fine instituitions (IIT Kharagpur is an example,
    University of Illinois Urbana, Penn State Univ, Texas A & M) which are not
    well connected, but are very goo and have tremendous impact
    on the state they are in.

    4. For more arguments about why NIS should be in BBSR see
    http://www.public.asu.edu/~cbaral/orissa/nis-why.html

    5. For more detail on this whole issue see
    http://www.orissalinks.com#nis

    6. Finally, Kolkata is a fine city and
    having an NIS/IISc in Kolkata is no problem, as long as
    the one announced in BBSR is also established.
    Please join the letter writing campaign.

  2. For quality of IOP, please check
    http://www.iopb.res.in/~library/ar_02_03/
    and especially
    http://www.iopb.res.in/~library/ar_02_03/Publications.pdf

    If you check its faculty and alumni
    vita, you will find some have joined IOP after being in an IIT.
    IOP is well respected in India and abroad.

    ILS is new but stil pretty good.

    See http://www.ilsc.org/publication.htm
    for their publications, many are in International
    journals.

    In Oriya we have the saying `ghara kania singhaninaki’.
    Really, IOP has always been a top notch place for research in Physics,
    and it shows Orissa can sustain and nurture an NIS/IISc.
    IOP has been a stealth performer, and has focussed more on research
    and less on publicity. Perhaps because of that many of us do not
    know how good it is.

    Until I looked up their website, I also had doubts. But now-a-days
    with most things available in the web, we should no make
    assertions without doing some checking first.

    The problem is besides the political angle, many other decision makers
    may have had thoughts similar to Mr. Mohapatra without checking the facts
    carefully.

    best regards
    Chitta

  3. Beyond IOP and ILS following is a quick highlight of research
    (some top notch, some locally focussed, which is important also)
    at some of the other institutiions in BBSR.

    RRL publications:

    http://www.rrlbhu.res.in/publication.html

    RMRC publications:

    http://www.icmr.nic.in/000517/ann2002.pdf
    (page 123 – 125)

    CRRI accomplishments: http://crri.nic.in/accomplishments.htm

    CIFA research:
    http://www.stpbh.soft.net/cifa/list_of_extfundedproject.doc
    http://www.stpbh.soft.net/cifa/insti_based.doc

    Research with practical use at
    http://nirtar.nic.in/

    The research at http://www.ilts-utkal.org/
    is pretty ok. A Princeton scientist saw me reading Sambada in
    the web, and came up to me and talked to me about
    her collaboration with a faculty from ILTS.

  4. The editors of Orissamatters.com are well aware of the points of differences among our readers regarding this issue and thank all the readers who posted comments for this news.
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