Why an NIS/IISER/IIT should be established in Bhubaneswar?

Why an NIS/IISER/IIT should be established
in Bhubaneswar?

Chitta Baral, Arizona State University
—————————————————————

India is economically shining as a whole. But it is falling behind
in science and technology, especially in research. According to [1],
the best Indian university, IISc Bangalore is grouped at 300-400
internationally. The next best, IIT Kharagpur is grouped 400-500
internationally. Within Asia they are grouped 37-65 and 66-93
respectively. For a long time India had 5 IITs and one IISc. Since
then even though one new IIT has been established at Guwahati and
University of Roorkee has been made to an IIT, with large population
increase and with India falling behind in Science and Technology,
there is a need for more IIT and IISc like institutions. Moreover
with India’s economy doing well now, India can financially afford to
create several more IITs and IISc like institutions. The Indian
government, scientists and academicians all are aware of the above
and thus there are plans to create more IITs and IISc like
institutions. In this context on 9th December 2003, the then HRD
minister Professor M. M. Joshi had announced [2,3] that UGC has
established steps to initiate four National Institute of Sciences
(NIS) at Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Pune and Allahabad. Recently [4],
Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced the setting up of two
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), which
are the same in all but name to the NIS, at Pune and Kolkata,
respectively.

Since it is a consensus that India needs more high quality
institutions like or better than the existing IITs and IISc, one of
the important questions that arises is where should these new
institutions be established. Two main principles, with some possible
tension among them, need to be followed in the determination of
locations.

1. For all around growth of India the institutions need to be
distributed across the country. (In this regard recently PM Dr.
Singh, in [5], addressed the regional imbalance issue in terms of
educational institutions and said “I trust our government as well
the state governments will take note of these findings and evolve
policies to remedy these regional imbalances.”)

2. The institutions need to be located in places where it will have
the largest impact and where it will benefit India as a whole the
most. (i.e., the biggest bang for the buck.)

Based on the marginal utility principle where the marginal
satisfaction of eating a second rosogolla is much less than eating
the first rosogolla, it is clear that biggest bang for buck of a new
IIT/NIS/IISc will be in a location or state which does not have
such an institution yet. But among these places the following
criteria becomes important:

3. The institution should be located in a place that can nurture it
locally, that has the promise to nurture it locally and that
benefits the local population also, so that the local population has
vested interest in supporting such an institution.

Finally, because of the urgency of establishing such institutions,
we need to consider the issue of:

4. Whether the location and the local and state government can help
in the quick establishment of such an institution?

We will argue here that Bhubaneswar, Orissa satisfies all the above
criteria, and if they are all taken into account it comes out in the
top among all cities in India.

(1) Currently Orissa does not have a central university [6], an
institution of national importance (such as IITs, ISI, etc.) [7], a
reputed centrally funded institute such as an IIM, or a centrally
funded IIIT or IIITM. It also does not have an autonomous science
and technology institution [8] of the department of science and
technology.

(2 and 3) We will address the issues 2 and 3 through two points. (a)
Orissa government and the people of Orissa have helped create
several top notch institutions in Bhubaneswar, Orissa which do world
class research; and (b) An IIT/IISc/NIS in Bhubaneswar will
tremendously benefit the local population, thus they will have a
vested interest in nurturing it.

(a) Orissa government and the people of Orissa have helped create
several top notch institutions in Bhubaneswar, Orissa. Notable among
them are the Institute of Physics, the Xaviers Institute of
Management and the Institute of Life Sciences, all in Bhubaneswar.
We now describe these institutes using phrases from their web pages.

The Institute Of Physics, Bhubaneswar is an autonomous research
institution funded jointly by the Department Of Atomic Energy (DAE)
and the Government of Orissa. The Institute was officially
established in 1972 by the Government of Orissa [9]. Research at
Institute of Physics is top notch by international standards. Its
alumni [10] have gone on to many good institutions all over the
world. Many of its faculty and students have preferred it over an
IIT. Its annual report [11], publication list [12], faculty vita,
and alumni biography [10] are testament to the quality of this
institution in Bhubaneswar.

The Xaviers Institute of Management [13] owes its origin to a Social
Contract between the Government of Orissa and the OJS (Orissa Jesuit
Society). It was established in 1987, and ranks among the top
business schools in India [14]. This year’s Outlook magazine ranks
it 8 in the country among various business schools, including the
IIMs. It has faculty with Ph.Ds from top business schools such as
University of Massachusetts, and Stern School of Business, NYU, New
York.

The Institute of Life Sciences, an initiative by the Govt. of
Orissa, Department of Science and Technology started a decade back.
On August 2, 2002 it came under the administrative and financial
control of Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. It was
dedicated to the nation on July 15, 2003 by the Prime Minister of
India with a declaration to develop it as “National Centre of
Excellence” engaged in research on various areas of modern biology.
The researchers of this institute publish often in international
journals [15].

To reiterate, the above three institutions were created by the
foresightedness of the Government of Orissa, and are now premier
research institutions, albeit small with limited focus, but doing
world class research and teaching. Besides these three there are
several other research institutions in and around Bhubaneswar that
do very good and useful research. This includes the Regional
Research laboratory (RRL) [17] in Bhubaneswar, the Regional medical
research center (RMRC) [18] (see page 123 – 125) in Bhubaneswar, the
Central Rice research institute (CRRI) [19] in Cuttack , the central
institute of fresh water aquaculture (CIFA) [20,21] in Bhubaneswar,
and the national institute of rehabilitation training and research
[22] in Olatpur. In additions two fledgling institutions, the
Institute of Material sciences [23] and the Institute of mathematics
and application [24] have been established by the Government of
Orissa and are in their beginning stages.

The above illustrates, how Bhubaneswar and Orissa have established
and nurtured top notch research and educational institutions. Thus
one can extrapolate and conclude that with high probability an
NIS/IISER/IIT in Bhubaneswar will be very successful and well
nurtured. Nevertheless, as we mentioned earlier, it is important
that an institution like NIS/IISER/IIT should have some significant
benefit to the local population, lest the local population feel
alienated by it.

(b) In the greater Bhubaneswar area (which includes Puri and
Cuttack) there are now 2 state funded and 19 private engineering
colleges. An NIS/IISER/IIT in Bhubaneswar will benefit these
institutions as a place where the faculty of the local colleges can
pursue higher education (without moving away and thus negatively
affecting their parent institutions), the local colleges can recruit
high quality faculty from among the NIS/IISER/IIT graduates, and the
students of the local colleges can pursue summer research and
training at the NIS/IISER/IIT. Besides Bhubaneswar and its vicinity
have a large range of industries with many more industries set to
come. This includes metal based industries such as NALCO to software
companies such as Infosys and Satyam, and planned operations of TCS,
and Wipro. There will be significant synergy between these
industries and the proposed NIS/IISER/IIT in terms of joint
research, students of NIS/IISER/IIT pursuing practical training at
the industries, and employees of the industries pursuing higher
degree at the NIS/IISER/IIT. In addition Orissa has two STPs (at
Bhubaneswar, Rourkela), and one more STP in Berhampur in the making,
which will provide opportunities to the graduates of the
NIS/IISER/IIT to incubate start-up companies. Thus, with great
benefit potential of an NIS/IISER/IIT to the local population and
the benefit to the NIS/IISER/IIT from existing infrastructure,
Bhubaneswar is an ideal place for establishing an NIS/IISER/IIT.

Now moving on to the final point, because of the urgency an
NIS/IISER/IIT can be immediately started in Bhubaneswar by using
some of its existing infrastructure.

(3) In particular, the Institute of Physics and the Institute of
Life Sciences can be the starting point of an NIS/IISER/IIT. The
picturesque Institute of Physics campus can be used to start an
NIS/IISER/IIT right away. As mentioned earlier, Bhubaneswar also has
the beginning of an Institute of Material Science, and an Institute
of Mathematics and Applications, which may be folded into an
NIS/IISER/IIT. If an NIS/IISER/IIT is started in Bhubaneswar, the
Institute of Physics and Institute of Life Sciences faculty can form
the initial core faculty and teach the first classes until the
institute hires additional faculty. The researchers at Regional
medical research center, and Regional research laboratory can also
chip in.

Conclusion: In summary, Bhubaneswar is the best in the country with
respect to the various criteria necessary for the next location of
an NIS/IISER/IIT. It is clear that for that reason, in December
2003, the then HRD minister Professor M. M. Joshi had announced
[2,3] that UGC has established steps to initiate one of the four
National Institute of Sciences at Bhubaneswar. Unfortunately, for
some reason the recent announcements for IISER did not include
Bhubaneswar. Although this injustice needs to be corrected for many
other reasons, by its own merit, as we elaborated in this article,
Bhubaneswar, Orissa deserves an NIS/IISER/IIT immediately and we
sincerely hope the central government will agree with us and pursue
this at the earliest.

———————————————————————

[1] http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/ranking.htm

[2]. http://www.ugc.ac.in/pub/jan_2004/12.htm

[3].
http://pib.nic.in/archieve/lreleng/lyr2003/rdec2003/10122003/r1012200
313.html

[4]. http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=12305

[5]. http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/sep/28pm1.htm

[6]. List of central Universities
http://www.ugc.ac.in/inside/utype.php?st=Central%20University,
http://www.education.nic.in/htmlweb/autbod.htm (NONE in Orissa)

[7]. List of Institute of National Importance from
http://www.ugc.ac.in/inside/utype.php?st=Institute%20of%20National%
20Importance
(NONE in Orissa)

[8]. List of autonomous Science and Technology Institutions from
http://dst.gov.in/autonomous/autonomous_index.htm (NONE in Orissa)

[9] http://www.iopb.res.in/overview.php

[10] http://www.iopb.res.in/~alumni/members/members.html

[11] http://www.iopb.res.in/~library/ar_02_03/

[12] http://www.iopb.res.in/~library/ar_02_03/Publications.pdf

[13] http://www.ximb.ac.in/about/

[14]http://www.orissalinks.com/#ximb

[15] http://www.ilsc.org/

[16] http://www.ilsc.org/publication.htm

[17] http://www.rrlbhu.res.in/publication.html

[18] http://www.icmr.nic.in/000517/ann2002.pdf

[19] http://crri.nic.in/accomplishments.htm

[20] http://www.stpbh.soft.net/cifa/list_of_extfundedproject.doc

[21] http://www.stpbh.soft.net/cifa/insti_based.doc

[22] http://nirtar.nic.in/

[23] http://orissagov.nic.in/sciencetechnology/ims.htm

[24] http://orissagov.nic.in/sciencetechnology/ima.htm

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