Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
It is sad to say that Honble 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 Indias 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 PMs 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 PMs 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speaking, Orissa may not have any objection against Kolkata getting the IISER, if the NIS offered to her in 2003 is not withdrawn.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 PMs 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?
PMs 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 PMs 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 Orissas 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.