Letters to HRD and Planning Commission regarding the new IITs.

Chitta Baral 

Professor, Arizona State University

Contributor, Center for promoting an equitable India


 1. Please be fair in choosing locations for the new 4000 crore IITs

Dear esteemed HRD minister and Planning commission members:

Today's Economic times http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/459579.cms
mentioned that the Indian government is planning to establish three new IITs (also of a new kind) during the 11th year plan at a budget of 4000 crores each.

We would like to sincerely request you to be impartial and fair in choosing the locations for these new IITs. 

Please think of the development of India as a whole. These proposed IITs will be the engine of growth for India as well as the state where they are located at, and should be located in states that are currently severely underfunded by the HRD ministry.

In particular, they should be located in states that do not yet have an established  IIT, IISc, central university or a major institute of national importance. They should be established in states which are at the bottom of HRD funding (targeted to centrally funded educational institutions) over the last five years or even 20 years.

Please, please do not decide the locations based on which state has a more powerful MP contingent supporting the government, or which state has advocates that have close access to the PM, or the HRD minister or some other important minister(s). Such considerations in the past have created the current inequity in HRD spending across the states. Your government has already established two IISERs in UPA ruled states and the five proposed IIESTs are also in the UPA ruled or supported states. Please, please, fix the existing inequity
rather than making it worse.

Our rough calculation (see http://equitableindia.org/) shows that among the major states, Bihar, Rajasthan and Orissa are at the bottom with respect to HRD funding  over the last five years. If your criteria also includes industrial climate then among these three,
Orissa has quite a bit of existing industries as well as incoming ones. However, we sincerely hope that you decide to have these new IITs in these three states.

Finally, please do not insult the intelligence of people of these states and cheat these states by giving them something smaller and with less budget, such as a branch campus that is reported to be pegged at 800 crores, and rewarding your favorite states with the reported 4000 crores new IITs.

Chitta Baral

2. New educational inst. in backward regions (Re: Please be fair in choosing locations for the new 4000 crore IITs)

Dear esteemed HRD minister and Planning commission members:

Today's Hindustan Times
reports that the HRD ministry would like to establish the new institutes (3 new IITs, etc.)  in areas where the higher education facilities are not very good. It quoted an official of HRD saying: "We will look at new town and cities for establishing the centres of excellence."

That is a great sentiment and we welcome it wholeheartedly.

However, a word of caution is in order. When choosing the backward areas for the biggest
budget items ( i.e., the 3 new IITs) please chose locations in real backward regions, not in some token backward districts in some rich states which already have established IITs, central universities, Indian Inst of Sc., etc.

No one will be fooled by such trickery.

May I suggest that you look at:

(i) The NSSO study to find out which district clusters of which states
    have the lowest gross enrolment ratio in higher education.

(ii) The districts under you Backward Regions Grant Fund   
        This list includes a special district cluster, so backward that all of India knows its     acronym, KBK . If you miss that region or that state then that will tell us
        how you say one thing and do another.

(iii)  Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari's list at
       (Unfortunately the planning commission's own list is somewhat corrupt
       and has lost its objectivity as it has succumbed to states advocating
       their districts to be included in the list.)

In other words, please honor your words and sentiments and establish the big ticket new I ITs in the real backward district clusters (or states that contain them and do not have any established IIT, IISc, central univs, etc.) and not try to trick the people of India by saying about backward regions and then doing it in some token backward regions of richer states which already have established IITs, IISc, central universities, etc.


Chitta Baral
Professor, Arizona State University

(ps -- To keep you honest, and since based on your past record on IISERs and IIEST
locations, I do not have full faith on you, this mail is being copied to many people
including the editors of major media outlets of India. I sincerely hope they will
watchout for all of India.)