news Sunday, March 01, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | March 1, 2015 | 2.35 pm IST The union government’s sanction of an IIT for Karnataka is the realization of an 18-year-old dream. Since 1996, the idea of having a premiere institute of technology for Karnataka has been around, and successive governments in the state irrespective of the party in power, have sent proposals to the central government nearly every other year. Locations too had been proposed. The idea for an IIT for the state in the recent past first came up when a committee set up by the union government under U R Rao was asked to look into the possibility and necessity of setting up more IITs.  Rao, who was the chairman of the committee, told The News Minute that the committee had recommended that one IIT each be set up in Karnataka, Gujarat-Rajasthan, and Bihar-Odisha. “These areas were complete blanks,” Rao said, adding that intention was to create an even spread of IITs across the country. Rao has in the past headed the Department of Space and also ISRO for several years and was the architect of the country’s space programme. At the time, the committee had recommended that an IIT be set up in the Hubballi-Dharwad region of Karnataka as students could benefit from an industrial area that was located in the vicinity. Stating that proximity to an industrial area was important when considering a location for the premier institute, Rao, who currently heads the Karnataka Science and Technology Academy, said: “Students can (have access to) IITs, and the industry too can benefit from them. For instance, look at IIT Chennai, and how the auto industry benefits.” He said that at the time, nothing was done, although a number of proposals have since been formulated by the state government and the union government too set up a second and a third committee to look into the possibility of having more IITs. Initially, although the committee headed by Rao had recommended an IIT for Karnataka, the state government had rejected the suggestion arguing that the state already had an IISc, and IIM and even a central university. Incidentally, the committee had been set up when H D Deve Gowda was the prime minister. Several years later, in 2009, during the 11th five-year plan the government gave in-principle approval but later withdrew its decision.  Then another committee headed by CNR Rao also batted for Karnataka, but the state lost out to Andhra Pradesh.  In September 2012, the state government had presented a detailed proposal to the centre, but it was rejected.  Higher education minister R V Deshpande had also strongly pitched for an IIT and echoed the disappointment of others who had also hoped for an IIT for the state when the NDA government did not include the state when it announced five new IITs in the previous budget. Welcoming the move, Rao however cautioned that there were two traps that the state government and the centre should not fall into. He said that the state had a history of squabbling over the location of the IIT, for instance, Deve Gowda wants it to be set up in Hassan. The other two locations proposed are Raichur and Dharwad. “They (various political parties and groups) should forget about a push for this place or that place. If an IIT has to be effective, it has to be located in the right place,” he said, underscoring the need to locate it near and industrial hub. He also warned the centre against half-baked proposals, saying that it should ensure adequate administrative and financial resources and avoid the notion that it can ask another IIT to “look after” its neighbor.  He was of the view that IIT Kharagpur being asked to watch out for the welfare of its counterpart in Bhubneshwar and the one in Bombay tasked with a similar responsibility for the one in Rajasthan had simply not had the desired results. “How can you ask one IIT to look after another? Someone will come once in 15 days and go, but what’s the use?” he said. He urged the central government to also ensure that the adequate staff were appointed to the new IITs to be set up. Lastly, he said that the relationship between an IIT and the industry was a symbiotic one. He said that setting up a premier technological institute near an industrial hub would in turn have a cascading effect on the industry. “Look at Stanford and MIT, (big companies) grew around them. Hewlett-Packard was set up because of Stanford,” he said. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.