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Brand classes for new IITs on block

Tuesday, June 23, 2009, Charu Sudan Kasturi The Telegraph

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New Delhi: A year after creating six new Indian Institutes of Technology, the Centre will embark on its first effort to inject into them the culture, vision and quality associated with the original five that built the IIT brand.

 

The human resource development ministry will conduct a first-of-its-kind workshop to train administrators of the new IITs to mould their institutes into worthy members of the IIT brand.

The ministry plans to conduct the workshop for directors of all the new IITs at the IIT Delhi campus on June 26, top officials said. Similar workshops may be conducted later.

 

The meet will also be attended by directors of the existing seven IITs — the original five in Kharagpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur and Delhi and those at Roorkee and Guwahati — as trainers.

 

The directors of eight new IITs — six started last year and two this year — will be students at the workshop, which will also be addressed by HRD minister Kapil Sibal, sources said.

 

“The ministry has never in the past had to confront a situation where the IIT brand was at stake. Today, we realise that while the new IITs are essential to meet the demand from students, poor grooming could leave the new institutes second-class IITs,” a senior ministry official said.

 

The new IITs are each being hand-held by an existing IIT, but the newborn institutes have so far not had any detailed initiation into the “culture and vision that make IITs world beaters”, the official said.

 

At the meet, the directors of the old IITs are likely to share with administrators of the new institutes the challenges they face in running the country’s premier engineering colleges, the sources said.

“There are likely to be presentations made on the concept of the IIT, based on research on the experience of starting the new IITs,” a source said.

 

The ministry plans to ask some of the founding faculty of the original five IITs, such as professor C.N.R. Rao, to come and speak to the directors on the challenges he and his colleagues faced.

 

Rao, who heads the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council, taught at IIT Kanpur during its initial years and is believed by many to have played a key role in helping it emerge as a premier institution.

 

But the HRD ministry’s move has raised eyebrows within the IIT community, especially because concerns over dilution of the brand because of the rapid start of eight new institutes are not new.

 

As head of the IIT council, the highest decision-making body of the IITs, Rao himself had raised objections to setting up eight new institutes within a year. The Telegraph had first reported Rao’s concerns on May 1, 2008.

 

“There was nothing to prevent the HRD ministry from conducting such a workshop earlier. This move unfortunately smacks of little more than a PR effort at assuring the IIT community that the government is keen to maintain standards,” an IIT director said.

 

 

 

 

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