Sunday, January 18, 2009

Did Prof. C.N.R. Rao really say IISERs were "extremely well planned"?

NDTV interviewed Prof. C.N.R. Rao, Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, "about science and technology and how it is progressing in India." I was surprised to find this exchange about how the new IITs have been created without any planning:

Professor CNR Rao [...] we have to plan these institutions very carefully and not just start them by admitting students and putting them in a classroom. We need to plan things like the curriculum and the campuses. There is lot to be done in this regard.

NDTV: Were you consulted when these increased numbers of institutions [new IITs] were announced?

Professor CNR Rao: When it comes to the five science institutes [the IISERs], I was party to setting them up and they have been extremely well planned. The ones at Kolkata and Pune are doing extremely well. They are already in their third year. [...]

Why am I surprised? Because of this report from May 2006 about the first two IISERs at Kolkata and Pune, three months before the first batch of students were admitted (link from this post):

  • Neither institute has a permanent campus nor permanent faculty.

  • Despite this, the HRD Ministry is trying to push through the first batch from this July in “makeshift and temporary locations”.

  • In Kolkata, for example, classes for the first batch of 70-odd students, selected via the IIT entrance exam, will be held in the Kolkata campus of IIT Kharagpur.

  • With no hostel ready, students will stay in nearby campus of National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR) at Salt Lake.

  • “We have just started the process of acquiring land (200 acres) in Kalyani (a Kolkata suburb), and hope to complete the modalities soon,” said IIT (Kharagpur) director Shishir K Dube, who is the project-director for setting up IISER (Kolkata).

  • Its counterpart in Pune, too, is in a hurry to start the first batch in August at the “temporary location” in National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) in Pune. “About 100 acres, adjacent to the NCL, have been acquired recently. But no work on the construction of the campus has started yet,” sources said.

  • Classes for the first Pune batch will initially start in a two-storied building at NCL’s Innovation Park. “Construction of new buildings will take nearly three years to complete,” sources said. NCL (Pune) director Dr S Sivaram, who is the project director for IISER (Pune), was unavailable for comment.

  • No permanent faculty have been hired yet. Said Dube: “We will get faculty members from various institutes in Kolkata, like the Jadavpur University, IIT (Kharagpur) and S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences to teach the students.” Pune, too, will draw faculty from NCL and local colleges.

Update: This is also a relevant link, I think ;-)


  1. Anonymous said...

    Apart from the above facts. There is lot of politics in selecting the faculty positions at Pune IISER. You can see that there is no Maharashtrian factulty (Except one in physics). Many of my Maharashtrian friends capable of joining the new Institute told me that after the application they received only one line receipt of application and there is no communication even after5-8 months. I mean this is reticules. This institute in the heart of Maharashtra and there are no Maharashtrian. I agree that there should not be such discrimination but it is done deliberately. Dont you all think that there is enough talent in Maharashtra as well.