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August 01, 2005
News: BHU to transform itself into centre of excellence.
Chronicle Editor @ Aug 01, 2005

An article in Indo-Asian News Service dated July 24, 2005 titled BHU to transform itself into centre of excellence.

The article describes the vision of Vice-Chancellor to convert entire BHU into an IIT-like institution, where a student can study in subject or faculty under one campus.

BHU to transform itself into centre of excellence
By Lola Nayar, Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The Benaras Hindu University (BHU), one of India's oldest institutions of learning, is awaiting a large infusion of government funds as it moves to transform itself into a centre of excellence with cutting-edge technological training and career-oriented basic sciences.

Set up in 1916, the BHU is one of the largest residential institutions in Asia with 18,000 students on its rolls spread over a 1,300-acre leafy campus, complete with an airstrip and a large temple, that has 14 faculties and 138 departments, some of them housed in heritage buildings.

Plans are under way to "make it into an equivalent of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or more, with more focus on preparing people for a career in basic science, making education system more aligned with occupation and livelihood", university vice-chancellor Punjab Singh told IANS here.

"The government is processing a proposal for providing the BHU funding equivalent to an IIT (which could be anywhere between Rs.150 million and Rs.2 billion)," Singh said.

"The project for funding has been prepared and is being considered by the ministry of human resource development. We are now planning to make a presentation of our vision for the BHU," said Singh, a former director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) who took charge in May.

Singh is keen to build on the multi-faculty strength of the BHU in areas like agriculture, medical, social, environmental and physical sciences - some areas not focused in IITs - and give a boost to human resource development alongside academic and research pursuits.

Networking with several universities, the BHU is pursuing studies in areas like nano-technology, human genetic engineering, pre-natal care and stem cell research, besides being one of the pioneers in India in hydrogen fuel cell research.

Singh said the BHU had also plans for developing its 2,700-acre Barkaccha farm in Mirzapur district, 60 km from the BHU, into an agriculture training and entrepreneurship centre to serve Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttranchal as well as Chhattishgarh.

he project, estimated to cost about Rs.1.25 billion, is being proposed to attract more people to seek careers in science.

"The fact that very few people are seeking careers in science, leading to a decline in the number of students opting for basic science, is a dangerous development. Even those coming into basic science stream are not the top layer," he said.

The agriculture scientist, who is an advisor to the government, is of the view that select universities should be given a helping hand like the Rs.1 billion provided this year to the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore to build the infrastructure and to attract young talent.

Singh is a member of the expert committee headed by noted scientist K. Kasturirangan to review funding criteria for select universities through a block grant.

The BHU has also submitted a proposal of Rs.6 billion to the human resource development ministry and the health ministry to upgrade its medical institute and hospital.

Its 1,000-bed hospital and medical institute is greatly in need of more facilities to cater to the patients who come not just from nearby areas but even from Nepal.

- Indo-Asian News Service

For clarifications/queries, please contact IANS NEWS DESK at 2616-5778/8546, 2617-3369