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May 23, 2007
IIEST updates: Tirade over upgrade
Arun @ May 23, 2007

A news item dated May 3, 2007



The West Bengal and Kerala governments have joined hands to retain control over two tech schools — Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu) and Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) — which the Centre is considering for upgrade to Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IIEST).

Reasonable representation of students from the states, participation of the state governments in the administrative council and recurring grants for these two institutions — the Left-ruled states are chorusing on their demands before handing over the control of the institutes to the ministry of human resources development (HRD).

“How can there be a handover without even a discussion on these issues?” asked state higher education minister Sudarshan Roy Chaudhuri, echoing the concerns raised by his Kerala counterpart, M.A. Baby. In a letter, written on April 24, Roy Chaudhuri has sought an appointment with Union HRD minister Arjun Singh to discuss the issues.

While the Centre wants complete freedom from state control for these two institutes, the Kerala government, along with the West Bengal government, will suggest an alternative model for IIEST.

In a letter to state chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb on April 4, the HRD ministry secretary clearly spelt out the Centre’s demand, which is in line with the central guideline.

But the missive from Delhi has miffed the Writers’ Buildings bosses. “I had written to Arjun Singh earlier, the chief minister had written to the Prime Minister regarding the upgrade, but there was no response. Instead, there is a secretary-level letter asking the government to hand over the institute,” said Roy Chaudhuri.

The higher education minister met the members of the teachers’ union last week and explained the position of the state government on the upgrade issue.
But the Besu teachers’ association (Besuta) is not in agreement with the minister.

“Besu has never had any reservations or quotas in all the years that it has been under the state government. Why is the government insisting on a reservation now?” asked Manas Hira, Besuta member.

On the issue of mode of governance for IIEST, the teachers prefer the model that the Centre wants to follow over the one suggested by the state government.

A news item dated May 14, 2007

Besu upgrade talks - Delhi to consider state proposals


Bengal Engineering and
Science University, in
Shibpur. A Telegraph
The central and state governments will negotiate the upgrade of Bengal Engineering and Science University.

At a meeting held in New Delhi on Friday, Union human resources development minister Arjun Singh told the state government representatives that their submission on the mode of admission and governance at the proposed Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IIEST) would be considered. The Centre will “respond to the submissions adequately”, he said.

The ministry had agreed on principle to the upgrade of the university (Besu) to an Institute of National Importance (INI) in a letter to the state government on May 5 this year.

The Delhi meeting was also attended by Kerala education minister M.A. Baby, representatives of the Andhra Pradesh government and Brinda Karat. Apart from Besu, institutes from the two states are among those recommended for upgrade by the Anandakrishnan Committee.

On being asked when the negotiations will take place, the joint secretary of the Union department, Ravi Mathur, stated: “We are awaiting submissions from the Andhra government. We will have to take a comprehensive approach.”

The draft NIT Bill is now in the Lok Sabha, after being passed by the Rajya Sabha.

The secretary of the Union department, Rameshwar Pal Agarwal, had written to state chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb: “In order to convert this institute into an INI to be called IIEST, Shibpur, legislation will have to be brought in Parliament. After passage of such a legislation, the management of the institute along with its assets and liabilities would be transferred to the central government. The state government will have to agree to such an arrangement.”

State higher education minister Sudarshan Roy Choudhury, who met Singh on Friday, said: “I told him that such a decision cannot be taken before our submission on admissions and governance has been considered.”

According to sources, Roy Choudhury is miffed at secretary-level correspondence from the central government over a policy decision.
From the above news media articles, it appears that central govt. is ready to soften its stand about central control over IIESTs, and ready to re-negotiate the deal with respective state govts.

We do not know what the outcome of discussion will be. However, any move for joint (central and state govts.) control over IIESTs, admission quota for students within the state and admission through multiple entrance exam systems will certainly dilute the quality of IIESTs.