Jio Institute, which was named in the list of six public and private universities to get the Institution of Eminence tag, which gives it autonomy, doesn’t actually exist yet. It is only a proposal from the Ambani family backed Reliance Foundation, but on Monday, it was put on par with five other organisations all of which have much more distinguished histories: IIT- Delhi, IIT- Bombay, Indian Institute of Science, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and the Birla Institute of Technology in Pilani.
Drawing flak from various quarters for its decision to grant the ‘Institution of Eminence’ (IoE) status to the proposed Jio Institute, the HRD Ministry said that it was the institute’s “ability” to break into top global rankings that weighed in its favour.
The IoE granted to Jio Institute is “provisional” and exists only in the form of a Letter of Intent, the Human Resource Development Ministry said on Tuesday.
“They have been given three years to come up with the building and other infrastructure ready, failing which the status will be withdrawn,” HRD Ministry’s Higher Education Secretary R. Subrahmanyam told the media here.
Jio Institute is one of the six higher education institutes granted IoE tag on Monday by the Ministry.
He clarified that a committee responsible for selecting the IoEs relied on different criteria like availability of land and building to shortlist the institutes. The official said the Ministry was “convinced” about the committee’s decision to select Jio Institute.
He said that the committee’s preference for institutes which it thinks have the “ability to break into the global rankings”, a prime criterion, also got Jio the berth.
“Under the regulation, there are three categories in which the institutes were to be selected… Jio Insititute was selected in the ‘greenfield category’ wherein institutes are not (in existence) right now but have a proposal…,” Subrahmanyam said.
In the greenfield category, the official said, 11 institutes had applied, of which only the Jio Institute got the provisional nod.
“The committee, in its wisdom, after listening to their proposals and their ability to mobilise land and other resources and their vision, arrived at the decision that there was only one eligible institute,” the official said.
Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (all public sector), and BITS Pilani and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (private sector) were five other institutes granted the IoE.
The Secretary said the Jio Institute will be located in Karjat town near Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra over 800 acres of land.
According to the proposal submitted by the group to the committee, the JIO Institute will use Rs 9,500 crore in capital expenditure.
As per the University Grants Commission (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2017, the Ministry was to select 20 IoEs — 10 private and 10 public.
It had formed an Empowered Expert Committee to shortlist the entries solicited from the institutes on the basis of their research calibre and other criteria.
The government received 114 applications (74 public, 40 private) in total from the higher education institutes, of which six were recommended by the EEC for IoE tag.
Each public institute will get financial assistance up to Rs 1,000 crore for five years under the scheme.
The CPI-M slammed the Centre’s decision to include the non-existent Jio Institute in the category of ‘Institutes of Eminence, and called it “brazen cronyism”.
“The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India-Marxist strongly opposes the move by the Narendra Modi government to accord ‘Institution of Eminence’ status to the Reliance Foundation’s Jio Institute.
“We condemn this move of the government which cannot be construed as anything but brazen cronyism,” the party said in a statement.
It said for an institution to stand the test of time and evolve into a truly ‘world class’ institution of higher learning and research is a challenging process.
“It takes great perseverance and creativity to earn that tag of eminence. It is bewildering that the Jio Institute, which is non-existent and notional, has been given that status solely on a ‘drawing board’ projection,” it added.
“The entire exercise and the considerations by the Gopalaswami Committee have remained largely outside the public domain.
“The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has now come out with an announcement that the total number will be reduced from 20 to just six and one of the chosen three private institutions is Reliance Foundation’s Jio Institute,” the statement said.
The Left party stressed that the decision would have a “debilitating effect” on the entire sphere of higher education “underlining the obsession of the government to promote privatisation and undermining public-funded higher education”.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Centre’s Jio institute move.
Issac wrote in his Facebook that the only comparison he can make with Modi is that of King Farouk I of Egypt who suffered from nightmares in which he was chased by an angry lion and haggard from loss of sleep, he went to the zoo and shot two lions in their cage.
“It’s only because it’s Ambani that Modi gave this on a platter and he gave it to an institute where not even the foundation has been laid.
“Even if Ambani desires for the moon, it will be brought to his residence in Mumbai by the Centre,” said Issac.
Issac pointed out that the “Institution of Eminence” has even excluded an institution like the Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi.
By this surprising move, Modi has replaced the legendary Delhi Sultan Muhammad Bin Tuglak and shamed India, said Issac. (IANS)