Friday, February 02, 2007

IIT should be setup in Medak

Politicians from all major political parties in Andhra Pradesh are falling over each other to have the privilege of establishing the latest campus of the famed IITs in their district. The two major 'contenders' for an IIT campus are Basara in Adilabad district (which has a famous Saraswati temple and the original choice of the state government almost a decade ago) and Medak district (which has been proposed by the current Congress government at the state on account of its proximity to Hyderabad).
This was because the central government made a perfectly logical, cogent argument that getting the best of faculty or industry to the somewhat inaccessible Basara (about 150 kilometres by road from the nearest city, Hyderabad and without a broad-gauge rail link or an airport) would be tough and asked the state government to propose an alternative location closer to Hyderabad. The state government proposed a location in Medak that is barely 20 kilometres away from Hyderabad, which will very well connected with the rest of the country and the world by road, rail & air. The original decision by the state government several years ago seems to have been based on purely sentimental & religious reasons, as Adilabad never had the basic infrastructure required for an institution of higher learning.
That Medak was the erstwhile constituency of Indira Gandhi has been raised by the opposition parties (TDP, TRS & BJP) to counter the logical argument of the central government, citing opportunism by the local state government to earn brownie points with the Nehru-Gandhi pariwar that still wields enormous influence on the central 'command' of the Congress party.
Thankfully, both Adilabad & Medak are in the Telangana-region of Andhra Pradesh, where there has been a long-standing demand for separate statehood. Otherwise, this could have added another dimension to the demand for a separate state by some people in Telangana. The opportunistic TRS, however, which claims to represent the fight for separate statehood by the people of Telangana, has alleged that the row over IIT in two different districts of Telangana was a “conspiracy” of the chief minister to divide the region and weaken the movement for a separate state!
The basic fact remains that the establishment of a new IIT will benefit students from all parts of the nation, including Medak & Adilabad. Apart from an issue of false pride, there is very marginal benefit to either the people of Adilabad or Medak in having an IIT located in their district as IITs by themselves do not lead to any significant rise in local employment. Infact, an IIT is proposed to have a sprawing 600-acre campus (if in Medak) or a 1000-acre campus (if in Adilabad) and might not employ more than a a couple of hundred locals as junior administrative staff. As it happens often in Indian politics, a small factory should be promised to the people of Adilabad to compensate for their 'loss' and the IIT should definitely be located near Hyderabad.
As if to prove that political opportunism in India has no boundaries of state, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik (usually very suave & calculated) has raised the demand for an IIT in Orissa again to cash in on the very comic confusion in Andhra Pradesh.
While more institutions of excellence in engineering (which is what IITs are meant to be) would benefit the entire nation, I don't quite understand the very irrational demand by states to have an IIT in their own state. At best, an IIT nearby will be convenient for students from the state, but in that case states that send the most students to the IITs (such as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan & Bihar do) have a reasonable justification to ask for an IIT in their states and the centre has, very reasonably, agreed to their requests.
The ideal way to look at it, of course, would be not look at each insitution of higher learning as of "IIT status" or not, but rather to try and improve infrastructure & quality of education in each of these institutions, to bring them on par with the IITs. Many engineering colleges (and other professional institutions) are older than the IITs and have successful alumni that can rival those of the IITs'. Such alumni can be successfully leveraged by enterprising Deans of these institutions to fund expansion, research as well as afford better quality teachers. While there might be procedural issues with it, given the way our governments have gotten used to (not) work over the last 6 decades, it pains me that the protests on the streets are not about eliminating procedural issues in improving quality of education in all colleges, but for the false pride of having an IIT in the vicinity. It is sad that people being made to protest on the streets have no idea of what an IIT means to them, or say, how to get into one of them, for that matter.


Blogger Marutham said...

Hello ,
:) Nice blog ......

An hm....
ur post has made some brains work ;)

Friday, February 09, 2007 8:54:00 pm  
Blogger Gaurav said...

Good ..
Hey You can view my Blog its also Good

Friday, June 15, 2007 4:55:00 pm  

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