THE Lok Sabha Monday unanimously passed amendments to the Institutes of Technology Act to establish six new IITs, with MPs cutting across party lines urging the government to focus on quality and inclusive education in the premier institutes.
While assuring free education for weaker sections in IITs, the government rejected a demand to review its decision
to increase the annual fee in the institutes to Rs 2 lakh.
“The government spends Rs 6 lakh per year on every student, and we have fixed the maximum fee as Rs 2 lakh. SC/ST students will get a complete fee waiver. The handicapped and those who belong to below Rs 1 lakh annual income category will also study for free. Those whose annual income is less than Rs 5 lakh will have to pay Rs 60,000, and those with below Rs 9 lakh as annual income will get interest-free loans,” HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said while replying to a debate on the Bill that lasted more than three hours.
“The poor section is covered. We charge Rs 2 lakh only from the rich. Those who can afford it must pay,” he said.
Trinamool Congress MP Saugato Roy and CPM MP M B Rajesh had demanded that the government reconsider the decision to hike the annual fee. While Roy cautioned against the “grave danger of passing of accumulated caste privilege as merit,” Rajesh wanted the premier institutes to be more “inclusive”.
Claiming that a large number of students belonging to weaker sections were being “thrown out” of IITs, Rajesh asked the government to ensure that the reservation policy was implemented in both admissions and facilities. The MP from Palakkad asked the government to ensure democratic space in institution premises. Citing developments in IIT-Madras where the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, an independent student body, was banned, Rajesh said students must have “the right to dissent and protest”.
Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress urged the government to implement the recommendations of the Anil Kakodkar committee to improve the quality of education and standards in institutes. He also wanted the government to allow private persons as well as corporates to provide funds to premier institutes and to seek industrialists’ contributions for it.
Javadekar welcomed the suggestion, adding, “India will provide financial aid for research so that the brain drain is controlled.”
The new IITs which the Bill promises are IIT Tirupati, IIT Palakkad, IIT Goa, IIT Dharwar, IIT Bhilai and IIT Jammu. It also aims to declare ISM Dhanbad as an institute of national importance, and to integrate it with the IIT system.