After facing backlash over its decision to grant Reliance’s yet-to-be-established Jio Institute “Institution of Eminence” status, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday clarified in the Rajya Sabha that only a letter of intent had been given subject to conditions. Javadekar said the Jio Institute had not been declared an ‘Institution of Eminence’. Javadekar’s reply during Question Hour came after several MPs sought clarity on the criteria on the basis of which the prestigious title was conferred on select institutions.
Institutions with “Institute of Eminence” status get greater autonomy, can decide their fees and have flexible course durations and structure. The controversy over Jio Institute is due to the fact that it had been granted the status even before it has been set up. Many have also raised a finger on the process of selection and the motive behind it.
Javadekar said a committee of experts had made the selections after a thorough scrutiny. “The Jio Institute has only been recommended by a panel for a letter of intent, subject to certain conditions,” the HRD minister said. Javadekar said along with Jio Institute, the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences-Pilani and Manipal Academy of Higher Education were recommended for issuance of letter of intent, as reported by PTI.
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The institutes chosen for the “Institute of Eminence” status were Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. A total of 114 institutions and universities – 74 from the public sector and 40 from the private sector – had applied for IoE status.
At Javadekar’s reply, CPI leader D Raja wondered why top institutions like IIT-Chennai or JNU were not included. Javadekar said a panel had carried out the scrutiny and the government had maintained an arm’s length.
Earlier, the HRD secretary had said the Jio Institute has been selected under the greenfield institutions category. “Jio Institute has been selected under the greenfield institutions category. These institutions are not there right now but where well-meaning responsible private investment wants to bring global standards to the country, they should be welcomed,” the HRD Secretary further said.
Earlier replying to another question, Javadekar listed the steps taken to improve the condition of educational infrastructure in the country. An allocation of Rs 75,000 crore over the period from April 1 this year to March 31, 2020, has been approved under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, which was 20 per cent more than the current allocations. He said the annual grant of Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 per school was approved for strengthening of libraries while the composite school grant has been raised from Rs 25,000 to one lakh from Rs 14,500 to 50,000.
Annual grant for sports equipment was Rs 5,000 for primary schools, Rs 10,000 for upper primary and upto Rs 25,000 for secondary and senior secondary schools, he said. Allocation for children with special needs was also increased, including a stipend of Rs 200 per month for girls to be provided from class I to XII, he said, adding that the allotment for uniforms was enhanced from Rs 400 to Rs 600 per child per year.