The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Mumbai and Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have flagged concerns over the pace of funding by the HRD Ministry under the ‘Institution of Eminence’ (IoE) scheme.
Raising this issue in their presentation to the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) on September 26, the three government institutes, which were awarded the ‘eminence’ tag in July last year, flagged challenges in implementing their IoE plans on the grounds of inadequate and delayed funding by the government.
Since July 2018, IIT-Delhi has received about Rs 93 crore, against its demand for roughly Rs 200 crore; IISc has received about Rs 78 crore against its projected requirement of Rs 167 crore in the first year; and IIT-Bombay has got Rs 43 crore — although it submitted its request for more funds in May this year, it hasn’t received any.
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When contacted, N Gopalaswami, former Chief Election Commissioner who now heads the EEC, said, “Whatever you have been told is not the complete truth. Please ask them if they have been able to spend the money already given to them.”
The EEC is tasked with recommending names for the IoE tag and monitoring the progress of those who have been awarded the status.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, a senior official of the HRD Ministry, when asked about the funding issues raised by the public IoEs, pointed to unspent funds with the institutes. “There is a protocol for release of funds. The unused balance with the institute has to be reduced to 20% for further (fund) release,” said the official.
According to a statement of funding reviewed by The Sunday Express, IIT-Delhi has Rs 73.54 crore, IIT-Bombay has Rs 42.97 crore, and IISc has Rs 56.53 as unspent balance as on September 30.
“What we are requesting the government is more flexibility. Funding (for IoEs) should be looked at (by the ministry) as a broad enabler for achieving excellence, rather than a fine-grained approach to release and utilisation,” said an official of one of the three IoEs, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We cannot start a big project or activity if funds are released in piecemeal (manner). It’ll be much easier if funding is linked to an activity (or project) and not to fixed conventional heads under which the government usually releases funds,” said the official.
The three IoEs are learnt to have also raised the issue of the government asking for progress reports within short intervals of time.
The IoE scheme is aimed at creating an enabling architecture for 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world-class institutions. They are proposed to have greater autonomy, including on deciding their fees, course duration and structure. Their academic collaborations with foreign institutions will also be exempt from approvals.
The 10 private IoEs are not entitled to any government funds.