The proposed Jio Institute is at the receiving end of a lot of flak over it being given the Institute of Eminence(IoE) status. Here is a primer:
1. The IoE status is being given for the sole purpose of being a university that can be a world class one in the years to come.
2. The public universities will get Rs 1,000 crore each for the next 10 years while the private universities don’t get any monetary support from the government.
3. However, an IoE status will ensure that the regulatory oversight is eased for such universities to pursue excellence.
4. For the first time, the government concedes that regulation impedes the pursuit of excellence. It is an oxymoron.
5. Currently, universities cannot appoint a foreign faculty, cannot collaborate, partner, exchange, cooperate with any foreign University, or cannot innovate unless they take permission from UGC/MHRD.
6. Pursuing the dream of being a world-class University is an expensive proposition. Just the right intent wouldn’t suffice. HKUST, set up in 1991 is the youngest University that is world class. It had a corpus running into billions. It’s research funding today is close to $700 Million. It has faculty and researchers from the top 40 universities in the world.
7. If there is any corporation in India which can fund in billions, have a grand vision, on a large scale, Reliance would be the first one.
8. Reliance can also ensure that world’s best faculty, academics and researchers look at India in seriousness. Getting them to work in India is an expensive affair.
9. The collaborations and partnerships that Reliance can strike with the best universities around the globe cannot be under-estimated. There is already a conversation of a partnership with Harvard.
10. The only thing exposed in IoE is India’s grand vision scuttled down from 20 to just six universities. This is primarily because MoF could not find Rs 10,000 crores. All he gave was Rs 3,000 crores after a four-year delay.
No University in India is well funded. Rarely do we think of research. Universities in India are largely teaching shops judged on creating glorified clerk’s and not entrepreneurship, researchers and creators. We create consumers. It is time we change that.
For me the question should not be: “How could Reliance get the IoE status?”. It should rather be, ‘When the government isn’t losing anything financially, why couldn’t they give IoE status to a few more private universities and give wings to their dreams?’.
-Maheshwer Peri is founder and chairman, Careers360. This article first appeared as a Facebook post.