The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which seeks to set up six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) including one at Jammu. The other new IITs are to come up in Tirupati, Palakkad, Goa, Dharwad, and Bhilai. Several members supported the bill but opposed the fee hike at the premier engineering institutes.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, who had while moving the Bill, said that the government is focussing on improving the performance of the institutes and quality of education, in his reply to the debate, tried to assure the members on the fees, saying that the government is keen only to garner fees from who can pay. “Education must be inclusive. To ensure equity it must be affordable also. But those capable of paying must pay. You should not oppose when rich are being asked to pay,” he said. He said in three years, the government will mobilise Rs 20,000 crore for IITs. Javadekar also sought to dispel the notion that the funding in IITs have declined, noting that the central government has allocated Rs 4,035 crore to the IITs this fiscal as against Rs 3,855 crore in previous year.
The government has formed High Education Financial Agency (HEFA) to upgrade the infrastructure, he said, adding that the Narendra Modi government is committed to “Sabko Shiksha Acchi Shiksa (Good Education to All).” On the fee structure, something which was flagged by several members including Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress, Javadekar said students from the ST and SC communities, from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category and physically challenged have full waiver of fees in the IITs and NITs. Families with income below Rs 9 lakh per annum also can get zero per cent education loan, he said adding affirmative steps can certainly change the scene of higher technical education in the country. The debate was initiated by Congress member Gaurav Gogoi, who stressed on the need of quality of education and research.
The Bill also seeks to bring the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, within the ambit of the Act. Javadekar also addressed the concern about coaching classes for entrance exam and said said the government has started online programme IIT-PAL, under which aspirants can get free tutorials, exams, and homework. Among others, Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena), and R.K. Jena (Biju Janata Dal) supported the bill. Jayadev Galla (Telugu Desam Party) said government should set up a central university and a tribal university in Andhra Pradesh, while Communist Party of India-Marxist’s M.B. Rajesh suggested that higher technical education should be made more inclusive.
Satya Pal Singh (BJP) suggested that government should ask at least one IIT to focus on rural technologies with a view to promote inclusive development.