Saturday, April 07, 2007

FYI Deemed IITs letter to President of india Jan 2006

31st January 2006

Hon. President Dr Abdul Kalam,
Hon. Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh
Hon. HRD Minister Mr. Arjun Singh,
Hon Minister of State for HRD Mr. Mohd. Ali Ashraf Fatmi

Re: More Deemed IITs that have been proposed by HRD Ministry

A group of concerned alumni from IITs have created a public petition in response to news from media that HRD Ministry proposes to rename seven existing engineering colleges that have been short listed, as IITs so that they can be funded on par with IITs. We do not want to believe that this is factual yet cannot afford not to convey our concerns in case media reports turn out to be correct..

The text of the petition as has been signed by over 3200 concerned IIT alumni & Indian Citizens world wide is copied under for your perusal.

Matching funding alone cannot convert any existing institution into an IIT. Seven IITs as it is are struggling to find suitably qualified and talented faculty members to fill vacancies. This being the case how are we going to find the best faculty for fourteen IITs to maintain standards ?

The colleges short listed have been around for many years and are currently serving the needs of the State where they are located. Once they are renamed as IITs their intake will be from the National JEE Pool. This creates a problem for the students of the concerned state who do not take or pass JEE.. Will we not be affecting these students who will be forced instead of attending an REC for example to look for admission in engineering colleges interstate or overseas, where they will stand very little chance unless they pay huge fortunes ?? This could have serious consequences for the concerned states in the long run as one REC will disappear every time one REC gets converted to an IIT

When PM Rajiv Gandhi created IIT Guahati, the Nation applauded the move.. This was not the same when Roorkee University was renamed IIT Roorkee.

There is also this constant demand from many states clamoring for an IIT. This however does not make sense at all, as IITs are autonomous and state governments have no influence on them. Plus student intake is from a national exam and does not even serve the students of the state.. Most people seem to miss this point as the location of a new IIT is not at all relevant.. We could create an IIT in the deserts of Rajhastan or for that matter on a floating platform at sea and still make it function like all existing IITs, maintaining the discipline and culture

We are not at all against creation of Brand new IITs. In fact more IITs will serve the nation better by meeting the demand. What we are opposed to is the government wanting to rename existing institutions as IITs. The reason is simple, if you begin an institution from scratch with certain vision and mission, it will shape up accordingly. Therefore, we are happy with sixth new IIT at Guwahati. However, we are not comfortable with University of Roorkee being renamed as the seventh IIT. This has resulted in the crisis of identity for UoR - just imagine the senior alumni of UoR before renaming not being clear whether to call themselves as alumni of UoR or IITR.

Also just by renaming we cannot overnight change the culture of an existing institution. You will, therefore, kindly appreciate that renaming will in fact dilute, undermine and create confusion about the brand equity which IITs have achieved over the last fifty years.

As an analogy, every mother would love to give birth to her own babies and when she is not fortunate she would adopt young babies and nurture them.
However adopting & fostering teenagers and adults who are set in their ways and expecting them to change and remould is unimaginable

It has taken a long time for the IITs to establish their brand image and one of the concerns of IIT Alumni is getting this image tarnished by institutions of lower standards lacking in academic rigor being renamed as IITs. There seems to be no doubt about the need for more IITs and IIMs looking at the size of India and the talent pool available.

The real concern seems to be that the institutions renamed as IITs may not have the academic rigor needed to be equated with IITs. It takes a very long time to develop a culture like that of IITs. Overnight renaming of institutions as IITs is not a solution to for India's need for superior technical and management manpower to meet demand. It is very difficult to change the culture of state run institution under the University System.

Yes, some of the RECs may qualify to be upgraded to the status equal to that of IITs after an incubation period. First they should be upgraded and the necessary changes incorporated in their working, facility, recruitment, administration and most importantly the academic rigor. The existing IITs together with their Alumni must be allowed a say to decide whether another institution qualifies to be renamed as an IIT without any government interference, assuming IITs are truly autonomous .

If the Government of India is really serious about encouraging quality higher education, they should develop New IITs at least one in each state to suit market demand. The core of the whole issue is funding. The Government of India and the state governments do not seem to be willing to invest money in the future of the country's higher education. Otherwise what prevents the government to establish new IITs? It seems that GOI simply wants to please some of the states or their political allies by the renaming exercise without allocating additional resources.

Another important issue is affecting the academic rigor is the shortage of quality faculty. Unless the Government of India is willing to offer much better pay scales and service conditions, it would be very difficult to get quality faculty to run even the existing IITs and maintain current high standards leave alone seven more.

Please keep the nations dream alive and perhaps create a new IIT each year with foreign collaboration following the exact model that became a roaring success called IITs. This would make the new IITs state of the art engineering schools even far more advanced in terms of laboratories and equipment than current seven Its.

Sirs, IITians have been branded in many quarters as self centered individuals who got the best education using Indian taxpayers money only to migrate enmass to USA for better careers..causing brain drain..

As we all know charity begins at home and on aircrafts passengers are instructed to adorn the Oxygen mask first before attending to children..

We IITians of yester years had very little scope for employment in India when we graduated. One’s who were fortunate stayed back and the less fortunate or those who wanted to study further went abroad. It was merely a supply and demand equation driven by market forces that caused the so called brain drain.. We are indebted to the Indian govt for not blocking iitians from going abroad as in year 2006 we would not be in a position to give back to the nation..

This petition would not have been created had IITians been self centred as acused. This team is working on a white paper on taking IITs to the next level to be submitted to GoI for consideration

Yours sincerely

Ram Krishnaswamy
Sydney, Australia

On behalf of concerned IIT Alumni and Citizens of India.

Original Petition as follows:

Extracts of comments in the petition are blogged under


Hon. Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh & Hon. HRD Minister Mr.Arjun Singh,

It took a great visionary like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to create the five IITs, getting UNESCO, USA, Germany, UK & Russia to fund, furbish, staff them and nurture them for ten years. It took 125000 IITians 50 long years to establish the IITs as a Global Brand Name, aided by the autonomous structure & funds granted to the IITs by the Government of India.

This valuable Brand name belongs to the Indian Government, the IIT administrators and the real achievers, the alumni of IITs who have done the nation proud. Such excellence and recognition has to be achieved the hard way and is neither transferable nor can it be gained by association of the name.

We understand that, towards enhancing the quality of education in India there are now, moves afoot to name several existing colleges as IITs. While the governments overall goals are laudable, we would like to strongly urge honourable ministers to consider the potential damage to the IIT brand name, by such a move.

Instead, we urge the government to name these colleges as Hindustan Institutes of Technology (HITs) or a more suitable name, give them better funding than IITs and further empower them to succeed under their own brand name by making them all operationally autonomous along the lines of the IITs. Let the Government t create healthy competition between IITs and HITs and even go a step further and make faculty transferable between IITs and HITs so every one benefits through this exchange.

Taking the concept further HITs can benefit even more from official joint ventures with foreign universities of repute in countries like USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore. This will encourage annual exchange of faculty and UG and PG students, besides raising research to international standards. What better way to accelerate this new Brand name and give IITs good healthy competition ?

The GOI should fund not just seven but many more engineering colleges in India, at least one in each state for a start, to raise their standards and to significantly increase the well-trained manpower pool of the nation, which is of national strategic interest especially in the IT/ITES and other emerging economic sectors.

However, we request you to please refrain from calling these colleges IITs or Deemed IITs since a brand name typically only gets diluted when it gets distributed around. After all, there is only one Oxford, one MIT, one Harvard, one Cambridge and one Sydney University in the world.

We strongly feel that the proposal to rename the seven existing colleges Deemed IITs will result in fourteen doomed IITs, a few years down the road. Please do not downgrade the nation's Temples of Technology & Islands of Excellence, the IITs, that visionaries in your party played a key role in building soon after independence.

The Brand Name that IITs hold today are a result of their intellectual capital, quality infrastructure, selective intake of students through JEE, and most of all, operational autonomy. Above all, the five primary IITs have managed to evolve a unique academic culture over the last fifty years and that culture will be hard to replicate at any other institution. The culture includes components such as faculty who were all recruited for an IIT right from the beginning, inputs from foreign sponsors into the formation and development of each IIT, high quality students from the day of formation etc. which will be difficult to replicate at any other institution that has already been in existence for several years and has developed its own culture.

The Nation will salute the President of India Dr Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and HRD Minister Mr.Arjun Singh for making the right decision that will serve our children of future generations.

Petition created and submitted on behalf of the following Humble servants of the Nation::

Ram Krishnaswamy, B.Tech, IITM-1970
Dr.V.N.Sharma, M.Tech, IITK-1978
Sriram Vajpayam, B.Tech, IITM-1985
Bhuvan Prasad, B.Tech, IITK-1982
K.K.Subramanian, B.Tech, IITKgp-1970
Ashish Agarwal, B.Tech, IITM-1997
Atif Hussain, B.Tech, IITK-2003
Barun Kumar, B.Tech, IITK-1992
Ramakrishnan Rajamani, B Tech, IITM 1965
Raj Varadarajan, B.Tech IITM-1966
Sanat Agrawal, BTech, IITK-1988
Ajay Kumar Singh, B.Tech, IIT-R-2003
Varun Arya, M.Sc, IITD-1976
Gaurav Vaish B Tech IITK 2000

Yours sincerely
Ram Krishnaswamy
Sydney Australia