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JIO Institute Fallout: An Undefensive Defence

Source: Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Twitter Handle

After a bizarre decision, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is facing criticism from various hues. It is reported that the MHRD awarded IoE status to six educational institutions namely IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, BITS-Pilani, Manipal Academy of High Education and Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation. The decision triggered a controversy over granting such coveted status to Jio Institute which is a proposed institute by Reliance Group. People are asking: How can a nonexistent institute get status of Institution of Eminence (IoE)?

Before delving into the detail, there is a need to shed light on the phenomenon of Institution of Eminence, what are objectives and missions of such initiative?

The UGC (Declaration of Government Educational Institutions as Institutions of Eminence) Guidelines, 2017 is an important policy document to understand the whole idea.  As the government document stated, “There is a felt need to create a distinct category of deemed to be Universities, called institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities, which shall be regulated differently from other deemed to be universities so as to evolve into institutions of world class in a reasonable time period.” Though, one can trace its origin in the Finance Minister’s budget speech in 2016.
To provide an enabling regulatory architecture to ten public and ten private Higher Educational Institutions to emerge as world-class Teaching and Research lnstitutions.

Based on the recommendations of the Commission and Empowered Experts Committee, the Ministry of Human Resource Development sha‖l issue orders on the selection of institutions under this scheme.

The Empowered Expert Committee conducts its appraisal based on the document submitted by the applicant as the document stated.

Inspired by the global rankings, the University Grants Commission (UGC) invited applications from the following institutions:
(i) Existing Government educational institutions
(ii) Existing private higher educational institutions to upgrade themselves to Institutions of Eminence.
(iii) Sponsoring organizations for setting up of new Institutions of Eminence

Each Public Institution selected as IoE will be provided financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Cr over a period of five years, according to the official document. Interestingly, the government documents don’t define the “Greenfield” category to which they are referring.

While clarifying the issue, the MHRD tried to address the confusions.  The controversy surrounding te yet-to-be-established Jio Institute crept into the common parlance and people are not convinced over the clarification. They started parody accounts at Twitter and mocked relentlessly.

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