Opposition to new IITs is illogical, says Sreenivasa Murthy, former VC of the Central University of Karnataka

With the Narendra Modi government promising to establish Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in all States, S. Sreenivasa Murthy, former Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Karnataka and former professor at IIT Delhi, has demanded that the institute be set up in Karnataka and Kerala to rectify regional imbalance.

Prof. Murthy, who is familiar with the functioning of IITs, NITs and Central universities, told The Hindu: “The proposal on setting up IITs is easily doable since two major States — Karnataka and Kerala — are deprived of the institute. Establishing IITs in these two States is no great deal.”

The country has 25 National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and about 50 Central universities. Opposition to new IITs, which add to quality of higher technical education, was illogical, he said. Nearly 18 lakh candidates appear for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) seeking admission to about 10,000 seats in the 16 IITs, he said.

Prof. Murthy, who has written to Union Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani, said Karnataka and Kerala had been educationally conscious, and getting quality faculty members to IITs in the two States would not be difficult compared to many of the new IITs that had been suffering from problems of connectivity and ambience.

The new IITs must be within a two-hour drive from a major airport to attract best faculty members and students. Any other remote place decided due to “political pull” would be disastrous and investment would go in drain, Prof. Murthy, former director of the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal, said.

Noting that many IITs were located in the northern belt (Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam), Prof. Murthy said setting up IITs in Karnataka and Kerala would rectify the regional imbalance.

“Indian parents spend over $4 billion each year to send their children for higher studies abroad,” he said. Setting up quality institutions in India would not only reverse the brain drain but also increase the possibility of mobilisation of resources internally for higher education in the country. “This may attract foreign students too,” he said.

Faculty crunch was a typical “Indian problem” created by Indians, he said, and added, “No advanced country or region such as the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, China, Singapore or Australia face this problem. Many American universities have nearly 50 per cent non-regular faculty members in many departments. This encourages outreach and interactions.”

More In: Karnataka | National