The Centre is working on the concept of having ‘Navratna' universities, on the lines of the famous Ivy League varsities, to meet the challenge of making higher education developmental, environmentally sound, and all-inclusive, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said on Monday.

“We intend to nurture these select universities like the public sector Navratnas, through generous financial support, freedom in access to external funding and total autonomy so as to free them from the shackles of governmental control,” Mr. Sibal said.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the 98th Indian Science Congress at the SRM University at Kattankulathur, about 40 km from here.

Innovation Universities

Mr. Sibal said the government was also planning to set up 14 Innovation Universities. The unique institutions would set benchmarks in academics and research comparable to the best in the world with regard to problems of hunger, water, poverty and diseases through cutting-edge science and technology.

At the same time, there would be emphasis on?arts and social sciences.

Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M.K. Stalin drew attention to shortages of faculty, infrastructure, and financial support to undertake scientific researchat the college and university levels. He suggested that incentives be provided to the private sector for investing more in research and development.

Among those who spoke were K.C. Pandey, general president of the Indian Science Congress Association, and T.R. Pachamuthu, Chancellor, SRM University.