The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed two key bills to enable students of Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research get their degrees and give eight new IITs their status through an Act of Parliament.
The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2011, already passed by the Lok Sabha, seeks to set up eight new Indian Institutes of Technology in Bhubaneshwar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Indore, Jodhpur, Mandi, Patna and Ropar and integrate the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, within the ambit of the Act.
All these institutions shall be declared institutions of national importance as per amended Act.
The National Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2010, also passed by the Lok Sabha, declares certain institutions of technology as institutions of national importance and seeks to add five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (established in Kolkata, Pune, Mohali, Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram) as institutions of national importance.
It also specifies the members of board of governors of each institute and establish a Council for all Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.
Introducing the Bills in the Rajya Sabha, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said any fear about inclusion of BHU under the ambit of the Act was unfounded and said, "If there is any misgiving, one would be ready and revisit in the manner that members consider it appropriate."
Sibal said 20 NITs were covered under the Act and with amendments not being passed, students were waiting to get their degrees.
"Children are waiting and crying for their degrees...one year has passed since they have passed out," Sibal said and pointed out that they were yet to receive their degrees.
"We should not be held responsible for the delay in degrees to students, who have worked hard and are waiting for this," he said.
He said the government has included almost all recommendations of the Standing Committee in this regard.
"Today in the 21st century, we must move towards setting up centres of excellence...until we do that, I don't think we can compete with the world...the new PhDs in India are still abysmally low," he said, adding, "We must move away from government support."
Sibal said, "I have freed strings attached with funding of institutions and made them more autonomous...the inclusive agenda of UPA government is showing tremendous results."
BJP members opposed upgrading Banaras Hindu University's (BHU) Institute of technology into IIT saying it will dilute its status among student community.
Chandan Mitra (BJP) said, "No attempt should be made to submerge the IT department of BHU. We are happy that you are upgrading other eight new institutes. The BHU is a different issue...The culture and heritage must be maintained," he said.
Mitra objected to the clause in the bill that gives special status to vice-chancellor of BHU of being chairperson of the IIT Board of Governors for three years.
Karan Singh (Cong) and chancellor of BHU said, "My humble request to BJP is that we must pass this bill. Otherwise we will be disappointing students who have not taken their degrees for last two years" and are awaiting upgradation of the institute.
Seeking reservation on the IIT Board, Narendra Kumar Kashyap (BSP) asked if the government has any scheme to provide representation to SCs, STs and minorities.
K N Balagopal (CPI-M) said, "Merely including names of institutes in the Act will not serve the purpose. The government has to spend on higher education."
N K Singh (JD-U) mentioned about vacant posts in IITs and government spending on higher education.
Vasanthi Stanley (DMK) said, "It is unfortunate that students have passed out but have not yet taken their degrees. The bills were passed in Lok Sabha last year, but it is yet to see the light of the day."