By Ruma Dubey
Jio University – an Institute of Eminence?
Did the HRD minister, Prakash Javadekar mean ‘Institute of Imminence?’
The meaning of eminence - fame or acknowledged superiority within a particular sphere and
Imminence means - the state or fact of being about to happen.
Did the HRD minister make a spelling mistake? That’s probably the only way to understand why Jio University, which is still in the process of being set up, get the status which was not accorded to IIMs or NITs.
Javadekar has an explanation (of course he has!). The minister said that Jio was accorded this tag under the ‘Greenfield project’ and it is judged on four parameters – availability of land for construction, core team with experience and qualifications, funding and a vision for the future with clear milestone and action plan. There were 11 greenfield projects and out of this, Jio alone fulfilled all the requirements.
The minister added that private projects selected here will not get Govt funding while public institutions with IoEs will get assistance up to Rs.1000 crore over a 5-year period. Well, when there is a university being set up by one of the richest men on earth, funding would be the least of the worries – something which obviously worked in favour, maybe the only factor which worked – money.
A clarification at this stage – Jio has got only the ‘Letter of Intent’ and not the IoE status; that’s what the Govt has clarified. One could argue that that the three others were bypassed to grant Jio this status but that’s something up for debate.
What really irks is that time and again, money can buy any tag in India. The institutes which have made it to the IoEs have reached there through sheer perseverance and creativity; IIMs were not thought to be good enough to make to this list; yet Jio did. If this is not crony capitalism, what is? Jio getting the tag, even if it a letter of intent, does not really come as a shock – if money and the ‘Ambani’ tag cannot get you even this, then it would have been a shocker!
IOEs are stated to be the real, precious jewels of Indian education and they are being given this tag to make them into global institutes like a Harvard or Carnegie. How does one know at this stage, even before the University has come up that Jio will have this eminence? Isn’t this eminence more about what Jio has rather than what it can offer to the students?
Yes, education has today become a big business. Every big industrialist worth his name, runs a school. One can argue that he/she has put up the school for the bigger good of the society; their way of returning back. Really? If that were true then why aren’t these top notch “industrialist” schools affordable to the likes of me and you? Can an average Indian afford to send his child to Dhirubhai Ambani School or for that matter most such schools – Oberoi School run by the Oberoi Realty group is amongst the most expensive ones, more so than any other in the city probably?
That brings into the spotlight the significance of The National Academic Depository Bill, 2011. Currently there is no central institute which verifies or validates information given by many such schools and institutes. Thus the need to establish the National Academic Depository Bill, 2011 tries to address this gap. Once this Bill becomes a law, it makes it mandatory for all academic institutions operating in India and issuing degrees, diplomas, certificates or any other academic award to lodge all such details with the depository. Any person can access this database and verify the authenticity of the school/institute through this central organization. Implementation of this Bill will thus prevent more IIPMs happening and curb fly-by-night education providers. The National Academic Depository Bill is the only way to bring back some credibility to the education system.
What are Institutes of Eminence (IoEs)?