Explained: How Jio Institute won the Institution of Eminence tag

Jokes and words of criticism are a result of misinformation or the lack of details in public domain.

 |  4-minute read |   10-07-2018
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A storm has broken out over the ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) granting the Institution of Eminence (IoE) tag to the proposed Jio Institute, which the Reliance Foundation would be setting up in three years reportedly.

The Jio Institute is on the elite list along with two Indian Institutes of Technology (Delhi and Bombay), the Indian Institute of Science, BITS Pilani and the Manipal Academy.

Questions have been raised over how an institute that doesn't really have any existence on ground level yet (meaning a physical, actual building) be given this prestigious tag. A lot of people have cracked jokes over their efforts to locate the Jio Institute on Google Maps and failing in their attempts.

However, all jokes and every word of criticism are a result of misinformation or the lack of details in public domain.

The fact that a private giant such as Reliance has its name attached to the Jio Institute is what is making people sceptical about the entire episode - so much so that they are beginning to see a mafia-like underhandness in the development.

However, the granting of the tag to the Jio Institute is in keeping with the rules.

notification_071018052027.jpgHRD ministry notification

According to the MHRD regulations of 2017, there was a provision of institutes vying for the tag being classified under two heads:

a) Greenfield institutes

b) Brownfield institutes

Clause 6.1 of the UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2017, provides room for establishing an institution to be considered under this project.

The purpose of clause 6.1 is to allow private investment into the setting up of world-class institutions.

The greenfield institutes are based on the greenfield model of development which follow a grounds-up approach. Under the greenfield model, work starts from scratch. So, the ministry made a provision to allow institutes still in the planning stage to be eligible for the tag — but only if there was a proposal solid enough to back the claim that they deserve enough.

As opposed to greenfield institutions, in the case of brownfield institutions, work happens on improving existing institutions.

The regulations state: "It [the private institute/company applying for such a tag] should have sufficient evidence to show that it has experience in translating plans into real achievements in any field (not necessarily in the field of higher education, but preferably in it) as per its plans."

Since private institutes will not be eligible for the Rs 1,000 crore grant that public institutes will get for their development, another provision was introduced to ensure they have the resources to match world-class standards.

"The sponsoring organisation for greenfield institutions should have members whose total net worth is at least Rs 5,000 crore collectively. For existing institutions, the total net worth of all members of sponsoring organisation should be Rs 3,000 crore collectively," the regulations stated.

While the plan is to grant the tag to 20 institutions — 10 public and 10 private — so far, only six institutes have made the cut.

The ministry received not one, but 11 private proposals for the tag.

There is no denying the fact that Reliance enjoys a competitive edge in this country, given its hold over a vast business empire. Naturally, Jio Institute has the resources to build up a world-class institute.

But the condemnation over Jio Institute's inclusion in the list seems to stems from our misguided aversion to two Ps — 'private' and 'profit'. Much as we crave better living standards, we seem to have a problem with profits.

There is no problem with corporate funds coming into the education sector as long as private players show the will to produce quality and as long as the government remains committed to providing quality education to those opting for public institutions over private ones.

The government has promised a grant of Rs 1,000 crore to public institutes that prove worthy enough of the IoE tag.

A lot of people also have a problem with the fact that an IoE will have a greater degree of autonomy than others. But such people fall victim to the dichotomy of their own arguments.

Weren't we all rooting for greater autonomy till sometime back?

Why make academic institutions slave to bureaucratic approvals in matters such as hiring faculty and deciding courses?

Jio Institute will come up in three years. It is supposed to implement the promises it has made to win the tag — else it stands to lose this.

We have given our government educational institutions years and years to show results — let's give Jio just three.

Also read: The truth behind cheating — Revisiting adultery judgments in India

Writer

Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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