Wednesday, September 27, 2006



The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, laid the foundation stone for Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Mohali, Punjab today.

Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s remarks on the occasion:

“I am delighted to be here today to lay the Foundation Stone for a new temple of learning in Punjab, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. I sincerely believe – and it is my earnest hope – that this institute will take Punjab to a new horizon in science teaching and research. For the past century, India has had only one national institute of excellence in Bangalore. In the past one year, our Government has approved the creation of three new institutes of the same standard. I have had the pleasure of laying the foundation stone of a similar centre in Kolkata. The Department of Atomic Energy is setting up a similar facility at Bhubaneswar. It is now the turn of Punjab to claim its rightful place in the evolving knowledge economy in India and to become a first ranking State in science education and scientific and technological research.

I am confident that this quantum leap in high quality science education will herald a new era in the development of modern science in India. The charter of the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research is to emerge as world-class institutions, both for undergraduate as well post-graduate education in science, with an intellectually alive atmosphere for research. In these institutions, education will be totally integrated with cutting edge research in various disciplines of modern sciences.

I believe there is an urgent need in our country to revitalize and expand opportunities at every level of the education pyramid. From the apex, at which there will be institutions such as the IISER, to the base consisting of primary schools. While primary education is our major concern, ignoring tertiary and higher education is fraught with great perils. It is our Government’s commitment to increase the allocation of funds for education to 6% of GDP. We hope to effect a substantial increase in allocation for the higher education in the next Five Year Plan. Our aim is to widen access to education for all, and at the same time, promote excellence. I do not see any contradiction between these twin aims of our education policy.

Even though we are not a rich nation our higher education system has had very rich and proud traditions. This is especially true in Natural Sciences. With institutions like IISERs, we hope to provide high quality scientific manpower to research organizations in the Government as well as in the private sector. India has had a long and deeply rooted tradition of research within the University system. We had a great University in Nalanda and in more recent history, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Allahabad universities were cradles of good research. Frontline scientific research was carried out within the university premises. However, for a variety of reasons we seem to have lost this tradition in recent decades. Universities have become overcrowded with a lot of teaching but very little research. We expect IISERs to help us bridge this gap.

At the moment, our universities have to deal with very large numbers, with little time, space and energy left for doing research. Consequently, we have slipped into a system wherein research is confined to national institutions. There is virtually no organic link between colleges, universities and research institutions. This is unhealthy. Universities are the places where knowledge is living and young students must be given access to the ambience of research. I hope the IISER stimulates the intellectual curiosity of our young minds, in Punjab and across the country.

Since Independence, we have established several scientific research institutions, expanded R&D facilities and produced first-rate work, comparable to the best in the world. However, there is a decline in the new recruits entering these organizations. These recruits have to come out of our university system. We will strengthen the University system even as we set up new national institutions such as this. We will ensure greater investment from all sources to ensure an expansion of the University system. We will attract more private capital into our Universities while we step up public investment. In a few years, our Government wants India to become not only a generator of knowledge but also a source of knowledgeable workers.

For a variety of reasons our creative young minds are not opting for careers in basic sciences. Science is losing out to other more “lucrative” disciplines even at the school level. It is important to offer the best of our students an exciting and stimulating research environment in colleges and universities. Our endeavour to create these new Institutes of Science Education and Research is a step in this direction. I congratulate the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Department of Science and Technology for the good work they have done in setting up these institutes.

I am sure this institute will revitalize science education and research in Punjab and neighbouring states.

I am delighted that the first of the five National Institutes of Public Health is being set up here in Mohali by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in collaboration with the Government of Punjab. The Institute would train over 1000 healthcare professionals annually. I hope that this would be an important milestone in our efforts towards improving healthcare delivery systems for the poor. I congratulate the Chief Minister and the Government of Punjab as well as Mr. Harpal Singh and others of the Public Health Foundation of India on this happy occasion.

Punjab has been at the forefront of the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution was made possible not only because of the efforts of the dynamic farmers of Punjab but also because of the excellent research work done by the Punjab Agricultural University. This work backed up by the first-rate extension system in the state, enabled the farmers to usher in what was then seen as a miracle. A miracle made possible by the application of knowledge and technology. I pay tribute to Late Pratap Singh Kairon. The role of M.S. Randhawa, Vice Chancellor is also commendable.

We need much more of that today in agriculture and in other spheres of activity. Punjab needs to be in the vanguard of the knowledge revolution that is sweeping across the country and the world. I do believe that the application of modern science and technology to agriculture will have a significant impact on the income of farmers and on rural development. Our agricultural economy must become more knowledge-based so that we can increase the productivity of our farms and the incomes of our farmers. The Chief Minister has ambitious plans for promoting nanotechnology in the state. I am told that a Centre for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology is being set up in Mohali. Punjab needs many more such centres in all spheres. Let IISER usher in a new era of institution building – institutions for the creation of knowledge; institutions for creating knowledge workers. Let there be many more institutions of higher learning in the state – both public and private. We will stand by and support the state in all its efforts.

I wish the people of Punjab, especially the young people of this great, progressive state a golden future”.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Arjun wants IISERs for MP, Kerala

NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 26: When Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh lays the foundation stone for the third Indian Institute for Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali tomorrow, his Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Arjun Singh is expected to pitch for two more — one in home state Madhya Pradesh and another in Kerala, ruled by the friendly Left.

“The HRD minister has already written to the Planning Commission to allocate funds for the two IISERs in the XIth Five-Year Plan,” a source told The Indian Express.

Sources said Singh, citing PM’s scientific adviser Prof C N R Rao’s recent outburst that Indian science will be finished in the next five years, wrote to the PM that “our universities have dried up and the country left with very few scientists”. He cited examples of smaller countries like Singapore and Taiwan, who have overtaken India in this regard, as said the Government considers science as a budget item, and a non-productive expenditure.

Making a case for the new IISERs, the minister apparently cited Rao’s letter, where he has said the need-of-the-hour is to revive science education and research by building speciality institutions.

As there has been no word from the Planning Commission yet, Singh is expected to cease the opportunity tomorrow when the PM goes with him to lay the foundation stone for the third IISER in Punjab. It may be recalled that after the IISERs in Kolkata and Pune, the PM had expressed interest in setting up the third one at Punjab, months before the state goes for Assembly polls.

However, it remains to be seen how Dr Singh responds to the HRD minister’s proposal to set up the two IISERs in Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram. Singh, a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, is keen to “gift” a national institute to his home state and another to his Leftist “friends” who pushed for his OBC quota bill in the UPA-Left coordination committee in May, despite widespread agitations across the country. His bonhomie with the Left leaders is evident as he recently convinced the UPA regime to grant legitimacy to Bengal’s derecognised teachers’ training colleges through an ordinance.

Friday, September 08, 2006


IISER in Pune and Kolkata were called NISER before

The HRD annual report of 2005-06 on higher education(page 238) talks about IISERs in Pune and Kolkata. It says that the SAC-PM initially called them as NISERs.

The complete annual report is at

Sunday, September 03, 2006


A May 2006 article on where IISERs were then

2 science institutes, one IIM: Wrapped in red tape, plan kept in deep freeze

Shubhajit Roy

Posted online: Monday, May 29, 2006 at 0000 hrs Print Email

HRD Delay: Kolkata and Pune premier institutes plan to start from temporary premises, with borrowed faculty

NEW DELHI, MAY 28:While HRD Minister Arjun Singh works on his Cabinet note on how to increase seats and upgrade infrastructure in premier educational institutions as per the Government’s OBC quota formula, chances are the note may skip his Ministry’s dismal record on this task.

Two premier institutes of science education, announced in March last year, are at least three years away. And eight months after it was decided that there will be a new Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Shillong, the project is yet to be cleared by the Finance Ministry.

This assumes significance given that seat increase is being used as a sweetener to the bitter quota pill despite a chorus of criticism on the “crude” manner in which the decision has been taken. C N R Rao, the PM’s chief scientific advisor, told The Indian Express this week how he had not even been consulted before the “stupendous” decision was taken.

Ironically, it was Rao who headed the panel that in March 2005 decided to set up two Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), in Kolkata and Pune, at the cost of Rs 500 crore each.

The goal is ambitious: two high-quality research institutions exclusively offering Bachelor’s and Master’s programme in sciences to attract the best of 10+2 talent. And direct PhD programmes in frontier areas of science research. Student strength: 2,000 over the next five years, with 200-strong faculty.

But consider the progress:

• Neither institute has a permanent campus nor permanent faculty.

• Despite this, the HRD Ministry is trying to push through the first batch from this July in “makeshift and temporary locations”.

• In Kolkata, for example, classes for the first batch of 70-odd students, selected via the IIT entrance exam, will be held in the Kolkata campus of IIT Kharagpur.

• With no hostel ready, students will stay in nearby campus of National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR) at Salt Lake.

• “We have just started the process of acquiring land (200 acres) in Kalyani (a Kolkata suburb), and hope to complete the modalities soon,” said IIT (Kharagpur) director Shishir K Dube, who is the project-director for setting up IISER (Kolkata).

• Its counterpart in Pune, too, is in a hurry to start the first batch in August at the “temporary location” in National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) in Pune. “About 100 acres, adjacent to the NCL, have been acquired recently. But no work on the construction of the campus has started yet,” sources said.

• Classes for the first Pune batch will initially start in a two-storied building at NCL’s Innovation Park. “Construction of new buildings will take nearly three years to complete,” sources said. NCL (Pune) director Dr S Sivaram, who is the project director for IISER (Pune), was unavailable for comment.

• No permanent faculty have been hired yet. Said Dube: “We will get faculty members from various institutes in Kolkata, like the Jadavpur University, IIT (Kharagpur) and S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences to teach the students.” Pune, too, will draw faculty from NCL and local colleges.

So how long will it take? “Only after we acquire land in Kalyani, will we invite tenders and architects and then we will know whether it will take two or three years to construct the campus,” Dube said.

That’s not the only hurdle. The two institutes are to be formed by establishing a registered society which has to be followed by an Act of Parliament declaring them as “Institutes of National Importance.” Progress on drafting that law? No one in the Ministry is willing to hazard a guess.

For the IIM in Shillong, the news is worse. On June 15, 2004, Arjun Singh had called a meeting of North-Eastern states where it was decided to set up the seventh IIM in the region. A three-member panel, formed that November, comprised Secretary (Higher Education), Secretary (Development of North-Eastern Region) and Indian Institute of Management (Calcutta) Director. It chose Shillong.

The Rs 100-crore project has not yet been cleared by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) of the Union Ministry and land is yet to be acquired although the Meghalaya government had identified the 100 acres. with Rituparna Bhuyan, Pune

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