Thursday, October 05, 2006
Non Resident Orissans (NRO)s have expressed serious concern over the tardy progress on the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER)front.
Establishment of NISER was announced by the prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on August 28 during his visit to Orissa.
Centre has announced to open 3 new IISERs in Pune, Kolkata and Chandigarh and the NISER in Bhubaneswar are going to be equivalent and will be like the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
There is a severe shortage of high quality scientists in India and all over the world.
Thus the new institutes that are more aggressive in recruiting these hard to find top-notch scientists will immediately rise to the top and the ones which are tardy and get bogged down in prolonged bureaucratic deliberations will stay in the bottom.
IISERs at Pune and Kolkota has started classes on August 16.
On NISER Bhubaneswar front the Orissa Government has given confused signals.
At various forums, it is down playing NISER as just an extension of the existing Institute of Physics while in other forums it has touted the establishment of NISER.
The Institute of Physics (IOP), which is funded by the department of atomic energy ( DAE), now finds itself in charge of the establishment of NISER but seems to be moving at a very slow pace.
According to sources of IOP it is planned to start classes in 2008, but the classes should open from 2007 it self.
Although, the lack of infrastructure raised by IOP are genuine , one must note the difference between the enthusiasm at Pune and Kolkota and contrast it with that of IOP Bhubaneswar
Originally proposed National Institute of Sciences (NIS) was overlooked, this institution's announcement happened only because of the grassroots efforts of Orissans all over the world.
Orissans wrote letters to the prime minister, had many peaceful dharanas, convinced the MPs and MLAs to protest in the Orissa Legislative Assembly and the Indian parliament, and wrote articles and op-eds in local and national papers.
Hence this institute has a very different origin than most central institutes that are created by central announcements with possible push by the respective state governments.
In case of NISER the people of Orissa are deeply and emotionally involved.
Accordingly worried over the delay, Dhirendra Kar, Vice President Orissa Society of the Americas in an open letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and DAE Secretary Dr.Anil Kakodkar.
He has urged upon to act together and do all that is necessary so that the NISER package is to receive green signal in the Union Cabinet at the earliest.
The Orissa government as well as IOP should immediately send a delegation to IISc Bangalore, TIFR Mumbai and IIESR Pune to quantify the infrastructurerequirements.
The Orissa government should provide temporary infrastructure so that IOP can immediately start hiring faculty, the hardest-to-get and the most important resource needed to make NISER a top-notch institution.
In particular, the Orissa government should offer space at one of its buildings.
The Orissa government should co-ordinate with the national institutions such as RRL (Regional Research Laboratory), RMRC (Regional Medical Research Center), ILS (Institute of Life Sciences), IMA (Institute of Math and Applications) and Utkal University so that faculty that are hired by IOP for NISER can have temporary laboratory space as well as housing quarters immediately.
They should take advantage of having TIFR as a sister organization in forming hiring committees and in recruiting from TIFR post-doctoral researchers and alumni.
They should think themselves as being in a race and do all that is necessary so that NISER is better than the IISERs in all respects; they should show how DAE is better at making a top-notch institution as compared to the HRD ministry.
Orissa government, IOP and DAE should issue a monthly progress report on NISER.
All these need to be done as soon as possible so as to make NISER a reality rather than a mirage like the AIIMS-Bhubaneswar.