Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar
Non-Resident Oriyas (NROs) have expressed serious concern over the tardy progress on the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) front. That the NISER would be established in Orissa was announced by Prime minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to the State on August 28.
The Centre had announced that three new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) would be opened in Pune, Kolkata and Chandigarh and assured Orissa that the proposed NISER in Bhubaneswar would be equivalent to 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 them would find top-notch scientists to immediately rise to the top and the ones which are slow to come up and get bogged down in prolonged bureaucratic deliberations will stay in the bottom.
IISERs at Pune and Kolkota have started classes since August 16. On the NISER Bhubaneswar front, the Orissa Government has given confused signals. At various forums, it is downplaying NISER as just an extension of the existing Institute of Physics (IoP), while in other forums it has highlighted the proposed establishment of NISER. The IoP, which is funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), now it finds itself in charge of establishment of NISER, but the work in this regard seems to be moving at a very slow pace. According to sources in IoP, it is planned to start classes in 2008, but the classes should open from 2007 itself.
Although the question of lack of infrastructure raised by IoP is genuine, one must note the enthusiasm in Pune and Kolkota and its contrast at IoP in Bhubaneswar. The originally proposed National Institute of Sciences ( NIS) for Bhubaneswar was overlooked, while the announcement about NISER followed the hue and cry in Orissa and NROs. People of Orissa and NROs wrote letters to the Prime Minister, had many peaceful dharnas and lobbied with MPs and MLAs in support of establishment of the institute.
Now, worried over the delay, Dhirendra Kar, vice-president of the Orissa Society of the Americas, in an open letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and DAE Secretary Anil Kakodkar, has urged them to act together and do all that is necessary, so that the NISER package receives green signal from the Union Cabinet at the earliest. The State Government and the IoP should immediately send a delegation to IISc Bangalore, TIFR Mumbai and IIESR Pune to quantify the infrastructure requirements for the NISER, Kar has suggested.
The State Government should provide temporary infrastructure, so that the IoP can immediately start hiring faculty, which is the hardest-to-get and the most important resource needed to make the NISER a top-notch institution. In particular, the State Government should offer space at one of its buildings, he has advised. Besides, the State Government should coordinate with the national institutions such as RRL (Regional Research Laboratory), RMRC (Regional Medical Research Centre), ILS (Institute of Life Sciences), IMA (Institute of Math and Applications) and Utkal University, so that the faculty hired by the IoP for NISER can have temporary laboratory space as well as housing quarters immediately, Kar has added.