The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has clarified the status of ‘Institute of Eminence’ following a controversy that erupted over Jio Institute qualifying for the tag along with IITs, even though the institute backed by Reliance Foundation doesn’t yet exist.

On Monday, the MHRD assigned the tag to six institutions including  Jio Institute. While the five others are all established and prominent educational entities, Jio Institute exists only on paper as of now as it neither has a brick and mortar set-up nor virtual presence yet.

 

The ministry headed by Prakash Javadekar, however, issued a detailed statement explaining the meaning of the tag, and the rationale behind granting the same to Jio Institute, and the future prospects of the institutions that failed to qualify for the tag.

“In response to some misinformation campaign in social media regarding “Institutes of Eminence”, please find herewith clarifications on commonly raised questions #InstituteofEminence,” the Ministry said on Twitter while sharing the statement.

The ministry said that the non-existent Jio Institute was granted the tag under clause 6.1 of the Universities Grants Commission (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2017 which allows granting of such a status to proposed institutions or Greenfield projects.

“Totally 11 such applications have been received and has been assessed by the EEC,” said the MHRD adding that only Jio Institute could fulfil 4 parameters set by the EEC.

According to the HRD, the parameters are: Availability of land for construction of the institution, (ii) putting in place a core team with very high qualification and wide experience, (iii) making available funding for setting up the institution, and (iv) a strategic vision plan with clear annual milestones and action plan.

The Ministry said that two other institutions – Indian Institute of Human Settlement, Banguluru, and Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar – were recommended by the EEC for being given flexibility in the regulatory framework.

According to the MHRD, Jio Institute will have to set up the institution and indicate its readiness for commencing academic operations within three years of the issue of Letter of Intent.

It will be declared ‘Institute of Eminence’ only after the “readiness of the institution has been examined and certified by the EEC” and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoA) is signed.

Answering doubts over funding, the MHRD said that private institutions will not receive any funding.

“However, they will get autonomy to pursue academic excellence,” read the statement.

“The EEC decided that selection exercise shall be repeated so that institutions applied but not selected can show progress and be considered for the next round of selections,” added the statement.

A major controversy erupted after the MHRD on Monday assigned the coveted tag to six institutions – IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), BITS-Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and Jio Institute. Of the six, only Jio Institute exists only on paper as of now.

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A total of 10 public and 10 private institutions are to be selected in the IoE list, which is meant to provide autonomy and funding to help elevate them to world-class status.

While Javadekar hailed the inclusion of the six institutions as a “landmark quality initiative of the Modi government”, many expressed their surprise at Jio Institute’s inclusion.

“Jio Institute has not even been set up. It is not in existence. Yet govt grants it eminence tag. That is the importance of being M Ambani,” wrote former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha, who had served as Finance Minister under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

 

“Absolutely astounding! HRD ministry declares a ‘yet to be opened’ Ambani owned ‘Jio Institute’ as one of 6 ‘institutions of eminence’, along with IITs & IIMs! Can’t imagine a more grotesque joke on the country & a more blatant act of cronyism!” said Prashant Bhushan.

 

“To Sarkari apologists who say Jio Institute has been placed in the “Greenfield” category, a “Greenfield” university outside Chennai is being helmed by Raghuram Rajan, whose academic qualifications are in inverse proportion to those of the Ambanis. Why not choose that?” wrote Ramchandra Guha.