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Newsletter   January 2006
10
Factsheet on NIS & Prposed Agenda for the Future Course of Action by Agamee Odisha
Supriti Mishra
(Contributed by Chitta Baral)
Two years ago, a group of Pune-based scientists first
mooted the idea of a new-age centre for science educa-
tion and research to stop the brain drain to disciplines like
management and for that matter to foreign countries. On
9th December 2003, the then HRD minister Professor M.
M. Joshi, in an address to the Consultative Committee of
the Parliament, announced about the Union Govem-
ment’sdecision to establish four National Institutes of
Sciences (NIS) at Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Pune and
Allahabad. On 10th December, 2003, Press information
Bureau, Government of India under a press release cor-
roborated the declaration by the Ministry of HRD. Subse-
quently, an UGC document released on Jan 2004 declar-
ing about the steps initiated by the UGC to establish four
National Institutes of Sciences at Bhubaneshwar, Chen-
nai, Pune and Allahabad.
As a part of this initiative the Chairman, UGC, had written
a letter to the then Vice Chancellor, Utkal University along
with other VCs. Even a sub-committee was constituted
with the VCs as members who had met at New Delhi in
August 2003 to discuss on this matter. It was a go- ahead
signal from the UGC based on which the then VC, Utkal
University, had met the Hon’ble Chief Minister and im-
pressed on him for the setting up of NIS at Bhubaneswar.
The CM had also taken great interest and instructed the
district authorities to cooperate in allocating the land for
the purpose. Informally the location was decided to be
Ghatikia, Bhubaneswar.
Quite contrary to these steps and declarations by the
previous Government at the Centre, recently on Septem-
ber 28, 2005, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan
Singh has announced the setting up of an Indian Institute
of Science for Education and Research (IISER) at Pune
and Kolkata, respectively. The aim of the National Insti-
tute of Sciences that Professor Joshi had announced in
December 2003 is the same as the proposed IISERs.
Thus, NIS and IISER, thoughthey differ in their names,
both refer to the same concept.
Orissa, as you know, does not have any central univer-
sity, or any institute of national repute like IIT, IIM, IIIT or
ISI, etc. It also does not have any reputed autonomous
science and technology institution funded by Government
ofIndia. Orissa has often been a victim of negligible edu-
cational investment from the Central Government. It was
deprived of an IIT just after Independence. It took almost
a decade to declare REC, Rourkela, as a NIT. Where as
the state of West Bengal where one of the IISERs is pro-
posed has an IIT in Kharagpur, a central University in
Shanti Niketan, two additional institutes of national impor-
tance - an IIM and an Indian Statistical institute(ISI), and
three autonomous science and technology institutions, all
in Kolkata. Similarly, the state of Maharastra where the
other IISER is proposed, has theArmed Forces Medical
College (AFMC) in Pune, an IIT in Mumbai, and three
other autonomous science and technology institutions. In
recent years, Bhubaneswar has come up as a major in-
formation technology hub for software industry. Software
majors like Infosys and Satyam have set up their facilities.
However, when all other major IT cities have either an IIT
or IIIT in the city or close by, Bhubaneswar in particular
and Orissa in general, does not boast of such facilities
either.
Now, this issue needs to be looked at from the perspec-
tive of whether, Orissa has the ability to nurture and flour-
ish institutes of high standard like an NIS or IISER. Orissa
government and the people of Orissa have helped create
several top notch institutions like the Institute of Physics,
the Xavier’s Institute of Management and the Institute of
Life Sciences, all in Bhubaneswar. The Institute Of Phys-
ics at Bhubaneswar, is an autonomous research institu-
tion funded jointly by the Department of Atomic Energy
(DAE) and the Government of Orissa and established in
1972. Research at Institute of Physics is top notch by
international standards. Its alumni have gone on to many
good institutions all over the world. Many of its faculty and
students have preferred it over an IIT. The Xavier’s Insti-
tute of Management owes its origin to a Social Contract
between the Government of Orissa and the OJS (Orissa
Jesuit Society). It was established in 1987, and ranks
among the top business schools in India. This year's Out-
look magazine ranks it 8 in the country among various
business schools, including the IIMs. It has faculty with
PhDs from top business schools such as University of
Massachusetts, and Stern School of Business, NYU,
NewYork. It also has a fellows program which is equiva-
lent to PhDs. The Institute of Life Sciences, an initiative
by the Govt. of Orissa, Department of Science and Tech-
nology, started a decade back. On August 2, 2002 it
came under the administrative and financial control of
Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. The
researchers of this institute often publish in international
journals. To reiterate, the above three institutions had
been created by the foresightedness of the Government
of Orissa, and are now premier research institutions, al-
beit with limited focus, but boasting of world class re-
search and teaching. Besides these three, there are sev-
eral other research institutions in and around Bhubanes-
war that do very good and useful research. This includes
the Regional Research laboratory (RRL) in Bhubaneswar,
the Regional medical research center (RMRC) in Bhu-
baneswar, the Central Rice research institute(CRRI) in
Cuttack , the Central Institute of Fresh Water Aquaculture
(CIFA) in Bhubaneswar, and the National Institute of Re-
habilitation Training and Research in Olatpur. In addition,
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