History of Indian Institutes of Technology

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The History of Indian Institutes of Technology refers to the history of the IITs. It is a collection of events and developments that had a bearing on their past and will affect their future.

Pre independence developments[edit]

The concept of the IITs originated even before India gained independence in 1947. After the end of the Second World War and before India got independence, Sir Ardeshir Dalal from the Viceroy's Executive Council foresaw that the future prosperity of India would depend not so much on capital as on technology. He, therefore, proposed the setting up of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. To man those laboratories, he persuaded the US government to offer hundreds of doctoral fellowships under the Technology Cooperation Mission (TCM) program. However realizing that such steps can not help in the long run for the development of India after it gains independence, he conceptualized institutes that would train such work forces in the country itself. This is believed to be the first conceptualization of IITs.

Developments leading to the first IIT[edit]

Dr Humayun Kabir encouraged Dr B. C. Roy, the Chief Minister of West Bengal to work on Sir Ardeshir's proposal for an IIT. It is also possible that Sir J.C. Ghosh, the then Director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, prompted him to do so. In 1946, Dr Kabir along with Sir Jogendra Singh of the Viceroy's Executive Council (Department of Education, Health and Agriculture) set up a committee to prepare a proposal, and made Sir Nalini Ranjan Sarkar the chairman. The Sarkar Committee was taking too much time, but Dr Roy did not wait for the Committee to finalise its report and started working on the interim draft itself. The 22 member committee (in its interim draft) recommended the establishment of Higher Technical Institutions in the Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern regions of the country. These institutes were recommended to have a number of secondary institutions affiliated to them. The draft also urged the speedy establishment of all the four institutions with the ones in the East and the West to be started immediately. The committee also felt that such institutes should not only produce undergraduates but should be engaged in research – producing research workers and technical teachers as well. The standard of the graduates was recommended to be at par with those from elite institutions abroad. They felt that the proportion of undergraduates and postgraduate students should be 2:1.

L. S. Chandrakant and Biman Sen in the Education Ministry played significant role in producing a blueprint for a truly autonomous educational institution. Sir J.C. Ghosh (later to be the first Director of IIT Kharagpur) ensured liberal provisions of the IIT Act allowing the IITs to work free from nitpicking interference from the babudom. It is largely because of the IIT Act that IIT directors were granted authority superseding even some parts of the government. On the ground Bengal had the highest concentration of engineering industries, the Committee suggested that an IIT may be set up in that state. This encouraged Dr. Roy. to use that fragment of a report in order to persuade Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to push through a special Act to establish an IIT in Bengal.

With the recommendations of the Sarkar committee in view and on the basis of blueprint made by L. S. Chandrakant, Biman Sen, and Sir J.C. Ghosh, the first Indian Institute of Technology was born in May, 1950 at the site of Hijli Detention Camp in Kharagpur, a town in eastern India. Initially the IIT started functioning from 5, Esplanade East, Calcutta[ (now Kolkata) and shifted to Hijli in September, 1950 when Sir J.C. Ghosh offered the place as a ready made place for the IIT. The present name 'Indian Institute of Technology' was adopted before the formal inauguration of the Institute on 18 August 1951, by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. On 15 September 1956, the Parliament of India passed an act known as the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) Act declaring it as an Institute of National Importance. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, in the first convocation address of IIT Kharagpur in 1956, said:

Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India's urges, India's future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India."[1]

The next four IITs[edit]

To counter the criticisms of setting up IIT in West Bengal, the draft report suggested that a second IIT may be located in the Western Region to serve the process industries concentrated there. It also added that a third IIT should be considered for the North to promote the vast irrigation potential of the Gangetic basin. Not willing to leave South out (and to make it politically correct), the draft report hinted that a fourth one might be considered for the South too. However, it offered no specific economic justification for the same.

When the pressure started building up to set up IIT in the West, Jawaharlal Nehru sought Soviet assistance in order to set up the institute in Mumbai. Krishna Menon (the then Defence Minister) and closest to the Russians, got Brig Bose appointed the first Director of IIT Bombay when it got established in Powai in 1958. As a fallout of the prevailing Cold War, the Americans offered to help to set up yet another IIT. The way the Sarcar Committee had suggested, it was established in the North as IIT Kanpur (in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh) in 1959. Dr Kelkar was the first Director of the institute.

At that time, the Germans had run up large trade surpluses, and they were persuaded to support an IIT in the South. The Germans had initially decided on Bangalore as the location but when they visited Madras, C. Subramaniam, the Education Minister, took them round the Governor's estate with frolicking deer roaming among hundreds of venerable banyan trees, and offered the space across the table. The visiting German team was considerably impressed by it and Madras got the fourth IIT in 1959 itself as IIT Madras.

R. N. Dogra the Chief Engineer of Chandigarh persuaded Prof M. S. Thacker, then Member of the Planning Commission to set up an IIT at Delhi on the ground that the country was divided into five regions, and all but the North had an IIT each. It was done on the basis of the logic that Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh constituted the Central Region. Hence, officially, Kanpur was located in the Central Region, not the North. This led to the establishment of IIT Delhi in 1961. The Indian Institutes of Technology Act was suitably amended to reflect the addition of new IITs.[2]

Establishment of IIT Guwahati and IIT Roorkee[edit]

After the establishment of IIT in Delhi, there was a long gap in any notable development in the history of IITs. However in the beginning of the 1990s, widespread student agitations in Assam led to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi promising another IIT in Assam. Rajiv Gandhi agreed to it on the spot considering it a minor request of IIT although eventually it cost over Rs 1,500 crore. The IIT Guwahati campus started functioning in 1987. In the beginning of the 21st century, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi (the Education Minister of India) made University of Roorkee into an IIT, making IIT Roorkee the newest IIT but the oldest institution amongst the seven in 2001.

Establishment of IIT (BHU) Varanasi[edit]

In order to establish more IITs in India, MHRD constituted Professor S K Joshi Committee in 2003 and Anand Krishnan Committee in 2005 to recommend names of existing institutes that had the potential of being converted into an IIT institute, both of which had recommended for the conversion of the IT-BHU into an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). On July 17, 2008, the government of India issued a press release granting "In principle approval for taking over the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University – a constituent unit of the Banaras Hindu University, a Central University, its conversion into an Indian Institute of Technology and integrating it with the IIT system in the country." After the approval of BHU Executive Council, a Bill was introduced on 4 August 2010 a bill seeking to amend the Institutes of Technology Act 1961 to declare IT-BHU as an IIT. The Bill was eventually signed by the President of India on 20 June 2012 and notified in the gazette on 21 June. The Central Government released a notification on 29 June that as per the Act, the transformation process was complete and the erstwhile IT-BHU was rechristened as Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi. [3]

Establishment of eight new IITs[edit]

Establishment of the eight new IITs began with decision of the cabinet, which was announced by the Minister of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Arjun Singh, in 28 March 2008 that the government planned to establish more IITs, Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Central Universities across the country. Six IITs at Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna and Ropar began functional from 2008 while other two at Indore and Mandi commenced their sessions from 2009.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ IIT Kharagpur's History on IIT Kharagpur's Website. URL accessed on 28 August 2012.
  2. ^ Indian Institute of Technology Act, 1961 on IIT Bombay's Website. URL accessed on 2006-04-10.
  3. ^ [1].