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Expert Panel Tells Jio Institute To File Progress Report

An expert committee headed by former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami has asked Reliance Foundation’s planned Jio Institute, to file a report on the progress it has made, including towards the acquisition of land for its campus. It has asked the institute to fill up a specially designed form meant for greenfield educational institutions that serves as a status report.

The new form seeks specific details such as land availability and the size of its corpus fund, said a government official involved in the process who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last month, the Gopalaswami panel conducted a review wherein it raised questions on the progress made by Jio Institute, one of six “institutions of eminence” selected by the government last year that will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy. Jio, named after Reliance Industries Limited’s telecom subsidiary, was asked whether it could build the campus in Karjat, near Mumbai, as had been proposed by its promoters.

Jio Institute filed a report in response, but the panel has asked it to submit the details again,this time in a format that provides specific details, the official cited above said.

“It was felt that specific details on whether the infrastructure can be built in Karjat, where an 800 acre campus is expected to come up, or whether land is available at Navi Mumbai which is also mentioned {as a potential location}… Therefore, the institute has been asked to provide specific information in the new format,” the official added. The committee is keen that Jio Institute meets the commitments it has made such as a land bank and corpus fund, he added.

When reached for comment, Gopalaswami confirmed that the institute had been asked to file the report in the prescribed format.

“We’ve asked them to put the reply in a particular format which we have prescribed now. They are a new institution unlike others which are old institutions. The older institutions have presented in a particular format which is okay. The newer institutions, they cannot go with the same format,” he said.

Asked if there were concerns related to land, Gopalaswami replied: “Not only land, every activity had been listed out. We have asked for the information, let it come”.

“The conceptualisation and planning of the Jio Institute is progressing well; we have had multiple discussions and presentations with Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) for providing updates on implementation in accordance with the envisaged framework. We continue to be in a constant dialogue with EEC and will provide required information to EEC as and when asked for,” said a Reliance spokesperson

A person familiar with the development said the institution may be built in Navi Mumbai instead of Karjat, adding that the availability of funds for the institute was not an issue.

“Project development is an ongoing process. There are a number of meetings and matters were discussed about formats which is in the process of resolution,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

The Centre launched the Institute of Eminence (IoE) initiative to improve the global rankings of Indian educational institutions. The other five institutions given the tag were the Indian Institute of Technology -Delhi, IIT-Bombay, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, BITS Pilani and Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

Jio Institute, being a startup, was given a letter of intent (LoI) by the government to recognize it as an institution of eminence.

Jio Institute is expected to be an inter-disciplinary institution whose courses and subjects would be decided under the supervision of the Gopalaswami panel.

An educationist said the focused attention of the expert committee on Jio Institute was justified.

“Now that almost a year has elapsed since the grant of LoI, the empowered committee must monitor the progress made. The process of land acquisition and creation of world-class academic infrastructure must proceed…Simultaneously Jio Institute must indicate the kind of inter- and multi- disciplinary innovative and modern frontline academic culture it plans to introduce,” said Inder Mohan Kapahy, a former member of the University Grants Commission.―Hindustan Times

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