Economic Times | By Anubhuti Vishnoi, ET Bureau | 20 November, 2015 |
NEW DELHI: Hemmed in by regulatory red tape, the prestigious Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) is looking for a way out to expand more independently, even as its ambitious new campus in Hyderabad has come under the UGC scanner. The Department of Atomic Energy — under whose aegis TIFR falls — has moved a Cabinet note seeking to declare TIFR as an Institute of National Importance. Such a status will effectively take TIFR — one of the country’s premier research institutions — out of the purview of the arguably restrictive deemed-to-be university regulations of the UGC. TIFR is currently a deemed-tobe university as declared by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex higher education regulator. The institute recently got into a tangle with the UGC, which shot a notice to 10 deemed-to-be universities, including TIFR, ordering they immediately close down their offcentre campus. TIFR’s new campus at Hyderabad has been termed ‘unauthorised’ and ordered for closure immediately by the UGC in a notice dated November 9, 2015. The Smriti Irani-led Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry lists over 70 Institutes of National Importance. These include the IITs, NITs, AIIMS and Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER) and they are governed by their own Act of Parliament, instead of the UGC regulations and also have degree granting powers. The DAE Cabinet note in this regard is currently going through the process of inter-ministerial consultations. TIFR authorities confirmed there was a move to seek such a status for the institute.
TIFR director Sandip Trivedi, confirmed to ET that such an effort is on. “We are trying to seek the status of an Institute of National Importance for a range of reasons. We hope such a status will help sort out some potential problems related to other centres. The issue, however, is being discussed at the government level,” Trivedi told ET over phone. “The topic of getting the status of an Institute of National Importance was discussed briefly at TIFR. The main reason is that we believe that we are such an institute and deserve the status. Another was the vague idea that it may bring some tangible/intangible benefits. At this point, we are not sure that the time and effort involved in going for this status is worth the benefits it may bring,” General Science dean at TIFR, Amol Dighe, told ET over email. – Courtesy