Thursday, January 11, 2007
GUNJAN PRADHAN SINHA & G GANAPATHY SUBRAMANIAMTIMES NEWS NETWORK
[ TUESDAY, JANUARY 09, 2007 02:43:46 AM]
NEW DELHI: Budgets have a lot to do with number crunching, and Budget 2007 might just take it a step further — with a brand new institute of excellence for statistics. The government is considering a proposal to set up a new-age clone of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) and discussions are on to allocate Rs 50 crore for this purpose. The issue popped up on the UPA government’s budget agenda following a demand from Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi. The DMK supremo wants a premium institute for statistics to be set up in Chennai and has offered to provide 25 acres near Tharamani — an institutional area fast emerging as the hub for IT firms — free of cost. Acknowledging the enthusiasm of UPA’s southern ally, PM Manmohan Singh has constituted an inter ministerial group (IMG) to examine the proposal. Highly-placed government sources said deliberations are on and RC Panda, a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer who is currently functioning as statistics secretary, will co-ordinate with various departments, including finance, to give shape to the project. Incidentally, GK Vasan, a Congress leader from Tamil Nadu, is now the minister of state for statistics. Mr Karunanidhi wrote a formal letter to Mr Singh and followed it up recently with requests to speed up clearance, the sources said. The Tamil Nadu CM’s argument is that there is only one central institute of excellence dealing with statistics now which is located at Kolkata. In view of the growing importance of statistics due to strong economic growth, officials have also been feeling the need to have a strong database. Data support is considered vital to stress important issues at global fora like the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Tamil Nadu government has also submitted a concept paper which details the dire need for a premium statistics institute at Chennai. Mr Karunanidhi’s argument is that Tamil Nadu has been producing large number of graduates in mathematics, accountancy and statistics. During informal discussions, he has also stressed that renowned maths expert Ramanujan was born in Chennai and the city was the home to the Institute of Mathematical Sciences.