Pankaj Jalote and B N Jain
The government recently said that it would open more Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). While any move in this direction is welcome, the existing model of wholly state-funded IITs is not amenable to increasing the numbers and enhancing quality.
After the first five IITs which came up three to four decades back, the government has set up only one, in Guwahati. But since the 60s, India's population has doubled and numbers of the educated seeking admission have probably gone up tenfold. Unable to cope, the government started renaming existing institutions as IITs. The key difficulty today in starting an IIT is attracting and retaining good faculty.
To attract quality faculty, we need good students, a vibrant research environment and attractive compensation. Good students are available in plenty in India, at least at the undergraduate level. The challenges lie in the other two areas, and they cannot be met by promoting new IITs exclusively in the government sector due to resource and management constraints in the present model.
In an era of public-private partnerships (PPP), it is worth extending the PPP approach to starting new IITs. Private sector dynamism and long-term social commitment of the government can come together to create quality institutes. A modified BOT (build-operate-transfer) model can be applied here.