By Ningombam Bupenda Meitei
Manipur is a state with one INI (Institute of National Importance), namely – National Institute of Technology, Manipur, while Manipur University and Central Agricultural University are central universities in Manipur. Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (Madhya Pradesh), which is a central university, has its regional campus in Manipur.
India’s INIs and 1 INI (NIT) in Manipur
Institutes of National Importance are premier higher education institutions, set up by an Act of Parliament, in India. They include all IITs (Indian Institute of Technology), IISERs (Indian Institute of Science and Educational Research), AIIMSs (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), NITs (National Institute of Technology) and SPAs (School of Planning and Architecture). IIMs (Indian Institute of Management), initiated by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, set up under Indian Societies Registration Act, are autonomous, in day-to-day affairs, but administratively and strategically overseen by the IIM Council.
At present, India has 20 IIMs (19 working IIMs and 1 IIM Jammu which is yet to come up), 23 functioning IITs, 17 AIIMSs ( 7 functioning AIIMSs and 10 proposed AIIMSs), 7 IISERs ( all 7 IISERs are functioning), 3 SPAs ( all 3 SPAs are functioning) and 31 NITs ( all 31 NITs are functioning). In total, India has 81 Institutes of National Importance and 20 IIMs, and out of such 101 (81 INIs + 20 IIMs) premier institutions Manipur has got only one – NIT Manipur.
Why do young minds leave Manipur after schooling?
With one INI in Manipur, the young minds of Manipur have no choice but to leave their own state after their schooling in search of getting admission to such premier institutes of global excellence. The students, particularly school students, of Manipur are academically strong and mentally tough as schooling in Manipur is still concerned about having a deeper and stronger fundamental foundation of every student. Teachers, in schools of Manipur, are traditionally interested in clearing the basic concepts of students so that the school educational, particularly ‘academic’, training is imparted with an utmost seriousness and dedication. A school student from a school in Manipur can compete, in many ways, with any school student from anywhere in India; but, any college/university student from a college/university in Manipur finds not comfortably empowered to compete with his/her counterpart from anywhere, like IIT or IISc or AIIMS, in India.
With a large population of young minds leaving Manipur to pursue their undergraduate program there is a drain of economic wealth from the state of Manipur to the rest of India, where the students are heading to. Had those INIs, IIM and other premier institutes been there in Manipur, they will not only attract the best minds from the rest of the country but also accelerate the economic activities in and increase the flow of wealth, both in terms of intellectual and economy, to Manipur. Manipur, with IISc (Indian Institute of Science), IISER, AIIMS, IIT, IIM and SPA, will be a developed Manipur; and that “developed Manipur” will, truly, be the symbol of an inclusive growth and development of an emerging economy and global player called India.
Act East: Why India needs IISc, INIs, IIM in Manipur
Why Manipur needs INIs, IISc and IIM is not merely because it is a state, and therefore it has to get them. It does not only need them but their presence in the state is a necessity of India, as that presence would become a sign of presenting a new India in Manipur when the world of South East Asian countries come to Manipur through “Act East”. Before the East Asia meets the rest of India, Manipur – being the natural Gateway of India to East and South East Asia – must be well equipped with all the INIs, IISc and IIM so that the idea of modern India becomes functional and vibrantly working right from Manipur. The Presidents and the Prime Ministers of South East Asian countries may fly to New Delhi but the people from these countries will encounter India, mostly, by visiting Imphal firstly. If Imphal cannot become the testimony of a new developed India, how will India instill faith and confidence to the people of South East Asia for the exchange of minds, cultures, goods and wealth with India?
Many from the state of Manipur have gone out and excelled in all such INIs, IIMs, IISc, TIFR and other premier institutes of India. Many have also made their academic mark in Oxbridge universities and Ivy League institutions. Shall not the establishment of INIs, IISc and IIM, in Manipur, motivate those, from Manipur, who are working in world renowned universities, in India and abroad, to come back and become a part of the making of a new developed Manipur, which is also very much a part of the making of a new developed India?
Can PM Modi and Amit Shah do it before 2017?
Can Amit Shah, who is arriving in Imphal on 15th September, 2016, declare “if BJP comes to power in Manipur, there will be IISc, IISER, IIT, IIM, AIIMS and SPA in Manipur within a year”? If BJP cannot form its government in the state, should it mean that Prime Minister Modi will never be interested in setting up institutes of national importance ( which are different from central universities that are under UGC)? If BJP and PM Modi are indeed genuinely interested, then such institutes will be established afresh, meaning without upgrading or converting any existing institution in Manipur to become IISc, IISER, IIT, IIM or AIIMS. In upgrading/converting an existing institution to become institutes of national importance, there is hardly any new infrastructure and a space for new minds. It becomes an old wine in a new bottle. It is just a change of nomenclature, morphologically, with the same old faculty members, old buildings and infrastructure, same old redundant research and academic environment, same old nexus and nepotism and yet with a new pay structure for the same old faculty members who would become faculty members by the virtue of the upgradation.
Manipur needs new space in modern time
Manipur needs new infrastructure and technology, new young minds and new scientific and academic research-oriented environment, with the 21st century’s instrumentation, which can have an impact in the global research arena. Re-changing names and establishing institutions by using the already existing crowded infrastructure are not the solution to do justice either to that very new institution, being established, or to the making of a developed Manipur. Manipur is popular for establishing many new institutions by borrowing and using the already available infrastructure which is already being used for the utility of some other existing old institution. It could, to some extent, make sense if such new institutions came up in the post independent India’s Manipur, in 1950s or 1960s, but not in the 21st century India, and certainly never in 2016 or post 2016.
The question to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is: whether the Prime Minister and his government, in New Delhi, are serious enough to establish IISc, IISER, IIT, AIIMS, IIM and SPA in Manipur before 2019, and whether his party, through its President Amit Shah, can announce the establishment of the aforementioned institutions before Manipur Assembly elections in 2017?