On October 19, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually addressed the centenary convocation of the University of Mysore. During his address, the Prime Minister made a number of claims highlighting the infrastructural growth of higher education institutions such as IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and IIITs across the country.

Claim: “There were only 16 IIT’s till 2014. In the last six years we have opened at least one IIT on average every year - one in Dharwad in Karnataka.”

Fact: TRUE

A Lok Sabha response from December 2013 shows the list of 16 state-wise IITs in the country. Since 2014, the central government established six new IIT institutes and upgraded the Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad to an IIT. In July 2016, the Lok Sabha passed the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to facilitate the opening of these institutes in Palakkad (Kerala), Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Bhilai (Chattisgarh), Goa (Goa), Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) and Dharwad (Karnataka).

Of these, IIT Palakkad and IIT Tirupati were founded in 2015 while IIT Bhilai, IIT Goa, IIT Jammu, IIT Dharwad and IIT Dhanbad were founded in 2016 while operating through temporary campuses. Overall, there are 23 IITs across the country. According to a Lok Sabha response in July 2019, the sanctioned faculty strength in IITs was at 8,856 positions. Out of these 6,043 were in position while 2,813 were still vacant.

Claim: “There were nine IIIT’s in India till 2014. In the last five years 16 new IIITs have been started."

Fact: TRUE

Of the 25 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) across the country, five are managed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and twenty are run on a Not for profit Public-Private Partnership model. In December 2010, the then Union Cabinet approved a scheme for establishment of twenty IIITs in PPP mode with participation of central, state governments and industry partners. The approved cost of each IIIT was Rs 128 crore which is contributed in the ratio of 50:35:15 by the central government, state government and the industry each. Until 2007, only four IIITs were functioning under the MHRD in India. In 2013, five IIITs were set up totalling to nine institutions till 2014. Since then 16 new IIITs have been set up and are operating from temporary campuses.

Claim: “In the last five to six years 7 new IIMs have been started. Until then, India had only 13 IIMs".

Fact: TRUE

A Lok Sabha response from December 2019 mention the seven new IIMs established at Amritsar (Punjab), Bodh Gaya (Bihar), Nagpur (Maharashtra), Sirmaur (Himachal Pradesh), Sambalpur (Odisha) Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) in the last six years. Of these, six IIMs commenced their Post Graduate Programme in Management in 2015 while IIM Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir was established in 2016. The opening up of IIMs were conducted in three phases. Until 2007, only six IIMs had been established. Since then, seven IIMs (phase 2) were established by the UPA government between 2007 and 2011 and seven IIMs were opened between 2015 and 2016 by the NDA government. The teacher-student ratio in IIMs is 1:10. In total, there are 20 IIMs across the country.

Claim: “For the last seven decades, only seven All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were serving the country. After the year 2014, more than double, i,e, 15 AIIMS have been established in the country or are in the process of starting.”

Fact: PARTLY TRUE.

Since the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power in 2014, the opening up of fifteen new AIIMS were sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) scheme. However, as of October 2020, only seven AIIMS are fully functional. This includes the first AIIMS established in Delhi in 1956 and the six new AIIMS under Phase 1 (Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh) which was sanctioned during the previous NDA government and completed during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

The PMSSY scheme was announced in 2003 with the primary objective of ‘correcting the imbalances of availability of affordable/reliable tertiary level healthcare in the country’. In all, 22 AIIMS have been sanctioned to be set up under PMSSY. Of the eight phases that were planned, only one phase is fully operational while the remaining seven phases, i,e, 16 AIIMS are still under various stages of construction.

Need for more teachers, funds for research and emphasis on economic growth.

While the building of higher educational institutions have significantly increased since the last seven years, it is equally important to consider various factors that contribute to the holistic growth in higher education. “Building educational institutions, improving gross enrolment rate and increasing the number of graduates is very good if we can provide students with jobs,” said Dr Amir Ullah Khan, a development economist and professor at Dr. MCR HRD Institute of Telangana.

"We need more universities in India because the gross enrolment ratio is still very poor but simultaneously an institution or college needs enough faculty which many of our institutions lack. Working without sufficient faculty is as good as not providing education, particularly in AIIMS," Khan said.

“This government focuses on large buildings that allow you to issue large contracts and tenders and hence it is very visible. There are around 1.5 million schools in the country but half of them don't have teachers and that's exactly the model we’re replicating in higher education institutions in the country where we go into the frenzy of building campuses without having sufficient faculty,” he further explained.

According to a FactChecker analysis in June 2018, only 3% of sanctioned funds were released to build 11 new AIIMS. “The secret behind the success of institutions like IITs and IIMs is the fact that they had large funding to conduct research. The new institutions neither have the funding or the faculty to conduct research; they will dilute the value of international institutions by producing mediocre results.

Therefore the solution is more teachers, better trained faculty, more funds for research and a greater emphasis on economic growth that will result in employment,” he added.

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