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Reliance’s ‘illusory’ Jio Institute – Received tag of ‘Institution of Eminence’

“Jio Institute has not even been set up. It is not in existence. Yet govt grants it eminence tag. That is the importance of being M Ambani.”

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Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited or JIO is an Indian mobile network company which is owned by Reliance Industries operating at a national level with coverage across all 22 telecom circles. Recently, the illusionary JIO Institute which is a part of Reliance and JIOP group and yet to see the light of day has been declared as an ’eminent’ institute’ by Government.

On 9th July 2018, The government has named three private and three public universities as “Institutions of Eminence” in which JIO is one. The list of ” Institutions of Eminence” includes JIO, BITS Pilani, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and IIT Mumbai and IIT Delhi. These “Institutions of Eminence” institutes received under the greenfields category and will receive special funding and complete autonomy in an attempt to raise their standards as world-class institutions in the coming years.

The government has constituted the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) to select 20 Institutions of Eminence from among 104 institutions (public or private) that have applied for the status. The committee head was former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalaswami. The scheme of Institutions of Eminence was rolled out by University Grants Commission (UGC). It aims to help 20 higher education (10 public and 10 private) institutions from the country break into top 500 global rankings in 10 years, and then eventually break into top 100 over time.

These selected institutions are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions. They will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students and have flexible course duration and structure. Only higher education institutions, currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), are eligible to apply for eminence tag.

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar congratulated Jio Institute, an initiative of the Reliance Foundation, on Monday for receiving the tag of ‘Institution of Eminence’.

He said,” #InstituteofEminence are important for the country. We have 800 univ, but not a single university in top 100 or even 200 in the world ranking. Today’s decision will help achieve this.”

He added, ” IT Bombay and Delhi will receive government funding because public sector institutes which are granted the status of Institutes of Eminence will get govt grant of Rs. 1000 crore in next five years”.

As the government faced questions, the Ministry of Human Resource Development issued a clarification on how Jio Institute received ‘Institution of Eminence’ status. The MHRD tweeted the clarification was in response to a “misinformation campaign”.

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The Congress tweeted, “The BJP Govt favors Mukesh & Nita Ambani yet again. The illusionary JIO Institute which is yet to see the light of day has been declared as an ’eminent’ institute. The Govt needs to clarify the basis of classification for granting such a status.

The MHRD explained greenfield institutions could get the ‘Eminence’ tag if they met the following criteria: having availability of land for construction of the institution, a core team with requisite qualifications and experience, adequate funding and strategic vision and plan. The MHRD noted Jio Institute had met all four parameters.

The UGC said the Jio Institute was selected under rules for greenfield institutions. According to officials, 11 such institutions had applied for the Institute of Eminence and Jio was selected from among them.

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