Jio Institute named 'Institution of Eminence' with IITs, IISc. Seriously?
Two years after the Modi government announced that it would brand some top educational institutes as 'Institution(s) of Eminence', only six institutes have made the cut. Along with state-run IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IISc. Bangalore, and privately-run BITS Pilani and Manipal Institute, the Centre awarded the tag to the completely unknown, and as yet non-existent Jio Institute, to be run by Reliance Foundation. Sure sounds fishy.
An Empowered Expert Committee was set up by the MHRD to do the classification. The EEC, tasked with finding 10 public and 10 private higher education institutes to be awarded the IoE certification, found only six, and cited weak teaching quality and poor research at other potential candidates. IoEs will get special privileges like generous grants, complete autonomy, ability to hire foreign faculty, etc.
The government defended the inclusion of Jio Institute under the 'greenfield' category i.e. a category for new or proposed institutes that are yet to come into existence. According to officials, Jio Institute was chosen from among 11 applicants in this category.
Jio Institute's inclusion still remains unclear, at least on the surface. With only six institutes making the list, it's strikingly odd that other IITs, TIFR, JNU, TISS and the like didn't make it, but Jio Institute did. For those scratching their heads about Jio Institute, don't bother. Even Google doesn't know. So why was Jio Institute included instead of better candidates? Take a guess.
From a political stand-point, the non-inclusion of institutes like JNU, TISS, and other reputed Humanities and Social Science institutes makes sense in a perverse way. Ever since it grabbed power, the Modi government has been actively trying to extinguish all forms of dissent in the country, and excluding Humanities and Social Science institutes from gaining recognition goes a long way in achieving that end.
From an electoral stand-point, with the 2019 elections coming up, political parties need funding. Modi has already advertised for Jio multiple times, and the classification of Jio Institute as an Institution of Eminence is yet another example of corporate boot-licking by the Modi government. With finance bill amendments having already made political party funding opaque, it's easy to deduce what Modi stands to gain.