07 July 2012
Odisha, as a state has been held in great esteem. The state has been witness to a number of major schemes which have done nothing but improve standards of different things for the people of the state. Some of the major sectors in which the state has made real progress is that of education sector and IT sector. While in the IT sector the state is currently playing host to a number of new and old Software firms the likes of which include Infosys with the company establishing a sort of small township in the outskirts of the capital of the state. Apart from these old players, the state also houses a number of new and upcoming firms of software sector. In the education sector also the state has made serious progress, with the likes of some of the premier Institutions such as those of IIT, NIT, AIIMS,NISER, XIMB,NLUO and apart from these a lot of other universities having significance in state such as those of IIIT, Utkal University, Ravenshaw University, Biju Patnaik University of Technology, KIIT, SOA and others among many who have found a place in Odisha and are increasing the education standards of the state. Apart from these the state also houses a number of technical and professional colleges mostly in the city of Bhubaneswar. But all these and many more upcoming had been left tongue wagging when Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta group proposed a world-class educational University to be made matching the standards of those of Stanford and MIT.
The Vedanta group declared Odisha as the state in which the company wished to establish a world-class university with a purpose which was nothing but providing quality education to students and establishing a world-class university in India which could compete with the likes of Stanford and MIT. Mr. Agarwal stated that he would embark upon himself the setting up of an institution which would over time be regarded as one of the best in the world. And for this to take shape he stated that a personal grant of $1 billion would be given from the Anil Agarwal foundation which is a not-for-profit organization. And to establish such a university he selected the state of Odisha, Puri to be exact. The state government of Odisha was more than happy to welcome this move as this would surely make the state one of the prime Hotspot for education apart from all other institutions already functioning in the state.
The plan of the Vedanta group was to establish a sort of knowledge city in Puri district of the state. It was put in plan that once fully functional the university would offer courses in as many as 95 academic disciplines and cater to educational needs of as many as 100,000 students. It had been decided in plan that the university would come up in the Puri-Konark marine drive in the state on 6000 acres of land. The university aimed to revolutionize the education sector with becoming one of the knowledge centres of the country where education was offered on a broader range i.e. combining a lot of other disciplines such as humanities, sciences, policies administration and offer all such courses under one single place. This meant a major revolution in the education sector as it would allow students to mix and match taking example that an engineering student could take up a sucject related to performing arts as a minor subject to study during the course. While this concept of majors and minors is largely effective and in motion in foreign countries and universities, it is yet to touch Indian soil as India has only colleges and universities focussing on specialized courses such as those of IITs and IIMs which are purely upon either technical or professional courses.
What it hoped to achieve
Once functional the university would offer 95 academic disciplines to about 100,000 students with the help of 10,000 faculty members. The university aims to be a centre for holistic centre of excellence. The plan that was proposed by the group was to acquire 6000 acres of land in Puri which would be used up for academics and residential for 100000 students, 10,000 faculty members and support staff and their families. The university aimed to be a global education centre and thus provide India one of its premier all-rounder university in terms of course and studies.
The state was pleased with this and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik signed a memorandum of Understanding with Anil Agarwal to create this World-class multi disciplinary university. In 2009 the Odisha government passed a landmark bill which was to allow the university to get set up with autonomy and start functioning as soon as possible. The government had also acquired 4000 acres of land for the purpose and work was to start for academic blocks and medical college.
Although in 2010 4000 acres of land had been acquired by the state government for the purpose, the project is currently staring at a dead end with the Supreme Court ordering Odisha government to maintain status quo on acquisitions of 6000 acres of land for the university. The decision was taken with half a dozen petitioners against the project citing different reasons such as those of “destroying bio diversity of the area” to those of “land being acquired belong to the city’s deity” along with a lot of other environmental and land acquisition violations. The newspapers now state that the university is now almost a closed chapter but there still remains some hope for the good thing to take place.
Our (Vgyan) view
In our view, Vedanta University, had it been established would have been one of its kind on a global level. It would have done nothing but contribute towards not only increasing the education stature of the state but also that of the nation on a global front. The university would have brought a revolution in the education industry and would have been profitable for a lot of sections of society especially the students’ section. But with the Supreme Court giving a status quo and a lot of others opposing the university, it seems a distant future now. But hopes are still alive that somehow all this will be all behind and the university will achieve what it aims to. But all this would not be possible without public support and especially pressure on government to allow such a beneficial proposal to see the light of day. Because believe it or not the university will enhance and bring the nation closer to its dream of becoming a knowledge super power in the future with major contributions. And being a not-for-profit venture, it is evident that the sole aim of Anil Agarwal is not to earn money from the education sector like the private players do but to enhance educational possibilities for the country. This is visible from the generous grant of $1 billion for the Rs.15,000 Crore proposal.