Govt may spend over Rs20,000 crore on six new IITs

The central government is looking to spend above an amount of Rs 20,000 crore to build six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) it first announced in 2015, at least two government officials said.

Of this, Rs7,000 crore will be spent in the first phase ending in March 2020 and the rest over the next four years ending in March 2024, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

IIT Kharagpur, Main Building, Kharagpur, West Bengal

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New IITs incur less expense in the first couple of years as they operate from temporary premises with limited staff, research work, course and students. The union human resource development ministry, the officials said, is in the process of moving the expenditure finance committee (EFC) to get approval for the first phase. After this, it will ask the EFC to approve the rest.

In December 2015, the Union cabinet cleared the proposal to open six new IITs in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Jammu and Kashmir. The six IITs now operate from makeshift campuses in these states.

“Unlike institutions like IIMs, IITs need much more funds to be established because of the multi-disciplinary and research nature of the IITs. Hopefully, the EFC will give a go-ahead following which new IITs will scale up their operation—both from academic and infrastructure points of view,” said one of the two officials cited above.

During the 11th Five Year Plan, which ended in march 2012, the previous UPA government had estimated to spend over Rs6,000 crore for eight new IITs. But delays in land procurement, construction and inflation pushed up costs to Rs14,000 crore.

The additional money was approved following months of deliberations after the NDA government came to power in 2014. The eight IITs are now open in Gandhinagar, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Indore, Jodhpur, Ropar, Mandi and Patna. “This time, we are trying our best not to face cost escalation. It was a problem last time and we have learned from that experience,” said the second of the two officials. This official said land procurement was a key challenge last time, delaying construction and pushing up costs.

“Land for six new IITs has already been procured and states’ cooperation this time is good. Once the EFC approval comes, things will pick up,” the official said.

A professor from an older IIT closely associated with the establishment of new IITs said timely funding is key, and before that, states must give land to the HRD ministry for the purpose. The last time, he said some states could not provide land even after five years. Besides, in some cases, land was allocated without forest clearances leading to legal hassles, the professor said.

“Cost escalation problem arises when it’s not planned properly. While delays in construction and land procurement leads to more expense, it also hampers the IITs educationally. An IIT has its own brand value but it has to be properly supported; else, that brand equity gets hampered.

The upcoming new education policy must make it clear that new higher educational institutions should not be delayed beyond a certain time limit. Else, the intention of establishing IITs and similar institutes gets diluted. It’s not just a finance issue, but also a bigger academic issue,” said Narayan Ramaswamy, partner education practice at consulting firm KPMG.

Six ways e-learning can help enhance performance of employees

It is often said that the process of learning has no end, since knowledge is infinite. Yet many of us tend to become complacent about our knowledge and skills after acquiring a job. No wonder then that there is so much investment by successful corporate houses in training and development of their manpower to constantly assist and motivate their staff to continue the life-long process of learning.

This is where comprehensive e-learning methodologies come in. They help organisations ensure that their staff is on top of the skills they need, as per market trends. Corporates are now adopting technical and custom-made e-learning facilities that act as a learning reinforcement and alsonimprove learning effectiveness.

Here’s a more concise look at six specific ways in which e-learning adds value to employee training, upskilling and management.

e-learning-THINKSTOCKPHOTOS

Cloud reaches everywhere

Uploading the learning module on cloud servers ensures that it can be shared digitally with every member of the organisation. Regular updates, comments and feedback can be gathered, stored and disseminated on the spot as well. Employees can carry out the learning process simultaneously with the job, thereby not hampering the workflow. Cloud-based learning platforms are also useful for employees who are on a leave yet want to remain abreast of the latest developments in the industry.

Customised e-learning

With e-learning, it is very easy to customise the modules according to the need of an individual. The learning process can be paced in a way that every member can compare her/his progress with the ideal time taken to understand a concept. Post classroom training, learners can still access online courses and specific job-aid videos to add more precision to their work.

For perfect sales pitch

E-learning modules are highly effective with sales personnel. Online courses on product training can act as good refreshers, and help describe the product better in a more cohesive and detailed manner to the buyers. Updated information regarding the competitor’s strategies in a certain domain can be quickly communicated to the sellers, who can then modify their pitch accordingly.

Quizzes and questions for a quick revision

A few e-learning providers have created their modules in a manner that allows personnel to recall the main pressure points regarding a particular product or process easily. At the click of a button, crisp questions and engaging quizzes comprehensively summarise the module. Such learning alleviates the sense of confidence of an employee regarding the task at hand, and acts as a strong support system.

Virtual study room for discussions

Discussion forums on e-learning platforms are great spots for keen learners to compare their knowledge base, share opinions and views, discuss problems, and have an overall healthy sense of competition. The presence of online leaderboards and top performers bring in the jostle of a competitive, academic atmosphere. Combined with the urgency of being the best at your job, this feature brings out the best in any employee.

SCORM model for systematic learning

The Sharable Content Object Reference Model or SCORM, an e-learning format on which most of the e-learning available in the market today is prepared, ensures that the learner experiences content in a standardised way. It allows content creators to build highly engaging experiences, all the while capturing rich data about every interaction.

An e-learning platform that can create engaging content comprising videos, animation, graphics etc., which motivates the employees to keep learning about their trade can work wonders for the development of a business. It also helps to act as an evaluatory mechanism for the eventual process of promotion or appraisals and facilitates identification of potential executives, managers and directors in the organisation. Corporate e-learning has indeed emerged as a powerful tool for organisations to identify the prospective leaders.