A new university to manage a rapidly urbanising India
Nandan Nilekani, a co-founder of India's IT bellwether Infosys, who now spearheads the massive exercise of providing billion Indians a unique identification number, and his wife Rohini, have gifted Rs 50 crores to a proposed university, being set up by a group of eminent Indians.
Called the Indian Institute of Human Settlement (IIHS), the institute is coming up near Bangalore and the people behind it are in talks with the government for recognition of its courses.
Large hearted: Nandan Nilekani and his wife see IIHS as an institution that would address their concerns in education, urbanisation and sustainability (Photos: S Radhakrishna)
With urbanisation throwing challenges for planners, there is critical human resource and knowledge gap, which the institute aims at filling in.
Besides Nilekani, other leading figures forming the board of directors of the venture are renowned industrialists and academicians like Xerxes Desai, Jamshyd Godrej, Cyrus Guzder, Renana Jhabvala, Vijay Kelkar, Keshub Mahindra, Kishore Mariwala, Rahul Mehrotra, Rakesh Mohan, Nasser Munjee, Deepak Parekh, Shirish Patel, Aromar Revi and Deepak Satwalekar.
The IIHS will offer "globally benchmarked bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in urban practice based on a wide set of disciplines and practice areas central to India's urban transformation," Aromar Revi, its director said.
The Bachelors in Urban Practice (BUP) programme "will be a four-year course, after the plus-2 level of schooling. The MUP programme will be a two year course," said Revi, an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and the law and management schools of Delhi University.
The IIHS will begin by offering the masters programme first from July next year, provided the government gives regulatory clearances by that time, he said.
The "tentative fee structure for the MUP is in the range of Rs.300,000 and Rs.400,000 per annum," he said. The IIHS "is planning to offer up to 50 percent of its students' scholarships and financial assistance of varying degrees depending on need," he added.
Revi was confident that students passing out of this institute will have job opportunities since the "most serious constraint facing Indian cities today is not capital but the availability of suitably educated professionals, entrepreneurs and change makers who can act in the common good.”
"We anticipate career opportunities across the public and private sectors as well as civil society and universities and knowledge enterprises. There is a large gap in the supply of urban practitioners and inter-disciplinary professionals, as India and its urban areas grow," he said.
On the gift by the Nilekanis, he said "this is in keeping with their vision of building quality transformative institutions for India and a reinforcement of their past philanthropic commitments. Nandan Nilekani has been deeply involved with the IIHS from its conceptualisation".
Announcing the gift Tuesday, the Nilekanis said: "IIHS is at the convergence of both our interests in education, urbanisation and sustainability."
The IIHS is coming up on a 54-acre site in Kengeri, on the Bangalore outskirts. "Work on planning the first phase of the 42,000-sq metre campus has started. It will be executed in a phased manner over the next five to seven years," Revi said.