Bangalore: With over
625,000 villages, rural India still dominates the country's
landscape even as rapid urbanising is throwing up challenges for
planners. To train people manage this massive social
transformation and fill the critical human resource and knowledge
gap, a group of eminent Indians is setting up a university.
One of them, 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 just gifted Rs. 50 crore to the proposed
Called the Indian Institute of Human Settlement, the institute is
coming up near Bangalore and the people behind it are in talks
with the government for recognition of its courses.
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 bachelors, masters 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, told IANS in an
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.
"Discussions are active with the government on getting the
appropriate regulatory clearances," Revi 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
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
Announcing the gift Tuesday, the Nilekanis said: "IIHS is at the
convergence of both our interests in education, urbanisation and
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 told IANS.
On what prompted the setting up of this institute, he said there
was a need to fill "a critical human resource and knowledge gap in
addressing multiple challenges of urbanisation".
"The IIHS is conceived as an inter-disciplinary university born
out of the realisation that a single academic programme within a
university would not be able to offer the breadth and depth of
inter-disciplinary academics and practice that are urgently
required to solve the multiple dimensions of urbanisation
challenges that the country is confronted with," he said.
The IIHS has tie-ups with several well-known institutions,
including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
University College London (UCL), and The African Centre for Cities
(ACC) of the University of Cape Town (UCT), Revi said.
(V.S. Karnic can be
contacted at email@example.com)