Modi giving Rs 1000 crores to Ambani’s Jio Institute? How lies were spread over ‘Institutes of Eminence’ list

The Ministry of HRD had yesterday announced that six institutions, 3 public and 3 private will be granted the ‘Institutions of Eminence’ (IOE) status. The IOE status enables the institutions to get full autonomy and special incentives to establish them as world-class institutions.

The public institutes granted the IOE status were IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and IISC-Bangalore. The 3 private institutions that were given the IOE status were Jio Institute by Reliance Foundation, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and BITS Pilani. HRD Minister Prakash Javedkar had also shared that the 3 public institutes will get a funding of about 1000 crores over the next five years to help them achieve world ranking.

However, soon after the names of the IOE were announced, criticism and backlash on social media followed. Most of it was directed against the inclusion of Jio Institute by the Reliance Foundation. Though there were several people criticising and questioning the inclusion of a yet to be a functional institution like the Jio Institute in the IOE list, there were many handles spreading misinformation that the Jio Institute will be receiving a government grant of Rs 1000 crores. Due to some very prominent handles spreading false information, soon it caught the attention of the general public too and the whole narrative of ‘Modi giving 1000 crores to Ambani’s institute’ was being circulated on social media.

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Congress’ AICC Jt Secretary, National in-charge, NSUI also indulged in the same lie.

So-called journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta also peddled the lie without cross checking facts.

It was pointed out that even the Outlook Editor who was allegedly sacked from the Magazine indulged in furthering this false narrative.

This was the deliberate spreading of false information because the HRD Minister had already mentioned that the grant of Rs 1000 crores will be for public institutes only and not the private institutes. On the basis of the inclusion of a yet to be functional institute in the IOE status the HRD Ministry later issued a clarification stating that Jio’s inclusion was due to its greenfield status.

In its clarification, the Ministry of HRD shared that the clause 6.1 of the UGC regulation 2017, for Institutes of Eminence Deemed to be Universities, does provide for a proposed institution to be considered under the status provided it meets the required criteria. Hence a separate category of applications was invited from the sponsoring organisations for setting up new greenfield projects.

They stated that the EEC ( empowered expert committee) had received a total of 11 applications under the greenfield projects and from them, only the Jio Institute had met the specified criteria. The 10 other institutes that had applied under the category reportedly included Airtel’s Bharti University, Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta University in Odisha and KREA University in Bangalore which has former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan as an advisor.

The HRD Ministry stated that the criteria for greenfield projects to be considered under IOE were:

  1. Availability of land for construction of the institution
  2. Putting in place a core team of highly qualified and widely experienced individuals
  3. Making funds available for the institution
  4. A strategic vision plan with clear annual milestones and action plan

The document also clarified that the private institutions selected under IOE will not be given government funding.

Though the HRD Ministry clarified its stand on selecting the Jio Institute, many on social media questioned the decision.

Though there are mixed opinions about selecting a yet to be established institution like the Jio Institute under the IOE tag it was once again clear that just to further the agenda of criticising the government, deliberate lies are often being spread over social media. Blaming the PM for being partial to certain industrialists has long been the attack tool for the opposition and certain selected media outlets. It was another such attempt.

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