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Fact Check: How The Non-Existent Jio Institute Got Its ‘Institution Of Eminence’ Status

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Six institutions of higher education including IIT Mumbai and Delhi and the forthcoming Jio instituted received the status of Institution of Eminence (IoE). On July 9, 2018, Prakash Javedkar took to Twitter to congratulate Manipal University, BITS Pilani and Jio Institute for attaining the ‘Institution of Eminence’ status. (IoE).

Selection Criterion

The HRD ministry had received a total of 114 applications – 74 from the public institutions and 40 from private institutions. Jio Institute was one of the six universities to get the IoE status.
The selection committee, which is known as the EEC (Empowered Expert Committee) was made to select 10 public and 10 private institutions; and, for this reason, there are more rounds to come.

The head of the “EEC” is N. Gopalaswami, the former Chief Election Commissioner who is now, also, the head of the RSS-affiliated Vivekananda Educational Society. The other members of the committee include Renu Khator, the Chancellor of the University of Houston, management professor Tarun Khanna of Harvard University and Pritam Singh, the former director of IIM, Lucknow. These people were chosen by the HRD ministry and their appointment was approved by the appointments committee of the cabinet headed by Modi.

According to the NIRF (National Institute Ranking Framework) ranking, the top seven colleges in India are; Indian Institute of Science (IISc), IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and IIT Kanpur. But, among these top seven only IISc, IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi managed to get the IoE status. Manipal University and BITS Pilani are ranked 18th and 26th on the NIRF ranking and from the top 7 colleges/ universities, only 3 got the status of IoE.

The benefits of the IoE status include making these institutes free from the regulations of the AICTE, UGC and/or the Higher Commission of India (which has replaced the UGC); being permitted up to 30% foreign students, autonomy to hire foreign faculty up to 25%, the liberty of academic collaborations with any of the top 500 global universities without UGC approval, full flexibility in deciding the curriculum and syllabus, financial assistance of ₹1000 crores over a period of five years, and the likes.

Why Jio?

There are two categories of institutions that are considered for this status – Brownfield and Greenfield Institutions. While in Brownfield institutions the work only happens on improving the existing conditions while a grounds-up development model approach is followed for Greenfield institutes. Under this model, work happens from scratch. That makes universities and colleges still in their planning stage eligible for the status.

But, the ministry was very strict with this provision.

A total of 11 applications were received under this category. The judging parameters for this included – the availability of land, a core team with ‘very high qualification and wide experience’, the available funding and a strategic vision plan with effective goals and milestones.

Among the 11 institutes, only Jio Institute fit into all the four parameters. Based on this selection they were handed a “letter of intent”. This letter of intent gives the institution three years’ time to establish itself, post which, it will be awarded the status. The Jio Institute is supposedly going to be built in Karjat, Raigadh district of Maharashtra.

The issuance of this status to Jio institute created an outcry questioning the credibility of the order. After the numerous surfacing questions and disagreements, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) issued clarifications substantiating their stand. According to their clarification, clause 6.1 of UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities), clearly specifies and provides for a not yet established institute to apply for this status.

The Nita Ambani run foundation has planned the Jio Institute as a 9,500-crore investment. Earlier in the year at a media event in March 2018, Nita Ambani mentioned about the “plan” to establish a world-class University. “A university at the cutting edge of research and innovation. A university that focuses on education and sports, art and culture,” she said without giving a timeline for setting up of the institution. The university, will collaborate with the top universities around the world and prepare future generations to face the world, with knowledge and skills. A university from the gates of which will emerge our future leaders, our musicians, our scientists, and our Olympians. Building such a university is our dream at Reliance Foundation,” she said.

The recent awarding of IoE status is the first mention of this university post that media event.

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Image source: Shailesh Raval/India Today Group via Getty Images
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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