TIFR spreads wings to Hyderabad

Institutes new campus mired in controversy over involvement of private interests

 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will lay the foundation stone of the new campus on Tuesday that will house 250 faculty and 1,250-1,500 doctoral students. In comparison, TIFR Mumbai centre has about 150-200 faculty and students combined.

Since the new campus wanted to have some thrust areas critical to the nation’s progress included in the curriculum, after much deliberation it was decided to have a central theme of “Light, Matter and Life”, in other words optical sciences, condensed matter and life sciences.

TIFR plans to launch the next phase of high intensity laser physics in the new campus, marking India’s entry into the field of “extreme light”, in which intense ultra-short optical pulses are used to explore the frontier areas of science.

In material studies, the focus will be on “soft matter” as well as “matter under extreme conditions” whereas in biological sciences, “light-life interaction will be the focus area. The Hyderabad campus will be complimentary to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s second campus in Visakhapatnam.

Located on 209 acres of land, the new campus eventually aims to produce close to 200 PhD scholars every year, which will contribute in the national effort to reduce the gap in research with China. The campus would be located next to the University of Hyderabad with whom TIFR had signed a pact in 2008 for academic linkages.

But a controversy is brewing on the land allocation. A section of university professors have accused University Vice-Chancellor Syed E Husnaian for giving away university land to TIFR without any benefit to the university.

“All campuses of TIFR in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru put together are situated on land not exceeding 75 acres. Why does TIFR require 210 acres in Hyderabad? Has it asked for that extent of land? If so, has it adequately justified its request?” they questioned in a petition to the Prime Minister.

“The current administration has made generous and unilateral offers of the university land to curry favour with the science establishment and the powers-that-be in the Central government, and it is also using government organisations as front institutions that will facilitate the entry of private sector bodies through private-public partnership models,” they alleged.

The university, however, clarified that the land was allotted after the state government issued orders and the university executive council approved it unanimously.

Rosaiah allays fears over land allotment

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah was in fire-fighting mode on Monday when he tried to allay apprehensions over the land allotment to the TIFR on the Central University of Hyderabad campus, reports DHNS from Hyderabad.

Refuting allegations that private players were given land, the chief minister clarified that TIFR is not a private organisation but a Central government undertaking and part of the Atomic and Defence research. 

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