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Letter to the Gov't of NCT from the students of IIIT Delhi

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To,

Government of NCT

 

We, the students of IIIT-Delhi, are grateful for the indispensable support the Government of NCT has provided to our institute since its inception in 2008. Through the support, IIIT-Delhi continues to strive towards its vision by carrying out state-of-the-art research & development in information technology, and educating bright engineers who innovate in the fast-paced industry. IIIT-Delhi’s excellent faculty, curriculum and research initiatives have quickly earned it a stellar reputation in global technology circles. Unfortunately, recent allegations aim to tarnish this reputation and disregard nine years of hard work by the Government and the institute.


IIIT-Delhi and GB Pant Engineering College were planned in 2007 by the erstwhile Government of NCT. While the institutions have amicably shared walls for more than five years, IIIT-Delhi has been libeled by recent allegations by the Campus for GBPEC campaign. The campaign was launched in March as a lawful and peaceful protest demanding better infrastructure for the college -- an understandable agitation by students for an environment conducive to learning. However, by April and May, it grew symptomatic of a smear campaign against IIIT-Delhi. We believe that the Campus for GBPEC campaign fails to acknowledge easily-accessible governmental records, and consequently misrepresents IIIT-Delhi’s higher levels of autonomy with a myriad of unsound claims.


IIIT-Delhi is a State University which has rightfully benefited from Government of NCT support (the same body which established it); multiple sources in the public domain recognise its status and resources as legitimate. Through this letter, we aim to refute unsubstantiated claims and establish indisputable facts about the foundation of IIIT-Delhi, the legitimacy of its resources, and its unparalleled progress and achievements in a short span of nine years.

We hope that the letter brings much-needed facts to the limelight and serves to protect IIIT-Delhi’s hard work and the Government of NCT’s interest in promoting quality technical education.

 
Establishment and Land

With the intent of establishing a research-based institute in the heart of the country, the IIIT-Delhi Act was passed by the Government of NCT in 2007. To befit a fast-evolving field like information technology, The Act was designed to give IIIT-Delhi administrative, financial and academic autonomy -- the wording similar to the parliamentary Act of 1961 that established the Indian Institutes of Technology.


The functioning and administrative structure of IIIT-Delhi is laid out in the pertinent Acts and Statutes. The IIIT-Delhi act was enacted with vision of a world-class institute with autonomy. This model has been repeatedly misrepresented by the Campus for GBPEC campaign as a “public-private partnership” while IIIT-Delhi is a State University.

The amended Annexure 2 of the UGC Act (1956) defines a State University as:

State University - A university established or incorporated by a Provincial Act
or by a State Act.

Not only there is no mention of a private body in the IIIT-Delhi Act, there are zero instances of the words “private” or “partnership” in the entire text -- the allegation is entirely puzzling and misleading. University Grants Commission, the authoritative statutory body of the Government of India in education, recognises IIIT-Delhi as State University under the Government of NCT.

Spokespersons for the Campus for GBPEC support their arguments with the fact that IIIT-Delhi has no Vice Chancellor. However, the campaign incorrectly assumes that a State University implicitly incorporates the office. The real administrative structure is covered in detail in the IIIT-Delhi Act of 2007 which establishes the offices of:

  • The Chancellor
  • The Director, and
  • The Board of Governors

Like every State University in NCT, Shri Anil Baijal (the Hon’ble Lt. Gov of Delhi) is the Chancellor of IIIT-Delhi. The term ‘Director’ is used for the administrative chief -- a position similarly mentioned (instead of ‘Vice Chancellor’) in the Institutes of Technology Act (1961) which established the IITs. The University Grants Commission also recognises the Director (Prof. Pankaj Jalote) as playing the role of the Vice Chancellor. 

The Campus for GBPEC campaign also alleges that IIIT-Delhi was given land illegitimately, and has claimed more land than it was allocated. The IIIT Delhi Act, 2007 states that the Delhi government shall provide to the institute, an appropriate land free of cost. In fact, other State Universities such as DTU and Ambedkar University have also been allotted free of cost land for the establishment of initial infrastructure. IIIT-Delhi has built its entire campus within the bounds of the 25 acres allocated to it by the Government of NCT.
IIIT Delhi was allotted this specific piece of land through an official Govt’ of NCT Delhi order (F.NO 7(10)/2008/SB/1192) dated 11th August 2008. The notice specifically marks the area given to IIIT-Delhi and a copy of this announcement was also marked to the Principal of G.B. Pant Polytechnic.

The Campus for GBPEC campaign also alleges that IIIT-Delhi misrepresented land records (by titling them with “Extension of GB Pant Polytechnic Area” instead of its own name) when it started the construction of his Phase II buildings which include an Academic Block, Seminar Block, Hostel, Sports Center and a Faculty Residence.

The attached document, numbered SDM/KJ/2012 (1) (2) (3), clearly states that 25 acres of land was earmarked to IIIT Delhi in the year 2008. Since IIIT-Delhi is a state university, it was allotted this land without a transfer of ownership -- the land is still owned by the Government of NCT. Hence, the entire plot is still named “GB Pant Polytechnic Area” (please note the difference between GB Pant Polytechnic the college and the area). The road leading to our campus is also referred to as “GB Pant Polytechnic Road”.


The Campus for GBPEC campaign has repeatedly shown the layout plans for IIIT Delhi’s Phase 2 alleging that the authorities misrepresented facts. The parking space issue was amicably resolved by a unanimous decision made by the officials of GBPEC, IIIT-Delhi and the Government of NCT. The architectural drawings, all signed by the Registrar of IIIT-Delhi, depict all construction within the bounds of the land allocated to IIIT-Delhi. In fact, if GBPEC constructs any building, it will file its architectural plan with the plot name “Alteration of GB Pant Polytechnic Plot” since that is the official name of the land for all legal purposes.

While other State Universities in the NCT have been given more financial support and much larger plots of land (DTU: 164 acres, NSIT: 145 acres, Ambedkar University: 70 acres), IIIT-Delhi has made the most judicial use of its resources to become equally, if not more, reputable in a short span of nine years. A brief look at the history of the institute and its achievements prove beyond reasonable doubt the global importance of the institute in technical research and development.

History and Achievements
Our first batch started in September 2008 and in just a span of 9 years, IIIT-D has been widely recognized in academic circles as a place which provides excellent education and generates excellent output, comparing with the best institutions in the country. Our research and entrepreneurial endeavours have contributed to several sections of the society. Currently our student body comprises of 1137 students: 781 BTech, 230 MTech and 126 PhD students.

A few statistics showing how our college has excelled and established itself in different domains are as follows:

Research

Last year, 152 research papers authored by IIIT-Delhi researchers were published in reputed journals and conferences. The same year saw the establishment of Infosys Center for Artificial Intelligence (CAI) for research in the field of AI  -- one of the largest industry-supported research centers in an academic institution in the country.

This year, Open Science Collaboration Program (OSCP) proposal by our research group 'PreCog', was accepted to be funded by IBM India Research Lab.

Besides, the research driven centres  Cybersecurity Education and Research Centre (CERC) and Center for Computational Biology (CCB), the Institute also has specialised labs like IRISYS-IIITD R&D Lab, Image Analysis and Biometrics lab, for working on next generation products. Their works have been published in various top journals like T-PAMI, Plos-One, TIFS and TIP, in addition to being presented at reputed conferences like WACV, IJCB, ICIP and BTAS.

Student Achievements

Within seven years of the PhD programme, IIIT-Delhi has produced over 100 PhDs and our students have received esteemed fellowships like TCS PhD Fellowship, Visvesvaraya PhD Fellowship, UGC Fellowship, IBM PhD Fellowship among others. Five start-ups based on technologies and tools developed at IIIT-Delhi have made their marks in the entrepreneurship sphere. The much sought-after program Google Summer of Code (GSoC) selected 15 students from IIIT-Delhi in 2016. Our students have participated in Asian Youth Leaders Travel and Learning Camp and won "Most Creative Award" for their presentation.

IIIT-Delhi has always been proud of its female students who make their mark everywhere they go. In 2016, 3 out of 4 teams selected from India for Rail Girls Summer of Code (RGSoC) were from IIIT-Delhi.

Recently, 2 students secured top ranks in Google Code Jam to I/O 2017 for Women getting a chance to attend Google I/O at Googleplex, Mountain View. 2 students were also invited for a day-long workshop at Google India headquarters in Bangalore.


Placements and Alumni

Our Alumni are running their own companies/start-ups, contributing in established companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Xerox, Amazon, Adobe, EMC and are even pursuing higher education in reputed institutions such as Princeton, CMU, UIUC et al.

Our placements have offered highest domestic salary besides highest percentage of placements and highest mean and median offers.

Faculty

The backbone of IIIT-Delhi is its faculty. We have both national and international faculty with a current strength of 51, all having PhD degrees from prestigious institutions from across the world. Our esteemed faculty members have been invited to more than 102 national and international seminars as speakers or guests. They’ve received several prestigious awards including Best Paper Award in conferences, NVIDIA Innovation Award, DeitY Young Faculty Fellowship.

This year 16 research proposals from our faculty were approved for funding by various agencies for a total commitment of Rs. 4.7 crores.

With about 62 external collaborators, across the globe - 15 are with industries, 35 with universities and/or faculty from other universities and 12 with research labs.

Media & Outreach

The Road Ahead
Within 25 acres and 9 years, IIIT-Delhi has achieved immense success due its strong vision, exemplary execution of educational programs, and recruitment of the best faculty members. The student intake of IIIT-Delhi has increased every year, and this year about 400 students will admitted into the undergraduate program. Continuing its tradition of innovation in the field, the institute is also admitting students to groundbreaking unique cross-disciplinary programs Computer Science and Design (CSD) and Information Technology and Social Sciences (ITSS).


The ‘Phase II’ construction of our campus to get more classrooms, labs, hostels and sports facilities had been initiated to further our growth and support the student and faculty body of our institute. It is taking place within the 25 acres allocated to it; the area being used up are the open areas that we had within our campus. The entire construction process has always been very transparent, with regular feedback and suggestions from the student body. Tours of the construction sites have been organised often and our inputs incorporated to improve the student experience. Also, since the capital required for infrastructure development was given to us by the Government of NCT as an interest free loan, the students are essentially paying for the development of IIIT-Delhi campus through our fees to ensure that we have access to facilities that the continual growth of IIIT-Delhi demands.


To manage the rigorous curriculum, all students would choose to live in the hostel but a lack of space and resources makes this impossible. The institute and students, like always, have come up with temporary solutions for the problems we face. To make up for the lost practice due to a lack of a sports ground, our football team regularly rents a stadium in Jasola, and has been consistently performing well in inter-college tournaments. To minimise construction noise, sound barriers that exceed in quality of the legal requirement have been installed after careful planning by us and the IIIT-Delhi administration. Similarly, timings of each construction site were unanimously decided to keep our health and academic output our first priorities.

At each step, the entire IIITD community has been adjusting, paying for and utilising to the best the current resources in to get a campus which promotes education and research.

Therefore, in light of the current Campus for GBPEC campaign, we find it highly unfair that IIIT-Delhi has been unnecessarily dragged into the issue. The IIIT-Delhi name has been slandered, our campus resources threatened for no fault of our own. These attacks on our reputation, that we have worked so hard to build, will affect our admissions, our growth and most importantly the peace of mind of us students, parents and faculty members. We have never been against any other college getting their required resources, we are just protecting what has rightfully been given to us.

Cry For Help

In light of government documents and records, the allegations by the Campus for GBPEC campaign are not only puzzling but pernicious to the reputation of IIIT-Delhi as a world-class information technology institute. IIIT-Delhi’s growth and admissions are affected by its public image which is under unfair attack. What the Campus for GBPEC campaign desires for GB Pant Engineering College is exactly what it is willing to take away from us, their neighbour, IIIT-Delhi.


For a State University, IIIT-Delhi has shown unprecedented progress and growth; the institute’s reputation in academia and industry is testimony to our hard work. In a short span of nine years, the comprehensive technical education provided here has made the institute’s students some of the brightest engineers and academicians in the world. The success of the institute can only be attributed to continued government support and sheer hard work by the students, staff and faculty members of IIIT-Delhi.


Unfortunately, the negative publicity, however unjustified, can negatively affect general perception and the admissions process this year. Even the faculty members who have been attracted to the institute are qualified enough to quickly find other opportunities if the attacks continue -- only recently, two faculty members moved to IITs for professional and personal reasons. It is hard to build a reputable institute but easy to sling mud and destroy years of perseverance.


The buildings being constructed in the Phase II plan comprise brick and cement, but represent the blood, toil, sweat and tears of the IIIT-Delhi family. The student body is wholeheartedly willing to protect IIIT-Delhi’s excellence and hard work -- we deserve what we have planned and built. As the student intake is increased, these buildings are necessary to maintain the institute’s quality education and research.


We have faith in the ability of our justice system to recognise and consequently reach a swift conclusion about the matter. We request you to aid us in our evidence-based arguments and clear IIIT-Delhi of any unsubstantiated allegations. We look forward to continuing our hard work in information technology and establish New Delhi as a center for scientific progress.



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