A bill providing for opening six new IITs, including at Jammu and Tirupati, was Monday passed by the Lok Sabha.
Under the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill 2016, new IITs will also be started in Palakkad, Goa, Dharward and Bhilai.
The Bill also seeks to bring the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, within the ambit of the Act.
Replying to a debate on the bill, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said the government has formed High Education Financial Agency (HEFA) to upgrade the infrastructure.
The government's credo is 'Sabko Shiksha Acchi Shiksa (Good Education to All) and has taken a number of efforts in this regards, he said.
On the fee structure, he said students from the ST and SC communities, from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category and physically challenged have full waiver of fees in the IITs and NITs. He said, those whose family income is below Rs 9 lakh per annum also get zero per cent education loan.
"Education must be inclusive. But those capable of paying must pay. You should not oppose when rich are being asked to pay," the minister said.
Javadekar said in order to address the issue of high fee of IIT coaching class entrance exam, the government has started online programme IIT-PAL.
Under this programme the students can take free tutorials, exams, homework.
In future, he said, the government is also planning to take it at the television level for a wider access.
To a question about the role of industry in the IITs, Javadekar said the government is even ready to reduce its control but the industry has to accept a larger responsibility.
He said the government has been working to provide wi-fi connectivity of 1 GBPS network to all universities in the country which will slowly be extended to the colleges affiliated to it as well in next two years.
In Central universities, this facility will be extended to classrooms, canteens, hostels, the minister said.
Javadekar also sought to dispel the notion that the funding in IITs have gone down, saying this year, the government has allocated Rs 4035 crore to the IITs as against Rs 3855 crore the last year.
Javadekar also rued over the fact that although an IT
superpower, India does not have a Google, Facebook, Twitter or a Microsoft to its credit.
To encourage Start Ups, Javadekar said, a decision has been taken under which students can give their hostel address if they are to start any new venture, the HRD minister said.
The IITs have registered over 757 patents, he said.
To give a boost to the research, the government has started Imprint project under which 483 projects have been short-listed of which Rs 450 will be finalised. These projects will be given a funding of Rs 1 to Rs 5 crore.
"Funding is one of the reason why students go abroad. Foreign universities fund projects. Under this scheme funding is available and there is no need to go abroad because of funding," Javadekar said.
Terming ragging as an offence committed only by a smaller section of people, Javadekar said students' mentorship programme can be started in IITs under the guidance of seniors.
Earlier moving the bill for consideration, he said the focus so far had been on expansion of education but "we all should now worry about accountability, quality and affordability."
Describing IITs, NITs and IIMs among others as "our institues of pride", he said a number of new IITs are now going to open which is a "big event" for Indian education.
Referring to low international ranking of the IITs, he said there was a need to boost perception about them as well as perception carries over 40 per cent weightage in the global evalusation.
"The bill is an important milestone," he said.
Gaurav Gogoi (Cong) supported the bill on behalf of his party and India should work to reclaim its earlier status of "inspiring" the world in the field of knowledge, mentioning ancient universities of Taxila and Nalanda.
Taking a veiled dig at former HRD Minister Smriti Irani, whom Javadekar has succeeded, over the government's "sour" relations with the institutes, he said the centre should give the IITs autonomy and the respect they deserve.
He opposed the hike in the fee at the institutes and Deputy Speaker Thambi Durai, who was in the Chair, also seemed to be supporting at he drew Javadekar's attention to this also the need for counselling for students, some of whom under pressure take extreme steps, incuding committing suicide.
Saugata Roy (TMC) supported the bill but vehemently opposed the fee hike.
The government, he added, should go for collaboration with top institutes abroad like the US and the UK to upgrade their quality, which he noted was very good but not of the international level.
He also called for improving patriotism among the IIT graduates, noting that almost 80 per cent of IIT Bombay passouts are likely to go abroad.
"But don't do the RSS way," the Trinamool member said, drawing protests from a few BJP members to which he quipped, "I don't know who wear knickers."
Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) and R K Jena (BJD) also supported the bill.
Sawant lauded the government for opening an IIT in Jammu and said one should be given to Kashmir too.
While supporting the bill, Prahlad Joshi (BJP) drew the government's attention to Infosys founder Narayana Murthy's proposal of financial assistance to IIIT, Dharwad, and asked Javadekar to clarify why it was rejected.
Jayadev Galla (TDP) said government should set up a central university and a tribal university in Andhra Pradesh for the benefit of the people of the state.
He also wanted the government to take steps to improve standing of IITs in global ranking of institutes of excellence.
Konda Vishweshwar Reddy (TRS) said IITs should be encouraged to recruit foreign faculties with a view to improve standard of education. He also urged the centre to set up a High Court in Andhra Pradesh so that people of the state do not have to travel to Hyderabad for adjudication of disputes.
Appreciating the decision of the centre to set up an IIT at Palakkad, CPI-M member M B Rajesh suggested that higher technical education should be made more inclusive.
The IITs, he said, should be asked to strictly follow the reservation policy in admission of students and recruitment of faculties.
He alleged that often the IITs exclude SC and ST students in the name of academic excellence.
Satya Pal Singh (BJP) suggested that government should ask at least one IIT to focus on rural technologies with a view to promote inclusive development.
One of the IITs, he suggested, could also be asked to decipher and cull out wisdom which lies buried in ancient texts on science and technology.
Jay Prakash Narayan (RJD) demanded the government should increase number of seats in IITs and also set up more such institutions in Bihar.
Arun Kumar of Rashtriya Lok Samta Party said there is an
urgent need to check deterioration in the quality of education at IITs.
"It has been observed that the quality of education in IITs has declined in the past few years. This House needs to deliberate on this important issue," he said.
Kaushalendra Kumar of JD(U) requested the government not to increase the fee of IITs and demanded that one more IIT needs to be set-up in Bihar.
Besides, more and more research institutes should be set up to promote innovation in the country.
Demanding an IIT in Haryana, Dushyant Chautala (INLD) said there is urgent need to focus on quality of education.
At the same time, there should be a provision in the bill that a graduate from such institutes should not be allowed to go out of the country for 5 or 10 years after completing their education.
Bhairon Prasad Mishra of BJP requested the government not to raise the fee from exiting Rs 90,000 to Rs 3 lakh per year. He also urged the government to open at least 4 IITs in Uttar Pradesh given its huge population.
Rural technology should be included in the curriculum so that the agriculture sector gets benefit of innovation, Mishra said.
Pappu Yadav of RJD said there is urgent need to put a check on commercialisation of education and improving the quality of teachers in the technical education.