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Why Vedanta University needs Odisha?? a rejoinder…

September 29, 2010

Mohan, mdashf


Why Vedanta University needs Odisha?? a rejoinder to an earlier article.

For the same reason Vedanta University can come up in India, it can come up in any state in India, not just Odisha. But why not in Odisha? For the same reason it can come up in Odisha or any other state in India it can come up anywhere in the world.

Odisha can not deteriorate the standards of VU neither can VU dampen the spirit of the Odiyas if it choses to leave. Odisha will welcome one more promise maker yet another day.

The Vedanta University (VU) was visioned in 2006 as is widely known across the internet community. There are a great many number of links which are worlds top websites regarding the concurrent info for Vedanta University and if the later is available on such websites, its my impression that it must have done rounds on the web and pretty much every world denizen might have come across such.

In 2006 there was only one website regarding VU, with its goals and vision very articulately mentioned on that web site. But by now, in 2010, it has gone through tremendous amount of information sharing not to mention its online implications such as the democratic debates and referendum it generates by simple facts such as availability of a common forum for everyone to make their remarks and get heard. (see the end of this article for such a debate)

Its end of 2010 and about 4 years of such an astounding dream for the academic landscape of India. What has happened in these 4 years is that it has generated tremendous amount of interest and as driven by the ideas of quantum mechanics some necessary amount of misinformation. The idea of quantum mechanics is that all measurements and their implications will be necessarily uncertain by a given amount that can not be reduced any further by changing the artifacts of the measurements. Therefore as a very learned physicist I am not proposing we go any further to try to reduce such misinformation, but rather to the heart of the matter of the VU project.

But I will try to briefly mention here some of the mile stones of this project which is delayed by its declared time-phase of execution.

For additional context of my writing this article in the first place I link this to the earlier article by me written about 2 years ago. Interestingly the article was named “Why Odisha needs Vedanta University?”. I can not tell you exactly what will be the title of my next article on VU but I guess I will write it after 2 years. I didn’t write one in 2007 because things were not very clear to me regarding VU.

Now this is what the VU project has roughly gone through from 2006 -2011, not necessarily in a chronological sequence.

  1. 2006: VU was envisioned, A great work of philanthropy by Anil Agarwal who is one of worlds richest person. It was his dream to have this University located in Puri, Odisha.
  2. Legislatives were passed by the highest administration  in the state (state government), which makes VU an international academic and research University to be governed almost independently of any interference from the Government bodies, that is, to function autonomously.
  3. This University, if comes up and functions effectively will put Odisha to the world map of international science, education, research and academic citadels. And through Odisha, India will see one of its most backward region prosper in blissful enlightenment as far as its social and existential mobility is concerned. Towards this end Odisha Government has acquired almost 6000 acres of land and handed over such to the VU project executives.
  4. The VU project has generated some misinformation, very natural to such an endeavor but these are mostly vexed issues of vested interest which are always a reality in any society, hence must be seen in that prospect. The VU project has received Environmental clearance from the Government at New Delhi.
  5. The minister of Environment and Forest (E&F affairs? Or simply E&F) has willfully withheld the clearance which seems to side with his interests in moving this University to another state of India where he is from and where his constituency of political power is centered.
  6. All other issues seem to be subdued. This seems to be a project of grand scale which is steered in a very effective direction although the time line is shifted by a year or two.
  7. The land that has been acquired has a great master-plan from the famed Ayers-Saint-Gross architects of the USA. This firm had master planned many University campuses in the USA and around the world. The first phase of VU comes with a plan for a large health care facility and all of the construction of this project is waiting to be executed after any stalled clearance such as the environment clearance is sanctioned permanently.

Now this is a summary of the situation of the Vedanta University Project. It seems the only problem with VU project to be executed in Odisha is the minister’s vested interests and the unprepared-ness of the intelligentsia of the state of Odisha and even India itself to welcome a Stanford or Harvard like academic and research organization in the state.

This unprepared-ness of the intelligentsia is not entirely unexpected and in another article (Has science declined in India?) the author has pointed out the myopia of such intelligent academicians. But this is not just myopia where I need to focus my gun. If I were to “kill” a few I wouldn’t focus my gun on the blind or even the deaf or those who are not amenable to reason, they are all enemy of science and I don’t believe in “killing” them.

I would like to “kill” the minister who has the audacity to relocate a grand plan meant for the people of Odisha and therefore anybody from the world who is welcomed in Odisha to yet another state of India which can snatch the share of Odisha. Actually Odisha has had a history of such rampant step brotherliness from its “federal” partners. They “steal” the IITs, railway stations, airports, IISERs and anything of that kind.

Now don’t blame the Odiyas for this stealing. As I noted they are blind, deaf and lack the perspective. And they are sleeping. There is no better reason for me, a scientist, of world repute, who should be neutral, who should focus on writing his theories and experimental results than focus on this to write this article. But I prefer to keep my reasons for my next article.

I will give you, my dear reader, only 2 other examples which has the potential to be compared with VU project and lie in the similar situation as VU to shed a little light on my approach towards the issue of VU project. One of them is the Nano car project by the Tatas and the other is the INO project by Government of India.

The Nano project was originally functioning in West Bengal. My near and dear state which has had a beautiful history of political leftism. A renowned lady politician shouted vulgarities in Bengali and the prestige conscious Tatas disappeared the next morning and went to the Gandhi’s own country, Gujurat. (In line with Kerala: God’s own country) And they started production of the car pretty soon. Odisha has definitely learned a lesson from this and invested all its effort and fulfilled all its promise to shape the VU dream into reality.

The second example is the so called neutrino experiment by Indian Government funding, the INO. Neutrino exploration was started much like 3 decades ago and wasn’t a great success story although had its scientific significance documented. We learned from the Japan neutrino Nobel Prize of 2004 (??) and followed suit to have our own international effort located in India. Actually very recently I have had a sponsored visit to the Tata Institute in Fundamental Research where I interacted with the key people working for the INO project.

As is known this project has already produced a big deal of scientific investigations although much progress will be met when the logistical vision of the projects are met quickly. The project’s progress has been reduced somewhat by environmental sanctions, likely by few years, as my impression goes. This laboratory has a site which is not coming up as planned because of priorities and right of the way of the elephants.

Our ministers and officials can really express their great love for the animal kind but for the wrong reason. You can easily relocate the elephants. Oh I see that’s a huge problem really. But you expect your scientists to work without a lab. How fast can you really facilitate the creation of a laboratory? So this is a “INR 100 billion” project and has been stalled in an advance state like Karnataka. With the famed Bangalore to its rescue it’s delayed by a few years if my impressions are to be believed.

In that standard Odisha has provided great amount of support to the realization of the VU campus, in one of the best sea coast I have seen, I have seen the pacific in Japan, in one of its state capital, Mito. I have seen the clear-water beach in Tampa, Florida, the Virginia Beach in Virginia, USA and also a beach in Tokyo. Hell ya, I have driven around so many beautiful beaches in Honolulu.  Puri sea beach in comparison is quite a location, clean and serene, naturally scenic and gives anyone a run for the shear feeling of enjoying a beach life. I do not foresee any change in the social etiquette of Odisha so please do not ask me to write about having beach cheer girls.

Yes!! VU has been master-planned and the land has been acquired on one of the most pristine beaches of the world, Puri, with the famed chariot Lord Jagannath’s “chhatra-chhaya” right by its nose.

Anything that can happen to the nose of VU, is a disrepute to the Lord of the Universe and as such has never happened in Odisha’s history. The famed Mughal invasion could not destroy the psyche of the Odiyas and all who loved these people. Ok, now I sound patriarchal, so I must resist now.

So VU can happily grow in Odisha and can be the next best thing to happen to the odiya conscience after the Jagannaths abode, Jagannth Mandira.

With love and tears,

Manmohan

Here is an online conversation between two folks on both side of the vexed Vedanta University issue: It highlights the gross misinformation created by the quantum nature of such development related projects. Enjoy the conversation.

@ Mr S, I had a look at your views and it shows as left-liberal. I do realize that the explanation below is not going to serve much of a purpose. But, let me give it a shot.
Your concerns are these -: My explanation follows that

a) Large Areas -: The Plan is to create the best University not only in Odisha but in India, and possibly the world with 100,000 students. In terms of Universities which have similar if not larger areas here are a two names ,
i) Stanford – > 8000 acres
ii) University of Michigan -: 22,000 acres
I don’t have to explain the credentials of these universities.

b) Agricultural lands -: I belong to Puri. My family has worked in the temple in the past. The same agricultural land “provides money” (land cost) to the tune of INR. 2000 – INR 5000 / acre. I believe the people have been offered INR. 2,00,000 per acre there. Even the interest of the money will be higher than this amount. That is because agricultural production is already low because of the sandy nature of the soil. This is so, due to, close proximity to the sea-shore

c) Intention of a US based “kabadi-walla” (iron-scrappers) -: Your designation shows that you are an associate editor in CNN-IBN. Don’t u feel that you want to be the head of a channel someday? What if Rajdeep Sardesai calls you a “low life from a poverty stricken village” that day?

This categorization is very bad. In USA people like Rockefeller, Carnegie made their money from mining and setup institutions there which attract the best talent in the world today. Why is Anil Agarwal forbidden from doing that?

I don’t think this will change the opinion of a left-liberal. But, I just ask you to reflect on this: “Ideology is a means to an end which should be general good. An Ideology is not an end in itself. The day it becomes that we see excesses”.

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