HRD WANTS IIT-D TO GET OUT OF VEG, NON-VEG MESS

Friday, October 31, 2014, New Delhi

After creating quite a buzz among the country's Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) over serving vegetarian and non-vegetarian food in the same mess, the IIT-Delhi reportedly received a letter from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) asking them whether they have an existing arrangement for making separate messes for the two and if not then would it be possible for them to do so.

While IIT-D Director RK Shevgaonkar said that they would separate non-vegetarians from vegetarians if asked to by the HRD Ministry, he also added that if done so it would lead to a lot of inconvenience for students. “However, no decision on the matter has yet been taken and we are exploring our avenues,” he said while addressing the media at IIT-D’s annual Press conference before their convocation.

The issue came up after a man with no relation to the IITs put a petition saying that serving non-vegetarian and vegetarian food together in canteens and messes is against the Indian culture. Though the UPA Government quashed this request of the man on the pretext that IITs were not centres where religious ideologies manifested in such a way. Nonetheless, HRD Minister Smriti Irani has been quick in taking cognizance of the letter and has also sent a notice.

Shevgaonkar elaborated, “In case we get orders to make this change, we will. But in that case since a new building cannot be set up for only this purpose, we will have to make hostel messes solely vegetarian or solely non-vegetarian. Then students will have to go from one hostel to another for eating instead of eating in their own hostel messes.”

Meanwhile, the convocation day of IIT-Delhi will be on November 1. This year 178 students of a total enrollment of 1,974 would be getting their PhDs while 935 students out of 2,265 will get post graduate degrees and 729 of 3,801 currently enrolled students will get their undergraduate degrees.

According to SK Gupta, dean students' affairs, IIT-Delhi is now going to focus on increasing PhDs. "Hopefully in two years we will have double the number of students collecting their PhDs because we are focusing on making research work more mainstream," he said, adding, "We want to define research in a way that aligns with the progress of the country. We need better and enhanced infrastructure for that and we are working on it."

IIT-Delhi had also a few months back held workshops for their new Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, which is meant for the upliftment of rural India. Shevgaonkar said, "As per this initiative each IIT will get 10 villages to take care of. They will basically gauge the problems of the village and then find viable solutions for them. Then they will make a model and give to the Government which will then work with other sectors to help the villages."

Some of the main issues that these students will look into will be sanitation, water - drinking water and water storage, power, housing and transport. The HRD Ministry will officially launch this scheme in the coming month.

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