Over 2000 IITians from IIT-Bombay in Powai dressed in white, looked on keenly as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, wearing a golden robe and his signature light blue turban, entered the hall at IIT-B. Though Singh spoke about the lack of engineering, science and technology institutes, the mood was upbeat, as undergraduate and postgraduate students from IIT gathered in the hall for the institute’s 50th convocation ceremony.
At the entrance, the police and traffic cops asked autorickshaws, four wheelerrs and other vehicles to disperse. Even the traffic signal at of the main gate was handled with care and vehicles were not allowed to halt. The ambience in the hall was vibrant, as some students found it difficult to find seats even before the ceremony began. Most students chatted and clicked photographs as they waited for Singh, Human Resource Development minister Kapil Sibal and other dignitaries to arrive.
Different coloured dupattas marked the various streams of students who were conferred with awards and certificate. Amid this melee, Singh and his convoy landed at the makeshift helipad. He came on the dias with several professors and other members of IIT, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, HRD minister Kapil Sibal, Dr Anil Kakodkar and industrialist Azim Premji.
This year, out of the 100 top rankers of IIT-JEE, 78 joined IIT-B. Yet, Manmohan Singh said he feels sad about the high cut-off marks that prevent students from applying. “When I see how high the minimum cut-off marks for admission have become, my heart is pained by the limits we are placing on the opportunities available to our youth,” said Singh.
The central government claims it will allot new locations for setting up more institutes like IITs, IIMs and other educational institutions of academic excellence over the next few years. Although a lot was said about IIT and the need for growth in educational sector, Singh didn’t make any resounding announcements on the recent issues like the uneasiness in the north-eastern states, and the recent CAG report on allotment of coal mines.