Friday, July 31, 2009


Vedanta University comes to existence: Act passed in Orissa assembly

Following is from a report in Pioneer.

Finally, the Vedanta University Bill has got the approval of the State Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

With this the authorities would be able to set up a multi-disciplinary varsity on a sprawling 6,000 acre land along the Puri-Konark Marine Drive Road. Chairman of the Knowledge Commission Sam Pitroda is likely to be the first VC of the Vedanta University. Besides, at least three Nobel laureates have been roped in to join as faculty, sources said.

Earlier, the Opposition as well as the Treasury bench members frowned upon some of the provisions made in the Varsity Bill. A number of amendments were brought in the existing provision. The proposed varsity would not be able to open off campus or off shore centre in relation to academic programmes of the institution.

Government chief whip Rabi Narayan Pani and Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan moved two separate amendments for the consideration of the House. Both opposed the provision allowing the varsity to open off campus centres.

“The legislation passed in the State Assembly has its purview in the territory of Orissa. Therefore, it would be illogical to allow the varsity to open off campus centres,” Harichandan said, adding that the varsity should be allowed to open regional campuses inside the State. Harichandan also cited the instance of a Supreme Court judgment striking down the Chhattishgarh Government’s act of allowing a varsity to open off campus.

“We asked the varsity authorities to open regional campuses inside the State. We have also proposed them certain locations in the KBK region, southern and northern Orissa for opening up of the campuses,” Higher Education Minister Debi Mishra said while replying to the amendments brought by the members.

As per the provision, the employees would not be treated as public servants. However, the Government would not interfere in the selection process of the employees. Merit would be given due consideration at the time of admission as its motto is to develop it as a world-class university. But no reservation facilities would be extended to either Oriya students or SC and ST students. Earlier, there was a demand to extend 10 per cent reservation facilities to the SC and ST and Oriya students. But the demand was struck down.

However, financial relaxations would be provided to SC and ST and weaker sections of the society.

Two MLAs would be taken as the members in the Management Board of the University.

If the University authorities don’t go ahead in establishing the university, the land would ultimately come back to the Government. If there is any dissolution of the university, it has to given a notice to the Government and employees and students of the university at least three year in advance.

Higher Education Minister Mishra also maintained that the university was required for the development of education in the State. He also rejected BJP legislature party leader KV Singh Deo’s apprehension that Vedanta might get benefit from the rich sand minerals. “The Centre is empowered to take a decision if any mineral is available in the land,” he said.

Here are some other reports on the topic: Economic Times, Business Standard,

Following are some excerpts from the Business Standard report.

The admissions to the university will be on merit basis. Though there is no reservation in admission and recruitment for the Orissa students, the university authorities will set up knowledge centres in different regions of the state for development of higher education in these areas.

Similarly, there will be concession in the fee structure for the weaker section, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe students of the state. The governing body of the university will comprise of 16 members. They will include two MLAs, one lady from SC or ST community and two nominated members of the government who includes the higher education secretary and an eminent educationist of the state.

If the university authorities choose to close down the institution, they will have to give notice for it three years in advance. In that case, the land acquired for the university from the local people, government and the Lord Jagannath temple will revert back to the original title holders. The land will be transferred to them at the price at which the land was acquired. It may be noted, the project will require 6000 acres of land.

… Meanwhile, the ICFAI University Bill, which was also tabled in the house, was referred to a select committee of the state assembly.

Following is an excerpt from

More than 40 lawmakers participated in the marathon discussion which covered 20 amendments.

Most important is fee relaxation for the poor, SC ST and meritorious students of the state, for which university authorities will formulate a separate policy, announced Mr.Mishra.

Secondly 2 of the lawmakers of Orissa House will find place in the Board of Governors.

Most importantly, if the University fails to come up, the land losers will receive back their land.

Land losers will also get facility to allow their children to read in the University with a liberal fee.

The amendments seem pretty reasonable.

Moreover, I really applaud the democratic process. The Bill was first presented in December 2008 and was tabled. This time it was presented on Saturday the 25th July 2009. There have been discussion on it since then and several hours on the 29th and almost the full day of July 30th was spent on debating and going over the bill clause by clause and making 20 amendments. I applaud the Orissa lawmakers to have done their job diligently. I admire the whole process. I hope the proceedings was recorded in video and would be some day made available to generation of Orissans and Vedanta University alumni.

Monday, April 28, 2008


A few recent news article on Vedanta University -Thanks to state Govt and Central govt for support

Vedanta’s Orissa projects are on schedule: Agarwal - Bangkok,Bangkok,Thailand, 26th april 2008

Vedanta to establish hospital first
NewindPress, Sunday April 27 2008 07:06 IST

Vedanta to be growth engine of Orissa
Statesman News ServiceBHUBANESWAR, April 27

'Vedanta doing well with Centre and Orissa govt support'
Monday, April 28, 2008; Posted: 12:14 AM

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Rejoinder to "Vedanta University: a flawed pipe dream"

Following is a rejoinder to the above article.

While it is possible that Vedanta University, may not turn out as envisioned,
it is definitely not a flawed pipe dream. We now show why some of the arguments given by Prof. Philip G. Altbach is flawed.

1. This article talks about $1 billion (the number $3 billion is thrown as an afterthought towards the end of his article) and how it is not a lot money. First, Vedanta University folks have talked about $3 billion, not $1 billion. The $1 billion number is the number that Mr. Agrawal has pledged to contribute; not the number he thinks the university needs. He thinks the later number to be $3 billion. If one wonders where the rest of the $2 billion is supposed to come, then there are two likely sources: (i) the tution paid by the students and (ii) the use of the real estate in the planned city around the Vedanta University.

Next, lets look at the budget of some of the existing Indian institutions:
What Vedanta University folks have said is that they will spend $1 billion in the initial phase (i.e. Rs 4000 crores) and $3 billion (Rs 12,000 crores) over the next 10-15 years.

Based on the estimates about Rs 4000 crores can be used to build two new IITs (1000 crore*2) + two new IISERs (500 crores*2) + two new central universities (300 crores*2) + two new IIMs (150 crores estimate) + a new National Institute of Design (100 crores estimate). The recurring cost of these would be at 2006-07 estimates would be 2 IITs (200 crores total), two IISERs (200 crores total), two central universities (200 crores), two IIMs (30 crores), an NID (12 crores) = 650 crores. That is about 650/(8000) = 8.125% of the remaining $2 billion of the Vedanta University estimate which is a fairly small percentage of interest. (The Indian market has been making much more in recent years.)

2. Tthe article says: "No research university in the world has 100,000 students or even anything close."

As per,
following are some large research universities in the US

Arizona State University, Main Campus 51,612
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 51,175
The Ohio State University 50,504
University of Texas, Austin 49,696
University of Florida 49,693
Michigan State University 45,166
Texas A&M University, College Station 44,910
University of Illinois, Urbana 41,862
University of Wisconsin, Madison 41,447
Pennsylvania State University, University Park 40,709

As per
ASU will have 90,000 students in its campuses by 2020. (Note that
all its campuses are in the Phoenix metro area. It is not like the multi-campus
UC system or U of Texas system.)

So Vedanta's goal of 100,000 students around the same time is not that different.

3. Location: It seems the author does not have much idea about the location. The Vedanta University location is about 30 miles from the outer periphery (read Khurda) of Bhubaneswar metropolitan area (the capital of Orissa) . Bhubaneswar is very well connected with the rest of the country both by train (BBSR, Khurda Rd Schedules, Puri Schedules) and by plane and it is expected to have international flights within a year or two. The Bhubaneswar metropolitan area has a current population of 1.6 million and at the rate it is growing (both in area and population) it is likely that by 2020 it will be more than 3 million and its periphery would be close to (if not completely engulfing) Vedanta University.

4. India is hungry for good higher education and people are willing to pay for it. May be the example of KIIT, Bhubaneswar (Orissa) will open the eyes of the author. KIIT was started in 1992 by three young people with an initial investment of few thousand rupees. In 15 years it has programs in multiple fields (engineering, management, medical science, Rural management, biotechnology, Social Sciences, Dentistry, Diploma, ITI, international high school) and is a deemed university. The growth and revenue of ICFAI and Amity also illustrates the revenue potential. Although none of the above are research universities, Vedanta University can collect similar revenues and spend a big part of it in research.

So it is not unreasonable that Vedanta University will have enough students paying enough in tuition to sustain it. Moreover, one should not take the real estate aspect of Vedanta University lightly. With 6000 acres, there will be enough land left beyond the core university, to earn a handsome income, which can then be ploughed into Vedanta University's research programs.
Currently, Bhubaneswar is a destination for many IT companies for their development centers. It has the big 4 of India (Wipro, Infosys, TCS and Satyam), IBM and many small and medium sized IT companies. With a top-notch environment the research park around Vedanta university should be able to attract research divisions of international companies.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Economist's article on Anil Agarwal - mentions Vedanta University

Face value

Tested mettle

Jul 26th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Anil Agarwal has built a mining and metals giant in less than a decade

AS HE looks out over Mumbai's main airport, where a queue of planes wait their turn to ascend into the leaden monsoon sky, Anil Agarwal describes the transformation he has watched through his office window. In three years, he says, “the number of planes has grown four times—can you imagine?” Many Indian-based companies have experienced galloping growth in recent years, airlines among them. But few have kept pace with Mr Agarwal's Vedanta Resources, a London-listed mining and metals group, of which he is the chairman, founder and, with his family, owner of a 54% stake.

When Mr Agarwal founded the company in 1979 he was a scrap-metal merchant with ambitions to own a cable-making company. By the early 1990s, when India embarked on the liberal reforms that were to enable him to make his fortune, he was battling to establish a modest copper smelter. But in the past two years the market capitalisation of Vedanta—named after Mr Agarwal's mother—has increased fivefold to $10 billion. Last month 20% of the group's flagship company, Sterlite Industries, one of India's biggest producers of zinc, copper and aluminium, was floated on the New York Stock Exchange for over $2 billion—the biggest overseas sale of shares by an Indian company. Last year Vedanta turned over $6.5 billion, an increase of 76% on the previous year, and nearly half of it profit.

High metal prices, driven in part by India's own rapid growth, help explain the surge. But so do Mr Agarwal's instincts for his market: Vedanta's float in London in 2003 proved to be brilliantly timed. He has been equally adept at turning around a series of unprofitable, formerly state-owned companies. The group encountered little competition when it bid for a controlling stake in Hindustan Zinc, a loss-making state-owned firm, in 2002. It proceeded to cut its costs in half and increase its capacity fivefold. Hindustan Zinc is now the group's most profitable unit and the lowest-cost zinc producer in the world. With such a record, Mr Agarwal laughs at the prospect of lower prices. “Everyone's going to die,” he says. “But we must die last.”

In an industry in which size matters, he is pushing ahead with Vedanta's expansion. The group plans to invest $8 billion in the next three years to consolidate existing ventures and launch new ones. In April he extended his reach into iron ore by acquiring 51% of Sesa Goa, India's largest iron-ore exporter. The group also has ambitions in power generation, arguably the biggest constraint on India's growth. It has proposed building a $1.9 billion power station in Orissa, where it is also awaiting approval for a vast greenfield bauxite mine. Despite big investments in Australia, Zambia and elsewhere, India is where Mr Agarwal sees the group's greatest potential for growth. The group is skilled at handling the country's sometimes slippery officialdom—unlike foreign-based rivals, such as BHP Billiton and Anglo American, which have no presence in India. “It helps that we understand India,” says Mr Agarwal.

In a way, he is emblematic of India's emergence. Around half of India's dozen richest businessmen are self-made men. But none more so than Mr Agarwal, now 53, whose personal fortune is estimated at $5.4 billion. When he left school at 15, he knew no English, the language of India's seasoned elite. Even after a decade based in London, his English remains imperfect. “We are very humble,” he says, his unwitting use of the royal “we” perhaps making him sound rather grander than he intended.

Start small, think big

In the 1990s Mr Agarwal's copper and cable businesses grew on the back of the telecoms boom. He then raised his game in 2001 with Sterlite's successful bid for 51% of the Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO), India's first privatisation. The deal was consistent with his strategy of backward integration—but also with Mr Agarwal's record for controversy. In 1998 Sterlite was briefly banned from India's capital markets over allegations of insider trading, though the order was later repealed. The BALCO deal was marred by a two-month strike by the company's workers. As the symbol of a still-controversial (and now apparently mothballed) divestment programme, it remains politically sensitive. Sterlite has therefore been unable to exercise an option to buy the remaining 49% of BALCO.

Few Indian companies have grown so fast without stirring controversy. Just as remarkable was the ease with which Mr Agarwal graduated from managing a medium-sized company to running a large group. This has not sated his appetite for risk. As he puts it: “As an individual, we're very strong as an entrepreneur.” Mr Agarwal says he remains interested in further acquisitions, but concedes that his hands are rather full. If approved, Vedanta's plans in Orissa, which holds the world's fourth-biggest bauxite deposit, will keep him particularly busy. He faces strong opposition from environmentalists and local tribes, however. The example of POSCO, a South Korean steelmaker, is not encouraging. Three years after announcing plans for a $12 billion steel project in Orissa, it is still waiting for the requisite permits and land. Then again, Mr Agarwal is not South Korean.

He is Indian, and proud to be—hence, he says, his philanthropic scheme to donate $1 billion to found a world-class university in India. Vedanta University will be constructed on a 3,200-hectare site in Orissa and will cater for 100,000 students when it is completed, around 2025. “When you go to the US, you see their large universities, Harvard and Berkeley, and we don't have them,” says Mr Agarwal. “Yet the biggest thing you can give to people is education.” Sceptics say he has chosen Orissa as the site for the university for political reasons. It is certainly an extraordinarily ambitious scheme. But there is no doubting Mr Agarwal's ability to overcome obstacles and establish giant enterprises with surprising speed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


More pictures and plan diagrams of Vedanta University

Monday, July 09, 2007


Two articles on Vedanta University in the Chronicles of Higher Education

Chronicles of Higher Education has two premium articles ( one needs a subscription to read the full article). Following are links to those articles and excerpts from them.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


A competitor of Vedanta University: Nalanda University in Bihar

Oldest varsity to be Bihar’s newest one

Amitava Sanyal, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 17, 2007
First Published: 00:56 IST(17/6/2007)
Last Updated: 03:29

Nalanda, one of the world’s oldest universities, is being revived by the Bihar government. The state has acquired the land required for the Rs 1,000-crore project and the university could have functioning schools as early as next year, more than eight centuries after Bakhtiar Khilji destroyed it.

Though it taught science, mathematics and logic, ancient Nalanda’s pre-eminence in Buddhist studies has got the governments of Japan, China and Singapore interested in the project. "The university would not belong to Bihar, it would belong to the world," Dr Madan Jha, Bihar’s principal secretary (education), told Sunday HT.

Among the seven schools planned in the five-year first phase — at the end of which it would have 4,530 students and 453 faculty members — would be those that offer integrated post-graduate and research programmes in information technology, bioinformatics, developmental studies, and applied sciences.

The Department of Natural Resource Management would supply agricultural technology to 300 villages around the 500 acres bought by the state for the project.

President APJ Abdul Kalam played guardian angel when, 16 months ago, he listed Nalanda’s reconstruction as one of Bihar’s 10 priorities.

Since then, apart from buying the land, the Nitish Kumar government has enacted the legislation necessary for setting up the university.
According to the project report prepared by the Educational Consultants India, the international character of the university would partly flow from the 46 faculty members that would be hired from abroad (there would be 582 faculty members at the end of the 10-year project).

The report mentions an annual salary of $36,000 (Rs 14.4 lakh) for each of them. The plan for the university buildings, too, would be open to bidding by international consultants.

The way ahead is to be decided by a ‘mentor group’ chaired Professor Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate. The first meeting of the group — which would include Harvard historian Sugata Bose, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeoh and scholars from Japan and China — is scheduled in Singapore in July. The group would later meet in Tokyo, Beijing and India before submitting its recommendations by the end of the year.

Shigeyuki Shimamori, counsellor in charge of cultural affairs at the Japanese embassy in Delhi, said: "We hope this group is not yet closed. The more members, the better. We would think of funding the project only after the mentor group’s recommendations."

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