Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Dear Mr. Manoj Padhi and OTN,
Thank you for your mail dated 8th April regarding Vedanta University (VU). We are happy to know that OTN, an intellectual Group of Overseas and local Oriya have appreciated the communication on the developments pertaining to the proposed Vedanta University in the State of Orissa.
I am happy to have this opportunity to provide clarifications on some of the points raised by your members.
When Vedanta Chairman thought of this philanthropic act of a magnitude not hitherto known, M/s. AT Kearney & Company was engaged to prepare the concept proposal and several states in India were considered for the potential site. One of the reasons for the final selection of Orissa was the poor development of the State and the huge economic and social impact the University will bring to Orissa. (All of you from Orissa, today living in various parts of the world know that as per the latest statistics from Planning Commission, Orissa is the most backward State in India. Over 40% of the people in Orissa are living below poverty line compared to national average of about 20%).
Regarding the query on land, it was felt vital to create this university on a totally self-sustained basis and not to blame or complain tomorrow regarding non-availability of infrastructure. The campus has to be planned and implemented like the city of Chandigarh and not mushroom / proliferate in a disorganized manner like Kolkata or Mumbai. The long term master plan for the entire university has been prepared by the Architecture firm specialised in university campuses, M/s. Ayers Saint Gross(ASG), Baltimore, USA.
As this will be a research-driven university, there will be huge research parks in the campus to support research in various fields including health sciences, bio-technology, nano-technology, design engineering, public policy, economics, finance, public administration, etc. The University will actively promote this research, and will encourage collaboration with national and international organizations.
The colleges, laboratories, residential complexes, support community, infrastructure, utilities, entertainment, sports and recreation facilities and a lot of open space that are essential for a world-class University atmosphere require the University to have over 7000 acres of land as per the master plan.
Regarding some apprehensions about the land acquisition, it must be noted by all responsible stakeholders that the land is being acquired by Anil Agarwal foundation(AAF), a not for profit institution, and solely for the purpose of setting-up the university and its related facilities and infrastructure etc. This is further ensured by the Government of Orissa through terms of legislation. The construction of the university building is going to start almost immediately based on the overall master plan created by ASG. Therefore there is no need for unnecessary misgiving in this regard.
Regarding the query of multi-location, Vedanta is a research-driven university with investments in not just land and buildings but also in research laboratories, equipment and infrastructure. This needs focus. In the long term, VU will have distance learning and extension learning program centers.
Regarding location (why not western Orissa), VU is not a District level or Regional level institution, it is a world class university in terms of magnitude, students and faculties intended to bring pride to the whole of India. The nature of such an institution is supported by proximity to resources and an enabling environment. Orissa will have the privilege of having it located in the state.
Regarding rehabilitation subject, we wish to clarify that the area proposed for the VU campus is sparsely populated. Given the saline condition of the water body and the land, though it is classified as agricultural land, it is not a fertile land. Every piece of land being acquired for setting up the university will be paid full-market value and there is neither any grant nor concessions by the Government in this matter.
All those displaced shall be offered rehabilitation package in terms of houses or those who don’t opt shall be given cash assistance for self relocation. At least one member of each displaced family shall be provided vocational training to enable him to start own enterprise. The university project construction activities, and the institution itself will generate direct and indirect employment potential in that area which has hitherto not seen any economic activity.
Regarding reservations: We all know that explicit reservations or quotas pose a serious challenge to the aspirations of a world-class university. We are committed to diversity and equal access to higher education for all sections of society. We shall encourage equitable access to Vedanta University by special coaching and training, bridge programs, scholarships and stipends to motivate the local youth and to improve their quality. The University values diversity of all kinds and will also ensure access to higher education for meritorious students regardless of their ability to contribute financially.
In terms of employment, we are now at a very early stage. As far as senior staff, the recruitment is based on relevant qualification, experience and will be from all over India and abroad. Junior staff predominantly will be recruited locally.
As regards, Head Office, Anil Agarwal Foundation is located in Mumbai. At the conceptual and planning stage, the VU Head Office will have to operate in a global city like Mumbai. However, VU Operating Office has already started functioning from Puri, will have a presence in Bhubaneshwar, and will later on shift to the campus itself.
To conclude, we appreciate views and concerns of all of you in this important project in Orissa. We are transparent and open in sharing and providing clarifications to your concerns. In turn, we hope you will become goodwill ambassadors for this transformative development in the State of Orissa to and help to overcome unfounded cynicism.
I am sure your communication is to find answers and not for publicity, and hence we do not see the need to mark copies to third parties.
VU shall build a globally respected research driven university to provide high quality education and creation of knowledge by Indians in India. It is an arduous task with lots of obstacles, but we believe that the goal is clear and noble. With support from all of you, who care for your Motherland, we shall overcome these obstacles and succeed.
CEO, Vedanta University