Nalini Ranjan Sarkar: The person, because of whom India saw the dream of IIT – Nalini Ranjan Sarkar

Nalini Ranjan Sarkar: The person, because of whom India saw the dream of IIT - Nalini Ranjan Sarkar
Aditya Chaudhary

Nalini Ranjan Sarkar: Many intellectual craftsmen contributed in giving a new shape to independent India. The foresight of a visionary is reflected in every brick for building a new nation. One such person was Nalini Ranjan Sarkar, who, realizing the need of technical education in the country, conceived the concept of setting up a higher education institute focused on research. He became the first chairman of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), was the finance minister in the Fazal-ul-Haq-led Bengal ministry, and held several important positions.

Nalini Ranjan Sarkar was born in 1882 in Bengal. After doing his studies from Kolkata, he became a minister in the government of Bidhan Chandra Rai after 1947. After partition, his entire family moved to Bengal. He died on this day i.e. 25 January 1953.

How did you see the dream of Higher Education Institutes
It is about the second world war. The British were suffering heavy losses in this war and Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj had made it clear that the British could no longer rule India with the help of Indians. In such a situation, in the year 1938, a National Planning Committee (NPC) was conceptualized. At that time, Subhash Chandra Bose was the President of the Congress. Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed by Bose as the first chairman of the NPC.

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A committee of NPC under the chairmanship of Meghnad Saha recommended the establishment of technical institutes with research facilities in the country like developed western countries. However, with the onset of World War II, the developments made by the NPC came to a halt with the resignation of the Congress ministries, the start of the Quit India Movement and the arrest of Congress leaders.

Establishment of Nalini Ranjan Committee
As soon as the World War ended in 1945, the British Government appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Nalini Ranjan Sarkar to study and recommend the steps to be taken for technological development in India. Apart from Nalini Ranjan, the committee had 22 members including Sir SS Bhatnagar, Sir Shobha Singh, Sir JC Ghosh, Dr K Venkataraman and others.

In his report submitted in 1946, Nalini Sarkar recommended that India should set up at least four ‘Higher Institutes of Technology’ (HITs) in East, West, North and South. The objective of these HIT universities was to provide better technical education with more focus on research than the existing technical institutes and departments.

IIT found after independence
The government accepted these recommendations and gave instructions to release the funds. Meanwhile, India got independence from the British rule and the burden of the country fell on the shoulders of the new government headed by Nehru. Nalini Sarkar himself took office as the Finance Minister of West Bengal in India. The proposed HIT is now renamed as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The country’s first IIT was inaugurated by the then Education Minister Abul Kalam Azad on August 18, 1951 in Kharagpur.