New Delhi: IIT-Guwahati Director Gautam Barua on Tuesday came under attack from an apex body of the faculties of all IITs for supporting the Centre's 'one-nation one-test' proposal for entry into them and other centrally- funded engineering institutes.

Without naming Barua, All India IIT Faculty Federation, said, in a statement, that it was "shocked and pained" that one of the IITs' directors had criticised on TV channels the decision taken by the Senate of the IIT-Kanpur to conduct its own entrance exam from next year opposing the Centre's format.

Participating in a TV debate over the issue two days ago, Barua had said, "I am sad about the extreme step taken by the IIT-Kanpur Senate on such a small issue".

Criticising the statement, Federation Secretary A K Mittal said, "It is unfortunate that a professor of the IIT system thinks that the selection of the students and the academic autonomy of the IITs is small issue."

Mittal's remarks came days after the Federation attacked IIT-Kharagpur Director Damodar Acharya for supporting the Centre's proposal.

The faculties' body hailed the decision taken by IIT -Kanpur, saying it has taken "lead in making the long-awaited, justified action of announcing its own admission test through its Senate Resolution (as sanctioned by the Institute Act).

"The IIT-Kanpur decision by no means can be treated as an isolated event. In fact, its sets the tone for other IITs that do not agree with the current HRD Ministry proposal of common entrance test to make similar decisions in their respective senates and support the initiative of IIT-Kanpur," it said.

The Federation accused a section of the media of "trying to project that the IITs are split over the HRD Ministry's proposal about the common engineering admission test".

Mittal said that the Federation welcomed HRD Minister Kapil Sibal's statement that the government has no intent to impinge on the autonomy of the IITs.

But, he expressed resentment over the government's "present action and responses" on the issue.

Talking to reporters in Washington yesterday, Sibal had rejected criticism and virtually ruled out going back on the new proposal. He, however, had said that the government has no intent to impinge on the autonomy of the IITs.

Mittal said the faculty members had no personal agenda and that it was their responsibility to "defend and protect the academic excellence and autonomy of these great institutions envisioned by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru from any political interference.

"In opposing the HRD Ministry's test, we are not trying to achieve elitist status but protect the sanctity of academic freedom granted to these institutions by an act of Parliament (Institutes of Technology Act, 1961) and ensure that only the best students get selected by a fair process," he said.

Sibal had on May 28 announced that from 2013, aspiring candidates for IITs and other central institutes like NITs and IIITs will have to sit under a new format of common entrance test, which will also take the plus-two board results into consideration.

The Minister had claimed that it was approved without dissent at a council consisting of the IITs, the IIITs and the NITs.


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