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Punjab’s first IIT takes shape
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, February 24
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, known for his outbursts against the Congress-led UPA government for “giving a step-motherly treatment” to Punjab, today thanked union HRD minister Arjun Singh for “bestowing” the state with an IIT.

He was speaking during the stone-laying ceremony of the IIT, Ropar, which already has its first batch students taking lessons at the IIT, Delhi, the mentor institute.

Doing a U-turn on his earlier statements against the union government, Badal today said to Arjun Singh, “We are thankful to your government for giving us an IIT, which will turn us into a knowledge hub”. However, during a function held just an hour ago here, Badal had called upon people to root out the UPA for its unfriendly policies towards the state.

His statement drew ire from various groups in the Congress. Congressmen, led by former MLA Jagmohan Kang and local leader Romesh Dutt Sharma, later held a press conference and accused Badal of using double standards. They said unlike the function at Khatkar Kalan today, neither PPCC president Mohinder Kaypee nor MP Ambika Soni was invited to the function.

The union minister, who addressed the gathering while on a wheelchair, said the budget for higher education stood at a whopping Rs 8,500 crore. The government is introducing eight IITs, seven IIMs, two schools of planning and architect, 20 IIITs with public-private participation, 15 central and national universities and 375 degree colleges, he added.

The IIT, Ropar, is a brainchild of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The campus of the IIT, Ropar, coming up on the banks of the Sutlej will irrigate fertile minds of Punjabis with ultra-modern and world-class technology the same way as the Sutlej that irrigates land of the state,” he said.

The first batch of 105 students and their teachers were also present. Interestingly, only a couple of students were able to understand Punjabi. The speech of Technical Education Minister Chaudhary Swarna Ram proved to be a fun exercise for the students. They clapped their way during minister’s slip of tongue, much to the amusement of the crowd present there.



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