M A I N   N E W S

Rs 80 cr needed to restore IIAS glory
Director of the prestigious institute calls for industry donations to fund repairs of the 1888 building
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 31
The Viceregal Lodge housing the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS) here is looking towards industry titans like Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra and the Narayan Murthy family to bestow on it the same generosity they have showered on Harvard and other foreign universities.

The imposing Victorian edifice, which remained the residence of the Viceroy of India during the British rule and later the Rashtrapati Niwas, is waiting for industry giants to help push through its conservation and restoration plan, which has failed to take off for want of funds.

The institute came into being on October 20, 1965, and has been a temporary home for scholars and researchers from all over the world in quest of academic research. A heritage structure completed in July 1888 under Lord Dufferin, it not only remained the seat of power, but was also witness to several events in the history of India before Partition.

It is today threatened with structural distress and deterioration, including cracks in stone masonry, even as it is under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The leakages along the roof and rotting of structural wood have necessitated restoration and repair which would require funds to the tune of about Rs 80 crore. The campus is now spread over 110 acres.“The generosity shown by Ratan Tata in

 giving $50 million to Harvard Business School, and $10 million by Anand Mahindra to Harvard Humanities Centre is certainly appreciable, but it has set us wondering; why can’t some philanthropist fund our own conservation plan,” quips Prof Peter Ronald de Souza, Director of the IIAS.

He says he will be personally writing to philanthropists to help execute the master plan using adaptive principles, prepared painstakingly by experts headed by conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah.

The restoration master plan, which has been approved by the governing body of the institute, will also be pursued with the Planning Commission of India by submitting the proposal to the Human Resource Development Ministry. However, getting the money doesn’t seem an easy task and “to get it in one go is almost next to impossible”.

“I like to describe the institute as “a great idea in a grand building” and I hope the government will also realise its unique character as we cannot be clubbed in a cluster with other institutes,” says de Souza, emphasising the stature and uniqueness of the institute. However, he adds that the government has been very supportive so far and the budget of the IIAS has doubled over the past three years.





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