Overcoming roadblocks, IIT-Jodhpur ready to sign MoU with France

Putting to rest their differences over a much publicised collaboration that has been in the works since 2008-09, IIT-Jodhpur and France will next month seal a memorandum of understanding when the French President visits India.

French President Francois Hollande is expected to visit India in mid-February when the MoU will be announced for the joint collaboration with the IIT.

IIT-Jodhpur has already signed its letter of intent, sources said.

While the proposed collaboration was announced in 2010 when the then French President Nicholas Sarkozy came to India, it's yet to take shape due to a rather unusual situation mutual dissatisfaction. While the French side had termed the IIT-Jodhpur academic environment and faculty rather unimpressive, the IIT complained that what the French are offering them is far too little for an institute of its stature.

France had conveyed to India in writing that it was "not impressed" by the leadership, faculty or infrastructure at IIT-Jodhpur, one of the six new IITs set up in 2009.

The IIT claimed that there was little worth in the collaboration being offered. France was then offering about 2 million Francs and assistance for setting up three centres instead of six proposed initially.

The IIT said that while it was keen to extend the collaboration in other areas, France refused to commit to anything further.

A French delegation that visited IIT-Jodhpur in January last year to explore the possibilities of a wider collaboration had reportedly returned disappointed, shooting off a letter to the External Affairs ministry.

"While the French were quite enthusiastic in 2008, when talks first began, the leadership at IIT-Jodhpur then showed little interest. The HRD Ministry had to intervene and take up the matter with the Board of Governors as this is also a diplomatic issue. When the IIT finally did evince interest in the collaboration, recession acute in Europe came in the way. Finally, the two sides have now agreed to seal the deal," said a senior official.

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