The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), one of the premier journalism institutes in the country, will soon become an ‘Institute of National Importance’ (INI), on the lines of the IITs and AIIMS.
The government has plans to bring a bill in this regard in the Budget Session of Parliament.
Once upgraded as an INI, the IIMC will be able to award own degrees, conduct postgraduate courses and undertake serious research. Currently, the IIMC offers diplomas in three streams -- print journalism, advertising and radio and TV journalism.
There are six IIMC campuses across the country, the oldest being the Delhi one that was set up in 1965, followed by Dhenkanal (Odisha) in 1993.
The four other IIMCs were approved at Amravati (Maharashtra), Aizawl (Mizoram), Jammu and Kottayam (Kerala) in 2011. The new campuses are currently running from rented buildings and are waiting for land from the state governments.
The officials said Information and Broadcasting Ministry is preparing a draft bill to confer INI status on the institute. “The INI status can be granted only by Parliament. Before the bill is presented there, the Union Cabinet will have to approve it,” an official said.
The new tag will open doors for enhanced funding and allow more autonomy in managing its finances and tie-ups with other institutes across the world.
In its present role, the IIMC advises the government on media issues and acts as a training institute for information service cadre officers and even officers from foreign countries.
“Yet, the institute has not been able to broaden its research base. Its role can be enhanced once it conducts deeper research into media issues as the field has grown exponentially with over 800 channels, ever-increasing number of newspaper and social media.
Being a specialised institute, it can go into multi-disciplinary subjects just like what the IITs do.
To start with, MA degrees will be awarded, followed by M Phil and PhDs,” an official said.
In January, the government had approved granting INI status to Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design.
According to University Grants Commission, an Institute of National Importance in India is defined as one that serves as a pivotal player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country or state.
Only a chosen few institutes make it to this coveted list and are usually supported by the Government of India or even any other international institutes to develop centres of excellence in research, academics and other facilities.