Centre for Internet & Society

Funds granted to the IPR Chairs set up by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development are often left underutilized. Details regarding the expenditures that are incurred by the Chairs are also currently unavailable. CIS intern Amulya Purushothama examines this further.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Development, Government of India (MHRD) has so far set up around 20 IPR Chairs under the Intellectual Property Education, Research and Public Outreach (IPERPO) scheme in various universities across the country.

However, as an Evaluation Committee for the Planning Commission observed last year, this scheme is failing to work for many reasons. Some of them the report says are that many of the IPR Chair positions are left vacant as the MHRD cannot find professors who are suitably qualified for the job, that there is no explicit mandate for activities to be undertaken by the chairs either under the IPERPOS scheme or the letters sanctioning the Chairs, that most of the Chairs only organize one or two day workshops and deliver a few lectures, that the research output produced by these Chairs etc. therefore has been very weak as they haven’t yet identified research questions, Therefore, the grant money under the scheme goes underutilized.

There exists an informational vacuum about the allocation of funds, expenditures of and the functioning of the MHRD IPR Chairs. The MHRD IPR Chair portal intended to provide information about the same is mostly incomplete. Out of the 20 universities where a chair has been set up, around four (CUSAT Cochin, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta, and recently NUJS Kolkata) have been vacant for the last year (CUSAT Cochin has only recently reinstated their IPR Chair professor) and two only joined the posts in the last year (Delhi University and IIT Madras) . Only three of the professors have provided details about their research team on the portal (Delhi University, NALSAR Hyderabad and IIT Roorkee). Only IIT Roorkee and NALSAR Hyderabad have put up annual reports on the portal and even these reports do not cover expenditure made under the scheme.

The latest information regarding expenditure under the scheme can only be found in pieces and fragments. CUSAT published a self-study report that states that while Rs.50-60 lakhs are allotted every year, only Rs. 31, 49,950 has been received so far, NLSIU published an accounts report for the year 2012-2013 that states that Rs. 30, 00,000 had been received as of march 2013, but keeps quiet on the expenditure of the same.

The latest information on the issue is available in a 2013 report of an Evaluation Committee of the Planning Commission. The report says that the University of Madras last received funds of Rs.9 lakhs in 2001 and utilized most of it; that out of the Rs.100 lakhs released to NLSIU Bangalore so far, only around Rs.70 lakhs has been utilized as of 2013; that University of Delhi last received Rs.10 lakhs in 2001 and utilized only half of that. Further that CUSAT had so far received funds amounting to Rs.316.05 lakhs as of 2013 and has utilized only Rs.191.05 lakhs.

IIT Kanpur last received Rs.25 lakhs in 2006-07 and utilized Rs.17 lakhs from it; IIT Kharagpur also last received funds in 2009-10 of up to Rs.51.42 lakhs and utilized all of it. IIT madras is shown to have received Rs.25 lakhs in 2006-07 but it is unclear whether that has been utilized at all, IIT Delhi also received Rs.25 lakhs in the same year and utilized Rs.2 lakhs from it. IIT Bombay has received Rs.190 lakhs up till 2013 and has utilized only Rs.135 lakhs.

IIM Ahmedabad is yet to receive any funds. IIM Calcutta last received Rs.10 lakhs in 2007-08 but there is no information on whether that was utilized. IIM Bangalore had, as of 2013, received Rs.105.98 lakhs and utilized only Rs.78.98 lakhs of it.

JNU last received Rs.10 lakhs in 2007-08 but there is no word on whether it was utilized, same is the case with Delhi School of Economics.

NALSAR, Hyderabad had received Rs.111.40 lakhs as of 2013, but had utilized Rs.79.4 lakhs until then. NLU Jodhpur had received Rs.105.00 lakhs as of 2013 and utilized a mere Rs.69 lakhs from the bounty, NLIU Bhopal received Rs.100 lakhs as of 2013 and utilized only Rs.75 lakhs. NUJS had received Rs.90 lakhs as of 2012 and only utilized Rs.75 lakhs. IIT Roorkee had received Rs.30 lakhs as per 2012 and had utilized the entire amount; Tezpur University had received Rs.59 lakhs and utilized only Rs.29 lakhs as of 2013.

This wide variation in allocation of funds and in the utilization of funds, the report says, is due to lack of suitable proposals for seminars, workshops, conferences etc., “non-receipt of requests” for setting up of new Chairs, non-receipt of bills for grants that have already been released and a lack of continued attention to the scheme.

The details of how any of these funds were actually utilized are at present unavailable online. Statistics from the last financial year are unavailable anywhere on the internet as well; CIS has filed a Right to Information request for the same with the concerned authorities.

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