The origins of the Institute are not fully clear to me, as I was not really not on the scene then. From some interactions, this is what I have been able to determine: Some interactions with Knowledge Commission of India convinced the Delhi Govt that Delhi can be the Knowledge capital of India, and that Delhi should give a further impetus to its already strong education sector.

At the time many state Governments, as well as Government of India, were considering starting IIITs to develop IT manpower and develop R&D capability. Delhi govt also decided to start an IIIT in Delhi. As first “I” cannot stand for “Indian” for any Institution that is not Govt of India’s, Delhi chose “Indraprastha” – the name with which Delhi was known in some periods.

EDCIL (Education Consultants of India Ltd), a Govt of India enterprise, was given the task of developing a project plan for starting a IIIT in Delhi. The plan was presented and reviewed in a large meeting in Delhi Secretariat in which, as it turns out, I was present as a representative from IIT Delhi. The plan was fairly standard, as any such plan has to be, since the real plan can only be developed by those who have the actual task of building the Institute. But, it did facilitate in the creation of IIIT-Delhi, and on the basis of the plan, land and money was to be allotted.

But where is land in Delhi? It seems that at some time Delhi Govt decided that as land is not available with the Govt, it will use the surplus land available with Delhi Govt Institutions, and develop it further for similar purposes. Someone somewhere in the Govt identified the surplus land in GB Pant Polytechnic and a 25 Acre area was ear marked for IIIT-Delhi.

The IIIT-Delhi Act was itself developed by the then Secretary of Dept of TTE, Dr. Narendra Kumar. The Act is clearly a visionary one – giving tremendous autonomy to the Institute and vesting most of the powers for policy with the Board of Governors of the Institute. To provide financial autonomy, it envisaged some innovative financial engineering – the Institute was to get interest free loan from the Govt and no grants. As there were no Grants from the Govt, it became free to decide its own salary scales. It was clearly a balancing act between keeping the Institute as a Government Institute, while still giving it full academic, administrative, and financial autonomy.

Important dates here are:

  • Govt’s decision to start a IIIT in Delhi and asking EDCIL to prepare a DPR: July, 2007.
  • EDCIL’s presentation on the detailed project report: September, 2007.
  • IIIT-D Act passed in Legislature: April 2, 2008 (Assent of LG obtained Apri 21, 2008);
  • Notification of the Act (the technical date of coming in existence of IIIT-D): 28th May, 2008.
  • Constitution of Board and appointment of the Chairman: May 1, 2008.
  • First Board meeting: May 12, 2008.