The National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are premier engineering, science, technology & management colleges with autonomous status in India. NITs offer degree courses at bachelors, masters and doctorate levels in various branches of engineering, science and management. Currently there are thirty NITs located one in each major state/ territory of India. Since their inception decades ago, all NITs were called Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs) and governed by their respective local state governments and the central government. However, a parliamentary legislation in 2002 brought them under the direct purview of India's central government and in 2007, through another legislation, the Indian government declared these schools as Institutes of National Importance.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (The first Prime Minister of India) sought to develop India as a leader in science and technology and laid the foundation stone at NIT Warangal on October 10, 1959 (the first in the chain of NITs (formerly RECs) in the country). The Government started thirteen RECs between 1960 and 1965 after Warangal, at Bhopal, Allahabad, Calicut, Durgapur, Kurukshetra, Jamshedpur, Jaipur, Nagpur, Rourkela, Srinagar, Surathkal, Surat, and Tiruchirappall. NIT in Silchar was established in 1967 followed by two more NITs in Hamirpur (1986) and Jalandhar (1987).
The RECs were jointly operated by the central government and the concerned state government. The success of technology-based industry led to high demand for technical and scientific education. Due to the enormous costs and infrastructure involved in creating globally respected institutions, MHRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi decided to rename RECs to "National Institutes of Technology" (NITs) and give operational control to the central government in 2002. All RECs became NITs controlled by the central government in 2003.
In 2006, MHRD issued NIT status to three more institute, located at Patna (Bihar Engineering College - a 110 year old college), Raipur (Government Engineering College), and Agartala (Tripura Engineering College). The 21st (and the first brand-new) NIT is planned for Imphal in the north-eastern state of Manipur at an initial cost of Rs. 5,000 million. In 2010, the government announced setting up ten new NITs in the remaining states/territories. This would lead to every state in India having its own NIT.