Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru pioneered establishing of the Indian Institutes of Technology to provide trained technical personnel of international class to the nation who would act as leaders in technology for the newly born independent India. The institutions were to be designed with the necessary dynamism, flexibility of organization and capacity to adapt in the light of expanding knowledge and changes in the socio-economic requirements of modern society.
In May 1950, the first in the series was established in Kharagpur at the site of the Hijli Detention Camp, where the British had incarcerated political prisoners, the institution was named the 'Indian Institute of Technology' before its formal inauguration on August 18, 1951.
Within a decade of the launch of the first IIT, four more were set up: IIT Bombay (1958), IIT Madras (1959), IIT Kanpur (1959), and IIT Delhi (1961). Decades later, the sixth IIT was established in Guwahati (1994). India's first technical institute, set up in 1847 and known as the Thomson College of Engineering and subsequently the University of Roorkee, was ordained as the seventh IIT in September 2001. In the year 2008, six new IITs were started: IIT Bhubaneswar, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Patna, IIT Rajasthan, and IIT Ropar. This was followed by two more IITs in 2009: IIT Indore and IIT Mandi. In 2012, Institute of Technology, BHU was designated the sixteenth IIT. IIT Palakkad and IIT Tirupati came into existence in 2015, and in 2016 five more IITs; IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, IIT Bhilai, IIT Goa, IIT Jammu and IIT Dharwad were started.
During the early years, the IITs benefited in varying degrees from material assistance and academic cooperation from developed countries --- IIT Bombay from the Soviet Union, IIT Madras from Germany, IIT Kanpur from the United States, and IIT Delhi from the United Kingdom. Over the years IITs have created world class educational platforms dynamically sustained through internationally recognized research based on excellent infrastructural facilities. The faculty and alumni of IITs have made huge impact in all sectors of society, both in India and abroad. The institutes are globally recognized as centres of academic excellence, and are reputed for the outstanding caliber of the students graduating from them.