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The Indian Institutes of Technology are a group of autonomous engineering and technology-oriented institutes of higher education. The IITs are governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 which has declared them as “institutions of national importance”, and lays down their powers, duties, framework for governance etc.They were created to train scientists and engineers, with the aim of developing a skilled workforce to support the economic and social development of India. IITs are listed as societies under the Indian Societies Registration Act.
 
The 1961 act lists seven institutes, which are, in order of establishment, IIT Kharagpur in Kharagpur (1950; as IIT 1951), IIT Bombay in Mumbai (1958), IIT Madras in Chennai (1959), IIT Kanpur in Kanpur (1959), IIT Delhi in New Delhi (1961; as IIT 1963), IIT Guwahati in Guwahati (1994) and IIT Roorkee in Roorkee (1847; as IIT 2001).
In addition to the seven IITs, the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2010 seeks to add nine new institutes to the list. Of these, eight are new institutes, in order of establishment, IIT Ropar in Rupnagar (2008), IIT Bhubaneswar in Bhubaneswar (2008), IIT Gandhinagar in Gandhinagar (2008), IIT Hyderabad in Hyderabad (2008), IIT Patna in Patna (2008), IIT Rajasthan in Rajasthan (2008), IIT Mandi in Mandi (2009) and IIT Indore in Indore (2009).These IITs are registered as societies and are in various stages of consolidation and development. The ninth is Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU), which is currently a faculty under the administration of Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, which is to be named "Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), Varanasi", which is to be abbreviated IIT-BHU. The bill was approved by the Indian Cabinet in February 25, 2011, and the Lok Sabha passed the bill on March 24, 2011. It is still to be adopted by the Rajya Sabha.
 
Each IIT is an autonomous university, linked to the others through a common IIT Council, which oversees their administration. They have a common admission process for undergraduate admissions, using the Joint Entrance Examination (popularly known as IIT-JEE) to select around 8,000 undergraduate candidates a year, who will eventually receive a B. Tech. degree in Engineering. The graduate level program that awards M. Tech. degree in engineering is administered by the older IITs (Kharagpur, Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, Roorkee) and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. M. Tech. admissions are done on the basis of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering, (popularly known as GATE test). In addition to the B. Tech. and M. Tech. programs that IITs are mostly known for, IITs also award other graduate degrees such as M.S. in engineering, M.Sc in Math, Physics and Chemistry, MBA and Ph.D. through tests such as JMET, JAM and CEED. About 15,500 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students study in the IITs, in addition to research scholars.
IIT alumni have achieved success in a variety of professions.[8] Most of the IITs were created in early 1950s and 1960s as the Institutes of National Importance through special acts of Indian Parliament. The success of the IITs led to the creation of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIIT) in the late 1990s and in the 2000s.