Don't make IIT just an undergraduate degree-awarding factory

Considering the fact that first four IITs were established in just 9 years (1950) when the Indian population was less than 439 Million(1961 stats) as compared to 1.15 Billion in mid july-2008, the HRD ministry’s decision of opening 8 more IITs is appreciating but India will fall behind in the race for technology leadership in world if we don’t see the things in world perspective, In my opinion we must consider the following points as well :

  • Are IITs top Top technology Post-Graduate institutes ? Till now IITs are best suited and celebrated brand for undergraduate education in world but they failed to establish world-class postgraduate programmes and world-class standards in research and innovation. I understand that many international brands like Intel, Motorola,Cisco are coming to the campus to established their labs but this is mostly for undergraduate courses. We should prioritize establishing an R&D factory environment in IITs so that we have more innovations and patent from India (rather than thru Indians in foreign Institutions/companies) . Attaining world-class standards in research and innovation - which has long gestation periods - requires a long-term strategy for science and technology leadership. This requires a new policy, in the spirit of the Sarkar committee report, will should be developed and executed for putting India on a time-bound trajectory for achieving technology leadership in world.
  • Hasty Implementation in not Good : It is true that recent eightfold increase in the undergraduate student population and aspirations of large numbers of students has put some pressure on government but it was surprising that one existing technical institute was elevated to an IIT and another one, with a very lacklustre academic record, is slated to become an IIT. This kind of decision should be avoided in future. We should always note that quality does not follow from quantity. In India and world, IITs are deemed as THE BEST technology institutes in world and we must not do anything to jeopardize that recognition.
  • Faculty :
      • In some IITs sometimes emphasis on qualifications rather than on experience resulted in a young PhD-dominated faculty but experienced should be given consideration as well. This is experience vs qualification paradox so faculty recruitment should be done vary carefully.
      • Salary package should be reviewed but not only this some non-monitory factures like sense of contribution, achievement, respect and greater job-satisfaction must be properly monitored so that IIT can compete with multinationals who are attracting the best faculties.
      • Long-term quality depends on traditions created by in-house research contributions.
      • World-class academic institutions like MIT,Bell lab,Oxford have outstanding engineering researchers and innovators as role models for new faculty members. Such role models are not available to young Indian faculty so the proper faculty-exchange programs should be incorporated so that natural motivation comes into IITs as well.
      • Director : Faculty are more inspired when they have a better leader to take care of them and lead them and institute. This requires visionary and motivated director who can create egalitarian atmosphere and creates a sense of ownership in all aspects of the institute. Government should create an external committees of highly accomplished and esteemed professionals who does this job for IITs( and politicians should NOT be ).
  • Curriculum :
    • Academic inbreeding and lack of faculty mobility converts such institutions into degree-awarding factories. In todays global , multipolar world technology evolving at ever increasing rates requires frequent curricular changes, but Indian academia( or political stalwarts ) is notorious for resisting change.This should be avoided. Prime ingredients for continuing reforms are faculty qualifications and quality and an environment that encourages ownership of the academic process. Once this ownership is maintained and instituted in faculty, human power will come into perspective and will change the world around.

    • In the short term, the current policy will produce more graduates, but of decreasing quality. In the long term, India will fall behind in the race for technology leadership.
    • IIT curriculum,academic and administrative cultures should not be compromised.
    • Politician/influential people should not treat this an opportunity to make profit or brand-association.


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