Saturday, July 30, 2005

Teaching and research

Jayant Narlikar starts his ToI op-ed with this paragraph:

A few months ago the finance minister announced a grant of Rs 100 crore to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, to help it raise its standards to the levels of Oxford and Cambridge. Will a fistful of crores help set up Oxbridge-level institutions of higher learning in our country? How about offering a large sum to the Board of Control for Cricket in India to generate a cricket team comparable to Bradman's 1948 Australian team? Or to Sahitya Akademi to produce another Indian Nobel laureate in literature?

He goes on to describe what an institution must do to become a great university: insist on both teaching and research. Alas, this is something that we in India 'forgot' to do! Remember, the teaching he describes is at the undergraduate level. Almost all our UG students are taught in colleges with virtually no research, while good, high quality research is being pursued in elite institutions with no UG students.

Update: In the previous post, I linked to the Nature supplement that had many articles about the state of R&D in life sciences and biotechnology; the articles talked about high quality research being carried out in quite a few places. None -- I repeat, NONE -- of these institutions -- NCBS-Bangalore, CCMB-Hyderabad, TCGA-New Delhi (?), NII-New Delhi, NCCS-Pune, and yes, IISc-Bangalore -- has an undergraduate program. Some of them are 'educational institutions', only in the sense that they offer degree programs at the masters and doctoral levels.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Chennai Mathematical Institute offers B.Sc and B.Math and also conducts top quality research.

  2. Anonymous said...
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  3. Abi said...

    Thanks, Ramesh for the info about MatScience-Chennai. The IITs too are an honourable exception in technology and physical sciences; BHU is a 'real' university with both UG teaching and research in many fields.

    To this special list, one may also add a few (but only a few!) 'university' engineering colleges (e.g., Anna University, UDCT) and medical colleges.

    Nevertheless, isn't it true that all of them put together is just a drop in the ocean? Sigh!

  4. Anonymous said...

    Yes , you are correct. Science education in India is NOT in good shape. As you have opined elsewhere in this blog, we need 4 year science degrees. Universities must switch to a semester pattern. Typical B.Sc (Math) at a university like University of Madras is so lean in its course content that it is shocking. Because the exams take place only once a year (with 3/5 th of the paper carries full marks!), most students learn next to nothing and still walk out with a B.Sc degree. It is a shame.