Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New IITs in the news

Today's Economic Times had a story by Urmi Goswami about the progress in 'upgrading' of seven engineering colleges to the IIT status. The seven colleges are:

  • University College of Engineering combined with University College of Technology, Osmania University
  • Bengal Engineering College
  • Jadavpur University’s engineering and technology departments
  • Zakir Hussain College of Engineering and Technology, AMU
  • Andhra University College of Engineering
  • Cochin University of Science and Technology
  • Institute of Technology at BHU (Disclosure: I studied there; so, I am entitled to say Yippee!)

A committee headed by Prof. M Ananda Krishnan of Madras Institute of Development Studies has been asked to visit all the colleges, assess their financial needs, examine how they can migrate to the new governance structure consistent with that of the IITs, and make recommendations by January.

Curiously, the story opens with "The Union government may have put on hold its plan to set up new IITs". What was this plan? Does anybody know?

In any case, it is far better to upgrade existing institutions to greater heights. Simply from the cost point of view, it makes better sense. However, the key question is: how are they going to get their faculty? Surely, they need people with doctorates with some years of experience. Where are they?


  1. Anonymous said...

    Abi - Where are all the doctorates of India? The last I know was in 1998. There was an opening for an Asst. Prof. in IITM, Physics. I was one of the applicants. Believe me, 43 of us were interviewed on ONE DAY. Many of us had handsome publication records and two of my old IISc friends whom I met accidentally there - were working as Research Asst. Prof. in decent US Univ. One of them came all the way to attend this. (all of us were planning to return to India).

    That finally there was an internal favourite (with 2.5 papers and that I do not see any more papers from him) is a different story. But there were tonnes of PhDs - what happened to them? (I know that all 3 of us, ex-IIScians are now in permanent positions in NAmerica).

  2. Anonymous said...

    What are these newly upgraded institutions supposed to achieve? Is there any long-term plan from within? If there isn't we will simply end up spending a lot of money (although that shdn't be grudged).
    Here's a strategic plan from ECE at IaSU.

    Proposals can be funded; wish lists can only be indulged. MAke no mistake, I think India can create not 10 but a 100 institutions of great class; provided we have some concrete idea of where we want to be.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Here is the Hindu's version of the team's visit.
    Both the articles clearly talk about the govt not willing to take a long-time liability. I am not sure of how the whole thing will work without this. Hopefully, the govt isn't under the impression that institution building isn't about generous one-time grants.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Hi Abhinandhan,

    I totally agree with the sentiments expressed by Venkat. I have personally known quite a few people who are too keen to come back to India but the institutes dont care to recruit them whilst they do end up with positions abroad.

    Best regards,

  5. Abi said...

    Venkat, Pennathur, Aswin, Magesh: Thanks for your comments.

    Venkat, Magesh: I am sorry to have appeared insensitive. Trust me, I didn't mean to be. If you see an old post on this blog, some of the misunderstanding will go away. There, I argued that since the research culture is poor in these second rung colleges (one of the causes of this problem is also discussed there), people who apply to the IITs but don't join them don't even apply to such places, forcing them into a vicious cycle of taking their own students, etc., etc. When these new IITs are created, they will need new faculty in big numbers. Do we have a large number of people willing to go to these new IITs? It is in this sense that I wrote that last paragraph.

    But, I must apologize. Sorry!

    Pennathur: There are at least two things that hold institutions back; one is their over-dependence on government dole, and the other is the government's unwillingness to let the big institutions such as the IITs -- which can easily survive and thrive -- become independent. You are right; institutions should demand to be allowed to choose their path, and if the government cannot fund their plans, they should demand to get out of the government orbit.

    Oh, by the way, full independence from the government is impossible; almost all the research money for science comes only from the government. Private sector funds are small, but growing; the publicity for private sector funding of academic research is disproportionate to the level of funding.

    Aswin: Thanks for the Hindu link. Yes, I too found that fact really curious.