Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ToI Interview of Prof. S. Sadagopan of IIIT-B

Shruthi Balakrishna and Darinia Khongwir interviewed   Prof. S. Sadagopan, Dirctor, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, on the occasion of that institution's 10th birthday. I'm linking to the interview here mainly for the kind of bold vision articulated by Prof. Sadagopan.

There are other interesting bits as well; here's how he compares his institution with IITs:

We have become a university, have a nice campus and many put us in the league of big and established institutes. It's very pleasing for us, but we also tremble inside.


Because recently, there was a column which was trying to compare the number of research papers produced. It said that a typical IIT has 3,000 papers and we produce 279. Anybody who looks at it cursorily will say that's bad. But what they don't realize is that we are a small institute. A typical IIT has a faculty of 400-500 members, while IIIT-B has 20. If you look at it that way, we are much better off.

Why the disparity then?

Very often, we are put on a par with IISc, whose budget is Rs 500 crore, while ours is not even Rs 10 crore. The total grant to IIIT-B from the government has been Rs 10 crore over 10 years.

The study he talks about is by Gangan Prathap and B.M. Gupta, which we covered here.

Here's another bit from the interview:

Will you introduce UG programmes?

Introducing UG has its own disadvantages and one cannot jump into it quickly. We don't want to fall into the `fashion-of-the-month' game.

Fashion of the month? He makes it sound as if tons of Indian universities are "falling into [this] game" every month. Wonder where he gets this idea from. Not this, I hope!


  1. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    About the UG programmes:

    I don't think he intends to mean that Indian universities are "falling into [this] game" every month.

    Firstly remember that these interviews are edited and many lines that could perhaps clarify his point have been dropped for brevity.

    I think what he means is the following: most IT UG programmes, across the country, are essentially training modules for the latest skills that the industry demands, and are largely imparting nothing beyond these skills. In this sense, these programmes are merely following the "fashion of the month". I think he intends to say that IIIT-B does not want to introduce a UG programme because competition and demand may necessitate IIIT-B to also follow the "fashion of the month" referred to above.

    I think the term "fashion of the month" has to be understood in correct context. The act of offering UG courses is not the "fashion" he talking of. It is the content of the UG course, due its fluid and transient nature, that is more akin to a fashion.

    This is not a remark against other Indian universities offering basic science UG courses of a more firm or timeless nature.


  2. Anonymous said...

    Again I understand the benefit of locating n close proximity to major industrial cities and metros but that is not very healthy in the long run. These premier instis should go to tier-2 cities and that should not be a problem especially if they are not catering "fashionable" programs to the industry. There can be lot of indirect economic and educational benefits to the surrounding regions if such a model is followed something like the benefits of starting from scratch in the IISERS.

  3. Anonymous said...

    This is about the comment above suggesting that premier institutions be started (or moved?) to tier-2 cities. Sorry, but that just doesn't fly too well. One MUST be where the action is, especially so in India. Even established institutions like IIT Kanpur are not doing so well (not attracting faculty or Ph.D. students as they need to), because everyone knows Kanpur (outside the IIT campus) is not someplace you want to be thanks to Mayawati, Mulayam, etc. This is true whether you want to be "fashionable" or not. IIIT Bangalore has a BIG advantage in this regard, and Sadagopan surely knows it as well as anyone. The same institution transplanted as IIIT Timbuktu would likely wither away (especially as it is critically dependent on industry support in the absence of government funding, as Sadagopan also notes).

  4. Anonymous said...

    Reg. above comment.
    Tier II cities can break into the elite club any time

    The fact that you need to be near the metros to succeed is an indication how inequitable the education/economic/infratructure system is in India. Kanpur and Timbukto maybe exceptions but are you telling me that tier-2 cities are in some rural agricultural hinterland ? The industry (including IT) itself recognizes that future growth lies in moving outwards into the smaller cities. And the educational sys. (** newer instis**) should complement that. Btw after a few yrs the tier-1 cities are going to be uninhabitable for living/studying in peace anways.....

  5. Anonymous said...

    An illuminating data from the link in the article in the above comment