Chennai,31 July :D. Purandeswari Addresses At Golden Jubilee Celebrations Of IIT Madras At Chennai Addressing at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of IIT Madras at Chennai today, Smt. D. Purandeswari said that Engineering is a vast field that offers infinite specialization. All fields in the modern economy have been invigorated by engineering technology.
The shape of the modern world has been credited to the advancements in science and technology. The engineering field has been the major contributory factor towards achieving the scientific marvels of today. Following is the full text of the speech of Smt. D. Purandeswari, MOS for Ministry of HRD.
“Respected Dr. Karunanidhi Ji, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu, Respected Dr. Chidambaram Ji, Chairman Board of Governors, Agarwal Ji, Secretary, Higher Education, Govt. of India, Respected Prof. Ananthan Ji, Director IIT Chennai, Members of faculty, dear students, ladies and Gentlemen.
It is, indeed, a matter of immense pride and privilege for me to have come here and address you as the IIT, Madras is entering in the Golden Jubilee Year to-day. The I.I.T (Madras) at Chennai, like its counterparts in Kolkata and Mumbai, occupies a place of pride in our country as all of them have established themselves as world class Institutes of higher learning. To-day engineering and technology have come to impact everything in our lives from the food we eat to the cars we drive. We all depend on engineering and technology in some form or another in our everyday activities. Engineering is about change and development, be it in the world of medicine, sport, leisure, and much more; engineers are constantly striving to make the world a better, safer; more comfortable and enjoyable place to live in. In fact, many recent medical advances have also been made possible as a result of work done by engineers, ranging from brain scanners to drug dispensers used by asthma sufferers. Indeed, increase in life expectancy, has also been due to engineering advances just as much as to medical developments and inventions.
Engineering is a vast field that offers infinite specialization. All fields in the modern economy have been invigorated by engineering technology. The shape of the modern world has been credited to the advancements in science and technology. The engineering field has been the major contributory factor towards achieving the scientific marvels of today.
In anticipation of this huge potential of engineering and technology our founding fathers and great visionaries at the time of our Independence took two very important steps to promote science, technology and engineering in the country which could boost India’s development and growth. Taking a cue from the efforts of Sri Ardeshir Dalal, a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, our first Prime Minister Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru set up the Nalini Ranjan Sarkar Committee to look into the issue of setting up higher technical institutions in India for expediting industrial development. The Sarkar Committee had a vision in recommending the national institutions, geographically dispersed across the country, modelled on the lines of the best technical institutions in the World. The IITs arose out of the recommendations of the Sarkar Committee, with the institution at Kharagpur coming into existence in 1951, followed by the institutes at Bombay (1958), Madras (1959), Kanpur (1963) and Delhi (1963). All these Institutes were started with foreign assistance in the early days, providing each with a distinct character, reflecting the academic approaches of the collaborating countries. In time, these IITs grew and developed their own brand names, and their own distinctive character delivering quality engineering education in India with capability and competence comparable to global standards.
To-day we find that IIT Madras has evolved as one of the premier institutions in engineering education in our country and the world during the last five decades. This Institute has fullfilled its main objective in producing scientists and technologists of the highest calibre who have engaged in research, design and development to help building the nation towards self-reliance in her technological needs”. I am glad to learn that this Institute supplied the best brains not only to our country but also many other countries across the globe.
I am happy to place on record that IIT, Madras is making all possible efforts for starting IIT, Hyderabad from this academic year and extending all support for this important initiative of Government of India as a mentoring institution. We are also grateful to IIT Madras for agreeing to mentor the newly established IIT at Kancheepuram. While the Ministry will take care of the needs of these institutes for building up their infrastructure, the quality of their graduates would depend on the quality of their teachers. Shortage of faculty is an area of acute concern in our engineering education. Compounding this problem is the fact that there is a drain from teaching and research into other, more lucrative fields. India produces 4,000 – 5,000 Ph.Ds in Science and Engineering annually as compared to about 23,000 Ph.Ds. per year by USA and about 35,000 Ph.Ds per year by China.
I am very proud to say that QIP launched by MHRD some 40 years back is one of the most successful programs in the country. I congratulate IIT Madras for contributing a large number of Ph.D’s and M.Tech’s under Quality Improvement Program to the teaching fraternity of the nation. However, for a country of this size, this effort of training teachers should be of a magnitude higher than the present.
One way of overcoming the faculty shortage is for the IITs to recruit those students who are on the verge of completion of their doctoral research either in India or abroad. Once these candidates are earmarked as potential faculty members of IIT system, they can be supported to continue their post-doctoral research at any premier institution of their choice.
IITs can also consider providing a special package for those faculty members who are retiring at the age of 65, as well as for eminent scientists retiring at the age of 60 from CSIR laboratories, DRDO laboratories or some private corporations. Similarly, a proactive initiative can be undertaken to compile the data of potential young candidates available abroad for faculty positions in IITs. Besides, IITs can consider having as adjunct / associate faculty, qualified individuals working in R&D establishments of industry as well as faculty members of Indian origin working in American and European Universities.
With limited availability of good teachers, one way for quality technical education is online education. To begin with there are about 500,000 seats in undergraduate engineering education and according to different estimates 35,000 to 50,000 are of an internationally acceptable standard. The technology required is already available and will only improve. The communications bandwidth and computer power per unit cost will continue to increase. Against this background the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning, NPTEL is the brain child of MHRD which offers an opportunity to provide reach as well as exciting improvement in the quality of Engineering Education.
IIT Madras has done a commendable job in developing more than 300 video and web based courses, well structured, readily suitable to many universities across our country with the support of MHRD funding and cooperation from all IITs and IISc. With the tremendous success of the first phase of NPTEL, we have started the second phase which I am sure will be much more successful and will make available courses on VCDs and DVDs in every nook and corner of the country.
I am aware that IIT Madras has taken up a number of initiatives. One such initiative is setting up of a Research Park to create a collaborative environment between industry and the academia to enable, encourage and develop cutting edge technology and innovation. Probably this is the first Research Park in our country which is associated with an academic institution. I am also aware that the State Government of Tamilnadu has provided adequate land for this purpose. We in the Government of India would make necessary efforts to support this venture. Another initiative that the IITs can consider taking is to organize Lindua type of meetings i.e. interaction between Nobel Laureates and bright young students. This would go as long way in motivating talented young students of science and technology to take up careers in research.
Before I conclude, I would like to mention that the last 60 years have transformed our educational environment, perhaps radically, and brought more changes in our lives and thinking than in any other period in history. These are the consequences of discoveries in science which led to the development of new technology. The concept of absolute knowledge in the sense of storing all knowledge is perhaps no more relevant today. Our efforts for reconciling the traditional concepts and ways with the demands of technological age cannot provide simple solutions for our difficulties and complexities based on such stored knowledge. Frontiers of knowledge are themselves expanding rapidly making it possible to device newer and more efficient methods of solving problems of the society. This calls for continuous upgrading of our knowledge of science and technology. Those who pass out with credit and laurels every year from our IITs and other institutes of higher learning must remember that while the process of education may terminate at the end of their student career, the process of learning has to be a lifelong pursuit which alone can open the doors for higher excellence and perfection a sustained basis.
Delivering his convocation address in IIT Khargpur in 1956 Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru said that ‘Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India’s urges, India’s future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India’.
I have every reason to believe that our IITs have succeeded in substantial measure in realizing the dreams of our first Prime Minister and I hope our IITs will be able to maintain its excellent track record in the years to come.”