Lack of research hampering IITs global footing

The lack of quality research is the reason behind the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) not being able to make a mark globally as world-class institutes said the alumni of IITs. The Anil Kakodkar Committee that prepared a report on autonomy and scaling up of IITs, says the seven institutes churns out about 1,000 PhDs a year.

Supporting the Kakodkar report, the managing director, Canaan India  Alok Mittalsaid, “Graduate studies at IIT are unparalleled.But they lack in post-graduate studies and research.” Mittal is an alumnus of IIT Delhi in 1994 and went on to do a Masters at the University of Berkeley, where he also taught briefly. “IIT faculty is brilliant and many of them are regarded by peers around the world,” he adds. “However, in the academic world, respect does not come from how well you can teach undergraduate students, but from research.”

IITians have demonstrated an aversion for staying on in their alma mater to do research.

An IIT Kharagppur graduate and chairman emeritus, Headstrong, Arjun Malhotra said,  “They (the IITs) have not tried to become research-oriented. They also emphasised education over research.” Kanwal Rekhi, managing director , Inventus Capital Partners said, “IITs lack the breadth of offerings like MIT and Stanford in that they are only technology institutes and are not great in pure sciences,” says Rekhi, from the 1967 batch of IIT Bombay. The means to more research is faculty, funding and governance.

It is to be noted that Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal says India’s annual research spend is $8 billion a year, compared to $250 billion by the US and $60 billion by China. According to the Kakodkar Committee, the US and China produce 8,000-9 ,000 PhDs in engineering and technology every year, compared to 1,000 by India.

“We need a policy intent, and investments in faculty and infrastructure to scale up IITs,” he says. “IITs are unlikely to be world class as long as they are under the thumbs of babus and netas,” says Rekhi. “Directors are appointed for five years and that is not a long-term horizon to pursue a dream.”

[Source: Times of India]



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