Mast Kalandar

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Wed, 02 Nov 2005

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What are the IISER's good for?


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If the objective is limited that is to have one or two good institute for imparting basic science education ( 2000 students in all Branches of science at all India level), There will be absolutely no problem.

I like the confidence with which this is said. However, I think that this limited objective is itself an admirable goal at this point of time. Remember that this comes to about 400 students per year per institute; 20 percent of that is 80 eventual new faculty members being output per year. This has the capacity to become self-sustaining reaction with overflows to other organisations. Perhaps some economist can look at this more closely!

But the genesis (of the proposals ) of such inst. starts with state of education, Importance of having excellent science education, collapse of state univ etc. etc. . i.e. addressing the ills of entire educational system perpetuated over last 30 years or more or at least pretend to do it.

There are a number of ways in which the institute(s) proposed could do this:

  1. The model could be replicated with some alterations. Perhaps even at some Universities or University departments.
  2. Through its success encourage/enable national research institutes to get more involved in teaching at the under-graduate level.
  3. Inculcate an interest in teaching amongst the students so that they would in turn be a possible source of faculty for other academic organisations in the country.

However, the process is likely to be slow as the main obstacle---finding faculty who can populate these teaching+research organisations---is going to be remain a problem at least until the birds return to roost.

Why NOT start asking : Who is responsible, only politicians ? Where were the policy maker, eminent scientists , educationists, visionaries in science and technology in the country and the Academicians ( Fellows , council members , heads of the national institutes, Directors ..).

I think that starting to point fingers is not going to get us anywhere.

So what has been done is by invoking the problem of higher education another top institute has been set up. Much easy to do, satisfies the requirement of many,and now our conscious is clear!

I don't think that we ever consider our conscience to be clear. If we did then academics sitting in comfortable positions in India and abroad would not have got interested in creating such an institute.

NOW that we have two best institutes going we can forget the state univ system without any guilt..

If there is a plan to improve the situation in the universities it could be presented to the academic community. Even if this may not satisfy those who (as is alleged) merely want to create new institutes, it would answer the existing "guilt" of the academic community. Consequently, a good plan would have a lot of followers.

Well best wishes ... Unless such a committee talks to people at grass root level, there will not be effective solutions. We do not need a surgery, we need a a different body . The cancer has spread through the body!.

What are these "grass roots"? Do you want academics to get involved with the improvement of schools and colleges directly---something like the "cultural revolution" in China? I doubt that more than a handful would be willing.

As regards replacement of the "body"---isn't this precisely what is being suggested? A new institute instead of the existing system?


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