Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Rajat Ghai[ 17 Jan, 2007 2350hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
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The Central Government recently announced plans to set up a full-fledged IIT for Gujarat. They are the cream of Indian intellectual capital. The seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have been India's pride since their establishment. And more so now, when India is a metaphor for 'model knowledge economy.' No wonder then that the Centre's announcement of developing two new IITs, one each for Gujarat and Kerala, gives reason for great excitement to people in the state. "An IIT is the need of the hour for Gujarat," feels M N Patel, principal of L D Engineering College, Ahmedabad. J N Goswami, director, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, nods in assent. "As things stand, we have very few good institutes and a large number of mediocre ones, which results in mediocrity. It is better to have one big institute like an IIT." Why not raise existing technical institutes to the position of IITs? "Setting up a brand new IIT is a much better policy decision than converting existing ones since such a process takes a lot of time," feels P D Porey, director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Institute of Technology (SVNIT), Surat. Agrees Patel as he says, "You need a 200 acre area for an IIT. Unless you have a large campus, you cannot have the proper academic activities to stimulate the right attitude towards technology." Will the setting up of an IIT stimulate technological innovation in the state? "That depends on whether local entrepreneurs are interested in inventing new technology which is cognate with the curriculum of an IIT," says Goswami. But what of Gujarati students? A frequent refrain is of Gujarati students losing out to their counterparts from other states in premier institutes such as IIM-A. "The most fundamental problem is the difficulty students here face in using English," says Patel. Ironically though, he feels an IIT could remove this obstacle. "Having an institute of the rank of an IIT would lead students to develop more competitive mindsets." Surat-based educationist, Vardan Kabra, an IIT Delhi alumnus, feels that while an IIT is great news for Gujarat, efforts should also be made to increase technology education in different parts of the state. "We need more quality institutes in all parts of Gujarat if it is to become a cutting-edge leader in Science and Technology," he says.