A General Charter
The Goals and Objectives were derived from the Sarkar Committee Report and embodied in the IIT Act. In addition to the Sarkar Committee report, the IIT Act and the Statutes of the IITs indicate the lines along which IITs should develop. According to these documents IITs are expected
- to be higher technical institutions and research in some branches of Engineering on the lines of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - better known as MIT;
- to provide for instruction and research in some branches of Engineering and Technology, Science and Arts for the advancement of learning and dissemination of knowledge in specific branches.
The two broad objectives which emerge from the above line of development are
- the advancement of knowledge through education and research, in both Pure and Applied Science, in Engineering, Social Science and Humanities;
- service to the community and nation (which are referred to as Extension activity) through the use of their resources both intellectual and material, particularly through Continuing Education for professionals working in Industry.
The Science Policy Resolution (SPR) of the Government of India (1958) is a basic document of relevance to the IITs. The SPR resolves
- to foster, promote and sustain scientific research in all aspects - pure, applied and educational;
- to ensure adequate supply of research scientists of higher quality;
- to recognize the work of research scientists as an important component of the strength of the nation;
- to encourage programmes for the training of scientific and technical personnel to fulfill the country's needs in science and education, agriculture and industry, and defense;
- to encourage dissemination and discovery of knowledge in an atmosphere of scientific freedom.
IITs also constitute a major source for research scientists of high caliber; they also are expected to serve the people of India and provide the country with benefits of application of their discovery and knowledge and as such are entitled to academic freedom and research support as implied in the SPR.
Much in the some manner as IITs are part of the successful implementation of the SPR, they now have a greater responsibility for fulfilling the relevant goals of the Technology Policy Statement as well. As Institutes of Technology, their charter, is to resonate the expectations spelt out in the Technology Policy Statement.
The Technology Policy Statement (1983) affirms interalia, that
- technology must relate to our people's aspirations and to our local needs;
- technology covers both manufacturing and servicing sectors.
The Statement affirms that the base for this consists of trained manpower, which IITs are charged to develop. It envisages special attention to the promotion of newly emerging and frontier areas and encouraging research in these areas.
IITs have a specific role to implement these avowed objectives of the Technology Policy Statement within their general charter of education, research and extension.
Such goals require that IITs must
- excel in all aspects of academic activity and produce a high quality science based engineering students;
- survive on specialization, work increasingly in front-line areas that transcend disciplines;
- have a perception and a value system appropriate to the pursuit of high science and high engineering science to meet the critically evaluated needs of the society in terms of products and processes using indigenous resources in close collaboration wit manufacturing service sectors;
- programme into their activities the emerging technological needs with a futuristic outlook;
- accept extension and public services as a third dimension to their role in addition to education and research;
- attain a stature that enables them to provide leadership with credibility. They should be the "think tanks" for higher education and research;
- aim at preparing more of "creative engineers", "innovative thinkers" and "engineer entrepreneurs";
- develop a special nexus with rural development mainly by way of involvement in technology based solutions for problems in rural areas;
- maintain and foster interactive linkages with leading technological institutions and centers of research in India and abroad.
The purpose of educational programmes in the IITs should be
- to develop in each student mastery of fundamentals, versatility of mind, motivation for learning, intellectual discipline and self-reliance which provide the best foundation for continuing professional achievement;
- to provide a liberal; as well as a professional education so that each student acquires a respect for moral values, a sense of their duties as a citizen, a feeling for taste and style, and a better human understanding. All these are required for leadership;
- to send forth men and women of the highest professional competence with a breath of learning and a character to deal constructively with issues, and problems anticipated in the next decade relevant to the programmes of development of our country.
Research and Scholarship
IITs must seek through their research activities to create an atmosphere of intellectual excitement, a climate of inquiry and innovation in which a student develops a consuming interest for understanding issues of his own volition.
As Indian Institutes of Technology, they must recognize their inherent obligation to serve students and alumni, the profession of engineering, the world of scholarship the nation and the society at large. IITs should seek to serve the community directly through the use of their facilities, wherever there is a need, to which they can respond easily. These objectives are derived from the original goals and not construed de-novo.
The Report of the Committee on Post Graduation Engineering Education lays stress on the thrust areas such as Fibre Optics, Micro-electronics, Materials Science, Reliability Engineering, Robotics, Ocean Engineering, Computer Science etc. IITs have a significant role to build a superstructure in the form of Postgraduate Programmes in such thrust areas that go to influence the quality of Undergraduate Curriculum. In order to develop a curriculum they need to interact and develop linkages with their surroundings specially within the manufacture and service sectors.
During our discussions several questions arose while spelling out goals of IITs, such as
- should not the IITs mainly concentrate on forging links with organized industrial sector for import and diversification of its technology;
- should IITs commit their resources for developing appropriate rural technology for mass impact;
- should not the Institutes strive for an optimal blend of a limited number of objectives in order that they do not spread their resources thinly.
We are clear in our minds that the Technology Policy Statement and the Science Policy Resolution demand a conscious integrated approach covering technology assessment, technology acquisition, absorption, utilization and diffusion. This responsibility cannot be solely placed on the IITs. But IITs cannot escape participation in one or more aspects of Technology development along with others. Technology policy studies may be initiated in or more IITs to enable them to to have a proper appraisal of modern technologies, and arrive at an assessment of their relevance to the needs of our society. Such studies will help orient research and curriculum to produce engineers alive to the needs of the nation. IITs would no longer be accused of training to the needs of the developed.
Within the overall goals outlined some specific goals should be spelled out. It is that the IITs must continue to engage in manpower development but their students must be different and special. An IIT student must be an agent of change of Technology practice in the country, and initiate a new working culture in our industry, with a view to increase productivity and bring to industry the capacity to innovate. Some IIT graduates should, therefore, become entrepreneurs themselves for starting new science based, technology oriented industries. They are thus to be so trained by the IITs as to build into their value system, a sense of responsibility to their country and a desire to serve for the society. Their perception should preclude Hi-Tech, as an important tool to solve ground level problems.
IITs must continue to interact more closely with other technology institutions and be the leading centers of Technical Teacher training. Faculty in the IITs should become visible agents of change, as natural partners for upgrading standards of Technical Education, research in general, and specifically development of newer programmes in the technical institutions in the region where they are located.
Some of the IITs, who have locational advantages, can involve themselves in the tasks related to the development of R&D in the industry by means of supplying competent technical manpower and by offering laboratory solutions to the problems faced by the industry. Their method of instruction should be innovative and qualitatively different. For instance, Micro-electronics may be taught in other colleges as an educational programme, but IITs who have research excellence in their proximity, on the other hand, would bring in a practical bias and illustrate a number of case studies relevant to their curricula. Their functions of teaching, research and extension would be perceived as an integrated block and not as separate identities. Without such an integration, a teacher cannot develop the personality of the taught in a wholesome fashion, relating what is taught to actual experience. The teacher's activity in extension activity will improve the quality of his research, in turn improving his teaching content. The students will then see him as the leader in research whose work is relevant. Some of the alumni settled abroad while responding to our questionnaire mentioned that a major cause of their migration abroad is the baseness of academic and research leaders in IITs. They find that the leaders mentioned in reputed forums are Professors working in institutions abroad, but not the Professors of the IITs. It is this excitement to be able to work as students of these international leaders soon after their graduation that lures them to migrate abroad referred to as "brain-drain". Only by attaining such status and international reputation that the faculty in the IIT can motivate most of these brilliant students to stay back and work with them.
As the information Age is ushering in, thanks to the technological advancements in the area of Microelectronics, Materials Engineering and Bio-technology etc., the country will look towards IITs to be lead-agents for promoting training, research support and technology development in many such thrust areas. The goals of an IIT, therefore, must specifically include helping such changes happen in this country in a programmed manner and faster. It is for each IIT to decide on what priority areas they need to emphasize, from time to time to plan for them.
Extension activities will make their programmes realistic, their research work more relevant and they will acquire expertise enough to act as consultants to a consultant. Such orientation alone will enable IITs to become an important link between Technology and Development.
- Strive to be relevant and excellent
- Engage themselves in teaching, training, research, publication and extension work of relevance
- Remain within optimum size in order to be effective
- Concentrate in selected areas of technology which can help remove impediments facing the country's goal of self-reliance
- Produce creative and innovative engineers
- Become consultant to consultants
- Engage in trans-disciplinary education and research
- Make pioneering effort specially in frontier areas of technology
- Inculcate the desired perception and value -system in their students both by personal example and by precept
- Functions in a decentralized way
- Earn more and depend less on budgetary support from the State
- Sharpen the cutting edge of the knowledge from time to time;
and for which survive on specialization and intellectual elitism attempt to be cost-effective in all endeavors prepare for and assume a leadership role in Technical Teacher Training. These are indicated to illustrate a number of objectives that IITs can have, although, from time to time they will emphasize one or the other objective, relevant at the time.
Our recommendations are all related to the achievement of these goals. We would like to emphasize at this stage, that all the effort that has gone into shaping these views supported by a number of people, within the IIT system, within the country as well as a number of experts and alumni abroad, will not bear fruit, unless these recommendations are examined,and decisions announced. Equally important is to act on such decisions quickly and effectively. During our visits to IITs, many have doubted whether there is an effective machinery available for implementing such decisions. We are very clear that the changes which we are suggesting are in tune within the policies and needs of our time and these can be implemented if there is clearly enunciated policy backed by the Government. It is also necessary to translate their backing by providing qualified and competent manpower for implementation. Wherever the Government is committed, implementation becomes easier. If recommendations are acted upon changes will be clear and visible in five years time.
We gather that currently the management of IIT desk in the ministry is clubbed with other duties, and there is hardly, any time to nurture and extend the support necessary from Government to these institutions e.g. in the council of IITs to deal with issues arising in parliament. It is essential that the Ministry of Human Resource Development should deal with IITs as the sole concern of a whole time officer without any other major load added to him.To be effective, he must be at a sufficiently at a senior level. He should be backed with qualified staff who could initiate in the next few years a mechanism for implementation. We would emphasize that this aspect be taken into account while examining your recommendations.
The second important aspect for successful implementation of the suggestions made by us, is specific policy support of the Government of India, e.g.
- association of IITs with policy planning agencies of the Government like Department of Electronics for import of electronic equipment, DGTD with regard to technology import and development etc., energy conservation, and other areas of S&T work
- encouraging industry by way of tax concessions for their contribution to establish meaningful linkages with the IITs
- freeing them from bureaucratic interferences, ensuring autonomy and demanding accountability
- encouraging measures necessary to create situations where IIT alumni remain engaged within the country in challenging tasks.
- engaging IITs in selective thrust areas of development
- considering them as focal points think tanks in the matter of framing technical education policies at graduate levels and beyond
- National pension scheme for faculty for easy mobility into industry and R&D organizations
- support for entrepreneurship effort of faculty and for those successful in efforts for indigenous technology development
- external support to the IIT management for enforcing higher standards of achievement and reward merit both in faculty and employees
- supporting IITs to establish and enforce separation policy for faculty, based on objective assessment and giving policy backing as necessary in this regard
- helping IITs to remain high in their standards even if it means modifying some government policies in the sphere of reservations or industrial relations
- central plan provisions for removal of obsolescence
- faculty housing and provision of modern computers for the IITs