ONE STEP AT A TIME
S.C. Sahasrabudhe encourages research and innovation pushing the university forward
The days when a piece of paper certified that you have become an engineer are over,” says S. C. Sahasrabudhe, director, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), Ahmedabad. Having started on the fundamental requirement of educating engineers across the nation, DA-IICT was established in 2001 by the Anil Ambani (Reliance) Group.
With the student strength of about 1200 and 55 faculty members, the university issues its own degrees. “When I came on board, I was asked not to make any money out of the institute, rather we wanted to invest in it. Our primary target was to start accredited academic programmes and create and full-fledged university. The institute is based on Indian Institutes of Technology model,” says Sahasrabudhe. According to the model, students will have the liberty to choose subjects in accordance with credits. It has a semester system with core programmes in basic sciences and mathematics followed by engineering science. The students of under graduate programme are required to stay in campus hostels. “This has been done to create a campus environment,” says he.
The institute has, since its inception been working continuously on producing research publications. “We support faculty members during the initial stages of their research process but it is usually encouraged that they find their sponsors. We have so far managed to get around 1 crore government funding
` annually. Considering the stage of our institution, that is a good number,” says Sahasrabudhe. He says that the only way for India to become a world class educator is to concentrate on research funding, infrastructure and publications. But the lack of it is due to far too many factors. He says, “We have expanded at a fabulous rate but we were
not geared to handle such numbers. It created a shortage of virtually everything in the higher education field. There is a shortage of people in educational institutions all over the country and you cannot bridge the gap in just a day.”
He adds that with the base that India started in 1980, the country has not even been able to produce enough doctorate scholars to feed the IITS. “Although the government of India is trying to push finances into creating larger numbers of doctorates, they cannot do it alone,” says Sahasrabudhe. The kind of numbers that need to be educated cannot happen purely on the basis of government effort. He says, “The capital one requires is not feasible. The two have to co-exist. There are multiple independent players in the industry who are emphasising on innovation. So the private sector does have a role to play. We should actually be playing a bigger role. No one can fulfil the entire spectrum.” Could this be the reason for Indian universities not being ranked among the world top 100?
He explains, “We need to take a look at the manner in which these rankings are created. If you have a university with a budget of $100 million plus and you start comparing it with a university here which has a couple of million dollars, the two instances are incomparable. We need to qualitatively analyse two entities which are on the same scale. There should be a better dialogue with the ranking agencies about what would truly reflect the ranking of the university. There are multiple ranking agencies and all of them produce a different version.” He says that there is no reason for Indian to get dejected.
With the institute making an effort for constant recognition, he professors believe it is his leadership and their overall cooperation that is helping it stand out. Sanjay Chaudhary, dean, Academic Affairs says, “Importance of research among students and faculty has never taken a backseat. And the director’s non-interfering attitude has only helped push the process forward. It is just a matter of years that our institute with shine through because of the collaborative work of its students and faculty members.”