ONE STEP AT A TIME

S.C. Sa­hasrabudhe en­cour­ages re­search and in­no­va­tion push­ing the univer­sity for­ward

India Today - - AHMEDABAD - DEEPSHIKHA PUNJ

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.”

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