Do you think the move to give 40% weightage to standard 12th marks for admission in IIT is a step in the right direction?
Yes. Since 2004, we were advocating this step to give importance to school education. Over the years all stake holders in school education came to the conclusion that what they need is a pass in the higher secondary and what matters is a rank in the entrance examinations of various institutions and states. None can blame the students or parents for this lopsided priority, as 12 years of schooling had no relevance in their admission to higher studies except perhaps in Arts and Science Colleges. We have witnessed principals and teachers lamenting that all their good students are in the coaching institutions and not in schools.
How will the IIT's normalize scores across boards (different boards have varied difficulty level)?
While a single board examination with a common core syllabus shall go a long way in removing this apprehension, it may be a very long term dream but achievable. The school boards are now realizing that a common syllabus is an important step in the interest of everyone and what is required is political will for its implementation across the country. As far as the normalization of marks in different school boards is concerned, the Indian Statistical Institute, based on the analysis of the data of number of years of board examination suggested a scheme of normalization which I am told is a foolproof. I am sure the method suggested by ISI will find acceptance with all.
In any case, normalization of ranks across school boards is nothing new in India as there were Institutes following this practice for admission yesteryear's. States which have done away with Entrance Examination are also practicing normalization of marks/ranks.
What are the changes you would like to see in the IIT admission process?
Basically three major changes:
- A single national exam/test for admission to all professional colleges including IITs
- Giving adequate weightage for the overall performance in the school and not in just Sciences and Mathematics
- Allotment of branch/discipline based on the performance in the first three semesters in the respective institutions. The ranking based on the weighted score of the test and the school performance may be used for selecting Institutes and not branches of study.
Do you agree with Mr Narayana Murthy's statement that the standard of IIT students has lowered due to training institutes? If yes, How do you recommend improving the same?
I would tend to agree with Mr Narayana Murthy because the whole exercise of revamping the admission procedure to premier institutions is an acceptance of the fact that something is wrong.
Are you satisfied with the research being conducted presently in IIT's? How can the research facilities be improved?
What is the yardstick for evaluating the research output of our Institutions? Are we providing our Scientists and Researchers with a level playing field? We have done very well in all fields where the goals were defined, like in ISRO, DRDO, Atomic Energy. Team work and well defined goals made all the differences in these institutions. Researches were for accomplishing targets and goals. This model cannot be compared with the research at a more fundamental levels happening in some of our research institutions. Good team work, critical mass of Scientists and Researchers in thrust and emerging areas shall go a long way in accomplishing our targets. We are in the right track and for a young democratic country like ours goal-oriented research may be one of the ways to achieve national goals.
Recently the IIM's have focused on greater diversity in a batch. Do you think the IIT's should also follow a similar path?
Diversity is already there in IITs and it evolved with time. Nevertheless, IITs can be better off, if they can improve the gender ratio amongst students and faculty in favour of women. It is easy said than done. One of the expected outcomes of taking the school performance into reckoning for admissions in premier institutions is an improvement in the number of girl students.
Having stated so, I am not very sure whether steps to artificially introduce diversity will produce the desired results.
You had strongly advocated not assigning branches on the basis of AIR. How can the system change? Do you think majority of the students will be inclined towards the most lucrative branch if he/she is given 3 semesters to decide the same?
Many of us strongly feel the same way. In fact I am told that five IITs agreed in principle to adopt the change though a consensus still eludes. At present the Institutes and branches are allotted based on the rank in JEE which in itself is an aberration in the student's overall scholastic performance. As of now the aptitude is not the deciding factor in the selection of branch but societal pressure, herd mentality and of course perceived lucrative placement. Three semesters of exposure to courses, we feel, will prepare the students to take a well informed decision about their career.
Your thoughts on the general engineering branch and its advantages?
I think the IIT system has matured enough to introduce paradigm shifts in branches of study depending on the demands of the time and the aptitude of the students. Such bold experiments need encouragement.
The AIEEE has a computer based version. Do you think the combined test will also have a computer based test version?
The number of students taking the proposed combined examination may not be significantly different from the number appearing for AIEEE today. Therefore a partial computer based test version practiced now can continue and may eventually give way to an online examination provided we create sufficient infrastructure and implement novel testing methods. After all, the exam is a test for admission to begin a professional career and not an end in itself.
What are the issues facing Indian engineering education today. What steps would you like to see to resolve them?
Today more than a million students enrol for higher technical education. There are Institutes like IITs at one end of the spectrum and Institutions without adequate infrastructure and faculty at the other end. The quality of engineers coming out from such a wide spectrum of Institutions can be best left to the imagination of the readers. If there is a widespread belief that only 10 percent of them are employable, it cannot be found fault with. The major challenge therefore is to train the available faculty and find ways and means of attracting more faculty for all Institutions. NPTEL can be a solution if adequate workshops are arranged for teachers to teach how to use the NPTEL material for the benefit of the students.
Teaching and research as a preferred career option must be "sold" to our students by encouraging the bright students to take up higher studies and later teaching and research. Rather than leaving everything to IITs and IISC and a few good institutions around the country to find solutions for all the ills facing technical education, there must be separate institutions to train a community of teachers at all levels. While there is a talk of skill development being a part of school education, why not teaching as a skill being imparted to students at an early stage at different levels? It is not a very easy task but should be a National Mission.
New Delhi: Kapil Sibal, the Human Resource Development (HRD) minister had in October 2009, formed a series of committees during a meeting of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Council - the highest decision making body, to look into the functioning of various IITs which now lies dormant.
It has been reported that various reforms, which were to be inculcated by these committees at the IITs, are on a standstill since its formation.
A committee, on which it was entrusted to recommend the new cut-off for the IIT's Joint Entrance Exam (IIT-JEE) and new curricula, is yet to meet.
The panel, which was assigned the reformations, comprises of secretary of science and technology, secretary of biotechnology and director general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
It was expected that this panel would submit its report within three months while suggesting reforms in the IIT-JEE but it was not.
Most of the reforms, assigned to two other exam panels still lie unimplemented.
A panel, for example, set up under IIT-Madras deputy director, V.G. Idichandy in 2008 suggested scrapping JEE and considering school marks. The council, under former atomic energy chief Anil Kakodar, formed a second, five-member panel outlining a vision for the future of IITs.
The panel is expected to submit its report within six months. It has been four months now, the scenario is clear with the panel not having even met since then.
Following a Right To Information (RTI) exposure of the faculty selection in the previous JEEs, the reform process at the IITs, both for JEE and selection procedure, needs an urgent change.
The RTI exposure, which was filed by an IIT-Kharagpur professor Rajeev Kumar revealed that 994 candidates who were denied admissions in the year 2006 might have made it to the premier institutes had the IITs followed their stated method of determining subject cut-offs.
Although the IITs have revised their cut-off formula thrice but the need of a more transparency persists.