Rebels For A Cause

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A system that promotes geniuses capable of thinking out-of-the-box is what Indian research needs. Goverdhan Mehta tells you why Pg 16









FOREWORD Inspiring Research



y interest in research was kindled by two of my professors at IIT Kanpur. I was an average student working on a routine BTech project. But they inspired me to get deeply involved in solving an interesting and practical problem. It was not the content of the research as much as their involvement and coaching that made the difference. And it was fun and unusual to be working with a professor from mechanical engineering and another from metallurgical engineering. Later, at the University of Pennsylvania, I started to work on a Master’s thesis required to complete my degree, and realised that I really wanted to do a PhD. Most people who knew me thought I was nuts—they didn’t think I had it in me to do serious research. What they didn’t know was how much I was enjoying my lab; I was getting a degree in mechanical engineering, my research guide was from the field of computer science, my thesis committee members from applied mechanics, material science and psychology, my fellow researchers from areas as diverse as bio-engineering and linguistics. For this issue of EDU, we wanted to highlight for you what leaders in higher education believe they need to do to encourage researchers, and create an ecosystem of research in India. We spoke to a range of experts and eminent researchers and, not surprisingly, they emphasised the need for inspirational leaders in research, as well as the creation of open and flexible environments that encourage inter-disciplinary thinking. Not unlike what I experienced at IIT Kanpur and UPenn some 25 years ago! I hope you will be inspired by some of the valuable thinking and insights we have been able to capture. We all know that given the current state of affairs, getting research going in India is easier said than done. But if GE, Microsoft and IBM can do cutting-edge research in India, so can our universities. Some say that freeing up academics to devote time for research is a luxury we can ill-afford in a country starving for people who can teach. In my view, there is no trade-off here. Teaching and research have to go hand-in-hand. We owe it to our students and to the country!

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha

January 2011  EDUTECH









12 RAHUL CHOUDAHA Shouldering The Quality Responsibility 14 DHEERAJ SANGHI Spotlight On Research



62 DEBASHIS CHATTERJEE His goal is to churn out not just competent, but also compassionate, managers By Dhiman Chattopadhyay


16 MAKING OF MAVERICKS Experts talk of how the time is right for Indian research to reach a pinnacle of sorts By Smita Polite, Aniha Brar & Rohini Banerjee


34 RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Why technology institutes in India must engage in quality research By R. Natarajan

Gift of synthesis and persuasion”

institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU


46 DISASTER MANAGEMENT Are Indian institutes equipped to handle manmade or natural disasters? By Dhiman Chattopadhyay

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE Learn more about what’s currently happening in


EDUTECH  January 2011










Inviting foreign varsities is not the answer to India’s higher education crisis By Dhiman Chattopadhyay




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A system that promotes geniuses capable of thinking out-of-the-box is what Indian research needs. Goverdhan Mehta tells you why Pg 16










Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts before recycling

January 2011  EDUTECH



BITS PILANI TO INVEST 1 BILLION Professor B.N. Jain, Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani, addressed the gathering at the first ever global alumni meet. He announced that BITS Pilani will invest 1 billion in the next six years for four initiatives namely—a chairing professorships, undergraduate freeships and improvement of “life on campus” for students, including sports facilities and a signature building at Pilani to house research laboratories and centres for excellence.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being presented a memento by the ISCA President, Professor K.C. Pandey, at the inauguration of the 98th Indian Science Congress, Chennai, on January 3, 2011


Code of Conduct For Varsities It is aimed at bringing transparency along with autonomy, says Kapil Sibal


he central government is planning to introduce a “code of conduct” for central universities to bring about transparency and autonomy with accountability through self-regulation, Human Resource Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, recently acknowledged. Speaking at the inaugural session of the 98th Indian Science Congress, he said that universities need to be “cautious”, while offering their campus and facilities for commercial use. “We plan to introduce a ‘code of conduct’ initially to be adopted by the central universities, and later perhaps by state universities and others, to facilitate flexibility and autonomy in the university system,” said the minister. “The code envisages a set of standards of accountable behaviour, both at the individual and institutional level that can foster competence and excellence in the university system with the minimum of internal and, or, external interference,” he said.


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The Gujarat National Law University has decided to send its fifth-year students to the Gujarat High Court to assist the judiciary, Vice Chancellor Bimal Patel informed recently. The university will also send its fourth-year students to lower courts in Ahmedabad. The decision was taken after Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya asked the university to continue rendering assistance to the state judiciary, after a successful experiment related to their training in courts last year.

PROFESSOR ARRESTED FOR REMOVING STUDENT’S VEIL A professor of St Xavier’s College, Ranchi, Professor Efram Baa, was arrested after members of the Muslim community demonstrated against him for removing a female student, Neha Parveen’s veil, police said. Parveen was participating in the student protests against fee hikes on the college campus. Bage, while trying to pacify the students, wanted to ascertain the identity of the students and removed Neha’s veil. He was later released on bail.

UPDATES Collaboration

Coca-Cola and ISB to set up Retail Academy The school of business retail academy will offer a six-month programme to train mid-level professionals in retail management


everage major CocaCola has joined hands with the Indian School of Business Coca-Cola has joined hands with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to set up a retail academy at the latter’s campus. The Coca-Cola Indian School of Business retail academy will offer a sixmonth programme to train mid-level professionals in retail management. Top officials of Coca-Cola and the ISB dean announced signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up the academy. The first session of the programme will commence in June with 50 professionals. The intake will be scaled

about a well rounded retail management training programme to contribute towards the quality of future retail managers,” said Ahmet B o z e r, C o c a - C o l a’ s group president for Eurasia and Africa. “We may also be able to absorb students from the school once they are A new retail academy to be set up on the ISB campus through the course,” said Atul Singh, president and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola India and up in the next three to four years, ISB Southwest Asia. dean Ajit Rangnekar said. The fee for the The company is also looking at scaling programme would be .500,000 and the eligibility for the course is minimum up its pilot project and increasing the four years of work experience. production of mangoes and oranges with “The initiative is mainly to bring farmers across the country.


Overseas Enrolments Rise At British Universities According to the latest figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, overall enrolments went up in the academic year 2009-10 at British universities, with the highest increase from students outside European Union. While overall enrollments increased by 4 percent over the previous year, the number of students from outside the EU went up by 12 percent. The number of domestic students went up by 3 percent and the number of EU students went up by 6 percent during this period. During this period the number of EU students studying in Scotland went up by 17 percent. According to a Guardian report, “European students are exploiting Scotland’s free university system to avoid paying escalating fees in their home countries.” University education is free in Scotland and under the EU law member states are also entitled to the same.


£ 9,000

and more, can be charged by British varsities from 2012

of full time enrolments in UK 44 percent universities were in science and showed no change from last year figures January 2011  EDUTECH


UPDATES setting-up

Nobel Laureate Finds Nalanda ‘Challenging’ Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand and India—are undertaking the mission of building the new Nalanda


obel laureate Amartya Se n s a i d r e s t o r i n g Bihar’s Nalanda University, the world’s oldest, was a difficult task, but progress was being made. “The university is being re-started right now, and since I happen to have the difficult task of chairing its interim governing body, I am finding out how hard it is to re-establish a university after a 800 year hiatus,” Sen said at the 98th Indian Science Congress held at SRM University in Kattankulathur. “But we are getting there. This meeting here gives me an opportunity to recollect the pursuit of science in old Nalanda which will inspire and guide our long-run efforts in new Nalanda,” he said, tracing the history of the ancient Indian centre of learning which was destroyed by Afghan conqueror Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. Five countries—Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand and India—are undertak-

Amartya Sen with the Prime Minister

ing the mission of building the new Nalanda. He said Nalanda was an internationally renowned centre of higher education in India established in the early fifth century, and ended its continuous existence of more than 700 years during the time Oxford and Cambridge universities were being founded. “Nalanda was more than 600 years old when Bologna was born. Had it not been destroyed and had it managed to survive to our time, Nalanda would be, by a long mar-

gin, the oldest university in the world,” he added. The Al-Azhar University in Cairo, another distinguished university with which Nalanda is often compared, was set up in 970 AD—more than 500 years after Nalanda was founded, he remarked. Referring to Khilji’s indiscriminate burning down of books and documents of Nalanda university, Sen said the act robbed the academic world of its scholastic achievements. He said accounts of Nalanda students such as Xuangzang and Yi Jigh showed the variety of subjects taught there—medicine, public health, architecture, sculpture, religion, history, law and linguistics. Sen said it was time to recollect the scientific tradition of old Nalanda because disciplined thought was important for the entire concept of new Nalanda “including the teaching of and research in humanities such as history, languages and linguistics and comparative religion, as well as the social sciences.”


Kashmir Trashes MCI Notification

Jammu and Kashmir decides to continue its selection for medical graduate and postgraduate courses


ammu and Kashmir has decided to continue the selection process for medical graduate and postgraduate courses through its Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE), trashing the Medical Council of India (MCI) proposal to conduct the national eligibilitycum-entrance test (NEET). The state’s Minister for Medical Education R.S. Chibb has said that it was not in the interest of the candidates of Jammu and Kashmir to do away with the BOPEE, which had been created through a legislation passed by the state legislature. “Whatever happens in the rest of the country, BOPEE will con-


EDUTECH  January 2011

tinue to conduct such examinations in our state,” the minister said. The MCI had issued a notification Dec 21, 2010, for conducting NEET for admissions to graduate and post-graduate medical and dental courses in the country. It sought to introduce NEET for MBBS and postgraduate admissions and fixed 50 percent marks as cut-off for being eligible to appear in the entrance examination. The union health ministry has asked the MCI to present the proposal of NEET during the two-day conference of state health ministers in Hyderabad later this month so that all states are taken on board on the issue and a decision subsequently taken.



UPDATES investement

Government To Invest $100 Billion On Education Govt spending will increase to $ 100 bn from the estimated $70 billion in the 12th Year Plan


he government spending on education will be increased to $100 billion in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) from the estimated $70 billion during the current plan period, the prime minister’s advisor on education and innovation Sam Pitroda said. “We will be spending close to $100 billion on education in the 12th plan period. This will be in addition to around $20 billion investment on IT,” Pitroda said at the ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD). He said the government was taking measures to open up the education sector for more pri-

vate and overseas investments. “We have to liberalise the education system. What we did to the economy in 1991 needs to be done to the education now,” said Pitroda, who is also the head of National Innovation Council. He said the government had shown commitment to revolutionise the education system but the pace of development was not satisfactory. “We have made recommendations. Minister has to act. So far, they have not acted to my satisfaction,” Pitroda said, referring to the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission.


Centre To Conduct Higher Education Survey Higher Education Secretary said industry should collaborate with government to devise and create curriculum


he government will conduct a survey to gather the statistics on higher education in the country. While there are authentic figures available on school education, there is lack of clarity on numbers as far as higher education is concerned. A survey will bring forth the real scenario and also highlight the fallacies propagated by various agencies which work with vested interests in mind, said Additional Secretary, Higher Education, Sunil Kumar at a national higher education summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi. Speaking at the same summit Secretary Vibha Puri Das said that allowing for-profit education was not possible in the country as the interests of students could not be thrown to the vagaries of market forces.



A UNIVERSITY STANDS FOR HUMANISM, FOR TOLERANCE, FOR REASON, FOR PROGRESS, FOR THE ADVENTURE OF IDEAS and for the search for truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards even higher objectives. If the universities discharge their duty adequately, then it is well with the nation and the people. —MANMOHAN SINGH Prime Minister, India

UNTIL OUR YOUTHS REACH THE COLLEGES WE CANNOT ACHIEVE the dream making India a super power. Villages will also be connected with fibre optic cables so that various courses can be taken sitting at home. —KAPIL SIBAL Union Human Resources Development Minister, India

ZIMBABWEANS SHOULD GIVE THE education sector between five to six more years to fully. —DAVID COLTART Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Zimbabwe

WE RECOGNISE THAT INDIA’S engineering and management education is strong. —Y.B. DATO SERI MOHAMED KHALED NORDIN, Minister of Higher Education, Malaysia

January 2011  EDUTECH



Rahul Choudaha

Shouldering The Quality Responsibility


ore than 50 years ago, Ford Foundation funded a report, Higher Education for Business, in response to the lack of quality in management programmes. It highlighted that “academics at some B-schools were akin to quacks; the curricula offered were narrow and simple.” “The calibre of staff, and students alike, was condemned, with authors calling for more research, and less consulting work, from the faculty; improved regulation; fewer case studies; more theory and analysis; and more teaching of ethics,” says The Economist. Unfortunately, 50 years later, Indian B-schools and management studies find themselves in a similar state. A recent AICTE notification, related to the regulation of the Postgraduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) programmes, reflected some of the more valid concerns about the quality of Indian management education. Of course, the report was perceived as “restrictive” by several institutions. It managed to generate curiosity among the academics regarding its impact. Instead of discussing the short-term specifics of the notification, I will focus on the broader, long-term solution. I will argue that regulation is a necessary evil. Especially, in this fragile sector. Self-regulation, through professionalisation, is an effective way to reducing interference and influence of regulation.


EDUTECH  January 2011

Market Failure, Role Of Regulation Higher education services are considered a public good, with a strong socio-political connection and agenda. In addition, they are highly experiential in nature with information asymmetry between consumers (students) and service providers (institutions). This makes higher education one of the highly-regulated sectors. Pedro Nuno Teixeir notes, “Adoption of market forces, as a steering mechanism for higher education, is unlikely to engender expected efficiency benefits for society, unless a more effective regulatory framework can be developed to address the problem of imperfect information on the quality of teaching and student learning.” Consider the case of the US and Australia, two of the most-developed and mature markets, are also moving towards stringent regulatory regime instead of contrary perceptions and expectations of marketisation. In Australia, international education industry took a serious beating in 2009, after a period of uncontrolled growth of private education service providers, who didn’t adhere to professional practices and compromised quality. This resulted not only in steep decline of international student enrollment, but also marred Australia’s image. As a result, the Australian government is now introduc-

Rahul Choudaha

ing a legislation to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency—“a regulator: not just an auditor, with power to take appropriate action to protect quality in higher education,” according to government’s press release. In the US, a stealth investigation by the US Government Accountability Office found that admission officers at for-profit colleges were misrepresenting and duping students to get enrollments. A recent report by CNBC stated that, “A combination of low graduation rates and high loan default rates, along with questionable job placement numbers has raised concerns that the [ for-profit] schools are abusing the system, merely collecting government funds, and delivering little in the way of a usable education.” This is now resulting in closer scrutiny and regulation of for-profit institutions. Both these examples clearly indicate that regulation is a necessary evil. Even the most-developed higher education markets fail without an enabling regulatory environment. Similarly, the situation with Indian regulatory environment in general, and recent AICTE notification in specific, is not unique. What is unique, in India, is that regulator



Apart from corruption, one of the common criticisms of AICTE had been its lack of ability to understand the needs other sector in line with the latest trends. This means that institutions rightfully claim that as the service providers they understand the sector needs much better than regulators. By this logic, institutions are most appropriately placed to upheld standards of quality, however, unfortunately, institutions have not exhibited any pro-active steps in coming together and enforcing quality and transparency for the sector. Ben Jongbloed argues, “Self-regulation is preferable to government regulation when specific knowledge or information is primarily held by the sector itself.” He adds, “In higher education, the norms of academic professionalism act as systems of self-regulation.” This could be achieved through certification, mutually-agreed quality standards and norms for recognition of programmes and providers. AICTE’s requirements may seem restricting programmatic innovation and institutional autonomy, however, they are a necessary evil in the context of

t’s time that institutions come together to take charge of their own future by shouldering more responsibility of ensuring quality

itself has been alleged to be “corrupt” and “inefficient”. However, a majority of institutions are no angels either. We haven’t yet forgotten the case of Chhattisgarh, or more recently with the practices at some of the Deemed Universities. So, institutions are as much to blame, as the regulatory system to bring Indian higher education to this state.

Shoulder The Responsibility Many Indian B-schools, are hiding behind the excuse of “industry recognition” or exemplary models of pioneers such as the ISB, which is not AICTE recognised. This has considerably decreased the importance of recognition by regulatory body like AICTE and has resulted in disparate standards of quality of management programs. Unless, institutions come together to create higher standards of professionalism for themselves, it is futile and unfair to keep blaming the regulatory system.

the rapid growth of B-schools with very little emphasis on quality. This is also a reminder to the institutions that policy framework will become rigid and draconian unless, they take the lead in creating higher professional standards for themselves.

Summing Up I am certainly not supporting more regulation. Instead, I am arguing that regulation is unavoidable, because of the nature of the higher education. So far, the history of institutional malpractices have not helped in gaining confidence of stakeholders. It’s time that institutions come together to take charge of their own future by shouldering more responsibility of ensuring quality and transparency through self-regulation and professionalisation of the sector. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at

Rahul Choudaha A higher education specialist based out of New York, Dr Choudaha specialises in strategic management of higher education, institution building, academic leadership, collaborations and market development. He has a PhD in higher education from the University of Denver, MBA from NITIE, Mumbai, and BE from Jabalpur University. He can be reached at

January 2011  EDUTECH



Dheeraj Sanghi

Spotlight On Research

T 14

he higher technical education in India has been growing at quite a fast pace. But this growth has been restricted to undergraduate teaching. Research has not been a strong point—even for the established universities. In thousands of new institutions, it has become quite a challenge to encourage faculty to conduct research.

Analyse, Assess, Act

A common lament of academic leadership is that it is impossible to recruit quality faculty to carry out research. Here, the implication is that research can only be carried out by a faculty, who has done “solid” work before as a graduate. In technical fields, the number of people going through Master’s degree is a fraction of the number of undergrads. The number of PhDs produced, is even less. Given these realities, it’s not possible for institutions to find faculty who have done “solid” research as a graduate. If we give up on 90 percent of the faculty, it will be impossible to create a vibrant research ecosystem. Without such an ecosystem, we will continue to attract few students to graduate programmes. So, there has to be a way to encourage an average faculty member to conduct research. Let’s start with the presumption that most faculty members have a potential to carry out research. Quality of research output will, of course, vary. Ideas may not be “publishable” in reputed journals and conferences, right from the first. But, academic institutions must encourage research, still. Why? Because, at all levels, institutions should encourage research as it enhances the understanding of our world. It helps develop techniques that create innovative technologies, products and services, or improve existing ones.

It is universally acknowledged that one of the major goal of research is to improve the quality of teaching. Having said that, it is then obvious that one cannot leave research only to the top universities. The challenge that needs to be overcome, is for the academic leadership to believe that their faculty, too, analyse, assess and act. Institutions can express their “seriousness” by investing in their faculty, providing them with mentorship and removing hurdles on their path to research. There has to be a budget for each member to take care of all research-related expenses that cannot be charged to sponsored projects (in most cases, it takes time to get research grants from funding agencies). At the beginning, a member will need that extra bit of exposure. He or she will need to be encouraged to attend conferences, even though he or she may not have a paper to present.

EDUTECH  January 2011

Then, there is the more mundane goal: by looking at a problem, we improve our understanding of the existing knowledge, making us a better teacher. If we have faculty, who are not well-prepared (as far as basic education and exposure to highquality research is concerned) for creating new knowledge, we must still demand that they solve little problems in whatever area they are interested in. This quest is important in keeping a teacher up-to-date with changes in his field, and his ability to update curriculum periodically.

Dheeraj Sanghi

The challenge in a conference or seminar is to define problems that should be solved. During presentations, it often happens that one thinks of some extension or improvement of an idea being presented.

Problem Solving A faulty member should be asked to spend time at other institutes where research output is more. It could be a week or two (during summer or winter break) and expenses for such visits should be borne by institutions. One should also invite researchers from other institutes, to visit, hold seminars and interact with faculty. These will provide mentoring to the faculty, and teach her better research tools and methodologies. Research infrastructure in all universities needs to be updated (read: better lab space and equipment, journals and faster internet. Initially, only a small amount of space could be provided, and only a limited set of equipment may be purchased. Only after the member has shown some promise, more investments may be made).



ects seriously. Students copy a report from the web, and there is no evaluation to find out their contributions. Most institutes would grade these projects liberally, so that in the university exams, students do not suffer (compared to those from other institutes). In my experience, top students in even the remote institution are quite capable. But, there has to be some incentive—given that marks are not an incentive enough. Establishing “best project awards” and promising to support their travel to conferences if they are able to publish a paper, will go a long way in encouraging students to do a good job in their final year project. At the same time, it should be made clear that copying of reports and unethical practices are not acceptable. Research output must be given weight, while carrying out an annual review, and when salary hike is being negotiated. Also, those faculty who start producing research can now be mentored and supported to start looking at bigger research challenges. They can be encouraged to write proposals for funding agencies. In today’s market,

t is universally acknowledged that one of the major goal of research is to improve the quality of teaching

In most disciplines, it is possible to start solving small problems with a limited infrastructure, which is needed for undergrad programmes in order for them to carry out their final year project. So, a major impediment is really a lack of confidence (in the faculty). Therefore, disinterest in spending even small amount for them. In central government institutes, there is a guaranteed research support of 1 lakh per year for each faculty. This is a small incremental expense compared to what the institutes spend on pay and perks, and supporting members in terms of an office, PC, furniture and so on. But, it sends out a message that research is not only desirable, but is a necessary part of the duties of a faculty. The next important input to research is manpower. In most institutes, the only manpower available is the set of undergrads. Therefore, one has to involve them in research. The best way to do that is to insist on quality final year projects. Currently, most institutes do not take these proj-

companies, too, are looking for supporting research at academic institutions. Faculty may be made aware of such opportunities. Alternatively, the faculty may be encouraged to join a PhD programme in a good research department, possibly as a part-time candidate. While the academic leadership in these small institutions should shoulder primary responsibility to encourage research by their faculty, the top institutions also have to do their bit to create a research ecosystem. They have to help weaker institutions around them, if they are hoping to get quality graduate students for their own programs. Therefore, institutes (IITs and IISc) should have summer internship programmes for students of these institutions, and can also allow them to spend a semester as a nondegree students—either to do a project or to do courses whose credits are transferred. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at

Dheeraj Sanghi Dr Sanghi is the former director of Laxmi Narayan Mittal Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur. He is a professor of computer science at IIT, Kanpur. Dr Sanghi has a BTech in computer science from IIT Kanpur and an MS and a PhD from University of Maryland, USA . He can be reached at dheeraj.

January 2011  EDUTECH




Making of

Maveri The time is right, people are ready and the government is eager; what is needed is leadership. The kind that recognises geniuses who could propel research. EDU talks to leaders in higher education to find out their opinions—on how to spot those “research mavericks”: a new breed of scientists, who will be brave enough to think out-of-the-box



his decade has been declared the “Decade of Innovation” by Kapil Sibal. The department of science and technology says that India is one of the top ranking countries in the field of basic research. More than 600 top multinationals have set up their research centres in India with more than 200,000 researchers. Research is suddenly beginning to look up as a career choice. Does that mean that Indian academia can now start patting itself on the back? Have we really found what it takes to promote research and researchers? Yes. And no.

“When research degenerated in the 80s and 90s because of under-funding, somehow a message got across that universities are only for teaching“ — Goverdhan Mehta National Research Professor Read the Interview on Pg 22 16

EDUTECH  January 2011

cks What They Say

EDU talks to leaders involved in various areas of research in higher education—from a national research professor to a former vice chancellor, from the head of a research department in Caltech to researchers across Indian fields. The aim was to get their opinions on how to spot “research mavericks”: a new breed of scientists who will be brave enough to think out-ofthe-box. The leaders also talk of how to nurture these mavericks so that they make their institutions, and Indian research, the perfect hub for innovation. Though they all highlighted different areas that needed work, there were a few universal truths that came through their conversations. It becomes evident very soon that they all are looking for good leadership, of a type that looks for the best minds, nurtures them and then provides them with the infrastructure to work.

“The whole world is moving towards a recognition that in the next millennium, some discoveries are going to happen at the interface of disciplines ”

“Research has to be seen as a lucrative career. Economic development in India has picked up speed, but it cannot sustain pace without innovation” — K. Dinesh Co-founder, Infosys, President Infosys Science Foundation Read the Interview on Pg 29

“I think the relationship between research and teaching is synergistic. Trying out new ideas in the class has a way of feeding back into the research process” — Amita Baviskar Winner of Infosys Prize in Social Science Read the Interview on Pg 28

“The problem of a pecking order is not good for science. An assistant professor can come up with as many good ideas as a professor, may be even better” — Deepak Pental Former VC, DU Read the Interview on Pg 27

— Mohan Krishnamoorthy CEO IITB-Monash Research Academy Read the Interview on Pg 31

January 2011  EDUTECH



Being from different backgrounds themselves, they were still unanimously of the view that inter-disciplinary research is the mantra of the future. Today’s problems cannot be solved in iso- lation and so the divisions between departments will have to go as issues overlap in many areas of study. As far as the financial climate in India is concerned, there was a general concensus that funding in India has never been better and now the main challenge is to divert it into the correct areas and manage it well. But beyond funding and infrastructure, like true researchers they all feel the need for good ideas and the freedom to pursue them. As far as they are concerned, any university that has the culture to supply both is well on the way to having a good research environment. National research professor, renowned scientist and academician Goverdhan Mehta says that the decay that our academic institutions faced in the 80s and the 90s is being reversed. “However, as a direct consequence of that decay, today we have a missing generation of leaders in higher education and even research laboratories,” says Mehta. “It is leaders with vision who are needed to spot research ‘mavericks’ who will take research forward without thinking of bureaucracy and consequences. We need to create an ecosystem in which research flourishes,” he adds. Though India may not be a research hub yet, it certainly has the potential to become one, Mehta asserts. For this we need to have a clear vision which has to be backed by strategy before being implemented. What is happening in the research labs of multinational companies is good, but it is not good enough for really ground-breaking research and innovation. That kind of research can only come out of universities and institutions of higher education which pursue the creation of new knowledge. So what does it take to do that? People : Under the right leadership, the institution hires talented faculty, recharges the system by bringing in fresh blood and enticing people from different backgrounds. For Professor Shrinivas Kulkarni, jury member on the Infosys Prize and professor at the California Institute of Technology, a dynamic group is the way to building an ideal research environment.

India’s research publications have grown annually at

12% Source- Department of Science & Technology


EDUTECH  January 2011

“Interaction is critical to transform one’s ideas into more concrete hypotheses....It should therefore not be a surprise if I assert that a simple metric of the quality of an institution is the flux of high quality visitors, especially young people,” he asserts. Research Universities : Our experts’ panel agreed on the need for more comprehensive universities, much on the lines of Caltech and MIT, with undergrad, postgrad and PhD programmes under the same roof. Deepak Pental, former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, says that instead of creating an elite class of universities by admitting just postgrads, the Indian education system should build comprehensive universities. Rather than building institutes focused on a particular discipline, it should have multi-disciplinary universities. Time For Research plus Interactions With Students: According to Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award and Infosys Prize winner, Sandip Trivedi, an ideal research environment is one that leaves a lot of time for research but also involves some amount of teaching. “I think that blend is in many ways ideal. You don’t want exclusive research without interaction with students, because there is something to be said for trying to communicate your ideas to bright young minds,” he says. However, in most institutions in India the faculty is overburdened with teaching assignments with very little time left for research. Administrators have to look at ways to solve this issue. Rewards And Recognition: Research has to be perceived as “lucrative” and academia and industry have to join hands to look at ways to make research attractive. “Industry has to come forth and make sure that innovation gets its due. And people involved in innovation should get substantial incentives, creating value through research and addressing the problems of society,” says K. Dinesh, one of the co-founders of Infosys and president of theInfosys Science Foundation, which instituted the Infosys Prize in 2009. The foundation has been rewarding researchers with prize money of 5 million each. Collaborations With International Universities: With the Indian government geared up to invite international universities to partner it, collaborations have become the buzzword. However, one has to be watchful when it comes to the area of


leading multinational companies have their research centres in India and employ over 2,00,000 researchers Source- Kapil Sibal’s Speech


Predicted Share of Total Global R&D Spending in 2011













3.0% Rest of World


research and tie up with the “right kind” of institution for maximum benefit to research. IIT B-Monash research institute is one such collaboration, created with the intention of long-term benefits for both India and Australia, and the two countries involved. Located within the IIT campus, the institute has the perfect ambience for researchers, academicians and students to interact. “We hope that it will be an example for other institutions to start such collaborations in India,” says CEO Mohan Krishnamoorthy. Partnerships With Industry: While everyone knows that this is an important area, no one really has a fixed model on how this can work best. According to Mehta, “A desirable partnership would mean doing things together and bringing value to each partner by creating a win-win situation where you share the IP as well.” At the recently concluded 98th Indian Science Congress, where one of the focus areas was encouraging research in universities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised questions on why India’s discoveries were getting converted into products by overseas firms. “Why is the translation of good science and

India’s science funding has been stagnant for two decades, at 1% of GDP compared to a global competitive figure of


Source- Battelle-R&D Magazine 2011 Global R&D Forecast


research in products so weak in our country? How do we strengthen the link between universities, research laboratories and industry?” Academia and industry have to work together to create workable models of partnership. The government too is looking at introducing a law on the lines of the US based Bayh Dole Act that allows publicly funded institutes to licence their intellectual properties. According to Infosys Prize winner and professor at IIT Kanpur, Ashutosh Sharma, “There is a need for a very efficient interface between the university and the marketplace” so that professors are free from the demands of managing red tape and commercialising their research. Give Autonomy: This is something that all “mavericks” need to be: inspired to look for answers. Infosys prize winner and sociologist, Amita Baviskar, says, “To me, an ideal research environment should offer two main flexibilities, financial autonomy and the freedom to set the research agenda and pursue it at my own pace.” The institution has to attend to the needs of researchers and see to it that they do not feel tied down by bureaucratic red tape.



is expected to be the global research and development spending in 2011 according to the Battelle-R&D Magazine 2011 Global R&D Forecast

Source- The Scientific Advisory Council

January 2011  EDUTECH




EDUTECH  January 2011



Looking for the

Missing Generation BY SMITA POLITE On new year’s eve Goverdhan Mehta was busy putting the final touches to a research paper at the School of Chemistry in the University of Hyderabad. When we approached him for his inputs on whether India can become a research hub, he replied saying that we were raising a very important question. Not for him the usual refrain of,“What is the use of talking about the same thing again and again?” His only request,“Let’s talk about this after I am done celebrating the New year by putting together this research paper.”



e finally got to meet the iconic researcher and administrator at the Delhi airport where he was in transit on a flight to London for an official meet. At the age of 67, Professor Mehta is as enthusiastic and brimming with energy as a young child on his first visit to the science laboratory. Even the Delhi chill does little to dampen his spirit and you can tell easily how excited he is by anything to do with research. I do believe that there are tremendous opportunities for India to become a research hub. Why just research? We can also become the hub for education. However, it’s not going to happen on its own without serious action from all the involved stakeholders. There is a role for the government and also for the captains of industry besides academia. There should be a well defined strategy. Everyone talks loosely about it but there is no specific roadmap. We must have a clear-cut vision. The vision must be backed by strategy and then it has to be implemented. Universities are institutions in perpetuity. They do not exist just for a few years. Some of them have been around for 500, 800 even 1000 years. Nalanda

FACT FILE NAME Goverdhan Mehta BORN June 26, 1943 PhD in organic chemistry from Pune University’s National Chemical Laboratory Postdoctoral research at Michigan State University and Ohio State University CURRENT ENGAGEMENT: National Research Professor and Lilly-Jubilant Chair, School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad PREVIOUS ENGAGEMENTS: Vice Chancellor, Hyderabad University— 1994 to 1998 Director, Indian Institute of Science— 1998 to 2005 AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (CSIR) 1978 Alexander von Humboldt Award (Germany) 1995 Padma Shri 2000 Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (France) 2004 Fellow of Royal Society Fellow of Indian National Science Academy (We have listed just a few of them as this space would be insufficient for the long list of Dr Mehta’s awards) January 2011  EDUTECH


COVER STORY Face-To-Face still exists in spirit even though unfortunate historical events wiped it out. Universities are fountainheads that do not dry up. Somehow this fact has not gone deep enough into our psyche. Everything is being looked at in a temporal way. Many administrators just think of the immediate gains. “Oh, I just have a five-year term, so let me just do things that have immediate gains. I am not sure what I should start, so let me just latch on to a hobby horse.” When I think of this issue I just shudder at what the future holds. Today we are in a fortunate situation. Government funding has increased—it’s huge—but frankly speaking that amount of money is chasing very few good ideas. During my time there were many ideas but very little money. Some institutions are really well-funded with no dearth of money. For the new central universities the government has even allocated 5 billion each. The faculty have just about everything that they could wish for, therefore they should perform at a much higher level. Today we talk about having more autonomy in the university system. We even structured it very strongly in the Yash Pal Report. It’s also one of the fundamental issues that the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research is to tackle. But I think autonomy must be modulated with accountability and responsibility. Things can just run amok without it.

So how did we come about having this current state of affairs? What is it that is lacking in the ecosystem of higher education that does not encourage research and researchers?


ne of the major problems is that we have a missing generation in terms of lack of really high-end researchers. This is a direct consequence of the fact that in the 80s and 90s we allowed our higher education institutions to decay. The same thing happened to many of the research laboratories. They were underfunded and therefore they were asked to go around and shop and get some fund-


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We have a missing generation in terms of lack of really highend researchers. This is a consequence of the fact that we let our higher education institutions decay in the 80s and the 90s” ing. That is where a culture of getting small projects came up. They really had to struggle for their survival. In fact a mandate still exists on the book that every CSIR laboratory must earn 30 percent of its resources from outside. But this mandate did not define that this outside earning should have some mark of quality. At that time this was a necessity but it does not hold true today. That’s why we have to change these models of engagement. The missing generations also exists in terms of the lack of availability of leadership. We have no leaders both in higher education and in research laboratories. We need leaders to nurture this culture of academia-industry interaction and innovation. We also have the problem of numbers. We may have 10 to 15 institutions at an acceptable level. But if India has to emerge as a hub we need to have hundreds of such institutions. Some of our institutions boast about having 200 to 300 patents. But if you look at our neighbouring country China, it has projected that by 2015 it will have 2 million patents every year. That’s mind boggling. Even the US just files half a million patents every year.


As the conversation continued, he painted a different picture from what I had been reading. There had been much talk about how many R&D laboratories had come up in India and about how research is the new “cool career” to go for. Wasn’t that an indication that we were doing well in research? And if these laboratories could do this well, why didn’t institutions of higher education use the same model to boost research?

f you are looking at the CROs or CRAMs as R&D labs then you have to look at them differently. Agreed that some of them are very good, with excellent R&D facilities. Many of these CROs are in Pharma and they like to call themselves R&D laboratories or biotech labs, but they are neither if you are talking in terms of solutions. They just carry out contract research. If some of the CROs change their orbit and are willing to invest in discovery research and invest in real R&D then they do become research laboratories. But in this way they will risk losing their business because in a sense they would become competitors. So the kind of work

Face-To-Face COVER STORY give you whatever you want but I just need you to make it into the best place for Chemistry in Asia’, that inspired Mehta to stay on.


that these people do is mostly outsourced work in research. That does not mean that Indian universities and research institutions should not engage with some of these companies to get projects. In a small way it is happening right now. However, the downside is that the research here is at a very low level and mostly outsourced work. The multinational companies whose research budgets run into 100,000 dollars are always in need of outsourcing their work. But these partnerships are not really high end and at a scale that is desirable. A desirable partnership would mean doing things together and bringing value to each partner by creating a win-win situation where you share the IP as well. In almost all cases the IP in these agreements belongs to the company and the university does not get anything. If requirement of getting funding is not a major concern then you should enter into a real partnership. ‘You have strengths, I have strengths, let’s partner and also share the fruits.’ That will result in big things happening. Internationally there are no fixed models for industryacademia partnerships. In every given context a model has to be evolved. A vibrant academic institution with

high-end cutting edge researchers should be able to find out who the likely users are of their discovery or invention. They may not be very good at negotiating, but they can identify the major players who can benefit from their invention. Of course, there also have to be people to facilitate such engagements. Both the industry and the government should create that ecosystem where they’ll flourish. Today we have numbers but not of a quality which will make it attractive for major international players to engage.

It’s not just the quality of researchers that bothers Professor Mehta, but also the fact that the missing generation has led to a lack of leadership. When he was at IIT Kanpur on his first faculty appointment following his return from the US, Gurbaksh Singh, the then newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad University, was visiting IIT Kanpur and he met the 32- year-old Mehta and convinced him to go to Hyderabad University. The university site was just a barren area full of rocks; it was only the vision of Gurbaksh Singh, who said ‘ I will

e himself was not a great researcher, but he knew what was needed. That is why Hyderabad university is the only university to have produced two fellows of the Royal Society. That’s the kind of vision and leadership that is needed today, when we have a leadership crisis. To encourage research our universities must have leaders who themselves have done high quality research. There would be some like Gurbaksh Singh, who without having done research may still have the appreciation for it, but that number is very small. Having such leaders will lend both authenticity and moral conviction. You will often find people in India who, when asked to publish more and do some research would whisper and say, “When was the last time this fellow did any research? Why should he be talking about the importance of research?.” You cannot communicate something for which you have no moral conviction and solid experience. When research degenerated in the 80s and 90s because of under-funding, somehow a message got across that universities are only for teaching. Teaching is important - however, if you are not creating new knowledge and generating innovation how can you call yourself a university? In fact this is the fundamental difference between a college and a university. College is more about dissemination of knowledge and running of programmes. University has to be a creator of new knowledge. A good definition of university is a universe of knowledge, so it should be generating new knowledge. You cannot traverse a universe of knowledge unless you contribute something to that universe. If you keep transmitting what is already known or what someone else is doing it’s not completely satisfying. A teacher is a teacher, scholar and researcher. That three-pronged role of all those who are associated with the university has to be rediscovered and reimplemented. The most important thing January 2011  EDUTECH


COVER STORY Face-To-Face for a university is to create this kind of an ambience and it’s not just science I am talking about. India does not have the high calibre philosophers that it could boast of 20 to 25 years ago. Philosophy has been relegated to one corner and so have history and sociology. Many branches of science today are incomplete without having a strong component of social sciences. Environment, global warming, energy issues or public health cannot be handled without the knowledge of sociology. Today’s research, unlike in the past, cannot be done in isolation. You also need infrastructure for doing research. If it’s in the field of science then you need to provide gadgets, machines and state-of-the-art facilities. If it is in other areas where you need access to information then make databases, journals and publications available. Create that facility and then bring in a culture of teamwork and then work across disciplines. Even though he travels a lot, Goverdhan Mehta likes to keep abreast of the latest in the world. Flipping through one of the magazines he was reading, he further illustrated the point he was making. In 2010 there were 950 natural disasters which is the highest ever, and 300,000 people died in these disasters— whether it was the earthquake in Haiti or floods in Australia or China. This is such a multi-disciplinary issue. When you have these disasters you first need to understand why these disasters happen. If it’s earthquakes, you need to understand earth sciences in depth. Following these disasters if you need to think about rehabilitation then public health comes in. All major issues confronting our world need inter-disciplinary interactions. Break the walls and boundaries between disciplines. Do not separate the arts and the science faculty. Why have departmental structures? If you want an address then have departments, because people need identity. Every body should be known as a faculty of the university. You should create centres and these centres should not be in perpetuity because then they will become like departments. The centres should be formed to bring


EDUTECH  January 2011

way forward if you want to create a hub. Besides competent leadership you also need to hire talented faculty. Do not have inbred people. Recharge the system. Bring in fresh blood.

Along with highlighting many of the issues confronting research in India, he outlined the major obstacles that researchers face in a university environment.

T Now it has become quite attractive to be in academics. Where else are you able to lead a life where you can pursue your hobby and then get paid for it?” together commonality of ideas and to look for solutions to pressing problems. Maybe partnerships with particular industries that need the expertise of ten different people. We do not have a critical mass that can spark innovation. By bringing people of different areas together, the synergies would lead to high-end capabilities in areas which are of current interest. I am not saying that it should be at the cost of individual freedom. I agree that many major inventions happen in flashes of creativity. Creativity is individual, but that should not prevent me from interacting with the fellow next door and see what the other opportunities are. I do not subscribe to the belief that if you are a great scholar you need to sit under a tree like a hermit. Today a person who is working in economics cannot say, “I will have lifelong interest in economics.” He may be interested in politics or environment issues. If he is interested in econometrics he may like to interact with mathematicians. The new campuses that we are setting up have to be inter-related. That’s the

here are many universities where a researcher faces insurmountable obstacles. Most of our universities do not have adequate infrastructure not just in sciences but also in the humanities. In many places there is no research environment. You cannot just put a researcher in a building full of equipment and say: “Start researching!” We also do not have a competitive environment. No one talks about wanting to be the top university in India. You can put advertisements in the papers that you are no. 1 by all kinds of hocus-pocus evaluation but that’s not real competition. Our aim should be to capture social esteem among the informed. The government has also not put in place a mechanism to promote a culture of competition. Academics are becoming complacent and do not care about how their institutions perform. We should have some reward system and recognition associated with performance. In a word there’s no hunger to break new ground. The fact that people are successful is despite the system, but that does not mean it should continue. Now it has become quite attractive to be in academics. Where else are you able to lead a life where you can pursue your hobby and then get paid for it? When people ask me, “What will you do if you are born again?”, I say, “Of course I will want to be an academic in chemistry, only a better one.”

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Younger Faculty Should Be


A pecking order is not good for research, says Deepak Pental, former VC, Delhi University BY SMITA POLITE & ROHINI BANERJEE


EDU: What is your advice to administrators to encourage research?

ties like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Hyderabad, they should have really excellent DEEPAK: 1) I would say that the undergraduate programmes. National Science Foundation should They don’t. So these universities be constituted immediately. 2) Funddon’t function like the best globing should be comprehensive, not al universities—they have crepaltry. 3) More industry interface ated an elite class. projects should be encouraged, Secondly, we are spending a where the industry is also funded, lot on setting up smaller institunot only the university. 4) Within the tions in science and technology. universities, we should try to grow Why not make them science up—we should update courses every universities? Nowhere in the three to four years and grant more world do people make such freedom to our PhD students. A kinds of institutes—this is an pecking order is not good for sciIndian invention. We should try ence. We should give researchers to build universities like MIT or seed money. If we are open-minded Caltech where science technoland have a comprehensive and comogy and the quantitative side is petitive grant system at a nationalemphasised. The Centre has DEEPAK PENTAL level and bring industry and univerallocated funds to the central Head, Centre For Genetic Manipulation sities together, then that’s it. universities. We should put Of Crop Plants, Former VC of DU emphasis on research in estabWhy are we not able to come lished as well as new universiup with quality research? ties. Third, start a competitive grant system in which a miniThe quality is low because we have not put enough resources. mum of 20 to 30 percent grant required is given directly to the If we don’t work towards improving quality, then degeneration university for utilities and administrative charges. Globally, it will set in. We have been going through a phase of stagnation can be anywhere between 30 to 70 percent of that. Like one for the past 20-30 years. Delhi University hardly received any rupee to the scientist and 70 paisa to the university. So the unisupport as far as research is concerned. But, its students and versity does not have to use its scarce resources on subsidising teachers were keen on research. So, in spite of ‘low funding’, it research. Projects should be comprehensively funded. The prihas one of the best research profiles among all universities. vate universities should also be funded provided they follow the Clearly, that shows that the potential is there. rules of openness. If they follow the law of the land (philanthropy-based rather than for-business)then scholars in such instituNow, what is to be done about the lacunae? tions should also be eligible for federal grants. But they must The first thing is to start developing comprehensive universialso raise their standards of conduct. Otherwise, you cannot ties which offer undergrad, postgrad and PhD courses. With fund them. Right now, we want them, but we don’t want them. universities like Delhi University, you cannot do much but If the (university) promoters are out, and the institution is improve the quality within the present framework. We need IT being run professionally with no interference from the promottools and curriculum improvement by all means. In universiers at all, then they should be given funding. January 2011  EDUTECH



Veto Poweseearrcher

To Rest on R



or social science research in India, teaching, especially while teaching senior what matters is a research environgraduates. So, being shut away in the acament that provides “basic supdemics where you only interact with other port”. When I say “basic support”, researchers can perhaps give you more time I refer to an environment that allows a to pursue your own line of work, but personresearcher a degree of freedom from worries ally I don’t believe it proves to be “producsuch as where her next salary will be coming tive” at the end of the day. from. And, it should offer a researcher “total While looking at the challenges that autonomy”: a degree of freedom to prioritise researchers face, I would like to speak only research above everything else. about the challenges that Indian academics It also entails total freedom to set prioriface. Because, each country faces unique ties which are to be determined by scholars challenges determined by the “local environnot only in the context of a discipline, but ment”. As far as Indian academics are conalso the world as a whole. And, the ability to cerned, I believe that the main problem is conduct research which is not driven by too that the funds that come to Indian researchshort-term demands, either dictated by the es are extremely tied to the priorities of fundgovernment or any funding agency, or presing agencies. So, we see a lot of research sures which are often put on academics to which actually re-invents the wheel all the generate funds while conducting research. time. We have a large number of studies on An ideal research environment should offer: the impact of HIV AIDS, but very little work 1. Financial autonomy is being done on matters like malnutrition 2. Freedom to set the and tuberculosis, which research agenda and from a social point of to pursue it at her own view, leaves an equal or FACT FILE: pace greater impact on the I think the relationship Indian reality. Amita Baviskar Winner, Infosys between research and In India, often “fundPrize (2010) teaching is actually a ing trends” shape synergistic one. Trying research. That can often CATEGORY : out new ideas in the be at odds with what Social Sciences classroom actually has a may be the genuine CURRENTLY AT : way of feeding back into needs on the ground. Institute of the research process. Sometimes, when IndiEconomic Growth You can get some sort of an researchers, especritical reaction while cially those involved in


EDUTECH  January 2011

AMITA BAVISKAR Assistant Professor, Sociology, Instititute of Economic Growth

empirical research in social sciences, approach the funding agencies, they find themselves fitting their research agenda with that of the agency. One of the reasons for this is because when it comes to social science research in India, the Indian government has not been able to dedicate research grants to a scale that can support long-term research goals. One of the ways in which the process could be streamlined even further, and here I speak of social science only because I am involved in it, is perhaps giving the grant money to an independent institution: say the Indian Council for Social Science Research. Then a researcher could approach the independent body and perhaps his or her research could be judged by a council of peers who could determine whether the research has the merits and whether it should be allowed the grant. That would be an ideal of supporting research. For the social sciences, infrastructure constraints, say the need for laboratory equipment or some special set up, none of that really matters. So, for social scientists is India, there is a conducive environment, with what should be noted: very little interference once the grant has been obtained. There is little censorship as far as the social sciences are concerned and India is one of the most exciting and vibrant places to work in—both for its research environment and the great laboratory that it offers.


“Research has to be seen as a

” r e e r a C e v i t a r c u L K. Dinesh, Co-Founder Infosys and President Infosys Science Foundation says that we need to incentivise research in more ways BY SMITA POLITE

EDU: What was the idea behind setting up of the Infosys Science Foundation and the Infosys Prize? K. DINESH: India has of late come to be known for its economic activities and is being noticed. In this scenario, scientists or the researchers have a very important role, which means we need to give them the right kind of motivation required and recognise them. With that in mind we created the Infosys Science Foundation. We wanted to make the infosys prize distinct from the others. One of the ways to do that was the selection criteria and the other was the prize money. We also thought hard about the jury that we should have to select the final winners. So, we have imminent people on the Jury, who are Nobel Laureates or the equivalent. We also decided on Rs 50 lakh as the minimum prize amount. We have five categories and the Government of India has been generous enough to exempt the money from tax deductions.

It is the first time that such a high amount has been earmarked for a research prize. Why haven’t we had such awards in the past? Research has to be seen as a lucrative career. Economic development in India has picked up speed but it cannot sustain pace without innovation. Indian industry has displayed a lot of talent for instance in IT, or the automobile sector. Now India has to make a place in the world of innovation with its products creating value for the bottom of the pyramid. And industry has to come forward to make sure that innovation is in focus and the people involved get substantial incentives and look at creating value through research and address problems in society. Hopefully with this kind of money our researchers can put their worries of basic requirements to rest. They can think of spending on higher education for their children and get a good house when they retire. Indian scientists are not that well looked after. Apart from the love of innovating, researchers should have substantial to keep them inspired enough to do this for a living.

You have also instituted an award for research in social sciences. What led the foundation to focus on social sciences as well? Pure science alone can’t solve the problems of society - social


Co-Founder, Infosys, & President of the Infosys Science Foundation

sciences have an equally important part to play. Today India has issues of regional disparity, poverty and other issues which can’t be solved without the involvement of social sciences. Research in these areas is crucial and encouraging researchers in these is also necessary. A healthy balance of both pure sciences and social sciences is what is needed to be a truly developed country.

What was the intention behind keeping the prize India specific? We need encouragement to solve India specific problems right now hence we have started with our own country. For the last two years, we have found many inspiring researchers and we are very hopeful that going forward our scientists will come forward to compete in global arena to get these awards. Science has no boundaries, today if they solve a problem of India they can also solve problems of other developing countries and maybe even the developed ones. January 2011  EDUTECH



Researchers Need


Ideas & Right Cu BY ANIHA BRAR


deally what one needs for research are appreciate what you are doing. If you don’t academic freedom and most importanthave that kind of support then even a person ly, ideas. I think it’s very important that who has interest in research would not susone knows what ideas are worth pursutain it very long. ing and how much one is willing to spend Somewhere along the way we’ve said that on that idea. And that’s something that universities are mostly for teaching and then doesn’t come very easy because people just the focus on research gets lost. That’s somecopy what others are doing. They read jourthing that’s not happened in the US. There, nals about what’s being done in Europe or in fact, prestige for a professor as an acadeUS or Japan, etc. and just do an incremental mician might largely derive from research kind of research of those things. People have rather than teaching. So there needs to be a to be a little more creative, I guess. The deciculture for research and recognition that it is sion on how and what to research is a comworth doing. Things are changing nowaplex interplay of very many factors – admindays – there is certainly more acceptance of istration, faculty, students, funding, etc. the fact that research is part of a university. I would like to separate funding from As far as rules and regulations are conother factors, as it is operational and necescerned, I think they are indifferent – neither sary and today there are more funds than conducive nor preventive. Of course, if they ever available. Of course, the amount of were positive rules, that would be great. funding needed for different kinds of What I mean by positive rules is that we research is different, so it can’t become a should differentiate between the capabilities goal in itself. Sometimes of different people and it gets easy to get carried different universities. FACT FILE: away and keep asking for For example, in the US more and more funding people in different uniAshutosh Sharma but then the manageversities, different Winner, Infosys ment of the money takes departments and with Prize (2010) away all your time. different work experiI think there are two ence get different salaCATEGORY : other aspects – the culries. But even if we Engineering & Computer ture for research and the don’t have that here, we Sciences preparation for research. can’t wait for things to I think culture is very change in a very drastic CURRENTLY AT : important, which basiway before we do good Indian Institute cally means that you research. It’s not as if of Technology, Kanpur have people that you can someone is going to talk to and who would come and pat you on


EDUTECH  January 2011

ASHUTOSH SHARMA Institute Chair & Professor In-charge of DST Unit on Nanosciences, IIT, Kanpur

the back and you may not even get greater recognition. With rules being indifferent, what this means is that researchers need to have greater initiative. To do good research is largely driven by creativity and I think this is a very critical issue. We are not actually encouraged to do thinking on our own in our high school or undergraduate education. So what happens is that a person getting into a PhD or a Masters does not have a very clear idea about what research actually means. Now this is something very deep in our educational system. These aspects can only be dealt with by scientists or researchers themselves. There are different kinds of research for which different kinds of institutions provide the right kind of atmosphere. Many corporations have in-house R&D – however, the goals may be more confined to the technology that corporation has interest in. University research all over the world is defined by more freedom so its characteristics are more freedom, going deeper, and not having a very short timeline. This kind of research is also needed because this would produce the base for the next generation of knowledge. There is no competition between these two, in fact the only problem is that each one has to be very efficient in interfacing with the other. So you clearly need a very efficient interface between the university and the marketplace. This is something which is kind of missing in our country.


Discoveries will Happen at the

Interface of Disciplines EDU: How did the idea of IIT B Monash come about? MOHAN KRISHNAMOORTHY: About four years ago, Tam Sridhar, the dean of engineering at Monash was asked to develop an India strategy, and he zeroed in on research. It had to be for profit, in collaboration with an existing institution, and in research. IIT Bombay was also looking at ways to collaborate in powerful partnerships. When Monash came up with this idea of partnership, it struck the right chords. This partnership was real, concrete, substantial and sustainable over a long period of time, that will have benefits for both Australia as well as India.

IIT B-Monash Research Institute CEO Mohan Krishnamoorthy shares with EDU how the collaborations works BY SMITA POLITE

discipline focused. That may be okay from a training perspective, but not for research. The problem with India is that we have separate institutions for research and teaching, whereas university is the place where research should also happen simultaneously. A university or a research institution like the IIT B Monash Research Academy has to have all elements in it. Because this is located within the campus, it has the feel of the students and professors and then the industry comes in. It gives a different perspective to the students. This is what is called the innovation ecosystem.

What are IIT B’s and Monash’s roles?


The students in research programmes receive a degree from IIT as well as the Monash university and has one supervisor each from IIT and Monash. Once the supervisors have discussed their research interests, and the problems that they would like to be solved for instance in energy climate or water we search for the best student that fits that projects needs. Monash is investing about 10 million dollars into the venture. IIT B is providing the land and the building for the academy. The building will be completed by March 2012, within the IIT campus. In a sense, an equal contribution is being made by IIT B and Monash in terms of supervision, in terms of the contribution into the venture; and going forward, securing funding for sustainability will also be equal because both are joint venture partners and both want to see that the venture is a success. We also hope that it will be an example for other institutions and other collaborations to start up in India. The future will tell us whether that aspiration is correct or not. I personally would like to see many other institutions come to India in a similar model because we’ll prove over a period of two and a half years that it can work.

You are also promoting inter-disciplinary research.Why? The whole world is moving towards a recognition that in the next millennium, some discoveries are going to happen at the interface of disciplines, but our traditional structures are quite


CEO IITB-Monash Research Institute

We wanted to invite people from a variety of disciplines to come together and train a new breed of researcher who think outside the boundary of mechanical engineering or mathematics or biology. We have researchers in the academy who are working on a chemical engineering-type problem but they’re actually using biology to solve fundamental questions in chemical engineering. Rather than focusing on disciplines and departments, we thought of focusing on goals driven by industrial, government or public needs. January 2011  EDUTECH




iayvfoerrthseiFtuitueres n U the W BY ANIHA BRAR


think an ideal research environment is have tutorials once in a while. So a one that leaves a lot of time for heavy teaching load can be lightened. research but also involves some Another problem is that there is a lot amount of teaching - think that blend of bureaucracy especially if the funding is in many ways ideal. You don’t want comes from the government, which a lot exclusive research without interaction with of it does in our country. And if you want students, because there is something to to spend it there is a lot of paperwork be said for trying to communicate your that you have to do. All these procedures ideas to bright young minds. On the other can be simplified – an efficiently manhand there shouldn’t be too much teachaged mechanism for managing funding ing. I see this problem especially in can free up a lot of time. The broader India. Because when you research you question here is how to free up more have to compete with the very best in the time for researchers and a better adminworld – there are no second tries for a istered place is a way to do that. science discovery. So some amount of One of the very sad things is that if you teaching and a fair amount of time for look at the time of independence we had research, that’s ideal. some wonderful universities and I am In terms of practical solutions, there sorry to say that their standards have not are a few things which are not always kept up – whether it’s the Calcutta, Delhi easy to implement. One of them is that or Allahabad Universities. These were if the teaching load is heavy, try to hire really shining examples and they have more teachers. fallen on difficult Another thing that times although over can be done is to try the past few years they FACT FILE: and use more webhave been trying to based learning. Now get back to where they Sandip Trivedi that we have the web, were. I think now uniWinner, Shanti courses can be versities are slowly Swarup Bhatnagar Award (2005) designed, taught, doing it right in terms placed on the web and of infrastructure. CATEGORY : then a pool of instituI feel that funding Physical Sciences tions can use the web from the government t o g e t h e r. T h e has been directed to CURRENTLY AT : The Tata Institute advanced courses research institutions of Fundamental often have fewer stulike my own (TIFR) Research dents, so you can have and away from unithem use the web and versities the past few


EDUTECH  January 2011

SANDIP TRIVEDI Associate Professor, Theoretical Physics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

decades. And this has contributed in part to their decline. So another concrete measure is the following : we can take professors from a particular field, from diff universities, judge their performance over the past 10 years and give a grant to about half of them. I am suggesting this because we are seeing several decades of neglect of universities and I feel that we need to be generous at this stage and give a little bit up front. There are very good people in our universities and I don’t think we are doing enough to sustain them, encourage them and get their best research out of them. The ideal environment in my mind is the research university. For eg., MIT and Caltech are universities but they are not huge universities. They have enough of an undergraduate student body to teach and enough free time for research. And I think that model would trump a specialized research institute any day. We should try to set up such institutions – institutes like mine should move towards a more university orientation and vice versa. I think they would be encouraged if they went to universities where they see vibrant science happening around them in the formative stages of their lives, not by the post-grad stage by which time we would have already lost many good kids. I think for the scientific future of our country also that is the right model.


“ More than buildings and facilities,

People Matter” According to K. Shrinivas, Professor at Caltech and a Jury member of the Infosys Prize, to build the perfect research environment one must concentrate on getting the right people together BY ANIHA BRAR EDU: What would you see as an ideal research environment in an institution? K. SHRINIVAS: This question, though short, has a rather long answer. If I have to distill it then I would say that an ideal research institution should, first and foremost, bring together the brightest people. People matter more than buildings and research facilities. Apart from true geniuses, most researchers are not self-contained. Interaction is critical to transform one’s ideas into more concrete hypotheses. If you accept this, then one must have great leadership that ensures collegiality and promotes true scholarly discussions. Usually a highly vertical hierarchy is not conducive the running of a great research institutions (after all, if you really have hired the brightest people then likely they will not be easily susceptible to orders from above). It should therefore not be a surprise if I assert that a simple metric of the quality of an institution is the flux of high quality visitors, especially young people. Once bright people are hired then they must empowered with sufficient funds and resources to realize their aspirations. The primary function of the leadership is not to lead (see my admonition above) but to help the faculty realize their aspirations.

Do you think having independent research institutes focused on a specific area of research is a better idea than an academic institution that would involve teaching alongside the research? What are the merits and demerits of either system? There have been two schools of thought. One school advocates well endowed institutions whose primary goal is research. Examples include Max Planck Institutes in Germany or the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. One could even call this the European model. The other school (popular in the US) is a combined research and teaching institution -- the so-called research Universities. Examples abound in the US: Stanford,


Professor at Caltech

MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Chicago and many others. [There is a brief discussion of this issue by Feynmann in his autobiography in which he declines a purely research professorship and elects to stay at Caltech.] The European model has some great exemplars but in my mind the battle has been won by the American model. Research Universities have been largely more successful and more efficient (research/money) than pure research institutions. I have not done a study and so can only give my feedback in an anectodal way. Every time I teach I find myself re-visiting the basics and in the end I write a paper (usually on a small point) by the end of the term. Explaining to students generally clarifies my own thinking. Finally, the presence of students, especially undergraduates, some how increases the vibrancy of the institution. Viewing this the other way, research universities are great for undergraduates who are interested in going onto a higher degree (master’s or PhD). It is an important part of their cultural experience (and I agree that this is not for all students; that is why not every University should be a research University). January 2011  EDUTECH



Research and Development

In a knowledge society academic research must be undertaken to move up the value chain BY R. NATARAJAN


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Research and Development


ver the past decades, Indian technical education has seen accelerated growth in the number of institutions, and their admission capacity. This, combined with considerable outsourcing of US jobs to India, has resulted in concerns in the US of its possible loss of economic competitiveness in a globalised world, so much so that it became an election issue in the US. While the concerns till now were the “job losses”, with companies setting up R&D and design centres in India to undertake high-end and hi-tech work, currently, the US is worried about losing its innovative edge and global competitiveness.

RATING R&D TO KNOW MORE: There are several reports that explain India’s situation better: the S&T, ICT and MNRE policy statements; 2020 Vision Document; Planning Commission’s reports; those published by Industry Associations such as CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and NASSCOM. Globally, challenges and opportunities are articulated in the ‘Millennium Development Goals’, challenges identified by the US National Academy of Engineering, innovation reports charted by the IBM and the Battelle Institute Reports.

But, Indian academics are equally concerned. They are concerned by the lack of quality in technical institutions. Recently, the IT industry bemoaned the lack of employability skills in our technical graduates. As a rule, little research goes on in most of our technical institutions. Neither the managements, nor the faculty, consider R&D—academic or sponsored—as one of their priorities. An institute is satisfied if it gets quality students to fill up admission capacities—and if graduates are able to secure placements. The AICTE requirement of a PhD for assistant professors and professors is the major motivation for faculty to seek research qualifications. Similarly, the NBA demand for collaborations with industry, continuing education, research publications, and other features which characterise the profile of academic institutions of good quality, is another criterion. The faculty question the need for possessing a PhD for teaching UG and PG students. Not only do they consider research competence as “unimportant”, but they don’t realise that for knowledge transfer, a “potential difference” is required. Teaching-learning thrives in an ambience wherein new knowledge is created. Especially now, in a society referred to as the knowledge economy or society or century, innovation is crucial. Enablers for promoting innovation are research and technology development, for which the raw material is “talent”—represented by faculty and students. It

is thus axiomatic that academic research must be undertaken to move up the value chain.

Reasons For Inertia One reason for not engaging in R&D is that Indian faculty (simply put) have no time. They devote their time to “low-value” activities—routine testing and consultancy assignments, coaching classes and non-academic activities. In far-flung institutions, they have to travel distances to and from the institutions. Furthermore, several are not aware of research funding opportunities and criteria adopted for assessing research proposals. Even those who write papers don’t have an idea of where to present or publish them, the quality of conferences or journals and the concepts of citation or impact factor. Though during interviews, the primary performance parameter relates to research output, there remain inherent difficulties in assessing its quality and impact. It is necessary to have in place a research promotion policy with clear guidelines on the preferred journals for publication in, and the acceptable conferences for presentation at. The latter is particularly useful in making decisions relating to financial support for attending international conferences. Our research recognition system attaches more importance to publication of papers than to technology development, which is much more relevant in engineering and technology than in science. January 2011  EDUTECH



Research and Development

It is also worrisome that the majority of faculty and research scholars prefer to pursue computational or theoretical research rather than experimental research. Experimental research is dependent on the availability of equipment and instrumentation; in the Indian context, import takes time, whereas the spread of high-performance computers provides a convenient platform for undertaking computational research. It is often dependent on the availability of technicians to fabricate precision apparatus; it is time-consuming, whereas in computational research, time is under the control of researchers. To be fair to our faculty, though, many of them have shown extra commitment by participating in the QIP scheme and enrolling in part-time PhD programmes.

Emerging Programmes While these numbers were small earlier, there are a number of emerging opportunities. For example, the World bankassisted TEQIP-Phase I, which covers about 100 technical institutions across the country, technological universities and deemed universities promoting PhD registrations, international sandwich PhD programmes, establishment of TIFAC-CORES in 25 institutions. On the demand side, there is an unfulfilled demand for a technical education system itself, with the requirement of a PhD qualification for appointments or promotion as assistant professors or professors. As far as industry is concerned, there is an increasing demand for PGs and PhDs. In the IT, automotive, chemical and aerospace sectors, where both domestic as well as outsourced work has moved up the value chain, from services and support functions to design, prod-

Professor R. Natarajan Former chairman of All India Council For Technical Education and Former Director of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, writes that our technical education system must rise to promote R&D on a “mission mode” and as a high priority. We need a major R&D movement and research policies. They should motivate, incentivise, enable and reward excellence. ucts and creation of IP, there is a demand for qualified people.

Curing The R&D Ailment What steps do we have to take in order to produce large numbers of PhDs? We need committed, dedicated and competent research scholars, and research supervisors, who have to play the important role of mentors, motivators, guides. We need high-quality research infrastructure; both experimental—equipment, diagnostic instrumentation—and computational. We need a Research Culture, and a focus on quality and rigour. We need to promote opportunities for valuable peer-to-peer interactions, by, for example, funding for deputation to interna-


EDUTECH  January 2011

tional conferences. The faculty and research scholars should be encouraged, in fact, demanded, to publish only in high-impact journals. Thesis examinees should be chosen for their expertise, competence and objective assessment capabilities. We need a major R&D movement, as significant, for example, as our economic reforms undertaken more than a decade ago. We need research policies which are supportive. They should motivate, incentivise, enable and reward excellence. It must also be remembered that we can not mass-produce PhDs, nor enhance PhD capacities overnight. It is also a matter of concern that the manpower opting for PhDs and the manpower becoming available to our national R&D establishments, such as DRDO, AEC, ISRO, CSIR, etc. largely comprise those who could not make it to the other “more attractive sectors”. Sponsored R&D has a great deal to offer to technical institutions—the much-needed funds for creating research infrastructure and for supporting research scholars, providing relevance and utility to end-users, and contributing to the solution of nationally significant problems. India can boast of a large number of funding agencies disbursing considerable grants for sponsored R&D to academic institutions. The response from the academic institutions, however, leaves a lot to be desired. One of the reasons for this state of affairs is the lack of awareness of the sponsored R&D opportunities among our faculty members.

On A Mission Mode In the knowledge and innovation-dominated world we live in, socio-economic growth, and the consequent equitable prosperity for the population, are dependent on S&T and R&D intensity and impact; and a lot is expected from the university sector. While this sector plays a major role in, for example, OECD countries, in our country, much of the high-impact R&D occurs outside the university system—in organisations such as ISRO, AEC, DRDO and CSIR. Our technical education system must rise to the occasion and promote R&D on a “mission mode” and as a high-priority.



Baal V Bacchanalian


POSITIONS HELD Founder and Dean of Great Lakes Institute of Management Executive Professor and Strategy Advisor to the Dean, Bauer College, University of Houston


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CURRENT ROLE JL Kellogg Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Accounting Information Systems and Decision Sciences

Bala V. Balachandran


Inviting foreign varsities is not the answer to our problem Dr Bala V. Balachandran, JL Kellogg distinguished professor of accounting and information management at Kellogg School of Management, USA, believes that the answer to taking Indian higher education to the next level lies elsewhere BY DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY January 2011  EDUTECH


DIALOGUE Bala V. Balachandran EDU: Do you think the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill will lead to a marked improvement in the higher education scenario in India? B.V. Balachandran: I honestly have mixed feelings about this. I am happy that a start has been made. But, I have my doubts whether it would lead to the best American or European universities setting up campuses in India. I don’t see a Harvard or a Kellogg coming to India. The reasons are simple. In the US for example, we teach 24/7. You know what that means? We teach for 24 hours in a week and seven months in a year! Here teachers take twice as many classes, and therefore have little time left for fundamental research. Will good teachers from US varsities come here under these circumstances? They won’t.

But won’t foreign universities want to tap this huge market? Where will they get the real raw material—teachers? American institutions have a clear code. Teachers only teach for a particular number of hours. If they exhaust these hours in India, they won’t teach back home! The universities will surely not want such a situation. This would mean the best teachers will not come. So who will teach? It’s not the name of a university or the courses it teaches but ‘who’ teaches and how they teach—that acts as the key differentiator.

Do you see any positives at all in allowing foreign universities into India then? Of course, I am glad that things are moving in the direction they are. The Bill will bring in at least the second-tier universities from developed nations such as the US. These are decent universities without being the best. What they will do is ensure that the second and third-rung Indian universities, some of whom purport to provide quality education, but don’t, pull up their socks. So in the long run, I see the overall quality of higher education in India improving.

The USA is today is looked upon as the ‘Mecca’ of higher education. Why do you feel opening the doors for them won’t help either our students or our system?


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I do feel it will help some students. It will definitely help some Indian institutions pull up their socks. However, I find it disconcerting that we are looking at America as our saviour. We were the original hub of higher education, years before the US was even born, and a millennium before Oxford and Cambridge rose to prominence. Students thronged to Nalanda, Ujjain and Taxila to study arts and sciences. Even a century ago, our universities were by far the best in Asia. Today, it pains us to look at the sorry condition of many of these former jewels. What we should try and do is raise our own standards by following ‘best practices’ that others have embraced. Some of the best faculty in varsities in the US and UK are from this part of the world. Let’s have institutes with systems and processes in place that will lure them back and prevent future academic stars from leaving our shores.

What are the key issues that the higher education ministry should look at, considering what you have just said? The important and immediate steps to be taken should be in the sphere of correcting pay packets, rationalising teaching hours and enhancing focus on research. For instance, in the US, teachers are paid at par with doctors, engineers and managers. Here, in comparison, they receive very little even though things have improved in the past decade. It’s not about giving them more money, it’s about paying these people what they deserve. If teachers are burdened with 20 lectures every week, when will they focus on research? No wonder many of the talented lot finally go abroad, disillusioned.

The picture you paint is rather grim. Not at all. There is hope. Change is taking place. There are world-class institutions in India today. Institutes, such as ISB, give us hope. It’s the job of people like us to come together, help the government—join hands with private initiatives to develop centres of excellence in the field of higher education. We must be wealth creators not wealth consumers. However, my fear is the rider that foreign universities that come to India should clearly state that they are ‘not-for-profit’ institutes, will act as a dampener. Universities are not profit centres in the sense they should not be there only to make money. However, to a reasonable extent, every successful university needs to make money, in order to support expansion and hire better faculty. How can universities run as charity organisations when the idea is to promote excellence. If you run it the way some Indian universities are run, you may end up producing mediocrity.

Earlier you spoke about making India the education hub by creating ‘Indian’ institutions that matched the best. One of India’s problems has been marketing even it’s best institutions. How can we do it better? Yes, some of our B-schools are world-class. I think business education in India has some really superior values. The price is right, the quality is right. But, the marketing is wrong. We have to showcase our curriculum and our experience. We need to participate in MBA fairs and conventions across the world and market our strengths.

Bala V. Balachandran DIALOGUE


Isn’t it ironical that most top B-schools in the world boast of Indian faculty, yet in India, management education is grappling with a serious faculty crunch. How does one tackle this? What happened is that the number of business schools has increased indiscriminately. The pool of faculty is the same, each trying to steal from the other. We need the seed farm and only then the wheat farm. You cannot eat the seed wheat. So seed farms in top schools have to be created. We need to look at higher education and foster more PhDs doing relevant teaching and research. Even while opening up to foreign universities, certain conditions can be imposed. If they are keen to come in at the undergraduate level, an arrangement can be worked out wherein they take some Indian students for their PhD programme. That apart, the incentive system in India has a long way to go.

So what is your suggestion for the emerging pool of talented engineering and management students in India ? I do feel some top quality students probably from the IITs and IIMs should go to US or wherever that particular discipline of their choice ranks first. The good news is that those students

who are not so good and still want to have ‘foreign education’ will be able to study in India’s foreign schools. For that, I welcome this parallel path of providing opportunities of international education on Indian soil, at an Indian price.

What are the broad suggestions you would give to the government to bring Indian higher education standards up to the global benchmark? I think building an efficient and a faster approval system is a must. It is sad that many students and parents are duped by false claims made by some private institutes. But the reason behind the mushrooming fly-by-night institutes, is a corrupt, inefficient and slow system. Of course providing the right incentives to educationalists is of paramount importance.

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January 2011  EDUTECH






LICENCE RAJ? On December 28 2010, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) issued a notice that introduced a new set of provisions for all AICTE-approved, Postgraduate in Management (PGDM) courses. These directives include a compulsory course duration of 24 months. It designates that admissions to such courses should be through tests like CAT, MAT or State Government Examinations and that admissions should not start before 31st March of an academic year. The syllabus, too, from now on, will be issued by the council, fees will have to be approved by a “Fee Fixation Committee” of state governments. It also said that each academic session should normally commence from June 1st to end on May 31st of the succeeding year. Here’s what EDU leaders have to say about the changes: (Views expressed here are personal and do not reflect those of institutions)


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Dr S.B. Mujumdar Founder and President, Chancellor, Symbiosis International University

AICTE probably wishes to restrict all the spurious education institutions offering PGDM and PGCM courses. But, the eight regulations proposed in the notification are nothing but a brazen attempt to stifle the autonomy of institutions that have secured AICTE approval for PGDM courses. The regulations talk of course duration, admission, curriculum and syllabus, fee and examination. I wonder, what has the AICTE left for an institute to decide? These regulations are not merely an unjustified interference, but almost a “hijacking” of all PGDM courses. This is like a repeat of the ‘licence raj’, contradictory to the avowed objective of granting maximum autonomy to institutions. If these regulations are going to be implemented, why not put a total prohibition on institutions conducting PGDM courses? Another question that pops into my mind is whether the AICTE has adequate machin-

ery to exercise control over the errant institutions. As it is, AICTE has almost lost its credibililty. The Knowledge Commission and Yash Pal Committee have gone to the extent of recommending the abolition of both the UGC and AICTE. All that I can say is that the bureaucracy will try to exercise control under one pretext or another—even in the field of education. These regulations are not ‘solutions’. There would be innumerable difficulties to implement them. It should be noted that these regulations will apply only to AICTEapproved PGDM courses. What about the institutions offering management diplomas without seeking the approval of the AICTE? Will the panel be able to check, monitor and initiate effective action against these? This is another instance of announcing grandiose proposals without giving a thought to the capability of effective implementation.

DISADVANTAGE: OLDER INSTITUTES While there is a strong case for regulating the “character” of mushrooming PGDMs, the AICTE-proposed measures may not be appropriate to achieve this end. Especially since they fail to distinguish between older institutions and newer ones. The AICTE also fails to appreciate the “national character” of older institutions. By allowing state governments to conduct admissions, there is the danger that stronger and “national” PGDM institu tions may turn into regional ones. Moreover, the assumption that the state can do a “better” job is erroneous, considering that there are few MBAs (barring FMS, Bajaj and BIM) that are of national repute. The second point: AICTE’s ability to implement its own policy is questionable. More often than not, such policies hurt institutions that obey them, while “smart” institutions continue to evade norms with little trouble. (Example: according to the Handbook of 2010-11, only institutions with NBA accreditation were eligible to offer 240 seats. However, several institutions, with poorer facilities and no accreditation, were approved to offer 240 seats). As the new policy is not applicable to IIMs, institutions that benchmark and compete with IIMs (like TAPMI) will be at a disadvantage. An IIM student can get into a corporate career ahead of a TAPMI student, who will have to wait for two months before he or she can get a job. Most good institutions compensate faculty at a higher rate than the government. With a fixed fee, it will be difficult to attract good talent. This is especially true as foreign universities, IIMS and other non-approved institutions will still have the freedom to fix their fee, putting approved PGDM institutions in a difficult spot.

Professor Saji Gopinath Director, Professor-on-leave, IIM Kozhikode, TA Pai Management Institute, Manipal

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Sanjay Padode Secretary, Centre For Developmental Education, Bengaluru

TOUGH LUCK None of us have been able to understand the AICTE circular: it seems contradictory to recent views that have been professed by our HRD minister, Kapil Sibal. These new norms will add to the bureaucratic procedures and red tape. Most of us do not see it adding any “value” or regulating malpractices currently existing in the education system. Autonomy granted to management institutes allow them to select quality students. This freedom seems to be in serious jeopardy. Management institutes may have to compromise with the input they get, which will, in turn, enhance challenges of academic delivery. It will impact the retention of good faculty. Meeting the requirement for “business-ready managers” for Indian industry will prove to be tough in such a scenario.

I think the AICTE is overreacting to malpractices adopted by some of the “non-deserving B-schools” that flout norms. Add to that, these have no concept of quality. Why can’t the panel be bold enough to attack such dubious B-schools directly? It is ironic that “state fee committees” will fix a fee for PGDM programmes, while IIMs will remain out of their purview, though they will be in the same state. IIMs charge a fee that is slightly lower than the ISB. And the ISB continues to thrive despite charging an exorbitant fee, and offering a non-AICTE approved management programme: that too, of a duration that’s less than two years. There could not have been a harsher blow (with silken gloves) to public-private partnership in higher education! Perhaps this is a warning to foreign universities to mind their own business, instead of wishing to set up campuses here. Policymakers must recognise that the private sector will stay committed to building great institutions, only if institutions are allowed to be selfsupporting after a few years of investment.

Dr J.D. Singh Director General, Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida


Prof. (Dr) Sanjiv Marwah Director, Era Business School Dwarka, New Delhi


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This appears to be another example of the Government’s flip-flop policy on education. On one hand the government seems to be paving the way for ‘International Universities’ and promoting ‘Institutions of Innovations’ and on the other hand coming out with draconian provisions to kill innovations at the institution level. We have noticed how university B Schools have failed miserably in meeting the expectations of students. Syllabus which is not revised for years together; an examinations system based on vomiting the theory taught sparingly in the classroom; faculty which is visible less often than visiting faculty members; almost no corporate interface leading to a poor placement track record. The functioning of AICTE is no better than some degraded Indian Universities; might even be worse than that. After the removal of the member secretary on corruption charges last year, the post still stands advertised. It is therefore inappropriate to even expect AICTE to take policy decisions with acting senior executives. AICTE seems to be reacting to statements in the media about the purpose of its existence. Through this notification it is trying to set up a larger job for itself, beyond a regulator. Also there seems to be an effort to curtail the academic freedom of institutions and rein them under some university or the other in due course when the NCHER comes into existence.




Dr R. Gopal Director, Dean and Head of the Department of Business Management, Padmashree Dr DY Patil University

In all probability, the AICTE is trying to tell the world: “Look, we are trying to keep the education flag (especially in the case of MBAs) afloat!” In my opinion, such regulations are necessary, especially in a growing economy. The Indian education sector has not matured, and so there will be fly-by-night colleges. This regulatory regime is required for a few more years, till the education system learns ethics. Having said that, it will be preferable to bring the IIMs into the AICTE purview. I am told, and I hope to be wrong in this case, that in the name of “corporate consultancy”, little teaching is conducted even in the IIMs. Again, I agree that full-time PGDM courses must be of two years. Part-time MBA programmes must be of three years. All over the world, this is standard practice. The one exception to this rule is the two-year, fulltime and the three-year, part-time courses which, the world over, can be carried on for loger. Institutions also allow students to carry their credits making them transferable from one university to another.

ATTACK ON STRONG B-SCHOOLS The rule, I presume, is an attack on “successful independent institutions” that are refusing to come under the purview of AICTE, and those that offer year-long PGDM MBAs. AICTE has been trying it’s best to bring them under its control. Most of them have not succumbed due to strong industry support. I feel that the proposed regulations are not appropriate. Management education in India has thrived due to the independence of some early institutions such as the XLRI, XIMB and LIBA, among others. They were the pioneers, even before the AICTE came into the picture. Even now, we have several institutions that have been offering excellent management education, keeping abreast of industry needs. Any interference on the part of the government, either through the AICTE or others, is going to water down the quality of such institutes. If we want strong management courses in India, freedom and autonomy has to be offered to educationists who manage these institutions. Bureaucrats, who regulate the working of the AICTE and other bodies, know little about the sector. Yet, they are implementing more rules and regulations, and throttling the growth of management education in India. I am waiting for the day when there would no “permission raj” in the education sector. Industry has been freed of the “licence raj” and our country has benefited from it. Why is the education sector still under the stranglehold of governments, regulatory agencies and even the university machinery?

Father Denzil Lobo SJ Director, AIMIT, St Aloysius College, Mangalore

IRONIC MOVE AICTE’s public notice reminds me of the oft-repeated phrase in north India—”Hum toh doobe hain sanam; tumko bhi ley doobenge”. (I am drowning darling, and I shall take you down with me.) It is ironic that a government regulator that is on “life-support” is proposing sweeping, and to a large extent, ridiculous changes. One sincerely hopes that better sense shall soon prevail! And, that the HRD ministry under the guidance of Kapil Sibal, shall force the AICTE to withdraw this notification ASAP.

Dr J.K. Goyal Director, JIMS Rohini, New Delhi

Disclaimer: Please note that all of the above queries have been answered on the basis of the information provided by the notice issued by AICTE. Thus some of these answers are based on assumptions that have been made from the past experiences and information that the institute heads sourced from peer institutions, faculty and friends.

January 2011  EDUTECH



Set For A


A fire, a viral outbreak or even a shoot-out inside the college campus is becoming worryingly common. Do Indian higher education institutes have proper disaster management plans in place? BY DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY


EDU TECH  December 2010

Disaster Management


t took the terror attack at German Bakery, just a few miles from its gates, for authorities at the 62-year Pune University to wake up to the dangers of terror attacks. And, to the vulnerability of its students and faculty. Following the March 2010 blast, CCTV cameras have now been installed across the campus and armed guards patrol key locations within the university—both during the day and after dusk. X-ray machines to scan baggages have also been installed in front of the students hostel and other measures are now under consideration at the university, which has students from 104 countries. It also took a tragedy, this time a devastating fire in its chemistry lab, for Asia’s oldest college, the 193-year-old Presidency College in Kolkata (now rechristened Presidency University) to realise how defenceless they were when faced with natural or man-made disasters. However, setting up a uniform and upto-date disaster management plan is easier said than done. More so in institutions that are more than a few decades old and have campuses spread all across town—like the Calcutta or Delhi Universities. “It is tough to have a uniform system, since we have over 150 colleges under us, many of them located in semi urban settings. Buildings are old and installing modern surveillance gadgets or making the building earthquake resistant is almost impossible,” admits Suranjan Das, Vice Chancellor of the 153-year-old Calcutta University. To be fair though, many of the university’s newer colleges and campuses (such as the Alipore Campus) have CCTV cameras and round-the-clock security on campus, as well as tie-ups with nearby hospitals and police stations to deal with emergencies.

Pune University authorities, too, eager to have a proper disaster management policy in place, are now holding counselling sessions with both foreign and domestic students to make them better equipped to deal with a disaster—whether a fire, a medical emergency or even a terror attack. “We held meetings with our co-ordinators among the foreign student popu-



lation, appealing to them to be vigilant in their sphere of activities and associations,” said the director of the University International Students’ Centre, Vasudha Gadre. Even if they are piece-meal steps, they are still a start for these grand old institutions that were established when having a disaster management plan probably did not figure on too many agendas. The news is much better, however, when we come to the 21st century institutions, those that were created in this decade. They seem to have, wisely and thankfully, taken advantage of the era we live in and have elaborate disaster management strategies—at least on paper. Take the case of the upcoming Universal Business School in Karjat, off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The multicrore buildings on its sprawling campus (which includes a dam, a lake and two neighbouring villages that have been “adopted” by the university!) has a multi-level security system and a disaster management plan, at par with the best in the world. “We had Manhattanbased architects Perkins Easterman International build our campus. They have built close to a 100 universities across the world, 50-odd in the US alone and the rest in Asia and Europe. The structures can withstand earthquakes that measure up to eight on the Richter Scale,” says the university Chairperson, Gurdip Anand. Anand who has worked in different CXO functions in both public and private firms during his four decade-long career, has put in place best practices he had enforced in some of the top corporate houses in India. He is confident that with such detailed planning and continuous upgrade and maintenance of the infrastructure, chances of casualties in case of January 2011  EDU TECH



Disaster Management

any emergency will be minimised at UBS when it opens its door to the first batch of MBA students in March 2011. Other higher education institutions that have come up in the past five years, also claim to have a well-established disaster management cell. Manjula Pooja Shroff, the activist-cum-academician, who is the Founder Chairperson of the Amdedabad-based Calorx Education & Research Foundation, a group that owns Calorx Teachers University, says all their institutions (they run colleges as well as half-a-dozen schools) have tried and tested disaster management plans in place. Others like Symbiosis University’s Lavale campus on the outskirts of Pune, too, have a set disaster management plan in place which includes detailed plans of how to evacuate students and staff in the event of an earthquake, a fire or a pandemic.

In Case Of Fire The first thing most institutes talk about when discussing possible emergencies is—fire. Clearly, a fire is the most common form of emergency situation that most institutions have to tackle. Not surprising then that at UBS, Anand has left no stone unturned to get the best firefighting systems in place. All extinguish-


Some Best Practices Adopted By Contemporary Indian Institutes n

Having a disaster plan ready—who does what during a disaster scenario


Regular drills and briefing of administration, faculty and students

Medical Emergencies

E nsuring that the design is earthquake-resistant in case a campus is close to a seismic zone

Another area where most institutions have put a lot of stress is healthcare for students and staff. At UBS, for instance, a welfare centre has been established with a doctor and nurses on call at all times. “In fact, we have already inoculated people at the two neighbouring villages since people from there work in our campus in various capacities. Keeping them disease-free works to our advantage,” says Anand. Further, an ambulance has been bought which will be stationed near the hostel at all times and an understanding




Having the right equipment to deal with fire in the right locations, regular checks on electrical fittings, wirings and laboratories L ab disasters—always having a ready plan to deal with cases. Proximity to the first-aid centres on campus


Having a separate plan for the disabled


Maintenance and regular reports on possible risks


Security personnel briefed regularly. Security cameras constantly monitored




ers are checked every 30 days so that they are always fully functional. And all new students undergo mandatory fire drills every month for the first four months. The B-school authorities have also created a lake by erecting a dam over a river that flows to the south of the campus, and dragged a pipeline from it to the campus so that water can be drawn from the lake in case of a major fire. A diesel pumping station has also been set up to ensure water can be pumped fast. “Calorx has a disaster plan wherein duties are assigned to all the teachers, faculty members and staff. The building plan is put up on soft boards around all our campuses. Students are informed well in advance about staircases that respective classes will be using and where they have to assemble. Mock drills are conducted at regular intervals as well,” she says. In addition, demonstration by fire brigade personnel is given to the students at the beginning of every year. Fire extinguishers are installed in the campuses and buses. “It is not that we ignore smaller issues. All electrical appliances and sockets are checked every month for leakages and other problems. There are trained nurses as well who are stationed at each of our campuses,” she says. To mitigate any incident related to fire, fire extinguishers have been installed at each and every corner of all buildings. Moreover, to tackle any electrical hazards, preventive maintenance for electrification, air conditioning and allied systems are carried out by competent agencies every month.

Ambulance and medical personnel on campus at all times. Tie-up with nearest large hospital with emergency facilities Alternate fire - fighting plan in case Plan-A fails. Building an emergency water reservoir (an artificial pond or similar)

EDU TECH  January 2011



Disaster Management

What To Do When Disaster Strikes n Whatever you do, stay calm


n Wait for instructions


n If you smell gas or smoke, see fire, are told to evacuate, or genuinely

fear for your safety where you are, leave immediately n IF possible wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing

Drop to the floor to avoid smoke and fumes—crawl to safety. Feel the door with the back of your hand before you open it. If it is hot, find another way out n If you are unable to get out of your building for any reason, stay near a window and close to the floor

n Take your emergency “Go Bag” n Use travel routes specified or special assistance provided by local


IN THE EVENT OF A STORM OR FLOOD S evere storms can cause landslides or flooding. Beware of hillsides (that can slip) streams, drainage channels n Stay clear of downed powerlines n Do not try to walk across a flowing stream, where water is above your knees n

IN THE EVENT OF AN EARTHQUAKE: n Drop to the floor n Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, or next to an interior

wall. Cover your head and neck with your arms n Hold on to a sturdy piece of furniture and be prepared to move with

it. Stay where you are until the shaking stops

IF YOU ARE TRAPPED IN DEBRIS Move around as little as possible, so that you don’t kick up dust Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing n Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. n SHOUT only as a last resort n n

IN THE EVENT OF A FIRE: n If your clothes catch on fire, stop where you are, drop to the ground

and roll over and over to smother the flames

arrived at with the nearby state-of-the-art Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, barely 15 minutes from the B-school campus. Again, to ensure that staff or students are not exposed to water-borne diseases, UBS has set up an RO plant on campus and will check the water quality at its inhouse lab every week. Others like the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Petroleum University (PDPU) in Gandhinagar are in the process of improving their healthcare facilities. “We have our medical centre right in the middle of the campus to tackle any emergency on all 365 days in a year. We also have tie-ups with the Apollo Hospital and the Civil Hospital in Gandhinagar in case of medical emergencies. On a more immediate level, first-aid kits are given to the administration cell of each school. Signages and display cards containing phone numbers of university authorities are also displayed prominently on campus. Phone numbers of nearest medical centres, police stations and ambulance service providers are posted in every campus building along with our guidelines for disaster management.” Banik says the disaster management cell also conducts training programmes


EDU TECH  January 2011

for staff and students at the beginning of each academic year. Calorx has a similar strategy where emergency medical-aid training is provided to teachers as well as to the administrative and support staff. All their buses also have a well-stocked first aid kit.

Enabling Systems One area where most older institutes have had to suffer a lot of criticism is lack of facilities for those differentlyabled. Climbing stairs, visiting rest rooms and even sitting for exams are often a torture. Some of the newer institutions however, are setting things right—finally! In PDPU for instance, entries to all buildings have ramps and elevators to access each level. Also, there are special restrooms for those who have any disability. Sheetal Patel, a teacher who passed out from Calorx University two years ago and now teaches at Gujarat University, recalls that for differently-abled people like her, the ramp entries were a big help. “Though we did not have a major emergency during the two years I spent there, we were relaxed since we knew in the event of one, we could use the ramps

to escape to safety instead of trying to run down the stairs, which would be impossible for us,” she says. Being the newest of them all, UBS wants to make sure it is also ahead in terms of being friendly towards the differently abled. So not only are lifts installed in all buildings even though they are just two-storied buildings, but wheelchair paths have been created for every classroom as well as the library. “Much like airports we also have separate toilets for the handicapped, both in the college and the hostels,” says Anand.

Student Security Following the German Bakery blast in which a student of Pune University also perished, and other incidents of violence on campus threatening the safety of students, many institutions have ramped up security measures on campus. While older institutions such as CU or DU have done what they could—installed CCTV cameras at some locations and employed security staff throughout the campus, newer ones have predictably done more. Calorx, for example, has, apart from CCTV cameras in the reception

Xxxxx Xxxx

and the transport areas, other aces up its sleeves. “We have security personnel in all our campuses. Nobody is allowed to enter the campus without a gate pass. Teachers also randomly check bags of students in the bus and campus for any prohibited items,” Shroff adds. PDPU, too, has CCTV security systems at the main entrance gate, each plaza, corridors of buildings, etc. to check unwanted crowd and to ensure security. UBS, too, is taking no chances. Security guards trained by the Maharashtra police, who are also capable of carrying out a water rescue and applying first aid are deployed round the clock. Next, there are half-a-dozen fire extinguishers inside all buildings including hostels. Students undergo mandatory training at the start of an academic y e a r, l e a r n i n g t o o p e r a t e t h e s e machines. Entry and exit, to and from classrooms are biometric, thereby preventing any outsider from entering. Finally, at three different locations in the campus, emergency buttons are located, which when pressed, will immediately sound an alarm at the local police station!



Natural Calamities While dealing with storms and floods is probably easier since they seldom happen without at least some warning, earthquakes and similar natural calamities that have wreaked havoc in campuses across the world in the past, have pushed

International Best Practices Almost every good university in the US and the UK has a disaster management plan. Take the case of Springfield College in Massachusetts, USA. In addition to established emergency procedures (which are fairly uniform) to tackle possible terror attacks, medical emergencies and natural calamities such as cyclones and earthquakes, there are many safety and security measures in place here. To begin with there is government support in terms of security cover provided to the campus. The Department of Public Safety patrols the grounds in marked police cruisers, on foot and on bicycles. They are approachable at any time. This though is just the beginning. Consider some of the other measures: n Security escorts are available anywhere on the campus 24 hours a day by calling Public

Safety at 748-5555 n The college shuttle is available for transportation from classes, academic programmes,

and activities to campus residences and parking lots between 6pm and 2am n Most student residence halls and a number of academic buildings make use of an

electronic ID access system n Guards monitor residence hall entrances from 6 pm to 7 am, and the three major park-

ing lots 24 hours a day n Security cameras monitor entrances to most campus buildings, as well as the sports fields n Emergency telephones are installed throughout the campus. They are marked by blue lights

authorities at some newer institutes to tackle these issues at the construction stage itself. The Gujarat government promoted Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Petroleum University, which has Mukesh Ambani as its president. Says Director General Paritosh K. Banik: “We have tried to ensure that we have a water-tight disaster management plan that can tackle most emergency situations. The institution’s buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes of high magnitude, since we are situated in a earthquake zone-III region,” he says. Similarly, at Universal Business School, the pillars of the buildings are twice as thick as normal two-storeyed structures, so that it can withstand an earthquake of up to 7.5 on the Richter Scale.

Lab Disasters In all laboratories, fire extinguishers for ABC type are installed which can be used in case of oil or chemical fires. Laboratory assistants keep a regular check on the instruments and the students operating them. The latest technology machinery and instruments have been placed, which are convenient to use and have the maximum security. There are first aid kits placed in laboratories in case of any injury. January 2011  EDU TECH







In Britain, a Tech-transfer Operation where Profits Aren’t the Only Goal With its broad focus, University College London’s commercial office could serve as a model for American efforts BY GOLDIE BLUMENSTYK


EDUTECH  January 2011



ocks designed by a vascular surgeon at University College London that improve circulation for hospital patients and professional soccer players make money for the university. A gene-therapy drug to treat a rare form of inherited blindness very likely will not. A 15-year research project that involves banking and analysing bloodserum samples and health records of 200,000 women across the British Isles doesn’t generate a return now, but someday it probably will. University College London Business, the institution’s technology-transfer company, plays a role in those and hundreds of other projects. And, the mix of the financially profitable and socially relevant in its portfolio is no accident. While many American universities are struggling to define and publicly articulate their goals for technology transfer—profits for the institution or promoting local economic development or helping society—UCL Business faces no such crisis. A wholly-owned, for-profit company of the university, with a revenue of about $21.7-million in 2009, UCL Business manages technology transfer and other elements of “knowledge transfer” for this world-renowned institution of 4,000-plus researchers with a well-defined mission. It puts its proof-of-concept grants and licencing expertise behind university inventions and projects that have societal and economic benefits, such as the bloodserum bank for a study of ovarian cancer and, eventually, other

Cengiz Tarhan, Managing Director, UCL Business

women’s diseases. It supports projects that Big Pharma Deals The reach of UCL, a sprawling, researchmatch such research priorities as improvSign up for a free weekly intensive institution of 22,000 students ing global health and building sustainable electronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at that occupies the heart of the city’s Bloomscities, like a consulting company called Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter bury neighborhood as well as laboratory Space Syntax that helped to re-design TrafalThe Chronicle of Higher Education is complexes in northwest and east London, gar Square. And, it provides business guida US-based company with a weekly provides its tech-transfer company plenty ance to companies commercialising invennewspaper and a website updated to work with. Founded in 1826, it was Lontions that can generate income, like those daily, at, that cover all aspects of university life. don’s first university, the first in England compression socks, which carry the With over 90 writers, editors, and open to students from all social back“UCLB” logo on the package. correspondents stationed around the grounds, and it counts Mohandas K. Gan“We have to make money to survive,” says globe,The Chronicle provides timely dhi and Alexander Graham Bell among its the managing director of UCL Business, news and analysis of academic ideas, former students. Known for its classical, Cengiz Tarhan, but profits are not the Holy developments and trends. domed Main Building (where, famously, Grail. “We’re not doing this because we’re an effigy of Jeremy Bentham sits in a dismaking megabucks for the university.” play case), UCL boasts the largest biomediLots of university tech-transfer operations cal enterprise outside of North America, thanks to alliances say that sort of thing, and some in fact do live up to the words. with major hospitals. With research expenditures of about UCL Business is among those for which it’s demonstrably more $565-million a year, it ranks among the four biggest research than lip service. And with the role of academic tech transfer universities in Britain and is comparable in research spending continuing to draw attention worldwide—just this fall, a report to institutions like the University of Arizona and University of from the National Academy of Sciences warned universities in Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. the US to depend on tech transfer less for its profit potential UCL Business, with a staff of more than 40, many of them than for its power to extend academic knowledge to help comPhD scientists or experienced executives from industry, propanies and society—the holistic path that UCL Business charts vides a broader range of services than does a typical American for itself makes it a noteworthy study. tech-transfer office. Its approach is especially timely now. This fall, the British At the Institute of Ophthalmology, for example, where stemgovernment announced major cuts in higher education. The cell scientists are working on a treatment to prevent age-related plan appears to spare funds for university research and money muscular degeneration, as well as a gene-therapy drug for that the government provides to support commercialisation of blindness, research has attracted financing from some of the research (though some criteria for grants under that proworld’s biggest pharmaceutical companies. UCL Business not gramme may be modified). But, universities here face intense only helped negotiate those deals, but also manages many of pressure to find additional streams of revenue. And, the new the arrangements, for a fee. It has used some of the funds it sets climate will be a test for the resilience of the kind of balanced aside for “proof of concept” grants—which help advance earlymission UCL Business has established. stage inventions—to help pay costs of developing a device to deliver the cells to patients. As do many British universities—but few, if any, in the United States—UCL Business also handles contracts and other administrative matters for faculty, who do outside consulting and use its services. That earns the company a considerable amount of money—nearly 40 percent of its income in 2009— even though relatively few faculty members are involved. Tarhan is looking to increase those numbers. UCL Business also enjoys support from the government’s Higher Education Innovation Fund, via the university—a financing source that some American tech-transfer offices envy. “That’s £900,000 more than what any American university gets from the federal government for tech transfer”, says Ashley J. Stevens, a veteran technology-transfer leader at Boston University who is president of the Association of University Technology Managers. The British government’s financial backing of tech-transfer operations—what Stevens calls “a consistent national policy” of support he wishes the US would adopt—and its other revenue-making opportunities, make it difficult to compare UCL Business with an American counterpart in finan-


January 2011  EDUTECH


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE cial terms. In Britain, UCL Business is neither the largest nor the most active academic commercialisation venture. According to recent reports, Imperial College London identifies the inventions and generates the most revenue, while University of Oxford leads in the number of licences signed annually. Though UCL Business is a for-profit company, it is also less commercially focused than, say, Imperial, where tech transfer is run by a company called Imperial Innovations, whose shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange.

A Social Responsibility Ian Jacobs and Usha Menon are gynecologists and cancer researchers who oversee the blood-serum bank and database at the university’s Institute for Women’s Health. For them, UCL Business helped make possible a strategy that could turn what began as a major study of cancer into a long-lasting trove for scientists and pharmaceutical companies looking for links between DNA contained in the serum samples and a range of diseases that women contract as they age. It’s an “amazing resource,” says Dr Jacobs. “We have a social responsibility to maximise its use”. The institute began collecting, testing, and storing the serum samples in 1995. Some 50,000 women in the study continue to provide blood each year. In the institute’s laboratory, just steps away from a busy city street, the samples arrive daily from places like Belfast and Nottingham. Technicians process and inject the blood into toothpick-thin straws for storage in liquid-nitrogen-cooled tanks, labeling each one with an identifying code. The identifier allows researchers to match the samples against the patients’ health records, which the institute is also receiving. Government grants worth about $40-million cover most of the costs of this elaborate operation and analysis, but not the cost of continuing the database once the research grant ends, or of the tracking information that isn’t part of the cancer study but could make the serum bank and database more valuable to researchers and companies in the future. The university and UCL Business are covering those expenses. The serum bank does not lend itself to the traditional approach of most tech-transfer offices, because it’s not a discrete, licensable invention. Still, Dr Jacobs saw it as valuable to commercial partners. UCL Business’s proof-of-concept funds helped pay for some of the early legwork for the institute’s business plan. The first deal, with a major diagnostics company that would pay royalties for rights to use the database, is expected to be announced any day now. “It’s a new model for commercialising science,” says Dr Jacobs. The researchers say their goal is to share proceeds with many centres and researchers that have contributed to the serum bank and to generate income to keep it going. “We don’t want the bank to die because we can’t afford to keep it,” says Dr Jacobs.

Promising Ventures Any payday for UCL Business from the serum bank and data-


EDUTECH  January 2011

A WHOLLY-OWNED, FOR-PROFIT COMPANY OF THE VARSITY, UCL BUSINESS HAS A REVENUE OF $21.7-MILLION (2009) AND MANAGES TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF “KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER” FOR THE VARSITY base is likely to be far in the future. For now, says Tarhan, whose work with that research project began back when he ran a thenseparate tech-transfer company for the university’s medical school, UCL Business is satisfied with the project’s potential to produce “a lot of publications and a lot of public good.” To be sure, UCL Business, which was formed in 2006 from a merger of the medical-school operation with the university’s, has had its share of windfalls. In 2008 it made about $16-million on the sale of a spin¬off company, Stanmore Implants Worldwide, which develops prostheses that can be attached directly to the bones of amputees. And a compound based on work by medical-school researchers that began in the 1980s underlies a drug called Simulect, which over the past 12 years has been used by more than 100,000 transplant patients and brought millions of dollars in licensing revenue to UCL Business and its predecessors. UCL Business returns most of its profits to the university but keeps some profit—about $2.5-million in 2009—for future investments, proof-of-concept grants, and other expenses. The proof-of-concept grants are vital pieces of UCL Business’s strategy; it awards a few each month, typically in amounts ranging from about $15,000 to $80,000 each. The compression-socks enterprise and an unrelated spin-off company called Endomagnetics are two of its ventures that are more financially promising. Endomagnetics has developed a nanotechnology product that could allow doctors to replace the use of radioactive dye with a tiny injectable magnetic particle to track whether cancer cells have entered the lymphatic system. The tracing procedure can be part of the protocol for surgeries to remove breast cancers, melanomas, and other cancers. But the company’s CEO, Eric Mayes, says only about 20 percent of the hospitals in Europe and half in the United States have the necessary equipment and nuclear-medicine expertise to carry out the procedure.

GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM Quentin Pankhurst, a professor of physics who heads a prestigious research lab at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, invented the product. He is also a co-founder of Endomagnetics, which is testing the surgical device in clinical trials. UCL Business has provided the company with about $475,000 to help it develop a prototype precise enough to track the particle without also picking up readings from all the other magnetic objects in an operating room. In exchange for that investment the tech-transfer company owns about 23 percent of the spinoff. In a tiny office adjacent to his physics laboratory, Pankhurst demonstrates the unremarkable-looking tabletop device, placing a probe next to metal coins as numbers on a meter flash higher and higher. Mayes says it has the potential for annual revenue in the billions of dollars. The socks were the brainchild of Stephen G.E. Barker and a surgical colleague, who more than 10 years ago designed a below-the-knee sock with graduated compression to be given to hospital patients to help them avoid blood clots. UCL Business sells the socks to hospitals through a spin-off company called Saphena Medical (saphena is Latin for vein), and to athletes and general consumers through a spin-off company called Evexar Medical. UCL Business clears nearly $400,000 a year on sales of the hospital version (sales of the athletic line are too new for tallies), income that it shares with the university and inventor. For the socks, UCL Business also put up something besides money: They are the first products to carry the university and UCL Business logos. Although “UCL” (for the medical version) and “UCLB” (for the others) hardly have the cachet of the Nike swoosh, Dr Barker says the logos do help sales.

Intangible Values But it is in UCL Business’s involvement with projects that don’t necessarily make money—or won’t for a long while—that the company is most distinctive.


Tropical Storm Risk, a non-commercial project spun off from a UCL Business company called EuroTempest, is an example. Created by meteorologists and finance experts, EuroTempest sells data and weather forecasts. Tropical Storm Risk uses some of the same complex models to predict the severity of storms in six tropical areas around the world. Both were established by UCL Business, which provides them office space in a bare-walled upper-story room a few doors from the Fitzroy Square townhouse that was once home to Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw. EuroTempest generates about $600,000 in annual revenues, mostly from insurance companies. Tarhan calls it “an interesting concept” but doubts it will ever produce a lot of money. “We support it because there’s a benefit” in having it, he says. Part of that benefit is its connection to Tropical Storm Risk, a free service, with 17,000 subscribers—including officials of relief agencies in places like Bangladesh, who have used the service to warn local communities of impending floods. Even as it spends money on projects with no obvious commercial potential, UCL Business often realises intangible value. It owns about a quarter of Space Syntax, the 17-year-old planning firm that developed the more pedestrian-friendly design of Trafalgar Square. Besides the recommendation that led to the installation of a grand staircase, making the square a more attractive public space—and not just for tourists determined to get close to Nelson’s Column—the company has worked on high-profile urban-planning projects throughout London, as well as in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Seville, Spain. For UCL Business, “it’s great PR because of the space we operate in,” says Alan Penn, a founder of the company and a professor of architectural and urban computing. Penn and a few others work at Space Syntax and teach at the university. As an academic, he treasures that dual role as “a wonderful way of getting at research problems and data sets” in challenging real-world situations. As a businessman, though, he recognises that it might be keeping the firm from maximising its financial value. “Our company doesn’t really make them much money,” he allows. This year one of Space Syntax’s partners has taken a leave to explore new business strategies, a gratifying development for UCL Business. But as welcome as a more profitable Space Syntax would be, particularly now as economic pressures on the university heat up, Tarhan says he doesn’t want to lose UCL Business’s focus on its broader goals. “This business is not about ‘profitability’ in the accounting sense. It is about our impact on the work of the university and the much broader impact we help to make on the economy and society, too,” he says, sounding a note that might seem at odds for a business—but perhaps just right for many nonprofit techtransfer operations in America. “We’re not playing the numbers game.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter

January 2011  EDUTECH




Cables Spilled by WikiLeaks Portray College Campuses as Ideological Battlegrounds USA, Russia, Iraq, Maldives, and even India, have used higher education to push ideological agendas BY PETER SCHMIDT


Vive l’Intégration The most comprehensive discussion of higher education as a tool for battling Islamic extremism is offered in a cable sent this year by Charles H. Rivkin, the US ambassador to France. In it, he says that, “French institutions have not proven themselves flexible enough to adjust an increasingly heterodox demography.” Among France’s elite educational insti-


EDUTECH  January 2011

ly planned. A separate diplomatic cable, from 2005, describes an attempt by France’s Interior Ministry to encourage that nation’s universities to offer courses on French culture to Muslim imams. The effort failed, the cable says, because only one university expressed any interest, and it backed out after concluding that participating in such a programme would run counter to its secularist principles. Wikileaks Cables : Higher education to advance political agendas?

tutions, he notes, only its Institute of Political Studies of Paris (better known as “Sciences Po”) is known to have taken “serious steps to integrate” the nation’s non-white population. If France does not do more, the cable warns, it could become “more crisis-prone and inwardlooking, and consequently a less capable ally”. The cable outlines a sweeping strategy to encourage France to do more to assimilate its minority populations, which includes a plan to “provide tools for teaching tolerance” to “over 1,000 American university students who teach English in French schools every year”. The cable by Rivkin has attracted considerable attention in the French media, with some of the coverage suggesting surprise that the American efforts to promote France’s assimilation of its minority residents would be so concerted and thorough-

Middle East Worries

As might be expected, higher education plays a much more central role in the fight against Muslim extremism in the Middle East, the documents released by WikiLeaks show. In one set of cables, the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Smith, described that nation’s efforts to use educational reforms to not only diversify its economy but weaken the most reactionary elements of its religious establishment. He noted that the US is contributing to the effort through more educational exchanges—as of the 200910 academic year, he said, more Saudi students were studying in the United States than had been even before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And he added that Saudi officials worry that their educational-reform plans could be undermined by a pending cli-


iplomatic cables, recently made public by the WikiLeaks website, show how the United States and other nations have focused on colleges and universities as key battlegrounds in their efforts to win over hearts and minds. A common theme in many of the United States State Department dispatches from Europe and the Middle East, is that colleges must play a “central role” in the fight against Islamic “extremism”, by promoting “Western values”. And, by offering educational opportunities that help keep Muslims from feeling politically, or economically, disenfranchised. The bad news that the cables hold for the US is that many of its adversaries and competitors similarly have recognised higher education’s potential to advance their interests. For example, the cables cite Iranian efforts to recruit Afghans into its universities, and to extend its influence in Iraq through gifts to students and professors there.

GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM mate-change agreement that would reduce the nation’s income from fossil fuels, leaving little money for those reform plans. A separate cable relays how the Maldives’ ambassador to the United States, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, urged more educational exchanges and partnerships with his nation to deter students there from seeking the free education in Islamic studies offered to them by colleges in Egypt and Pakistan, where they could become radicalised. A 2008 State Department cable describes how Asif Ali Zardari, who was then co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party and was soon to be elected Pakistan’s president, called for more Pakistanis to receive scholarships to study in the United States, as a means of promoting social development in his country. And a separate State Department cable sent this year quotes India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, as saying that her nation, which annually pro-

vides about 1,300 scholarships to Afghans for education and training, was considering sharply increasing such scholarship offerings and building a new agriculture college in Afghanistan to aid that nation’s development efforts.

Russian Revisionism It has been known for some time that Russian officials were seeking to rehabilitate the image of Joseph Stalin. A cable sent last year from the US embassy in Moscow describes in detail just how far some were willing to go. Titled Is Stalin’s Ghost a Threat to Academic Freedom?, the cable describes how faculty members at the nation’s universities have been urged by nationalistic government officials to report scholars who engage in “falsification” by portraying the former dictator in a negative light. It also relays a Moscow Times report that a historian who had researched the deportations of Soviet Germans under Stalin was being investigated for alleg-

edly violating privacy rights, and his research data had been seized. But there is another side. The cable noted that attempts to dictate the terms used by academics have been half-hearted, and, “there remain enough Russians, both in and out of the government, who question the nationalists’ logic and strive to keep the memory of Stalin’s victims alive”. A separate cable sent by the embassy in Moscow in 2009 reported that the Interior Ministry had brought pressure to bear on Russia’s Higher School of Economics to expel students. The cable said the economics institution had resisted, but other institutes and universities there might have “quietly capitulated” to similar demands. Aisha Labi in New York and Anna Nemtsova in Moscow contributed to this article. Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter


PA Systems

p u d n a e t S and b

! d r a e H Effectively designed public address systems are a must to give your institution the true hi-tech touch. We tell you how to get the best solutions BY TUSHAR KANWAR


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PA Systems


s “thought leaders” in institutes of higher education, one often finds oneself exhorting the students, and sometimes educators, too, to find their voice in society, or the industry. Yet, do you find their voices being lost in oft-cavernous auditoriums and classrooms, not to mention in the expanding campuses? If yes, a way to making all those voices heard may lie in an effectively designed “public address (PA) system”. We are talking of a “sound reinforcement”, two-way interaction in classrooms or discussion rooms and zonewise announcements across campuses. EDU spoke to leading solution providers and institutions that have implemented PA systems to look at the important considerations and choices that an edupreneur has.

Institutional Needs As with any large turnkey technology implementation, there are a plethora of components and brands available in the market. The solution you choose for your educational institution has to be closely mated with the institution’s unique requirements. Merely following another institution’s example may well be the equivalent of bringing a jackhammer to an ice sculptor show. Arun Kumar, divisional manager in the professional systems division at Bose India, says, “Educational institutions need to introspect how and where their PA system will be used. Even in classrooms, one could look at simple one-

mic-per-lecturer (wired or wireless) with a number of mics spread across students for lectures and presentations; or a more complex case of an audio-video solution where the localisation, or focus, on the source of sound coming from the picture is key. Is loudness and speech intelligibility paramount?” Consider the options—do you intend to use the PA system as an evacuation system as well? Will you need to address the entire campus simultaneously, or do you have zoning (area-wise) requirements? All these factors will need to be considered even before the first bid is to be sought.

Unraveling Components While Bose advocates a “solutions approach” i.e. an institution purchases “deliverables achieved” via the solution, rather than a shopping cart of piece-meal components, it is critical for decision makers to understand the components to make a more empowered decision. Loudspeakers: The visible “face” and audible “voice” of your PA system, choosing loudspeakers is usually based on what the usage is expected to be. Unless classrooms have an AV requirement, most speech-grade speakers will do the job. However, the acoustics of the rooms and availability of installation points (such as false ceilings) can decide the number and type of speakers required to get uniformity of coverage across the classroom. Ambient noise also plays into the equation, with speakers needing to be at least 6 to 10 decibels above the floor noise to be intelligible.



Do keep in mind that since manufacturers produce speakers at certain rated power intervals, a loudspeaker with a higher-rated power can be tapped down to a lower power-level, based on needs. Amplifiers: The “engine” behind your PA system, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to make the human voice louder. You can select amplifiers based on the number of speakers it is powering, and the rated power of each of those speakers—this is critical to not have a situation where your amplifier can trip up when it is powering speakers with higher power requirements. Reliability and serviceability in your geography is important to consider as well, to have qualified personnel from the solution provider on hand, in case anything goes amiss. Arun Kumar from Bose recommends that in situations where budgets do not allow the purchase of high-end equipment, institutions should not compromise on quality, instead looking at phasing the project or considering reduced functionality—for example, reducing the output expectations from +/- 3 decibels of desired output to +/- 6 decibels of desired output sees substantial price reductions in the amplifier space. Mixers: Mixers are electronic devices that allow one to combine, route and change the level, timbre and dynamics of audio signals, to produce a combined output signal. These devices typically are positioned between input sources and the amplifier. A simple application would be to enable the signals that originated from two separate microphones to be heard through one set of speakers simultaneously. While for the most part, mixers can be chosen based on the number of inputs you require—how many mics, how many other audio sources such as AV equipment, intercom systems and any other future additions. How mixers are operated, for example, the complexity of controls, or whether January 2011  EDUTECH



PA Systems

the controls are digital, touchscreen or analog, also can play a part in the selection process. Clearly, you do not need a mixer of the complexity of a sound recording studio in each classroom, do you? One that an educator can operate will go much further and reduce support load across your institution. Microphones: Most of us have seen microphones in musical performances. But again, much like loudspeakers, speech grade mics are more than sufficient for most classrooms or public announcement needs. When choosing microphones, pick up those whose response is flat in the speech band, and have either a figure-of-8 or a Cardioid pickup pattern—omni-directional mics,

while sounding more natural, are not very good at rejecting unwanted sounds from behind the microphone. Also consider the applications—if you expect to need an educator to walk around freely while using the microphone, you will need to consider a wireless lapel or head-worn microphone. Cables: Most PA systems providers recommend their own standard cabling that has been tested with their components, and again, your utilisation decides the type of cabling you need to deploy. Bose, for example, recommends a 2.5sqmm, 80-strand cable for large installations. Just make sure that cable length calculations leave enough slack to move around and factor in different room sizes.



o put the components in perspective, EDU spoke to a number of institutions about their “public address (PA) system implementation” for a “real” insight, as to how their objectives were achieved. AMITY UNIVERSITY: Amity has combinations of PA systems at work in their 516 classrooms, auditoriums and seminar halls in their Noida and Uttar Pradesh campuses. Brig. (Retd.) S.K. Doval, director of administration, elucidated the details. Classrooms featuring an 8-watt speakers used with either tie-clip, or general PA microphones, and auditoriums sporting amplifiers and four to six speakers of 800watts. Seminar and conference halls, on the other hand, use highly-sensitive gooseneck microphones, interconnected through mixers and a central amplifier, which ranges from 60 to 4,000 watts. JAIN SCHOOL: Jain School, Bengaluru, is a complete Bose shop—as far as its auditorium sound reinforcements, recreational area sound setup and AV solution for their classrooms is concerned. M.S. Parswanath, head of facilities and projects. With Bose solutioning, Jain School set up a two-way PA system across around 100 classrooms, each of which featured a projector or speaker set-up that was able to deliver a two-way AV content. In its 6-lakh sqft campus, apart from the added capabilities of dividing the building into 12 zones, each of which can be addressed simultaneously or individually, Bose also provisioned six seminar rooms with dual projectors setups, and a central board room with touch panel control systems. Parswanath highlighted the ability to run two classrooms on a single amplifier, thus reducing the need to purchase twice as many amplifiers, and their reuse of existing network cabling as key cost savers in their implementation. LOVELY PROFESSIONAL UNIVERSITY: With a campus spread over an area of 600 acres, LPU implemented a system fit for its size, says Aman Mittal, deputy director, LPU. Apart from a zoning-capable digital PA system and Ahuja hornspeakers across the campus, LPU has chosen digital mixers from Bose and used CAT VI cables instead of analog cables. In addition, LPU has added in a visual PA system as well, in the form of a channel—Y TV—with an interesting emergency component: any outsider, if required, can address the whole university from one of many locations across its campus.


EDUTECH  January 2011

Sound Consultants: Too often is the bill of materials prioritised above the real glue that will hold the PA implementation together—sound experts you ought to have on your proposal review panel. Sound consultants freelancing with firms should be independent and not arrive with a tie-up with an existing solution provider, which deters them from objective opinion meant in the institutions’ best interests. Sound engineer, Jai Shankar Iyer, rues the fact that there is a dearth of good sound consultants available in the Indian market. He attributes this to the limited availability of hardware a sound engineer gets to work with.

Comparing Approaches There is an across-the-board acceptance that choosing a solution approach, while implementing a PA system, increases costs by as much as 30 percent, when compared to an “assemble-your-owncomponents implementation”. Yet, as Amity’s Brigadier (Retd.) S.K. Doval puts it, most institutions prefer the former as it saves time and effort, and puts the onus of replacing, mending and servicing equipment on a single vendor. He adds that even from a vendor’s point of view, a big contract or bulk buying allows the vendor the flexibility to provide complementary services or pass on discounts on services or procurement costs to the client. Jai Shankar Iyer adds some perspective when he says, “You can shop around for components at cheaper rates, but when you buy a solution, you also get years of experience of system tuning, set-up and making disparate components and systems talk to each other. That’s a competence that cant be developed overnight!”

How To Go About It While it is inevitable that each institution’s budget, requirement and system design will differ, educators we spoke to offered valuable insights on how to get a PA system implementation started. M.S. Parswanath from Jain Group of Institutions recommends taking onboard, a capable sound engineer,

PA Systems


MATCH SYSTEM TO NEED What were the needs that drove the decision to choose a PA system?

What insights can you share, based on your experience, on purchasing a PA system?

Apart from the benefits it gives us in the classrooms, we’ve grown to a family 24,000 students, increasing members of staff and other daily wagers, vendors and workers. We concluded that even modern ways of SMSes or e-mails are inappropriate in hours of emergencies such as fire, flood, earthquake and riots. Hence the decision.

On the basis of our experience, I will advise that everyone ensures that before purchase, the requirement for the PA system should be clear, as most people end up spending more money than required. In our case, the decision was taken keeping in mind the latest in technology with a correct price. In our analysis, Ahuja has the maximum marketshare. That was taken into consideration. And, since the pricing was good, Ahujas were selected. Instead of buying a big brand we chose them as they were offering a good technology at a competitive price. A good balance of price and latest technology was the mantra.

How did your team choose the components or technology for the system?

AMAN MITTAL Deputy Director, Lovely Professional University

While selecting, several parameters were kept in consideration: our required size was huge. We also ensured that the PA system be environment-friendly, and excess noise could be controlled. Though costs were kept in consideration, we stressed mainly on quality and did not compromise on it.


What is the ballpark or estimated cost of this exercise that was conducted at Lovely Professional University? Approximately 12.5 million.

along with an acoustics consultant onto the review panel, to ensure that the solution provider does not bedazzle with you with high-priced components alone, and focuses on solving the problem at hand. In his opinion, the approach of the solution provider should be consultative, and focus not only on what needs to be added, but also if any reuse possibilities exist and if any exclusions need to be made in the environment. Brig. S.K. Doval of Amity adds, “PA systems should be easy to handle and rugged in nature, keeping in mind our conditions, yet there should be enough scope for expanding functionality later.”

Cutting Costs Pegging a number for a PA system implementation is never easy, since a number of considerations come into play here. For instance, how large is the area to be covered, or how many classrooms? How many source or paging points are there going to be? Jai Shankar Iyer estimates that a modest requirement of a three-floor building

with a single assembly hall and under 50 classrooms can be outfitted with around a Rs 10 lakh budget: if you pick a local player. Add in a matrixing or zoning requirement and you could easily be looking at a cost five times the previous, not to mention the exponential costs increase should you wish to build in a security warning system and evacuation redundancies into this system. To put it in perspective, the latter scenario can take your budget to upto Rs 2 crore, if not more. At the Jain School, M.S. Parswanath worked with a budget of approximately Rs 3.5 crore when implementing Bose, and recommends that one chooses a vendor where the running costs do not rise with time—a one-time capital investment with a degree of “futureproofing” is what his school preferred. Schools with a more modest budget can consider market leaders such as Ahuja and Dass for their solutions, and their service record in India is far better than a brand like Mackie, which is a robust brand worldwide, but doesn’t match up on its service levels.

January 2011  EDUTECH



Debashis Chatterjee

FACT FILE NAME: Dr Debashis Chatterjee DOB: September 5, 1964 CURRENT ENGAGEMENT: Director, IIM Kohzikode QUALIFICATIONS: MA in English from JNU, MBA and PhD from IIM Calcutta FAVOURITE BOOK: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse FAVOURITE PASTIME: Cricket, reflection, classic Bollywood films POSITIONS HELD: Professor of Organisation Behavior at IIM Lucknow, ACC Research Fellow at IIM Calcutta, Dean of the Singapore Campus of SPJCM, Founder of the Centre for Leadership and Human Values at IIM Lucknow ACHIEVEMENTS/AWARDS: Fulbright Pre-Doctoral and Post Doctoral (MIT and Harvard), University Gold Medal, Rotary International Award, National Scholar, Best National Teacher Award (Deccan Herald)

The All-rounder Intellectual Arguably the youngest academic to head an IIM, Debashis Chatterjee is a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades—and quite the master in most! BY DHIMAN CHATTOPADHYAY 62

EDUTECH  January 2011


hen he dropped out of medical school after attending 10 lectures, Debashis Chatterjee’s parents figured their son was not going to do much in life. To repeat a very old cliché though, life had other plans for this adventurous boy from a small town in West Bengal. Over 25 years and several degrees, awards and achievements later, as he sits in his spacious office, the director of Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, should feel pleased with what he has achieved. But this amiable Bengali feels he has a lot left to achieve. For starters, he has started work on what will be his seventh book!

Debashis Chatterjee

“I grew up in Barddhaman, a former principality and a university town about 100km from Kolkata. The farthest one could think of going in terms of middle-class aspiration was to the medical school or local engineering college. For my parents you could either be a doctor, an engineer, or nothing. I ended up being ‘nothing’,” recalls Chatterjee with a smile. Honestly though, this young-at-heart scholar with his carefully-trimmed beard is anything but your regular academic. In fact, everything in his life so far has been far from ordinary. He dropped out of med school, flirted with chemistry and commerce (he enrolled to do his graduation in both) before settling on a masters in English literature from JNU. Then, he did his MBA from IIM Calcutta, won the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship—not once but twice (he landed up at MIT for the first and at Harvard for the second), taught at IIM Calcutta (where he also completed his PhD) and IIM Lucknow, and has written six books so far. He lists, among his many talents, the ability to make good caricatures, an art he fine tuned during his student days by drawing sketches of his teachers! What makes him stand out, though, is his humble and straightforward nature, of a man who takes pride in his middle-class values. One of his happiest moments for instance, came when he informed his parents about his appointment as the director of IIM Kozhikode. “When I was selected, arguably as the youngest academic to head an IIM in my early forties, my father was pleasantly surprised. Sadly, he passed away in 2009, soon after I had taken charge of IIM Kozhikode.” Since he looks equally at home in a kurta or a suit as he poses for the shutterbugs, I ask him what made him give up the lure of a fat corporate salary and move to academics. “Like other things in my life, this one wasn’t a planned move,” he says. “I realised pretty early that I had the gift of synthesis and of persuasion— qualities essential for an academic. I would hold fort after a particularly punishing class and caricature my teachers in a way most of my friends found amusingly original. I often found myself as a

guru of sorts inspiring a motley group of friends after class with my own theories of the universe. I could write well too and once dreamed of making a living as a writer—I still do,” he laughs. To come back to the original question though, he admits the huge pay checks did lure him. “I took up a job as an administrator in a large organisation. I was a university gold medal winner and took pride in the fact that I had a high IQ. Imagine how mortified I was to see an organisation taking a group of bright young women and men with a high IQ of 160 and reducing them to a collective IQ of 90 or less quickly,” he says.


agement guru, Dr Peter Senge, whose book The Fifth Discipline was an absolute rage around the world at that time. A few years later, he won another Fulbright, this time for his post-doc work at Harvard. It was following his stint at Harvard that he published (1998) what remains his seminal book, Leading Consciously. “Dr Senge wrote a foreword for it,” he says. Life moved at a fast clip after that. In less than a decade, he penned five more books, and then found himself holding a top job at one of India’s top B-schools. At IIM Kozhikode, Chatterjee’s biggest achievements, so far, has been to bridge

“MY GOAL IS TO CHURN OUT NOT JUST COMPETENT, BUT ALSO COMPASSIONATE, MANAGERS” His transition to academic life though was initially more out of “desperation rather than aspiration” he reveals. “What matters is that I soon matured into a teacher’s role,” he adds. It is also clear by now that Chatterjee is impatient by nature and hates doing just one thing at a time. “I did the first of my two MAs from JNU. The second one was an MBA from IIM Calcutta where I specialised in human resource management,” he says. He then served as ACC Research Fellow in IIM Calcutta from 1993-1996. At the same time , he completed his PhD from the Management Centre for Human Values, IIM Calcutta. IIM Calcutta also proved lucky for him in more ways than one. It was from here that he won the first of his two Fulbright fellowships. It took him to the US, where he had a chance to work with the man-

the embarrassing gender gap. “We were the first IIM to admit almost 100 women (30 percent) in a batch size of 300 in our flagship postgrad programme. The average in the past 50 years has been 8 to 10 percent,” he says. Enrolling more women, says Chatterjee is not just about taking a stance. “Look around. The world’s fastest-growing markets are neither China nor India—but women. B-schools have to reflect that reality too,” he says. Another big change: sensitisation of students to a larger social environment. “My goal is to churn out not just competent but also compassionate managers,” he says. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at content/newsletters January 2011  EDUTECH


LEGACY “I can truly say that, but for Dr Bhatnagar, you could not have seen today the chain of national laboratories”–Jawaharlal Nehru

Dr Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Father Of Research Laboratories This is the 21st century. Our governments, universities and industries are working together to take India to the next level in R&D—yet, there is little respite for the poor professor. He (or she) is still caught between obligatory duties and what theyy truly wish to do. Unfortunately, for several of them, research falls in the first category. While together we cry over how difficult it is to conduct research in today’s world, a question remains—was it ever easy? Especially, in our country? Take this scientist for instance. He lost his father at the age of eight months. He received no monetary support from his family from the time he quit school—of course, he supported himself through grants and scholarships that he won in plenty. In 1915 when he got married to his headmaster’s daughter Lajwanti (nee Sahni), he was still in college. Incidentally, he flunked chemistry (a subject that he would later be known for) and had to repeat another year. During that year, to support his newly formed family, he worked at an inventory office for a princely sum of 150. Most may have recognised Dr Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar by now. A prominent science leader in a newly independent India, Bhatnagar has been hailed as a “bridge” between two cultures and two eras—understandably so. His life may never have been too rough, but it was never too easy either. However, it didn’t slow him or his research down—perhaps because he loved and prioritised his research over and above everything else. He was not just an archetypal ‘reseacrher in his ivory tower’, he cared about the world around him and social issues. His research, needless to add, was pragmatic, mostly in the fields of applied and industrial chemistry. The first industrial problem undertaken by Bhatnagar was the development of a process to convert bagasse (sugarcane peels) into food cake for cattle. He also undertook industrial problems for Delhi Cloth Mills; JK Mills, Kanpur; Ganesh Flour Mills, Layallapur; Tata Oil Mills, Bombay; Steel Brothers and Company, London. One of his most important achievements was for Attock Oil Company at Rawalpindi. Attock in their drilling operations confronted a peculiar problem—wherein mud used for drilling when it came into contact with saline water converted into a solid mass, which hardened further. This solidification rendered all drilling operations impossible. Bhatnagar, the pragmatic problem-solver, mixed Indian rubber with the mud. And for his solution he was paid a whopping Rs 1,50,000 in 1925! Which he promptly invested into further research. Perhaps, it is this consistent pursuit of research of Bhatnagar’s that won him his colleagues’ respect. Perhaps it was more. The truth remains that we need more of his ilk. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at


EDUTECH  January 2011

(1894-1955) 1916-1919 MSc on surface tension of water 1919-1921 DSc at the University of London on surface tension of oils 1921 – 1924 Appointed as the Director, University Chemical Laboratories, Lahore 1940 (August) Appointed as the Director of Scientific and Industrial Research 1941 Made the Knight Bachelor 1942 (September 26) Appointed the Director of an autonomous Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. A date celebrated as the CSIR Foundation Day 1943 Made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London 1948-1949 Secretary to the ministry of education 1951 Made the Chairperson to the UGC 1954 Awarded the Padma Vibushan