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July 31, 2009

Diversified IITs

At least two of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) — Hyderabad, which is one of the six new IITs established last year, and Madras — have plans to set up medical schools. IIT-Hyderabad is working out the modalities of a master plan to establish a high-end medical school in its campus that would initially offer MD degrees in two-three years and then gradually start MBBS courses. According to IIT-Hyderabad Director Prof UB Desai, the plan is to ‘‘focus on biology in a big way’’. The proposed department will be termed ‘‘Bio X’’ and ‘‘offer courses like bioinformatics, biotechnology and so on’’. This will also go a long way in catering to the needs of engineering students who ‘‘require a lot of interaction with medical schools’’. This apart, IIT-Hyderabad also has plans to set up a school of humanities to offer quality courses in psychology, economics, social anthropology, linguistics et cetera. However, it is not that IIT-Hyderabad will be the lone IIT offering courses other than engineering. IIT-Kanpur, for instance, will be introducing music and performing arts while IIT-Mumbai already offers Hindustani classical music and IIT-Kharagpur runs a law school. There is no gainsaying that such a diversified IIT regime, backed by its already established brand name both in terms of input and output, will also contribute wonderfully to interdisciplinary pursuits. As the Yashpal Committee report on Rejuvenation of Higher Education too advocates, the IITs need to have a far broader course portfolio so that both engineering and non-engineering courses begin to happen differently, in synergy with one another for a more informed knowledge base and the making of a knowledge society. SOURCE: THE SENTINEL

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