India needs to stop being a technology importer: Ramadorai

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SummaryRamadorai said while in India, other engineering institutes are in awe of IIT, its position in the 2012-13 QS World University Rankings is not in the top 200.

Advisor to the Prime Minister, S Ramadorai on Wednesday said IITs need to have a significant proportion of foreign students. He was speaking at the 43rd Annual Convocation of IIT- Delhi. He was speaking about the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) being among the world’s top institutes and its role in building brand India.

Ramadorai said while in India, other engineering institutes are in awe of IIT, its position in the 2012-13 QS World University Rankings is not in the top 200.

He said India is the only BRICS country from which no university has made it to the top 200.

Thus, the IITs need to develop a “more outward-facing profile” and attract more foreign faculty members, researchers and students at all levels, he said. “However, this should be done by factoring in the challenge of huge domestic demand at the under-graduate level and the fact that foreign students cannot compete in the IIT-JEE,” Ramadorai said.

Envisioning a larger role for IITs in the functioning of the government, he also talked about the China Studies Centre at IIT-Madras. “Such centres, if consulted by the government in policy decisions, would greatly encourage their growth and attract talent,” Ramadorai said.

He stressed the need for collaborative research with the increasing importance of public-private partnership in the country.

About the need for closer IIT-industry partnership in the context of the government initiative to set up research parks at each IIT, Ramadorai said, “India is, by and large, a technology importer... For this trend to reverse, closer interaction of the IITs with Indian industry is needed. Given that even hiring of foreigners in research projects is a challenge, could industry funding of research show a way out?”

In areas of environment, primary healthcare and agricultural sciences, IIT students and other social sciences students could be a part of various multi-disciplinary projects. Ramadorai suggested that medicine and law should “make their way into the IIT system”.

Keeping with the aim of the institute’s administration to make IITs more research-oriented, the number of post-graduate and PhD students obtaining their degrees this year has seen a considerable increase from the last few years. Out of 1,786 students admitted to IITs this year, around 1,006 are postgraduate students and 199 have finished their PhDs. As many as 802 students got their post-graduate degrees last year.

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