‘Research cannot happen in isolation; universities must partner industrial houses’

By: | Published: March 14, 2016 12:02 AM

Prof Hariharan Krishnan, the head of Creative Sciences at Mahindra Ecole Centrale, Hyderabad, in an interaction with Akash Sinha, talks about research and unemployment issues facing the country. Excerpts:

Prof Hariharan Krishnan, the head of Creative Sciences at Mahindra Ecole Centrale, Hyderabad, in an interaction with Akash Sinha, talks about research and unemployment issues facing the country. Excerpts:

Each year, 15 lakh engineering students pass out of colleges in India. But all don’t get jobs. What can be done to tackle the issue?

The answer lies in changing secondary school education exit points. No student must be asked to narrow down her choice to engineering, medicine or commerce. Schools cannot force young minds and their guardians to be career-oriented and thus warp their perspectives of larger concerns. Most engineering colleges give so much weightage to sciences that it deprives students of taking interest in liberal arts.

Should the government limit the growth of engineering colleges and focus on quality education?

Cutting down on numbers is not the answer; orienting students more towards creative thinking is important. That brings us to the far more serious issue of where do we find teachers for such courses? I believe India does not lack talent. All we need to do is to shift our focus on to a different field of talented personnel.

So, how can Skill India succeed?

We have to create dynamic systems where young minds must be made to think in enterprising ways; this does not require a lot of funds. All is needed is strong political and industrial will. Educationists and industrialists have to create think tanks and propose radical solutions which will make the skilling ecosystem more effective, as we have witnessed in South Korea and China.

Why do Indian universities rank low in research?

Research cannot happen in isolation. Gone are the days when scientists could sit alone in labs and think of new inventions. Today, most inventions are ready. We have to make them reach the common man. For that, universities must partner with industrial houses.

Can innovation help increase engineers’ employability?

Innovative thinking is only possible when colleges start studying the demands of the common man. Apart from sciences, engineering students need to be trained in fine arts. When students see artists, dancers, sculptors translate their vision in myriad ways, they too will be inspired to think out-of-the-box and come up with solutions are capable of empowering societies. For example, at Mahindra Ecole Centrale, we also focus on training men and women transform into social leaders.

Can ICT help fill education gaps?

ICT has opened doors to young citizens across the globe to think big. There is no going back. But, so far, the verticals have been largely dominated by English-speaking community. The time has come to make it more lateral and spread the benefits to vernacular spaces. Once we do so, we will see the blossoming of smaller cultures which can help make the digital environment more creative.

How can creativity and design help in imparting knowledge?

Creativity begins with a spirit of inquiry. Once young minds are free to think and discover on their own, you will see a whole new creative revolution sweeping the nation. Instead of classrooms as spaces where there is a vendor delivering information as goods to a student, we will see educational institutions turning into learning centres where teachers are partners and facilitators.

You are a well known film-maker. What are your views on controversies around the censor board?

In a democratic country, censorship should be abolished, to start with. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) was established during the British Raj and has no place in modern India. Films should be seen and treated like TV programmes and broadcast journalistic expressions, in which professionals are equipped with self-restraint and a judicious thought process to conduct their actions. CBFC starts with the belief that the film industry is packed with deviants who need to be rapped on their knuckles when they are mischievous. Honestly, when democratic countries like the US and Japan have no censorship, why should we have one? Anyway, in this age of the internet and free downloads, CBFC makes no sense.

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