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IIT Kharagpur (Photo: Mint)
IIT Kharagpur (Photo: Mint)

IITs embrace diversity, offer courses beyond technology

  • While some of the older IITs do offer some non-engineering courses, there is an increasing desire to become diverse and multidisciplinary, a point that the New Education Policy has underlined

NEW DELHI: Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are all set to embrace diversity and offer education in areas beyond their traditional technology and engineering focus.

While some of the older IITs do offer some non-engineering courses, there is an increasing desire to become diverse and multidisciplinary, a point that the New Education Policy (NEP) has underlined. While the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), the post-graduation entrance exam of IITs are introducing two new subject papers Environmental Science and Engineering, and Humanities and Social Sciences later this year, IIT Guwahati is looking to open a medical school and exploring possibility of diversifying into subjects like arts, philosophy and architecture.

“The institute is willing to set up a medical school in the immediate future. The institute is interested to have a management school, and discussions have already been started. Moreover, the institute also offers a unique Bachelor’s degree in Design and would be looking to diversify into various subjects related to arts and performing arts, philosophy, ancient and modern languages, architecture, etc," T. G. Sitharam, director, IIT Guwahati said in an email response.

Sitharam said IIT Guwahati has also decided to begin a center for Indian Knowledge, Sanskrit and Yoga in addition to the center for Linguistic Science and Technology, center for Energy… center for Rural Technology etc that are already there as part of its academic setup.

The new National Education Policy has given a thrust to multidisciplinary education, and reducing rigidity between different streams of learning. It has also talked about multiple entry and exit system at undergraduate level. While IIT Madras has last month decided to open a new bachelor’s degree program in data science with multiple entry and exit system, IIT Delhi has set up a school of public policy and IIT Kharagpur said that they will be happy to help new generation IITs become more diverse.

“Another area I must mention (in the NEP) is the thrust on multidisciplinary education including more of Humanities and Social Sciences at the IITs. At IIT Kharagpur we are already offering micro-specializations, micro-credits and research programs which are typically interdisciplinary," IIT Kharagpur director V.K. Tewari has said in a social media post.

"We have specialized centres in these areas, to name a few are the Rekhi Centre for Science of Happiness, the Academy for Classical and Folk Arts, our law school which is the first-of-its kind focusing on Intellectual Property. We will be glad to work with new IITs in these areas," Tewari said.

IIT Kharagpur is already building a medical college, which will officially open next year.

IIT Gandhinagar said it is already operating schools like Liberal Arts, Design, Environment Science and Earth Science, including core engineering subjects. IIT Gandhinagar director Sudhir K. Jain said the introduction of two new papers in the GATE exam will be a welcome move. "This will allow a wider variety of students enter our PhD programs in these domains".

"While IIT Madras is heavily focused on Engineering and Sciences, we also have programmes in Management, and some select areas of Humanities and Social Sciences. We are encouraging a lot of inter-disciplinary research among these areas," said Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director of IIT Madras.

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