November 25, 2008

Doctors from IITs? Not possible, say faculty members, alumni

The faculty members and the alumni of the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have expressed opposition to any plan to

start medical courses in the institutions, claiming it is "neither feasible nor desirable" and any attempt in this regard will prove "disastrous".

"We have already biotechnology courses at IITs. I believe churning out doctors from IITs is neither feasible nor desirable," M. Balakrishnan, dean postgraduate studies at IIT-Delhi, told reporters.

There were reports that the government appointed 11th five-year committee for higher education, headed by eminent scientist Yash Pal, was planning to introduce a varsity structure and possible courses on medicine in IITs.

"This will prove disastrous. Instead of bringing in a varsity culture in IITs, it's better to improve infrastructure, maintain a certain benchmark in students intake and provide world class education in the field of engineering," said P.V. Indiresan, a renowned educationist and former director of IIT-Chennai.

He said the student-teacher ratio has worsened and this was "impacting the students-faculties interaction in the classroom."

Yatinder Pal Suri, an entrepreneur and alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur said: "It is not desirable to diversify too much. Expansion into too many things with the present infrastructure is not a viable option."

"Expansion is good but that must happen with a proper planning," Suri added, a view echoed by Pradeep Gupta, chairman of Cyber Media group and an IIT Delhi graduate.

"IITs in India are much popular. There is no point in diluting the brand. We should focus on becoming a leading global brand like MIT in the US," said Vijay K. Saluja, a retired chief engineer of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), who has also studied at an IIT.

Many believe that the laboratories at IITs need to be upgraded on a priority basis before thinking of anything else.

"Instead of shifting gear towards a varsity pattern, it's better to improve the IIT-industry interface. This will improve employability and confidence of students," said Pramod Chawla, another alumnus.

In the beginning of the present academic year, the government opened six new IITs under the supervision of the existing seven

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