IIT Guwahati Director Emphasizes on Promoting the Culture of Research for Furtherance of Knowledge at QS Indian University Rankings 2020

Guwahati: Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati has bagged the 10th position, for the second year in a row, in the recently released QS India University Rankings 2020. The list is the second edition of the standalone rankings for India’s higher education institutions. The announcement was made at the 2nd QS India Summit in Goa on 21st October 2019. The award function was presided over by Hon’ble HRD Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.

Speaking at one of the panel discussions titled, ‘Promoting a Culture of Research while Ensuring Excellence in Teaching: Building a Knowledge Society,’ Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director IIT Guwahati emphasized, “Balancing teaching and research responsibilities” is the key to success for Professors of higher education institutes. To create impact, research should involve a multidisciplinary approach cutting across disciplines (cross-disciplinary research). IITs today are the ‘towers of excellence’ and they should evolve to become a ‘network of excellence’ coordinating with nearby institutes and research centers to make research much more collaborative, multi-disciplinary and relevant to society. The strength lies in group activities.”

“For centuries we have organized and conducted research within disciplines and this has delivered extraordinary depths of knowledge. To translate this knowledge into outcomes and to convert them into partnerships with industry and end-users of research would play a major role in this process,” he further added.

Prof. T. G. Sitharam also said that to promote research culture a larger group needs to be involved across India. We need trained manpower, funding facilities and Furtherance. Particularly in Furtherance, the Mobility of teachers and students, interaction and engagements play a key role at institutional, professional and individual levels. This should happen with short term and long term plans at the Institutional, national and global level.

Our institutions should move away from just infrastructure building i.e., housing for faculty, hostels buildings for students and instead put that investment on scientific facilities/instruments.

Joint degree programs shall be organized to attract students and faculty to collaborate between institutes and departments. The promotion of a culture of discovery and innovations has to be incorporated within the curriculum and encourage the exchange of knowledge between academia and public/private partners that are mutually beneficial. Work on projects of interest with industry and community must be prioritized. Sustainable thinking and solve problems that will meet the SDG goals of 2030 are other important goals. Work on clean energy, water, transportation and mobility in urban and rural areas, waste management and green buildings are at the forefront of research and practical problems.

To create a productive research environment: we need to build institution of reputation, faculty advancement, and leadership. The factors which affect world-class universities are: Recruiting faculty with a passion for research, providing them with formal mentoring programs and infrastructure/facility, facilitating networks and centers of excellence, providing time for faculty and students to do research, recognition for producing research performers; awards and prizes for performing researchers, research integrity – formal and informal ethics, standards, protocols, and policies.

Enhancing research culture is critical for any institute to become a world-class university. We need to establish a support system for the same. Research culture takes birth in discussions, hence, the environment should be created to find the time, space to meet people and share their ideas and experiences. SHIRU cafe in IITG and Indian coffee house at IISc are good examples to host and provide an environment for such discussions. One needs to embed the research culture at the institutional level to become successful. To build a knowledge society it is essential to develop research culture (i.e. behavior, values, expectations, attitudes, and norms of research communities are critical). Finally, student involvement at an early stage in research is key to success.

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