New Delhi: As the country tries to work through multiple challenges in these unprecedented times, the global IIT Alumni community comes together with the Stakeholders of India’s economy as a force to address the current crisis. The second phase of the 3-week Pan-IIT’s Global E-conclave witnessed intense discussions on rebuilding skills & jobs, healthcare and states by Global IIT alumni and Indian policy makers, industry captains and third sector leaders.
The first session on ‘Rebuilding Skills and Jobs’ moderated by Arun Kumar Nanda (Chairman NSDC) featured Mahendra Nath Pandey (Union Minister for skill development and entrepreneurship), Subroto Bagchi (Chairman- Odisha Skill Development Authority) and B. Muthuraman (Chairman- PreJHA). The panel highlighted the overarching challenge of matching the demand and supply of skilled workers in India. They not only emphasised on the significance of government recognising prior learning but also on the industry’s involvement in the skilling system, bridging the demand-supply gap, right from curriculum design and pedagogy training to training the teachers, providing apprenticeship opportunities to making8 the youth employable.
Meanwhile, the conclave witnessed IIT Bombay alumni and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh in conversation with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel as part of Chief Ministers’ panel on ‘Rebuilding States’. The duo mulled over the growth of the state in the past 20 years, the significance of skill development to further streamline employment opportunities for the local tribes in the state and the role of NGOs in making it possible.
The ‘Re-building Healthcare’ session moderated by Hari S. Bhartia (Founder & co-Chairman, Jublant Bhartia Group) with key speakers Dr. Randeep Guleria (Director-AIIMS Delhi) and Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (Chief Scientist, WHO) highlighted India’s experience in pandemic management. They stressed upon healthcare innovations backed by technology, data integration and data sharing for human-centred cure to define the future of healthcare.
“The pandemic has taught us some crucial lessons. Such epidemics can be a huge burden on our public healthcare system and in this case, we had to go out of the way in terms of managing the growing number of patients. Our healthcare system has been working beyond its capacity as it was quite challenging reorganising themselves to manage a pandemic was a huge challenge. In this process, we realised that the biggest challenge was critical care. Even though we have the government, state and public health hospitals but the investments and training for critical care were not enough. This led to a situation where we had to innovate wealth strategies on how can we develop good critical care management at a primary level and use technology for telemedicine at a district health level for the patients there to reach out to doctors,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria.
Meanwhile, the roundtable session of IIT Directors featured the heads of the institutions; Subhasis Chaudhuri (Bombay), Abhay Karandikar (Kanpur), K.N Satyanarayana (Tirupati) and B.S Murty (Hyderabad) in conversation with Arjun Malhotra (Co-founder HCL Technologies & IIT Kharagpur alumni). The academicians deliberated over Brand IIT rising up to multiple topical challenges like strategic plans to shift online for uninterrupted teaching amid the pandemic; and the impact of work-from-home as a new normal on IITs, besides sustaining of IIT as a brand.
“This has been a challenge since March when we had to suspend our classes and request our students to stay at home for their safety. By then, two-third of the semester was already completed and we had to shift to the online teaching mode to complete the rest of the curriculum. I must say that our faculty promptly worked on it to move to a particular mode of teaching. Even though the issues kept coming up in terms of access to computers, connectivity and availability of data, we were quite impressed to see that 85-90% of the students have managed to address them. The stand that we have been taking is if we these 90% students are being able to access our online mode of teaching, we should put that in place whereas we can work closely with the rest of the students by sending them the lecture notes through drives and hosting them on our course platform, which they can download when they get access to the internet. However, our most important challenge was to get the faculty that is used to chalk-and-talk mode of teaching, adopt the online medium. That has been a huge big shift and I am glad they are now getting used to this blended mode of teaching,” said K.N Satyanarayana.
As the second leg of the e-conclave concluded with key evaluations and strategies to embark on, the PanIIT Alumni Reach for India Foundation is now gearing up for the upcoming sessions in the coming weekend with yet another interesting panel on Re-building Agriculture & Food Security, Rebuilding States on July 18th and Rebuilding Industry and Re-imagining MSMEs & Livelihoods on July 19th.