Sam Pitroda in Calcutta
India’s telecom pioneer Sam Pitroda on Wednesday suggested Four Fs for a “glorious future” of Presidency University to compliment its “glorious past”.
His four mantras are freedom, flexibility, world-class faculty and research facilities.
“A good university needs world-class teaching staff and research facilities. You need autonomy, flexibility and freedom,” Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations, told Metro on Wednesday evening.
He is the chief guest for Presidency’s first convocation on Thursday. Governor M.K. Narayanan, also the university’s chancellor, had invited Pitroda for the programme.
“I accepted the invitation because the governor wrote to me. It (Presidency) is a prestigious name and it’s the first convocation and so very important,” said Pitroda. “It's a prestigious institute and has a glorious past. So the first convocation is very important,” he added.
Many teachers across the world had shown interest in joining Presidency after the mentor group was constituted in July 2011 to draw a road map for the university to emerge as a centre for excellence. But as time went by, it became evident that Presidency wasn’t attractive enough for the best and the brightest. It did not pay on a par with even top Indian institutes like the IITs, IIMs and the central universities and its infrastructure was crumbling.
In all its five reports, the mentor group, whose chair has Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as its adviser, had emphasised that top-notch research facilities and adequate finances were essential to restore the 196-year-old institution to its former glory.
Pitroda echoed similar views. He said Presidency has a glorious past but needed to use technology more to become world-class. “Technology is a great enabler,” he pointed out.
Asked whether he had any particular plan to help Presidency shape up as a tech-enabled campus, Pitroda said he wasn’t approached to give any plan. “If I am approached, then definitely I will,” he said.
Pitroda said like many other top institutes in India, Presidency had not been able to utilise the facility of the National Knowledge Network (NRN) conceived by him.
NRN is a network that provides a unified high-speed network support for knowledge-related institutions.
Pitroda said individuals such as scientists and professors mostly used the knowledge network, but not institutes.
“It’s a very powerful tool. A professor from Harvard can teach here,” he explained.
Pitroda said he and a Harvard professor was connected with 500,000 students last January through the network. “At Delhi University we were using the interactive tool.”