The Telegraph
Friday , March 14 , 2014
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Besu veteran calls for mental make-up change

The Bengal Engineering and Science University dons a new signboard. (Anup Bhattacharya)

A senior academician has called for a “complete change in the mental make-up” of the erstwhile Bengal Engineering and Science University to make its mark as the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST).

The Shibpur institute got its new signboard — bearing the name Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology — on Thursday.

A gazette notification issued by the human resource development ministry states that Besu began its journey as IIEST on March 4, the day President Pranab Mukherjee signed the upgrade bill.

“The prime need for the institute now is a complete change in the mental makeup,” said Amitabha Ghosh, a member of the Anandakrishnan Committee, on whose recommendation the Shibpur institution has been upgraded to an Institute of National Importance.

“When I was a student here, there was much more discipline,” said Ghosh, who had done his BTech, MTech and PhD at the tech school, then known as BE College.

Ghosh had taught at IIT Kanpur and IIT Kharagpur — he was director of IIT Kharagpur — and is associated with the Shibpur campus as an Honorary Distinguished Professor.

When asked what was ailing Besu, Ghosh said: “When I taught at IIT Kanpur (which will mentor the IIEST), we were given 72 hours after exams to check answer papers, grade them, show the scripts to the students, tabulate and present the results to the senate.”

The window has been stretched to five days because of an increase in the student intake.

“To bring this kind of discipline, the director needs to be firm,” Ghosh said.

At the Shibpur institute, most teachers submit results 15-20 days after an exam, said N.R. Bandopadhyay, of the school of materials science and engineering.

The teachers, Ghosh pointed out, need to be more dynamic. “A teacher should not teach the same subject for more than three semesters. This way freshness of the course remains alive and the teacher, too, is relieved of boredom.”

At IIT Kanpur the teachers are assessed on three parameters — teaching, research and sponsored project activities. He debunked the process of internal assessment.

“Gone are the days when you became professor just by virtue of seniority. Promotions should be on the basis of open advertisements and national competition.... There should be no room for those who fail to measure up to requirements of academic excellence.”

Thirty per cent of the teachers at Shibpur, Ghosh said, were excellent.

Vacancies at the IITs, he said, were mounting because of unavailability of suitable candidates. When asked if that would be a problem at the IIEST too, Ghosh said: “One-third of the faculty at IIT Kanpur are Bengalis, so also at all premiere institutes like the IISc. If that happens at the IIEST, it will continue to be a Bengali-dominated institute. But we want it to have a pan-India character.”

To attract teachers from all over the country, the first priority for the IIEST would be to build excellent faculty accommodation, said Ghosh.

Teachers on the campus are also waiting for infrastructure expansion. A faculty member requesting anonymity said: “In our department we fight for space. There is no space to keep instruments and machines.”

To enrol good students, IIEST will admit students from next year through the JEE-Mains. From the upcoming academic session, students will have to enrol for the IIEST’s five-year integrated dual degree programme.

“I agree we are arm-twisting students into studying MTech. In strategic areas like space, defence research and other disciplines, the country needs master’s and PhD-level candidates. Doing MTech predisposes the students towards research,” Ghosh said.