IITs go artsy,to offer courses in music,architecture,performing arts

While the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) may have already become synonymous with excellence in the field of engineering....

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi | Published:March 29, 2009 12:41 am

While the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) may have already become synonymous with excellence in the field of engineering,they are now looking at pushing their boundaries further. Soon,you could study music,performing arts or even medicine within the hallowed precincts of the IITs.

Some IITs already offer courses in humanities and social sciences and IIT Kharagpur offers a course in law. While most IITs are in the midst of a ‘brainstorming exercise’ to identify other disciplines they would want to include in their menu,IIT Kanpur has already chosen music and performing arts while IIT Madras is mulling the inclusion of a course in medicine.

“The idea,as far as IIT Kanpur is concerned,is to bring Shantiniketan to IIT. We are actively planning courses in performing arts,music and creative design. We have already soft-launched the music course with an artistes-in-residence programme—we invited Hindustani classical vocalist Veena Sahasrabuddhe to our campus earlier this month to teach music to students. We would also like to work on creative arts and architectural design courses,” Prof S.G. Dhande,

Director,IIT Kanpur,told The Sunday Express.

IIT Madras,headed by Prof M.S. Ananth,is aiming at launching a full-fledged medical college wing within the campus. The plans,however,require elaborate work. While the IIT Act allows these institutes to offer courses in technology,science,humanities and social sciences,a course in medicine would require amendments to the Act. That apart,approval from the Medical Council of India would also be needed,besides a tie-up with a hospital. The IIT,however,is learnt to be closely working on this ‘dream project’.

While IIT Mumbai was also planning courses in Hindustani classical music and music appreciation last year,its new director,Prof Devang Khedkar,says the institute is mulling various options but already has enough on its plate with a new M.Tech course in developmental studies. Industrial design,he says,is another undergraduate course being considered. “We already have a design school,and offer courses in humanities,social sciences and management,” he points out.

IIT Roorkee is yet to decide on the new disciplines it would like to introduce. “We are discussing a lot of new disciplines. We brought up the issue in the IIT Council meeting held with the HRD Ministry earlier this year and we are working on diversification,” Prof S.C. Saxena,Director,IIT Roorkee,said.

The idea of offering unconventional courses at the IITs was advocated by the Prof Yashpal-led Committee on Higher Education. The UGC-mandated committee has in its report showered praise on IITs for being the only ‘bright spot in the otherwise dismal scenario of higher education in India’ and advocated that the IITs be developed as ‘models of all-round excellence,like the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US’. The idea,says the report,is to prevent isolation of the study of engineering from other knowledge areas and to allow IITs to widen their scope and also churn out scholars in literature,linguistics and politics,along with engineering wizards.

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