Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet education project to rope in eminent scholars from abroad to teach at Centrally-funded institutions has elicited a response from the likes of Sheldon Pollock, David Shulman and Judith Butler.
The HRD ministry is in the process of recruiting as many as 200 scientists and academicians under the Global Initiative of Academic Network or GIAN, a short-term teaching programme that will be launched by the PM next month.
Pollock, an internationally renowned Sanskrit scholar, Shulman, a noted indologist and Butler, a well-known American philosopher and gender theorist, are expected to take classes at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
The list of eminent academicians also includes Dr Leroy Hood, a pioneer of systems biology who will probably spend a week at IIT Bombay in December. Tabish Khair, well-known author and professor at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, is expected to teach a course on postcolonial world literature at IIT Bhubaneswar this year.
Celebrated British historian Dr Peter Burke has been roped in to teach cultural history to students of JNU in January next year.
American cell biologist Bhanu Pratap Jena, who discovered the porosome, will spend a week at JNU in July next year. And around the same time, Scottish molecular biologist Richard Henderson FRS will teach students at IISER, Thiruvananthapuram.
Scholars recruited through the GIAN initiative will be paid anything between $8,000 and $12,000 for a contact programme of up to 28 hours. Each of these lectures will also be available online.
According to sources, the ministry has prepared a tentative schedule of 281 academicians who are expected to spend time — starting from three days to up to two weeks over the next one year — at different universities and institutions funded by the Centre.
These courses will not be limited to students of institutions hosting international scholars. “At least half the class should be made up of students from other universities and colleges, who will pay a fee to attend these lectures,” said an IIT professor associated with GIAN, who did not wish to be identified.
Although the HRD Ministry had roped in Fields medallist Manjul Bhargava to be the face and facilitator of GIAN, it hasn’t listed any lecture by him in the tentative schedule.
The initiative has been conceived with the intention of providing the best international experience to students by increasing the footfall of reputed faculty at Indian institutions.
Through GIAN, the government also aims to create avenues for collaborative research with international faculty and motivate the latter to work on problems specific to India.