It was December 13th, 2008 during the inauguration of the Centenary Conference of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore when Former Indian President gave a talk “Small aim is a crime.” While addressing the Challenges of 21st Century, Kalam stated:
“I realize that all the youth irrespective of which country they belong to, aspire to live in a peaceful, happy, prosperous and safe nation. What does it mean? It means that economic prosperity alone is not sufficient. It has to be complimented with the value systems and our five thousand years old Civilizational heritage which has genetically shaped the Indian people. I personally believe, when the nation is progressing towards economic development, it is also essential to build education with value system drawn from our Civilizational heritage. The good human life comes out of the way we live; we may have series of problems. But the billion people have the connectivity which gives us the united strength. To meet the challenges of such missions for the nation, I visualize the Indian Institute of Science have to have the vision for the next few decades. The components of the vision could be: (a) Creating undergraduate education as part of the IISc programmes which will enrich the teaching-research-teaching.”
This idea of Kalam gave birth to a four year Bachelor of Science programme at the IISc, a mix of research and teaching, admitted its first batch in Fall 2011. The programme currently hosts over 425 students with 118 students joining this fall. These students are selected from the cream of the nation – ranging from the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana scholars to top rankers in IIT and AIPMT. Just when the students of the first batch in the IISc UG programme entered their fourth and final year and had started working on their research projects, the UGC asked the institute to discontinue its Bachelor of Science course, putting the future of this course into great jeopardy.
It is rather appalling to see that the institute which once boasted having the likes of C.V. Raman and Satish Dhawan is now being told to scrap its newest innovation in the education system of India which would produce graduates with distinction in sciences, engineering, humanities, and research. A senior faculty member at the IISc said a decision to discontinue what has emerged as a prestigious course would be a “great tragedy.” “Academic institutions should be allowed to design their own course structures — politicians should not decide this. We need to show some spine on academic autonomy.”
Diptarka Hait. “Broken Wings of Fire: Massive Damage to Undergraduate Science Education in India.” 7 August 2014 <http://www.quora.com/Diptarka-Hait/Posts/Broken-Wings-of-Fire-Massive-Damage-to-Undergraduate-Science-Education-in-India?srid=XXkL&share=1>
Dr. APJ Abdulkalam. “Address during the Inauguration of the Centenary Conference of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore” “Small aim is a crime” 13 December 2008 <http://www.abdulkalam.com/kalam/jsp/display_content.jsp?menuid=28&menuname=Speeches%20/%20Lectures&linkid=68&linkname=Recent&content=1026&starts=0>
G.S. MUDUR AND BASANT MOHANTY. “Meddle virus spreads to IISc”. The Telegraph, 7 August 2014. <http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140807/jsp/frontpage/story_18695683.jsp#.U-U0s4CSxTJ>
“IISc Asked to Drop 4-year BS Course” 7 August 2014 <http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bangalore/IISc-Asked-to-Drop-4-year-BS-Course/2014/08/07/article2368150.ece>
Image Credit: Kumar, Abhishek. “Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore.” Flickr: Creative Commons. Flickr, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2014. <https://flic.kr/p/6d2DFE>.