January 12, 2010
Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Coimbatore
Amrita’s Vice-Chancellor Dr. Venkat Rangan spoke at the recent Indian Science Congress’s plenary on Information Technology. The session was chaired by Sri. Ajay Kumar, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Kerala.
Other speakers included Prof. L. M. Patnaik, Director, DIAT, Pune, Sri G. Vijayaraghavan, Member Planning Board, Kerala and Sri. Goldi Misra, CDAC, Pune. The discussion, among other things, also centered on the fact that in order to improve the quality of academics in India, quality of teachers should be improved.
Dr Venkat compared the standards and practices followed in the US and in India. Reproduced below are some excerpts from his invited talk.
“Most universities in the US will have about 10-15 Nobel Laureates. Even if a professor has a PhD, he or she won’t get a permanent position for first six years. In the seventh year, prominent and well known scientists or IT experts will evaluate the performance of the professor. If the performance is not up to the mark, the university will dismiss them without any further considerations.
If, on the other hand, it is recommended that the professor is given a permanent position, then they will get good facilities for research. But salary is only given for nine months, during the time that they engage classes. During the three-month period of holidays, the professor is expected to generate revenues from research funds. Research funds are available only if good research proposals are submitted.
It is for these reasons that professors in the US are improving their knowledge in their areas daily. But here in India, we may find that professors are leading the same life for 20 or 30 years.
Three decades ago, when there was a financial crisis in US, universities were not able to provide salaries to professors. At that time, instead of depending on the government for financial help, professors took the initiative, made collaborative tie-ups with different industrial organizations for funded projects and overcame the problem. In this way the crisis actually helped even big IT companies in the Silicon Valley to increase their profits.
As there is scarcity of good professors, efforts are on in most the universities all over the world to improve the quality of professors. Many of the well-known universities in the US conduct online classes for students in India. But universities in India have different kind of syllabi. In addition, in the US, an academic year is divided semester-wise or quarter-wise. Universities in India should also follow the same method.”