“Indian Institute of Science has always strived to be one of the best in the world. However, at every stage there have been constraints”, said Prof P Balaram, former Director, IISc. He was chairing a session on ‘IISc as a Global Institution - Reaching the top’ on the last day of the IISc Alumni Global Conference at J N Tata Auditorium, IISc.
In reference to Global University Rankings, Prof Balaram said, “Institutes have to run very hard just to retain their rankings over years”. He also mentioned that funding for science is going down in India, and research institutes should brace for difficult times. Referring to rising the political interference in the higher education, he said, “Due to growing political interference, building institutes has become more like a game of snake and ladder”. Noting the growing influence of NRI’s in India’s policy, he urged the IISc alumni who hold top positions in reputed universities abroad to sensitise the Government on how important it is to support an institute which has survived a century. He urged the alumni, faculty, students, and everyone realise that we need to preserve and protect our institutes.
Prof Sunil Kumar, Dean, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago suggested that IISc should embrace risk, if it wants to reach the top. “It should also be distinct from the global institutes, and leverage its research”, he said. Prof Usha Vijayaraghavan, Chairperson, International Cell, IISc took the audience through a virtual tour of formal collaborations IISc has with institutes in USA, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
Prof B N Raghunandan gave a presentation on the new IISc campus that is shaping up in Challakere, 220 km away from Bangalore. Many research centres including Solar Power Generation and Research Centre, Climate Research Centre, Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Semi-arid Research Centre, Skill Development Centre, an air strip and a large scale wind tunnel are planned in the new campus. The campus is also running a Talent Development Centre, which has already trained thousands of high school teachers. It will also be home to Centre of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education, an initiative which caught Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attention, for which he quickly released Rs 1 crore.
The session on ‘Mind to Market’ was organised to discuss ways to convert IISc research into usable products. Prof Chandra Kishen, Chairman, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Consultancy, said “Through the Centre, IISc faculty have shared their knowledge on a variety of projects from cyber security and lunar landing guidance”.
Prof Jayant Modak, Chairman, Society for Innovation and Development (SID), said that SID has interacted with about two hundred organisations, and earned Rs 175 crores. According to him, IISc faculty file upto 30 to 40 patents every year.
KVS Hari, Professor, IISc, an entrepreneur himself, said, “Some of the IISc faculty think that making money is a sin. That may be one reason why many faculty may not be keen to take up entrepreneurship.” Comparing Indian and Western mindsets, he said, “Failure is not perceived as a disadvantage in the West. However, in India we are not allowed to fail. This mindset should change”.
Rajalakshmi Iyer, Chief Technology Officer, pro.com and an IISc Alumnus, suggested IISc to set celar targets on the number of business plans it wants to develop and the number of startups it wants to see in a year.