P. V. Indiresan, a former director of IIT-Madras and Padma Bhushan award winner who was a strong critic of reservations in jobs and education, passed away in Pune on Sunday. He was 85.
A critic of not just reservations but also the Common Entrance Examination, saying it would dilute the quality of the IITs, Indiresan pioneered several academic reforms including the credit system at IIT-Madras – which came to be known as a “forgiving and flexible system of allowing students to choose their courses and teachers,” according to P. Sriram, a student of Mr. Indiresan and the current dean of administration at IIT-M. Prof. Indiresan initiated industry-IIT cooperation as he believed that students should be trained to solve real world problems with industrial help. This paved the way for IIT-Madras to get more sponsored projects from the government and companies, recall his students. “Before that, we were primarily an institution for undergraduate courses” said Mr. Sriram.
M.S. Ananth, former director, IIT Madras, who joined as an assistant professor during Prof. Indiresan’s tenure, said Prof. Indiresan’s entry was like “a breath of fresh air” for the students and teachers. “Before him, let alone students, even teachers could not go and talk to the director. He formed committees of deans and arranged weekly meetings, which were reported to him.”
It was his decision to revamp academic course content every five years at IIT, a practice the institution continues to this day.
While his outspokenness provoked debate and discussion within the IIT campus, in his later role as a policy maker and columnist including for The Hindu and Business Line , his controversial views often went against conventional wisdom.
Prof. Indiresan’s opposition to 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes did come as a surprise to many because of his proximity to the then Human Resource Development Minister, Arjun Singh.