PM Modi calls for focus on engineering education in local languages

Research papers and global journals too should be translated, Modi tells top tech institutions.

July 08, 2021 08:39 pm | Updated 08:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with the Directors of Centrally Funded Technical Institutions, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on Thursday, July 08, 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with the Directors of Centrally Funded Technical Institutions, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on Thursday, July 08, 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised the importance of providing engineering education in local languages during a virtual meeting with the heads of 106 Centrally funded technical institutions and newly appointed Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday.

According to one of the attendees, Mr. Modi said even research papers and journals in English should be translated. “PM added that we need to develop an ecosystem of technological education in Indian languages and translate global journals into regional languages,” said a Ministry statement.

Key recommendation

This has been a key recommendation of the National Education Policy and the Education Ministry had set up a panel headed by Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare to explore ways to begin offering technical education in Indian languages at the highest level. However, the elite Indian Institutes of Technology had opposed the move, telling the panel they would help students who struggle with English to navigate the language barrier, rather than offering degrees in regional languages.

According to the statement, the Prime Minister said “there is a need to adapt higher education and technical education to keep in tune with the changing environment and emerging challenges. He added that this requires the institutions to reinvent and re-evaluate themselves”.

During the session, IITs Bombay, Madras and Kanpur and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, made presentations on their research and the new online Masters programmes that they are introducing for the first time.

Much of the research presented was regarding innovations in the health sector, especially related to COVID-19, said Ministry officials. IIT-Bombay presented research on how to convert nitrogen generators into oxygen generators, the IISc spoke about the ELISA diagnostic test it has developed and IIT Madras has developed a modular hospital which can be set up within a week with full intensive care support. Already, 200 beds have been set up using this concept, and 2,000 more are in the pipeline, said an official.

Affordable cell therapy for cancer

IIT Madras has also developed a way to help predict COVID hotspots using telecom data and Aarogya Setu information, while IIT Kanpur presented its model to project the trajectory of the infection spread. It has also developed a portable ventilator. IIT Bombay is working on cell therapy for cancer, which is at the trial stage, and could cost a fraction of similar treatments in the U.S., said the official.

With regard to online programmes, IIT Madras has been the pioneer with its new online graduate programme in data and programming, said an official. IIT Kanpur will soon offer an e-Masters programme in cyber security, communications systems and power systems management, while the IISc will start similar programmes in data sciences and business analytics.

During the meeting, the Education Minister said the NEP would be key to foster an environment for a future-ready 21st century India. Mr. Pradhan, who took charge of the Ministry on Thursday and was introduced to the heads of key institutions, is the fourth person in the role over the last seven years of the Modi government, succeeding Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar and Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’.

“It’s volatile,” said a senior official who has worked with all three of the previous Ministers, and feels that the current appointee may have a better chance at long-term survival if he manages to work with the higher education establishment as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh idealogues.

“The RSS has got a huge interest in this sector as this is the cradle of their ideological orientation. Without managing that, no one can survive in that role. Mr. Pradhan has the experience and sensitivity to manage that,” said the official.

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