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‘Need To Foster Critical Thinking In Students’

A good engineering school is where we create engineers who work towards the betterment of humanity and their surroundings, who can provide core solutions to the major problems in the urban and rural areas.

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What is your philosophy of teaching and learning? 

For me, teaching and learning go hand in hand. A teacher must focus on the learning techniques of students in a way that the pace and depth of learning is expedited and deepened, respectively. Through cognitive development of each student in the class, they should be motivated for self-paced exploratory learning. Students must be fostered for critical thinking beyond the course content for better application in the real world. 

What makes a good engineering school? 

A good engineering school is where we create engineers who work towards the betterment of humanity and their surroundings, who can provide core solutions to the major problems in the urban and rural areas. Institutes need to collaborate in scholarly activities with other academic departments such as liberal arts, law, science, humanities, medicine and business. New skills should be inculcated amongst students other than engineering-related complex competency. Our future workplaces will be needing highly skilled human resources which cannot even be substituted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots. 

Besides tech-driven and AI-supported future skills, we need independent thinkers. Engineers need to understand the enabling impacts of their collaborative fellows and policymakers and provide solutions to multi-faceted challenges such as urbanisation, unemployment, poverty alleviation, etc. 

What are your thoughts on the development of the education system in India as compared to international standards? 

Only a few of Indian universities could be amongst the 400 top universities by the well-regarded QS World University Rankings. The Indian education system has a sound theoretical base but lacks in its application. As I said earlier, we need to have a highly multidisciplinary and flexible approach to allow students pursue their desired and unexplored career opportunities. There is a requirement to keep the agenda of education and research on the highest priority. Funds must be allocated generously to the sector to attract a talented pool of resources. While MHRD is making efforts in attracting foreign faculty in the universities, we need to update the curriculum by integrating global knowledge. The National Education Policy Draft Report is also working on this. The education system in India should be transformed to make it globally competitive. 

What is the most promising educational innovation you are aware of ? 

What have you done to adopt it? The Covid-19 pandemic has enabled to explore the endless possibilities through technology. This change has made our world into a better place. Education through cloud opens new opportunities for the underpriviledge. This will accentuate asynchrnous learning and gives a win-win situation to both the stakeholders since technology is nonrival and inclusive. While this also enables self-learning and confidence-building, it will help inculcate flexibility among the future generation to embrace the change in the modern economy. The 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, AI and ML, digital textbooks, biometrics, etc. are supporting us in experiential learning and smoothening the process. 

We are pioneers in conducting the online admission process and examinations. All our academic activities including courses, webinars, panel discussions, etc are functioning online in full swing. We are in the process of introducing academic programmes and courses through the cloud for eLearning.

Engineering colleges in the country are churning out thousands of graduates every year. Recently, India’s unemployment rate fell to 11 per cent in June 2020. Where did we go wrong? 

The automation of work is taking place faster than ever in the world. Many jobs which exist today will become automated by artificial intelligence in the future. This scenario is currently contradictory to the economy-wide need for employment generation in India. 

The ambitious promises under the flagship programme of Make in India also could not fulfil the aspirations of our graduate engineers. The regulatory hurdles and delays in self-setups are fuelling the fire further. As I said earlier, we need to create human resources who can work beyond AI and robots and generate new demands for the upliftment of the society. We also need a behavioural shift in the industry towards technological innovations and absorb the skilled labour to increase productivity. The problem of unemployed or underemployed engineers is minuscule in comparison to disguised employment in the agriculture sector. 

We need to create potential inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs. 

The education system needs to be completely overhauled with a multidisciplinary approach. We need to create potential skillsets for the future job market and work towards the dynamics of the modern economy.

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