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India’s Best-performing IITs still far behind in research performance of 2 top World Universities: Study

The researchers discovered a "substantial difference" in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the "new IITs."

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IIT Kharagpur, Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 31, 2017: India’s best-performing IITs, including IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Bombay, are far behind in research performance of the two top ranking world universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-USA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), a computational analysis has revealed.

The study has highlighted that for IITs to be placed high among the world institutions, “a lot of effort and support” is required.

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“Of these two, NTU established in 1991 is younger than the five older IITs, which shows that the age of an institution alone does not necessarily matter for higher performance. If a new institution like NTU can achieve research performance levels to be included among top ranking world institutions, then why not some of the Indian IITs,” asked the study’s lead author, Vivek Kumar Singh, Department of Computer Science of the Banaras Hindu University.

The observations were based on a computational analysis of research performance of 16 “relatively older” Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the country. There are a total of 23 IITs in India at present.

The study was carried out by parsing through research publication data indexed in Web of Science. The data was examined to identify productivity, productivity per capita, rate of growth of research output, authorship and collaboration pattern, citation impact and discipline-wise research strengths of the different IITs.

The IITs, despite being the most prestigious institutions in India, do not rank high in top universities list of the world, the study notes.

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“Further, IITs are yet to match the research performance of the IISc (the Indian Institute of Science, which is an indigenously created institution unlike many older IITs established under foreign mentorship. The comparison indicates that IITs have a long way to go if they have to become comparable to the best institutions in the world in terms of research performance,” Singh said.

The first Indian Institute of Technology was established in 1951 at Kharagpur, followed by IIT Bombay (1958), IIT Madras (1959), IIT Kanpur (1959) and IIT Delhi (1961) – all through foreign collaboratiom. In 1961, the Institutes of Technology act was passed by Parliament which declared these institutions as institutes of national importance.

Almost three decades later, IIT Guwahati was established in 1994. This was followed by converting Roorkee University to IIT Roorkee in 2001.

During 2008-2012, nine more IITs were established at Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna, Ropar, Indore, Mandi and Varanasi).

And most recently, seven new IITs (at Palakkad, Tirupati, Dhanbad, Bhilai, Goa, Jammu and Dharwad) are proposed/established during 2015-16.

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As IITs are of different age, institutes were grouped into three different sets: old IITs (7 IITs which are at least 15 years old), new IITs (9 new IITs established during 2008-2012) and recent IITs (7 IITS established during 2015-16).

The analysis excludes the seven recent ones as they have come into existence within the last five years.

The researchers discovered a “substantial difference” in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the “new IITs.”

“This can be explained by the fact that new IITs are quite young for a research performance comparison with old IITs. Some new IITs, particularly the IITI (IIT-Indore) show promising research performance,” Singh said.

The other important conclusion is that majority of the research output from IITs is in physics, chemistry and mathematics disciplines while research in engineering disciplines lags behind substantially.

“IITs being primarily engineering and technology institutions, should produce more research work in core engineering disciplines,” Singh said.

The findings are published in March in Current Science. Sumit Kumar Banshal and Pranab Kumar Muhuri in Department of Computer Science, South Asian University, New Delhi and Aparna Basu, formerly at CSIR-NISTADS, collaborated on the study. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Scientists report Groundwater replenishment in West and South India

An international team of researchers, including experts from IIT-Kharagpur and  NASA, has observed groundwater storage replenishment in certain Indian regions

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Scientists noted Groundwater replenished
Scientists noted Groundwater replenished. Pixabay
  • The implementation of ingenious groundwater management strategies in both Indian public and private sectors
  • Long-term ground-based measurements and decadal-scale  satellite-based groundwater storage measurements
  • The Indian groundwater withdrawal and management policies for sustainable water utilization

August 12, 2017: An international team of researchers, including experts from IIT-Kharagpur and NASA, has reported discernible groundwater storage replenishment in certain Indian regions, in a new study, attributing it to changes in strategy in the public and private sectors.

Published in the Nature Scientific Reports in August, the study says this groundwater storage (GWS) rejuvenation may possibly be attributed “to the implementation of ingenious groundwater management strategies in both Indian public sector and private sector”.

A research team from IIT-Kharagpur in collaboration with NASA American scientists has observed regional-scale water replenishment through long-term (1996-2014, using more than 19,000 observation locations) ground-based measurements and decadal-scale (2003-2014) satellite-based groundwater storage measurements, in large parts of India.

While the northern and eastern parts of India are still undergoing acute usable groundwater depletion and stress, encouraging, replenishing such scenarios are detected in western India and southern India under proper water resource management practices, the study notes.

“Our study shows that the recent paradigm shift in the Indian groundwater withdrawal and management policies for sustainable water utilization, probably have started replenishing the aquifers by increasing storage in western and southern parts of India,” said research leader Abhijit Mukherjee from IIT-Kharagpur on Friday.

The team used numerical analyses and simulation results of management and policy change effect on groundwater storage changes in western and southern India for this study.Mukherjee drew attention to the recent changes in Indian central/state government policies on its withdrawal and stress on management strategies.

Strategies such as restriction of subsidized electricity for irrigation, separate electricity distribution for agricultural purposes (e.g. Jyotigram Yojana), construction of large-scale, regional enhanced recharge systems in water-stressed crystalline aquifers (Tapti river mega recharge project), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, enhanced recharge by interlinking of river catchments (e.g. Narmada-Sabarmati interlinking), will probably start replenishing the aquifers by increasing groundwater storage in near future.

Chief of Hydrological Sciences Laboratory Matthew Rodell at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, helped in interpreting the NASA satellite (GRACE) data (2003-2014) of the above-mentioned water source storage changes in India for this study.

The co-authors are — Yoshihide Wada affiliated to International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria; Siddhartha Chattopadhyay of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; Isabella Velicogna and Kishore Pangaluru from the University of California, the USA; James S. Famiglietti of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the US.

“We conclude that in India, where huge groundwater consumption is widely known to be leading to severe dwindling of groundwater resource in recent times, previously unreported, discernible GWS replenishment can also be observed in certain Indian regions,” said lead author Soumendra Bhanja affiliated to Hydroscience and Policy Advisory Group, Department of Geology and Geophysics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, as well as to Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (IANS)

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National Digital Library (NDL): Mobile App by IIT Kharagpur Students Lets You to Read 65 Lakh Books for Free!

National Digital Library contains books from Primary School to UG and PG in Various Subjects

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Source: Pixabay
  • IIT, Kharagpur has developed a mobile application for NDL so that everybody can download a book from their Smartphone
  • The project was initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development which says that NDL contains books from state boards, NCERT and Universities
  • The users can register themselves on the app and can search for the books with the help of various parameters

New Delhi, July 2, 2017: With the onset of modernization and globalization, the process of digitization has also impacted the world. The availability of everything on the internet is making lives of the people easier. One can find almost anything on the internet. All you need to do is to click and everything is served before you.

Recently, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur has developed a mobile application for National Digital Library(NDL) so that anybody can download and read books online from his/her Smartphone and can use the knowledge available at the touch of a screen.

The NDL claims of having a collection of more than 65 Lakh books in English and various Indian Languages. The books range from Elementary school to Under graduation and Post graduation studies. Even the users can access the content from all around the globe.

ALSO READ: Ram Sethu: Why the Spiritual Importance attached to it is Debatable!

The project was initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development which now says that National Digital Library contains books from eight state boards, NCERT books, previous year question papers of various entrance exams and research paper published by many institutes. It also consists of books in audio form too.

The director of the NDL, Mr P P Chakraborty said that the app would provide access to everyone and now with the rise in mobile usage, the NDL app would open opportunities for people living in the remotest of areas for Indian as well as Foreign population. He also added that the world has not seen such a digital educational reform.

The users can register themselves on the app and read books online. They can search for the books with the help of various parameters of searches. This application would open new windows of opportunities for Bibliophiles and people who cannot afford to buy new books. It also increases career growth for various non vocational careers which aren’t taught in the universities.

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi