Archive for January, 2010

Shortage of Math Ph.ds in India; current faculty situation at the IISERS and NISER

I was discussing with several people associated with NISER Bhubaneswar. I was told that the NISERs and IISER are having difficulty finding good faculty in mathematics, especially in pure mathematics. (On the other hand they can find very good people in Physics, Chemistry and Biology.) I did a quick survey of the IISERs and NISER and indeed they have much more faculty in Physics, Chemistry and Biology than in Mathematics. Following is a rough count made on Jan 30, 2010.



Chemistry Mathematics Biology Others Total
IISER Kolkata 20 19 3 7 7 56


(some have joint appointments)


(includes 3 joint)



(includes 2 joint)


(includes 3 joint)

0 46

NISER, Bhubaneswar    

(permanent + visiting)

12 (7 + 5) 15 (10 +5) 9 (5 +4) 15 (7+8) 4 (0+4) 55

IISER, Mohali

(permanent + visiting)

8 + 2 9.5 4 + 1 8.5 0+1 34

IISER, Bhopal

(Current + to join in June 2010)

6 + 1 (includes 1 visiting) 13+1 4 (includes 1 visiting) 5+2 2 (includes 1 visiting) 34

IISER, Thiruvantapuram

(Current + to join in June 2010)

4+5 5 2 2+1   19

As evident from the above, all of the above institutes are struggling in hiring faculty in Mathematics. Also, while the young faculty in the other fields (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) mostly have post-doc experiences, most of the younger Math faculty do not have that experience.

One of the reasons behind the shortage of Math Ph.ds is that most people who love Mathematics in high school go on to pursue engineering and perhaps there is a mistaken impression that the career prospects in mathematics is not good. Thus there is a big need for institutions like

The Institute of Mathematics and applications, Bhubaneswar

which is making great efforts to popularize Math among youngsters.

I hope some of the people who loved Math in high school, and now are in other (say IT) jobs would consider pursuing Math. Some of the top places to pursue Ph.D in Mathematics in India are:

India could also consider hiring foreigners. At least in the USA many Math Ph.Ds from top schools do not get a tenure track faculty position and end up teaching in community colleges. Some of them may jump at an opportunity to be a faculty in IISERs, NISER and other institutions.

3 comments January 30th, 2010

TOI excerpts from the revised concept notes on the proposed 14 Innovation Universities

Following are excerpts from a report in Times of India.

In its revised concept note on the setting up of 14 Innovation Universities, the HRD ministry has proposed two types of reservation policy for these institutions, some of which will be directly funded by the government while a few will be in the PPP mode.

Within PPP, it has been proposed that world class universities from abroad might also be invited to set up similar such institutes here. The government will be a partner in the establishment and research programme while the cost of teaching will be funded by the promoter university.

The Innovation Universities fully-funded by the government will follow the existing reservation policy in admission for SCs/STs/OBCs. The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, will be applicable in their case.

However, in case of Innovation Universities in PPP mode, the HRD note says affirmative action cannot be wished away. Therefore, it has been suggested to weight the test scores with a measure for the socio-economic background of the candidates. …

There has also been a slight modification about auditing of accounts. While the money spent by a university or faculty on research or teaching will be kept out of the purview of Comptroller and Auditor General, the expenditure on administration or non-academic areas will be audited by CAG.

Two modes of establishment of Innovation Universities have also been decided. While those fully-funded by the government will come up through an Act of Parliament, the ones through PPP will be established through a Memorandum of Understanding. Financial, academic and research credentials of the private promoter will be the main criterion in selecting them to collaborate with the government.

The Innovation Universities will also have the freedom to decide on their own admission policy.

The 14 Innovation Universities will come up in Amritsar, Greater Noida, Jaipur, Patna, Guwahati, Kolkata, Bhopal, Kochi, Gandhinagar, Coimbatore, Mysore, Pune, Vishakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar.

January 30th, 2010

NIST Berhampur to have a Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) Centre for Relevance and Excellence (CORE) in 3G and 4G Communication Technologies

(Thanks to futureberhampur for the pointer.)

Following is an excerpt from a report in

The Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has announced establishment of a new TIFAC- CORE in National Institute of Science and Technology here.The TIFAC CORE is exclusively devoted to research, consultancy and industrial collaboration in the area of 3G and 4G communications technologies.This is the first such facility in Orissa and the only one dedicated to 3G/4G communications technologies in the country.This CORE, located at NIST, will be hosting the state-of-the-art world class equipment and manpower to propel Indian companies in innovating new products and services in communication technologies.The total funding of Rs 9.15 crore will be met in equal proportion by TIFAC (DST) and the participating industries.The most notable participating industries are National Instruments, ARM, free-scale semiconductors, Atera (all Bangalore based).


January 25th, 2010

Vedanta to build hostel for Government College of Engineering in Bhawanipatna

Following is an excerpt from a report in Business Standard.

The company will also build the hostel for the proposed engineering college of the state government at Bhawanipatna.

This is a good first step. It should do much more with respect to the HRD of that area.

January 25th, 2010

Prof. Jitendriya Kumar Satpathy from NIT Rourkela to takeover as BPUT’s 3rd VC

Following is an excerpt from a report in

Jitendriya Kumar Satpathy will take over as third Vice Chancellor of Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) soon. 

Professor of the Department of Electrical Engineering at National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela, has been appointed as new VC BPUT by the Chancellor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare. 

The Raj Bhawan has issued orders accordingly and Prof. Satpathy would remain VC for the next five years.

… Prof. Satpathy received his Ph. D in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom. 

…  His specialisations include Digital Signal Processing, Application of Neural Networks & Fuzzy logic to digital communication, Electrical power drives. 

Born in Cuttack with top academic excellence, Professor Satapathy is known for his down to earth approach.

… Commenting on his new appointment Professor Satapathy said that once he completes his duties in NIT, he will take over as VC. 

Once he takes over the assignment, it will be possible to spell out his vision on BPUT, said Prof.Satapathy.

Since Prpfessor Satapathy has been living in Rourkela, there is a high chance that unlike his predecessors he will run BPUT from Rourkela.

16 comments January 25th, 2010

Update on the University planned by Mukesh and Nita Ambani

Following is an excerpt from a report in The Australian.

India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is committing up to 10 billion rupees ($A240 million) to set up a world-class university in either Mumbai or Delhi modelled on top US universities.

… During his January 8 acceptance speech in Mumbai for the Dean’s Medal from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Ambani said RIL would invest 5 billion rupees ($A120 million) initially in the Reliance Foundation to set up the new university, with plans to increase its commitment to 10 billion rupees. 

He said the multi-disciplinary university would promote education and research across all areas, from science and technology to liberal arts. It would be international in scale, employ best practices and would seek to forge partnerships with highly regarded universities from around the world.

… Ambani’s A$240 million commitment via the Reliance Foundation is likely to be just the starting point for his university project. Ambani’s great advantage is the Reliance track record in handling large projects. The company prides itself on meticulous planning, delivering on time and “flawless execution on a large format.”


January 25th, 2010

Urbanization University in Bangalore

Following is an excerpt in a report in Financial Express.

The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) has announced its plans to establish the country’s ‘first’ university exclusively devoted to urbanisation and settlement issues. IIHS is founded by a group of leading entrepreneurs, intellectuals and professionals including Nandan Nilekani, Shirish Patel, Rakesh Mohan, Keshub Mahindra, Deepak Parekh, Deepak Satwalekar and Jamshyd Godrej. The mother campus of the privately-funded university is likely to be set up in Bangalore.

While Karnataka is a pioneer in establishing the first law university that brought respectability to Law education in India, I wonder if making an urbanization university is going too far in the direction of specialized universities.


January 25th, 2010

SOA University is in the list of 44 deemed universities that may lose their deemed university status

Update on Jan 25 2010: As per this news item:

The Supreme Court Monday restrained the central government from derecognising 44 deemed universities for their questionable academic performance or poor infrastructure and assured tens of thousands of their students of a fair hearing.

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A.K. Patnaik ordered status quo for various deemed universities on several lawsuits by the varsities challenging the government’s move to derecognise them.

‘Nothing is going to happen to your institutions and your students till we dispose the matter,’ observed Justice Bhandari while also issuing notices to all 44 universities separately to have their say in the matter.

The case was adjourned to March 9.

The list is given in this TOI news item. Thanks to the people who sent the pointer.

72 comments January 19th, 2010

Proposal for three new PPP based Central Universities for minorities

Thanks to for the pointer. Following is an excerpt from a report in indiaedunews.

… the country could soon have a new model of central universities that offer preferential admission to students from minority communities which is not followed by any central varsity until now.

The proposal forwarded to the law Ministry for inspection explores a central university model in public-private partnership mode (instead of total central funding), to come up on land donated by the Wakf Board in Rajasthan, Bihar and Karnataka.

Although offering admissions to both majority and minority students, the land for these universities will be given by the Musilm communities with the minorities getting the maximum share of seats.

They are expected to come up at Ajmer, Kishanganj and Mysore and are expected to get the maximum share of seats in these new varsities.

The Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khursheed confirmed that the concept has been borrowed from Dr B.R Ambedkar University, which came up to educationally empower SC students.

Odisha must take a cue and push for PPP based central universities – in addition to branch(es) of IGNTU – for its tribals.

1 comment January 18th, 2010

Karnataka’s higher education vision – some initial glimpses

Following are excerpts from this news item.

  • … general universities should be set up in all districts of the state. There are, at present, nine such universities in the state. The aim is to have one general university in each district, or one university for every 100 colleges. This means that ideally, there should be at least 22 such universities in the state’s 29 districts.
  • Another important vision of the council is to make the universities and colleges work round-the-clock as learning centres.
    “At present, colleges are isolated units, active only in a limited period. It is necessary to make them work round-the-clock, through the year, as learning centres. We would also like to grant greater autonomy to more colleges,”

Following are excerpts from this news item:

  • Have you thought of studying Biology with Hitory or Physics with Economics? Have you thought of taking a break from the regular confined course to take a break at any point of time and continue whenever you want? Wouldn’t it help if you had a choice on choosing when to write your exams? How would you feel if you had a choice of changing the University within the State in the middle of your course? Students from Karnataka can expect their dreams come true.
  • … students can change a subject midstream — from Arts or Science or Commerce — instead of going through the fixed combination. They can change, not only the subject combination, but also the university. This concept is based on the Cross Learning System in Universities in US and Europe. 

1 comment January 14th, 2010

IIT Kharagapur’s future plans

Following is an excerpt from a report in Business Standard.

IIT-Kharagpur plans to start by setting up a centre of excellence on Energy Science and Engineering to train students in research and development on various energy verticals like bio-energy, solar energy, nuclear, as well as hydel and thermal energy. …

The institute is also introducing new engineering programme on design and manufacturing where it aims to create globally competent engineering products. It will start School of Entrepreneurship soon where it will offer dual degree in BTech and entrepreneurship programmes. Students will be selected through joint entrance examination (JEE).

“The Innovation Centre will be funded by one of our alumnus, S K Bhattacharya. Each student of School of Entrepreneurship will be attached to an innovation centre. Each student will get a faculty and a successful alumnus entrepreneur to assist him or her. Our aim is to have around 30 per cent of our total student to be PhDs and researchers by 2015, compared to 15 per cent right now,” says Acharya.

An innovation centre is a new concept through which IIT-Kharagpur intends to encourage research and innovation. “We will have support from international institutions and industries to draw on their expertise and develop products of global use. So, for instance, we are collaborating with Warwick Manufacturing Group, Georgia Institute of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, among others,” adds Acharya.

Among international collaborations, IIT-Kharagpur is looking at specific areas of collaboration with National University of Singapore for water policies and issues. Also, the institute has signed an agreement with University of California, San Diego, for a 350-700 bed medical college. The collaboration is both for part-financing the project as well as an academic collaboration.

January 11th, 2010

Sambalpur University partners with Aarhaus University, a top world 100 university as per Times and SJT rankings

Following is an excerpt from an IANS report.:

Sambalpur University of Orissa has signed an MOU with Aarhus University of Denmark to foster higher education and research in different fields.

“It will help us in enhancing our knowledge base. We will certainly benefit from the exchange programmes. We will particularly be interested in sharing the knowledge where-in other universities are strong and we would also like to share the knowledge where we are strong,” said Vice Chancellor of Sambalpur University, Prof Arun K. Pujari, after the MoU was signed Saturday.

The university would get to choose a semester course from Denmark University and students from Aarhus University would also get to choose an elective course from the university.

The MoU would also facilitate faculty and student exchange programmes, restructuring educational programmes, improving language teaching through study tours.

1 comment January 10th, 2010

Funding sources for the proposed innovation universities

Following is an excerpt from a PTI report on this.

Sibal said the government wants to set up 14 innovation universities on various themes and these institutions will earn revenue from various areas, including research.

Brown, however, differed from Sibal on the proposed economic model for the Innovation Universities and said that major funding will have to come from tuition fee.

"This is not going to work. In our university, 50 percent of revenue comes from tuition fee despite the university having a billion dollar of Endowment fund. The universities here will have to depend on tuition fee," he said.

Sibal retorted back, saying that the investment involved in setting a university in India will be less than the cost in the US.

He said institutes should not be charge exorbitantly on students. They can generate revenue from other sources.

The government will set up a Higher Education Finance Corporation to provide funding to poor students for study. The students can pay back the money over a period of time, he said. The HRD Ministry has prepared a bill to set up the corporation.

The loans will be made available for students pursuing professional courses, he said.

I am a bit confused about the innovation universities being on various themes. I thought they were supposed to be multi-dsiciplinary universities aiming to become like Oxford, Cambridge and Berkely.

January 10th, 2010

Reliance plans a world class university near Mumbai or Delhi; Unless things happen fast Vedanta University will lose its first mover’s advantage

Following is an excerpt from a report in Economic Times.

The Reliance Group is setting up a ‘world-class’ university as it seeks to promote education and research in sectors ranging from liberal arts to technology .

… India’s largest business conglomerate has started the process of identifying land for the proposed university , according to persons familiar with the development.

The university, modelled on the lines of American universities such as The University of Pennsylvania, will tie up with foreign universities. “It will be international in scale and in best practices, but with an Indian soul,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman, Reliance Group.

Nita Ambani told ET that the proposed university would be located either outside Mumbai or Delhi. “We are looking for sufficient land to set up a world-class university,” she said.

Mr Ambani made this announcement while making the acceptance speech at Mumbai’s Tident Hotel after receiving the Dean’s medal from the University of Pennsylvania’s engineering school. …

The university will initially offer undergraduate courses. It will later offer postgraduate and doctoral courses, Ms Ambani said. India’s big business houses are strengthening their focus on education as it is poised to become a $80-billion opportunity by 2012. Indian spend $50 billion on private education annually, according to a research report by IDFC. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16%, said a CLSA Pacific study. 

This is great news for India. I hope things move faster with respect to Vedanta University. Otherwise it will lose its first mover’s advantage. Another thing to note is that some of the people who were/?are? involved in  the Vedanta University project also have University of Pennsylvania ties. They are doing a great thing by convincing various billionaires in India to establish universities that aim to be world class.

1 comment January 9th, 2010

Ad for NEST entrance examination for NISER Bhubaneswar, UM-DAE Mumbai and ISERC Shantiniketan

Ravenshaw University should start 5 yr integrated programs in Science subjects and take its students through this exam.

2 comments January 7th, 2010

DRDO Research boards and Centers of Excellence

Following information about DRDO research boards is from

DRDO has constituted four research boards to nurture and harness talent in academic institutions, universities, R&D centres and industry. The organization provides necessary facilities for promoting basic research and to catalyse cross-fertilization of ideas with R&D agencies in other sectors for expanding and enriching the knowledge base in their respective areas. The boards provide grants-in-aid for collaborative defence-related futuristic frontline research having application in the new world class systems to be developed by DRDO.

The catalytic role played by research boards has helped rapid growth in building capabilities in the area of aeronautical state-of-art systems like light helicopter, and in setting up a centre of excellence in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) at the IISc, Bangalore, which is anticipated to give a boost to the designing of aeronautical systems within the country. Another centre of excellence in aerospace system design and engineering is being set up at IIT, Mumbai. A Centre for Composite Structure Technology is proposed to be set up at the National Aerospace Laboratory, Bangalore. Grants in aid by DRDO have led to setting up of a hypermedia digital library in IIT-Kharagpur, to the development of audio-visual training aids for aircrew, to indoctrination in air sickness and positive pressure breathing at the Institute of Aviation Medicine, Bangalore and to the development of rarefied gas dynamic facility at IIT, Chennai.

The Aeronautics Research and Development Board (AR&DB) has approved projects in the filed of Aeronautics and related areas. The Armament Research Board (ARMREB) has approved projects in the fields of high energy materials, sensors, ballistics and other armament related fields. Under the Naval Research Board (NRB), projects are being pursued in five technology areas. Under Life Sciences Research Board (LSRB) projects have been supported in the areas of biological and bio-medical sciences, psychology, physiology, bio-engineering, specialized high altitude agriculture, food science and technology.

Following informations about DRDO’s Centers of Excellence is from the page

The need for establishing CE by DRDO has been projected long back by SA to RM. The outlay for such a centre will be typically expected to be Rs.50 crores over a period of 5 years. DRDO proposes 5 such centres that will include:

  1. The science and synthesis of HEM (for use as explosives and propellants).
  2. The science of polymer physics especially polymer Electronics can emergent and for a variety of military semi conductor devices).
  3. The interaction of microwaves and matter (for stealth).
  4. Nanotechnology based sensors for NBC detection.
  5. Nano optoelectronic devices.

Out of these, for item (a), Advanced Centre for Research on High Energy Materials (ACRHEM) has been established with the University of Hyderabad. We have evolved an Memorandum of collaboration (MOC) exclusively for this centre. Parallely, old MOC of DRDO with Bharathiar Unviersity (BU), Coimbatore has been upgraded as a Centre of Excellence called BU-DRDO Centre for Life Sciences. A separate MOC exists exclusively for it. In order to have effective functioning, SOP was proposed and the same has been approved by SA to RM. DRDO can advertise through newspaper or website the intent of setting up of such a CE in the fields of relevance. This step would stimulate other competitive agencies to submit proposals. Funding of academic institution for research whose expected outcome was judged to be of use in extant DRDO R&D projects/programmes. Instrumentality was the sponsored research proposal ‘instigated’ by a DRDO labroratory or vetted by it for direct relevance of research outcome(s).

Universities and institutions in Odisha should propose and pursue DRDO funded Centers of Excellence.

1 comment January 7th, 2010

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