SPSTI & Chandigarh Chapters of the science academy, INSA (Indian National Science Academy), NASI (National Academy of Sciences of India) and Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) in association with Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh conducted a web–lecture, “The Story of IISERs” (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research), the first lecture under the series “Institution Building & Nurturing Initiatives in Independent India” to commemorate 75th year of Indian independence, “Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” and Teachers’ day. The lecture series is supported by Haryana State Council for Science, Innovation & Technology, Govt. of Haryana.
Prof. N. Sathyamurthy, founder Director of IISER Mohali, delivered the lecture and Prof. Ajay K. Sood, FRS & Chairman, BOG, IISER Mohali & IISER Bhopal was the Guest of honour. Prof. Anand Bachhawat, IISER Mohali, Secretary of Chapter INSA and Prof. K.K. Bhasin, Honorary Professor, Panjab University, from NASI introduced the Speaker and Guest of honour respectively. Prof. Arun K. Grover, former Vice Chancellor of Panjab University, Chandigarh & Vice President of SPSTI introduced the new series on institution building. He said that the purpose of this series is to reflect on what we have achieved since independence, do a SWOT analysis and plan for the future challenges.
Prof. Sood said the great institutions make a great nation. Quoting Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, he said, “the main function of the universities is not to grant degrees and diplomas but to develop the university spirit and advanced learning.” Prof. Sathyamurthy while sharing the story of mesmerizing growth of all the IISERs discussed their genesis. He shared a brief history of Indian education institutes from early Takshashila and Nalanda to the Universities of Calcutta, Madras, IISc, BHU, Panjab University, IITs, Central Universities and IISERs. Taking the story of IISERs further, he said that the initial efforts were made by Professors Govind Swarup of NCRA, Pune & V. G. Bhide of Pune University & others. The speaker envisioned IISERs as emerging science universities of India. He emphasized that the purpose of these institutes is to train quality manpower in science to meet the challenges of the 21st century, combine science & research, bring research culture at the undergraduate level so that research becomes a way of life, encourage interdisciplinary research, integrate technology with science and integrate science with society. He touched all aspects of the IISERs including structure, courses, teaching & research, student-teacher ratio, admissions, scholarships and curriculum development. He also shared glimpses of first meetings of BOG and senate meetings of the IISER Mohali with research work of many scientists of the institute. In the end, he said that the IISERs are aligned for NEP 2020 with core competence essential for any liberal education to succeed and flexibility in curriculum. In the question hour, a lively discussion ensued with participation from a number of luminaries in the field of education such as Prof. Arvind, VC, Punjabi University, Prof. Ghumman, Former VC, Prof. Ahuja, Director, IIT Ropar, Prof. S. K. Das, former Director, Sh. Dharam Vir, President, SPSTI and many others. The session ended with a vote of thanks & concluding remarks by Prof. Baldev Setia, Director, Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and Shri Dharam Vir, IAS (Retd.), President of SPSTI.