The School of Mathematical Sciences in general, and the Department of Mathematics in particular, aims at integrating teaching with research under the same umbrella. Teaching and research have unfortunately become distanced from each other in post-independent India. To form a bridge between the two is the principal objective of our efforts. This is to ensure two things:
- Undergraduate students get exposed to research from the beginning of their career. Teachers often serve as role models for students. A motivated researcher-cum-teacher can serve this purpose best.
- Research institutions need students who are motivated and aware of current research. There is a severe lack of such students in the fundamental sciences today in India. A programme that fills this gap will thus be fulfilling a national need in developing technically qualified scientific manpower.
We thus hope to address, in some measure, the following issues, that Indian science in general is facing at present:
- A lack of a scientific middle class. What this means is that certain individuals through self-effort, do attain to a certain excellence. However, they form a small minority. Science education in its higher reaches is plagued by the lack of a system to bring larger numbers of students up to par with centres of excellence abroad. Thus, while India does have a potential for excellence in terms of bright youngsters, this does not translate into a manifestation of excellence due to lack of institutions that can tap this talent and bring it to fruition.
- Quality of research, still remains below par, compared to developed countries. Here quality is to be evaluated roughly in terms of peer review, publications in reputed journals and citations. This, again, is not due to lack of talent. Indian researchers abroad seem to be doing rather well. However, the research atmosphere within the country, still needs to develop and meet international standards.
Given the national situation today, it is therefore imperative that students grow up with a hunger for knowledge per se, so that they may take up the responsibility of education for their own advancement and for the good of all. Such a goal can only be achieved if time-honoured and time-tested disciplines are actively encouraged to grow and flourish and finally train our students in developing the required skills.
We would also like to ensure that the faculty impart the knowledge they gain to students, so as to ensure the sustained growth of an academic and intellectual culture.
Excerpts from National Knowledge Commission (2005-2008) Report
The considerations above only bear out the National Knowledge Commission recommendations. We quote the relevant passages from the NKC Note on Higher Education:
"There is, in fact, a quiet crisis in higher education in India that runs deep. It is not yet discernible simply because there are pockets of excellence, an enormous reservoir of talented young people and an intense competition in the admissions process.....the following problems are common enough (across disciplines) to be a cause for concern. First, curricula, which have remained almost unchanged for decades, have not kept pace with the times, let alone with the extending frontiers of knowledge. Second, learning and creativity are at a discount in a system of assessment that places a premium on memory rather than understanding.....Seventh, the importance attached to research has eroded steadily over time. Eighth, the volume of research in terms of frequency of publication and the quality of research reflected in the frequency of citation or the place of publication, on balance, is simply not what it used to be."