Making the disciplines meet

Medical School in IIT Kharagpur shall become model for multidisciplinary education system
Representational Photo
Representational Photo

Holistic Multidisciplinary Higher Education is a key theme in National Education Policy (NEP 20) and many students agree that interdisciplinary courses would be better and offer greater flexibility in choosing courses. This was also embraced by the faculties irrespective of their disciplines across country as many researchers and administrators consider a multidisciplinary environment an important factor for fostering research collaborations. The policy suggests creating model universities for holistic and multidisciplinary education, called Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, or MERUs. Such multidisciplinary forum of education, which will enable problem solving, adoptability, flexibility among others will help to create critical thinkers who can think out of box to solve critical issues and utilize the breadth and depth of learning from their education. The policy made by visionaries need to be implemented steadily and such steps shall help us to move slightly faster towards holistic multidisciplinary education.

Engineering institutions, including IITs, NITs and IISERs which by tradition till time have focused on engineering, should make initiatives towards multidisciplinary education, with more Social, Biological and Medical Sciences. IIT Kharagpur (groomed by Late Prof Chopra) for example is opening a Medical School with an intake of 50 students, thus clear a path for other technical institutions to follow. Central University Jammu has proposed to open Medical and allied Sciences including AYUSH, as depicted from their Web Page. IIT Delhi has a center of excellence in Biological Sciences established by Kusuma Trust UK and Nano Research Facility for interdisciplinary studies. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, providing the affordable quality health care to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, probably is affiliated with MVD University. Multidisciplinary studies programs do not involve a pre-determined set of courses like most degree programs, but instead consist of a unique combination of courses chosen by a student based upon his or her specific educational and career interests. In a culturally diverse country like ours, which have also achieved a very high degree of information technology penetration, interdisciplinary approaches should be natural occurrence. The creation of model public universities and abolition of single-stream universities are meant to make Indian universities competitive with the best universities in the world.

Policy makers and academicians across globe has understood rather accepted that real world complex problems cannot be solved through one dimensional solution. Multiple organizations are fighting to find a solution to SARS-COV-2 (Covid pandemic) and its aftermath in this second wave. Mathematicians are predicting third wave but Hepatitis E had having 11 waves, as revealed in a verbal communication with Prof Khuroo. So it is evident that pandemic and post pandemic world will need answers that take into account the amalgam of sciences and human behavior as a whole. There is no doubt that the leaders and scholars of the future will need to understand how different disciplines interact with each other and how human behavior are shaped by this interaction. System that favors rote learning rather than deep understanding has brought us to a situation where the country does not produce either outstanding innovators or original thinkers.

The bottom line is that the Universities/ Institutions should start multidisciplinary courses and establish infrastructure for health care, to prepare multi-talented manpower and address health crises during exigencies. More so, institutions have social obligations and need to be self sufficient. DRDO has done a commendable work to establish make shift Hospitals across the country including in J & K. Hon’ble LG of J & K has made a remarkable decision of setting up five (05) beds in each village to mitigate the health crises. It seems simple step but it matters, that too when an invisible enemy invades. Prof Gupta of Delhi could find a bed in Ludhiana and Dr. Nabila in Faridabad, though JMI is surrounded by five major Hospitals. Alumni and Teacher’s Societies should extend hand to Heads of the Institutions to establish and expand infrastructure in this common sorrow and common tragedy.

Dr. M A Shah is Associate Professor | P.G Department of Physics National Institute of Technology Srinagar (NIT Srinagar)

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