Assam CM to allot additional land to IIT Guwahati to start medical college on campus

Former Director Prof Gautam Barua, comparing the institute to MIT and the like, said that the institute needs to start BA and MA programmes
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Sarma Biswas | Pic: Twitter
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Sarma Biswas | Pic: Twitter

IIT Guwahati will be allotted land for them to start a medical college soon, said Assam Chief Minister Himanta Sarma Biswas, speaking at the institute's Foundation Day on September 1. "I have been told that IIT Guwahati wants to start a medical school on their campus. I have already told my DC to provide additional land for this purpose and if this project really comes up (well) it will be really good," said the CM.

He pointed out the way the COVID-19 pandemic had ravaged the country and the state had caused all of them to refocus their energies on increasing healthcare infrastructure, "The pandemic has brought the focus back to the health sector. This is another area where we can work closely," he added. The premier engineering institute has had a functioning hospital on campus since 2006 which is spread across 20,000 feet and boasts of over nine specialities. 

Biswas then turned to another intrinsic issue that Assam faces: severe floods that hit the state every year in spite of spending a lot of money on embankments. And he said that it falls on institutes like IIT Guwahati need to lead the way in finding a solution to this never-ending crisis.

Biswas even admitted that the Central government wonders if the money is "wasted" every year. but, he raised a question as to what the alternative to an embankment is. "I agree that we're wasting money on embankments but that is the only weapon available to us for short term mitigation," Biswas said. He added that the alternative to embankments will not come from politicians such as him, as their job is merely to implement the suggested alternatives. 

The CM said that the onus for viable solutions to problems that society is facing needs to come from institutions like IIT Guwahati, "Whether or not raising (the embankments) is feasible or whether doing what the Brahmaputra Board did earlier is feasible, (is something) I don't know. IIT Guwahati needs to start putting in a lot of effort by putting their minds together so we have solutions for problems which society is facing," Biswas said.

Quality of teaching at risk
Also present during the event was Former Director, IITG, Prof Gautam Barua. He spoke about how the teaching paradigm needed to realign itself now that the pandemic was petering out. He said, "A lot of emphasis has been towards research, which is a good thing. But we need to be careful about the teaching part. There is a very real danger that we might go easy on the teaching."

Barua added that even if the teachers are not doing their job, students manage to do well because they are bright. "We don't want to depend on our students to learn, we must also teach them," he said.

One of the needs of the hour, according to Barua, is that the institute needs to expand into humanities and social sciences with BA and MA programmes. "We must work towards expanding our humanities base. Look at Massachusetts Institute of Technology — it is a technology institute but the likes of Noam Chomsky and others are (teaching) there."

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