NITI Central | 30 October 2015 |
Director of IIT Kanpur Professor Indranil Manna explains IMPRINT – a joint initiative of the IITs and IISc to identify and solve grand challenges staring India in the Engineering domain.
Please explain what IMPRINT stands for and what is its purpose ?
IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT), is a first-of-its-kind Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative. it is a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) project to address the major engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance. Before embarking on a real technology development mission, it is prudent to define the goal, create a strategy and draw a pragmatic roadmap. Hence this novel initiative, the first phase, comprises a twofold mandate of. Firstly it is about developing new engineering education policy . Secondly it is to create a roadmap including infrastructure readiness to pursue these selected challenges
What was the trigger for IMPRINT, how did it start, could you take us through the Journey so far ?
Immediately on assuming the responsibility of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Honourable Minister Smriti Irani invited the Directors and Chairpersons of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Goa for a Retreat on the 28th and 29th of June, 2014. It was a very open and productive session on drawing the future course of action for IITs. Subsequently, His Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Honourable President of India, in his capacity as the Visitor to IITs, convened a Visitor’s Conference at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 22nd of 2014 with all the Directors and Chairpersons of the IITs. One of the themes presented and very intensely discussed in this conference was ‘Ten Technology Domains and Goals’ that outlined the major engineering challenges faced by the country. In December 2014, a delegation from Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) visited Washington DC to interact with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), USA to deliberate on the theme ‘Engineering Education in the 21st Century’. The focus was on the 14 Grand Challenges defined and championed by NAE. Engineering education and innovation must address the problems and aspirations of the society and hence may bear a nation-specific character. Hence, the MHRD issued a memo in April 2015 asking the top engineering institutions of the country to create a special initiative and address the engineering challenges focused on India. IIT Kanpur was designated to lead the drive along with all IITs and IISc. Thus, the national programme called IMPRINT was born. As the main coordinator, IIT Kanpur organized the kick off workshop to apprise the community and launch this initiative on May 11, 2015 (the Engineers’ Day). In order to pursue the twin mandates of IMPRINT (education policy and research roadmap), ten technology domains as engineering challenges or goalposts were defined, coordinating and participating institutes with coordinators and participating scientists were identified, and specific programmes were developed. Several meetings were held since then over video or tele-conference mode and physical gathering until the second symposium on ‘Engineering Education in the 21st Century’ held in New Delhi on the 16 and 17th October of 2015 which was inaugurated by the Honourable Minister.
What is the case for IMPRINT – why a government led initiative, could you please explain ?
If science is all about ‘know-why’ (fundamental knowledge), then engineering provides the principles (‘know-how’) to convert scientific knowledge into viable solutions to all challenges or hurdles faced by the human society. In the 21st century and beyond, the demand on engineering and technology to solve the issues of sustainability and growth of human society concerning energy, habitat, resources, environment and transportation will increase by leaps and bounds, particularly for a country of the population (1.25 billion), size, diversity and challenges as in India. Though the saints in ancient India like Kanad (600 BC) or Aryabhatta (550 AD) gave the clues on anu/paramanu (molecule/atom) and decimal system (concept of zero) to the world, India has yielded that vantage position of scientific leadership over many centuries thereon because of which India is now certainly not counted among the technological giants like USA, Japan Germany or Japan. By 2020, India will be the youngest nation in the world with about 20% of the world’s population living in this country, a prospect that is even better than that of China. In order to usher in a technologically self reliant India regaining its pristine glory, it is desired that a very pragmatic and structured approach is adopted to bridge the gap between the existing level and projected international benchmark in terms of quality of engineering education and level of infrastructure necessary to pursue world class research and innovation for sustainable and inclusive growth to prosperity. This first phase of IMPRINT will empower the youth of India to pursue the course to global leadership in technology space through education and infrastructure. Then the technology development mission to realise our dream will follow.
So who is doing what under IMPRINT – how are the other Institutions pitching in ?
We have identified 10 grand challenges for Engineering or goalposts so to speak. IIT Kharagpur will be taking up Healthcare related challenges along with Computing Technology. IIT Kanpur is on point for Advanced Materials and Water Resources. Sustainable Habitats is the focus at IIT Roorkee. National Security and Defense will be the grand challenge areas for IIT Madras while IIT Bombay focuses on Nanotechnology and Hardware. IIT Bombay will also be on point for Energy Security. The Environment and Climate will be the focus for IISC. IIT Kanpur will be the national coordinator across all grand challenges.
How do you see the scope for IMPRINT evolving in the years ahead ?
The technology domains are representative areas deserving immediate attention for innovation and intervention. Each domain is sub-divided into multiple themes, sub-themes, targets and topics eventually defining about a million project titles to be owned and championed by each of our higher echelon technological institutes in the country . But we need to percolate these initiatives to the grass roots level for active participation. Through proper crowd sourcing approach, the intervention level can expand to over a billion projects related to India’s present need and future aspirations. The scope and mandate will be expanded in future to connect to the national initiatives like Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan, Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, Pandit Madan Mohaan Malaviya Teacher and Teaching Scheme, GIAN, SWYAM, Digital India, Make in India etc…..Courtesy / http://www.imprint-india.org/