A high research output, pathbreaking collaborations, a fired-up faculty... IIT Guwahati has all the makings of a success story but it has its share of problems, too, says Professor Gautam Biswas, director of the institute.
The issues, he says, that require immediate attention are about the institute’s prized assets — its students. “A section of students is losing interest in academics and some of them are getting involved in undesirable activities. Many of them are highly stressed.”
The reasons? Biswas feels it could be due to “academic fatigue.” Many of them come in after some years of tough coaching to face four more years of gruelling study.
Poor time management is an issue, too. Some of the students spend too much time on extra-curricular activities and cannot keep up with academics. One of the main reasons for mental fatigue, feels Biswas, is computer addiction. “It should be viewed as a disease/ disorder and should be treated as such. A cure has to be found for it,” he says.
The IIT-G director strongly advocates the development of a really advanced student care system. It has to be unique in terms of rehabilitating poor performers. “Some of our students suffer from personal problems too — as they come from broken homes. There are financial stresses. Many worry about the inability to come to terms with the existence of brilliant competitors on campus. In some rare cases, personalities of students and their teachers clash. There are the cases of substance addiction, too. We are working on a mechanism of hand-holding by the well-performing students,” Biswas adds.
The director’s solutions? Hostel life has to be improved, canteens have to be upgraded to provide nutritious food round-the-clock to students studying late at night. Games and sporting facilities in each and every hostel have to be improved.
“What is important also is promoting the spirit of creativity among researchers. Humanities subjects can play an important role in improving one’s creative skills. We are exploring the options of including creative writing etc in the curriculum,” Biswas adds.