NEW DELHI: India's top engineering institutes are redesigning their core B Tech programmes to include credits on arts and humanities including the appreciation of creative arts.
Authorities in the Indian Institute of Technology said that while some course content has always been included components of arts in the engineering programmes but now a conscious effort has begun to raise them to up to 25-30 per cent.
"As the IITs are updating their course-the issue is being given a priority and we will see subjects related to humanities, arts and social sciences going up in under-graduate programmes, a senior member of IIT Council, a governing body of all 23 functional IITs in the country told The Sunday Standard.
"The inclusion of more art content is aimed at promoting all round holistic development of our engineers and boost innovation and research in classical music, art forms and architecture," he added.
As per B Tech programme structure, students have to choose minor subjects apart from the major, which can be from a department different from her his parent department or from across multiple departments and inter-disciplinary subjects.
A minor is a sequence of 3-4 courses accounting for 24-36 credits, sources in the IITs said.
V Ramgopal Rao, IIT Delhi director said that basic learning premise for engineers is to find solution for problems. "But engineers can be more creative if they are given exposure to subjects other than core ones," he said. "Also we are not looking only to produce engineers but also good human beings."
Dheeraj Sanghi, a senior professor of Computer at IIT, Kanpur said that the institute has been leading in encouraging students to study art components.
"12-15 per cent of our course content is already related to humanities and social Sciences apart from the courses in economics, psychology, philosophy, English, sociology and art," he added.
A senior office bearer at IIT, Mandi said that considerations are now on to include components on creative art and design, not included before.
"We have been teaching students in communication, general management that introduces students to the basics of finance, marketing, and human resource management and foreign languages but now want to add subjects such as music and various art forms," he also said.
A report by IIT, Kanpur prepared a few years ago on deficiencies in course structures at IITs had listed several weaknesses that needed to be eliminated. Those included less emphasis on working with hands and tinkering, too much content, lack of flexibility for students to select courses depending on their maturity, aptitude and interest, minimal connection between course content and real-life applications, not enough opportunities to explore for very good students.
Little scope for multi-disciplinary specialization and little emphasis on good written or oral communications skills in evaluation criteria were also listed as shortcomings that needed to be dealt with.
Former students pointed out that while many students, while at IITs, do not understand the importance of content-other than core subjects-afterwards they play a crucial role in shaping careers and lives.
"I had studied Human values and ethics as one of the minor subjects and chose it only for credit points but in my corporate life did I realise its importance as it helped me build inter-personal relationships and work as a team member," said Pravin Kumar, joint secretary of IIT Delhi alumni association who completed his mechanical engineering in 2010.