NIAS turns 21


Serene: The picturesque campus of NIAS.

National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore was conceived and founded in 1988 by J R D Tata, who sought to create an institution to conduct advanced multi-disciplinary research.

He greatly believed that such an interaction could be of great help to executives in their decision-making capabilities. The objective was also to nurture a broad-base of scholars, managers and leaders who would respond to the complex challenges that face contemporary India and global society, with insight, sensitivity, confidence and dedication.

Pursuing this endeavour, the institute carries out interdisciplinary research and is unique in its integrated approach to the study of the interfaces between science and technology, social issues, humanities and leadership. Accordingly, the institute’s faculty is drawn from different fields representing various disciplines in the natural and social sciences.

They conduct rare courses for the benefit of senior executives, scientists and officers of various backgrounds, throughout the year. The courses are meant to improve the mental horizons of the participants by exposing participants to the latest developments in various fields.

Annual courses are conducted for senior executives, drawn from various Government departments, public and private sector undertakings in the country.

There are intensive interactions amongst the officers who have come from various backgrounds and from different Institutions in the country. During the course period, the day starts with early morning yoga followed by breakfast, then morning lectures followed by lunch and again afternoon lectures followed by tea and later there will be a special evening talk followed by dinner.

The same type of annual courses are also held for the enrichment of scientists who come from Dept of Science and Technology, Government of India; I.A.S., officers from various department and ministries of Government of India. All these courses are residential in nature and all participants are required to stay on the campus of the Institute.

Another special feature of this Institute is its Summer School programmes for graduates and postgraduate students on Philosophy of Science for free of cost. This provides an opportunity to college students to acquaint themselves to various topics related to Philosophy of Science delivered by distinguished speakers.

In addition, monthly lecture programmes under the banner entitled, Associates Talks, will be held in which eminent personalities will deliver lectures on vide and varied topics of interests. These lectures are open to public and many Bangaloreans will take part in the deliberations.

JRD Tata memorial lecture

NIAS also conducts series of lectures in the memory of great personalities like JRD Tata Memorial Lectures, Dr Raja Ramanna Memorial Lectures and Prof M N Srinivas Memorial Lectures annually by inviting distinguished people whose interaction with these towering personalities were close and intimate.

Dr K Kasturirangan (Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha) & Former Chairman, ISRO, is the third and present Director of the Institute. The NIAS campus is situated in the picturesque Indian Institute of Science Campus in Bangalore.

NIAS library

Though NIAS has a small library, the collection of books are wide and varied. It contains large number of books on philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, arts, music, literature, education, gender studies, etc. A large collection of books pertaining to Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, have found a place in the library. Apart from these, giant size dictionaries of Kannada-Hindi, English-Kannada, Tulu, Tamil, and Sanskrit can also be found. Epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavad Geeta also find a place in the library. There is also inspiring collection of biographies, writings pertaining to eminent scientist, thinkers, administrators and political personalities. The library has also acquired a complete collection of writings by Mahatma Gandhi. The library collection has also been enriched by donations of valuable books and journals by great personalities like Prof R Narasimhan of CMC, Prof C V Sundaram, Prof Roddam Narasimha, Smt Achala Moulic, etc. The collection of books in the Library roughly stands out to 10,000 and 50 journals.

How the institute originated?

When Dr Raja Ramanna retired as the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1987, J R D Tata approached him to seek his co-operation to formulate an Institute on the lines of French Grand Ecoles. After numerous deliberations with J J Bhabha, the idea took a concrete shape to formulate a new Institute in 1987-1988. JRD had a dilemma whether the Institute should be a management oriented one or something more on the lines of a “think-tank”. Dr Raja Ramanna emphasised the need for an integrated approach to all knowledge and thus the Institute evolved into its present form.

The first course on ‘An Integrated to Approach to Knowledge and Information for Senior Executives’ was held in 1989 at Tata Management Training Centre in Pune, since there was no building in Bangalore. After conducting a couple of courses, it was found that getting senior executives from well-known organizations and government offices for a long duration was a difficult task. It was then reduced to a one-week residential programme.

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