'Need to improve quality of education'

Researchers and academicians from India and across the globe were awarded the annual ‘Infosys Prize’ for outstanding contribution to their respective fields of study here on Monday.

The winners are: Umesh Waghmare, Professor, Theoretical Sciences Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR); Prof Jonardon Ganeri (for Engineering and Computer Science), global network visiting professor of philosophy, New York University and recurrent visiting professor, Department of Philosophy, King's College London (Humanities); Amit Sharma, group leader, structural and computational biology group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi (for life sciences); Mahan Maharaj, associate professor of mathematics, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Belur Math, Howrah (for Mathematical Sciences); G Ravindra Kumar and Srinath Raghavan, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi (social sciences).

The panel of judges who selected the winners from more than 200 nominees include Prof Pradeep K Khosla, Prof Amartya Sen, Dr Inder Verma, Prof Srinivasa S R Vardhan, Prof Shrinivas Kulkarni and Prof Kaushik Basu.

Speaking on the occasion,  N R Narayan Murthy, co-founder, Infosys, said that the advancement of science is the way forward to promote peace and harmony across the world.

The award recognises the contribution of Indian and NRI researchers in six fields of study. Winners will be given a cash prize of Rs 65 lakh along with a citation and a medal.
On the sidelines of the event, Murthy added that higher educational institutions need to be given adequate funding in order to improve the quality of education and bring Indian institutions on par with global institutions. “The funding has to be increased. If need be, the money has to be raised through additional taxation,” he said.

When asked about the global ranking of Indian institutions, Murthy opined that there researchers in India need to interact more with those abroad. Educational institutions must be given full autonomy and adequate funding. An environment of peer pressure will ensure productivity, he added. 

He pointed out that the premier science institute in the country, the Indian Institute of Science was ranked only 99th in the world. “We must learn from the best practices of the institutions abroad and adopt the same in our institutions,” he said. Talking on the quality of engineering colleges in the State, Murthy expressed concern about the quality of teachers in these colleges. However, when it came to setting up of the institutions, he felt that the government need not limit the number. “Let the market decided whether the colleges will survive or not. If the quality of education is poor, students will not join such colleges.”

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