Monday, 8 August 2011

Is HCL founder Shiv Nadar's newest educational venture aim to create India's first Ivy Leaguer? - Economic Times

Shiv Nadar, Chairman, HCL

Is HCL founder Shiv Nadar's newest educational venture aim to create India's first Ivy Leaguer?

TR Vivek & Shelley Singh, ET Bureau Aug 7, 2011, 09.28am IST

Some 50 km from the capital, a new university aspiring to be India's first Ivy Leaguer is getting ready to open its doors on August 18. Its 300-acre campus is more than twice the size of the main campus at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), considered among the new Ivies. Like the latter, it aspires to be a multidisciplinary research university offering world-class arts and engineering programmes. Also, its founder is a sexagenarian, roughly the same age as Andrew Carnegie when he incepted CMU. Any guesses? We are talking about Shiv Nadar, chairman of HCL, and his eponymous university.

The word multidisciplinary probably caught your eye. At the Shiv Nadar University (SNU), which will offer both graduate and postgraduate courses, an engineering student will enjoy the rare chance of taking courses in economics or sociology. Or an arts student can take a technical elective. That's going multidisciplinary, or to encourage collaboration across disciplines, something Nadar laments is glaringly absent in undergraduate education in India. He cites the example of his daughter, Roshni, who went to the US to study economics, but also studied communication and worked with Sky News in London before doing her MBA.

"Such choices of shifting and learning from other areas just doesn't exist here. Discovery will be a big part of SNU," he promises, adding that, "There are other places that will create more BTechs. We don't want to do that." Another glaring limitation of India's education system, according to Nadar, is the inability for instance to teach languages like Mandarin. China is India's biggest trading partner, yet during business negotiations, managers of both countries spend more time in punching numbers on a calculator than trying to communicate verbally. So how about mechanical engineering with Mandarin as an elective? Nadar is convinced that's the way ahead.

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