Students’ Suicide is a Major Point of Concern: Prof Rangan Banerjee, IIT Delhi

  • IIT Delhi to Hold its 54th Convocation on August 12; Eminent virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang to be the Chief Guest

As the 54th Annual Convocation Ceremony of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi approaches on August 12, 2023, the institute is honoured to welcome virologist, Dr Gagandeep Kang, as the Chief Guest for the event. The institute is working on numerous initiatives to enhance educational standards and ensure optimal industry prospects for its students. However, the issue of student suicides, particularly within esteemed institutions like IITs, remains a significant area of concern for such establishments.

Last year A 20-year-old BTech student of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, was found hanging inside the college hostel. The deceased student was identified as Ayush Ashna (20), who hailed from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. According to reports, Ashna was staying in the Udaigiri Hostel on campus and was enrolled in the institute’s summer course.

“Students’ suicide is a major point of concern for us and we are trying to enhance our efforts. Firstly, we’re increasing the number of counsellors to provide better support. Additionally, we’re focussing on improving faculty mentorship and building on existing initiatives for extracurricular student interactions,” said Prof Rangan Banerjee, Director, IIT Delhi, during a press conference on Thursday.

When asked what efforts IIT Delhi undertaking to prevent students’ suicide on campus, Banerjee told BW Education, “We organise events like faculty-hosted dinners in the hostels and involve senior students to encourage open discussions about problems and seeking help. “Sensitisation is a key aspect of our approach. We’re researching best practices from other institutions and implementing changes based on what we find.”

“It’s evident that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. However, the pivotal aspect to consider is our student body, which comprises over 13,000 individuals, out of which around 7,000 reside on campus,” stated Aditya Mittal, Dean – Student Affairs, IIT Delhi and Professor, Kusuma School of Biological Sciences.

Mittal further explained that our upbringing might inadvertently lead us to behaviours that others find offensive, given that we’re shaped by certain norms. However, in an inclusive environment like IIT Delhi, a myriad of sensitivities prevails. Therefore, it becomes imperative to raise awareness that our norms may differ from others, promoting tolerance. Early detection, diagnosis and intervention constitute our core efforts.

“Our endeavors are fortified by student teams instrumental in executing these mechanisms. Distinguishing between academic and non-academic concerns, we have designated faculty members for both realms and we continually enhance these structures. As a caveat, it’s important to note that while we can’t promise an infallible approach, we remain steadfast in refinement,” he added.

54th Convocation Ceremony During the 54th convocation ceremony, graduates of first batch of MTech in Electric Mobility, Interdisciplinary MTech in Cyber Security, Masters in Public Policy, Master of Science in Research (MSR) in Materials Science and Engineering and Joint PhD programme with the University of Queensland, Australia, will be awarded their degrees.

Meritorious students will be awarded the President’s Gold Medal, the Director’s Gold Medal, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma (Former President of India) Gold Medal, Perfect Ten Gold Medal and the Institute Silver Medal.

IIT Delhi – Abu Dhabi Campus Also, in another development, IIT Delhi signed an MoU with Govt of UAE to set up its first international campus in Abu Dhabi. Speaking about IIT Delhi – Abu Dhabi campus, Prof Banerjee said that it is envisioned as a research-centric campus of the institute that will contribute to the research and academic ecosystems of Abu Dhabi and the UAE and in the process, contribute to IIT Delhi’s growth and strengthen linkages between the two countries.

A temporary campus for IIT Delhi – Abu Dhabi is already assigned and work for customisation of the existing facilities to IIT Delhi’s requirements has already started. The campus will formally start its operations in a few months and academic programmes are expected to commence in early 2024. In due course, the institution will migrate to a permanent campus. Other administrative, academic and operational policies regarding IIT Delhi-Abu Dhabi are being developed and discussed in anticipation of the formal launch early next year.

The international campus of IIT Delhi is expected to offer degrees at the UG, PG and doctoral levels in a diverse range of programmes covering Energy and Sustainability, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science and Engineering, Healthcare, Mathematics and Computing and other disciplines of engineering, sciences, management and humanities.

Also, Sorbonne University, Paris and IIT Delhi have signed an MoU to establish a strategic partnership. The collaboration originated in June 2022 when they jointly submitted a project under the French government’s Franco-Indian Campus for Health initiative. The partnership involves research projects in cancer studies, neurosciences, biotechnology and biomedical engineering. Student mobility will begin in the next academic year, with two Master’s students from Sorbonne University going to IIT Delhi and four postgraduate students from IIT Delhi visiting Sorbonne University.

Placement The number of job offers, unique selections as well as PPOs were at a record high during the placement season 2022–23. 368 companies visited the campus with 659 job profiles to hire students. The students received 1417 job offers with 1270 unique selections (including 267 PPOs). 221 companies made 806 internship offers (with around 701 unique selections) to the students.

Infrastructural development One of the biggest infrastructure projects being undertaken on the IIT Delhi main campus in Hauz Khas is the construction of engineering blocks 99B and 99C, which are spread over about 55,000 sq m. These buildings have around 200 faculty offices and more than 200 labs, in addition to other facilities like workshops, committee rooms, conference rooms, etc. The blocks will become operational early next year.

Construction of academic block 103 with a tentative cost of Rs 231.05 crore and Type-C staff and faculty houses with a tentative cost of around Rs 121 crore will start very soon.

Three new hostels, namely Dronagiri, Sahyadri and Saptagiri, with a design capacity of 1200 single rooms, have gone operational. Two new hostels (one boys’ and one girls’) will also be constructed. A tendering process has been initiated by M/s RITES for the two hostel projects, tentatively costing Rs 300 crore, which are partly funded through IoE grants.

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