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Thursday, October 13, 2016

IIT-M launches online counselling - TNN

Updated: Oct 13, 2016, 12.51 AM IST

CHENNAI: To help students easily access mechanisms that can assist in dealing with stress, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has introduced an online emotional wellness platform called 'YourDOST aims to increase awareness regarding mental wellness and break the prevalent social stigma attached to seeking psychological help on campus. The mechanism has been introduced in the hope that a larger number of students would be more comfortable on an online forum when compared to the existing face-to-face system.

The anonymous forum functions similar to a chatroom where students with a user ID and password can log onto a counselling session. These sessions are usually a one-on-one with a professional at the other end. The institute has roped in a number of experts including psychologists, life coaches and career coaches.

General secretary of the student body, Purab Jain says that there is a lot of stigma attached to counselling. "Many aren't comfortable saying they are taking up a counselling session. We already had a regular counselling mechanism where counsellors come to the campus. However, some students may feel uneasy about going to a counsellor's room with other students watching. This is precisely why YourDOST was launched," he said.

On the other hand, the institute is also strengthening its peer support network. The guidance and counselling team IIT-M called 'Mitr' has now been split into two wings -proactive guidance and reactive guidance. 'Saathi' the proactive wing of the campus involves around 250 student mentors involved in creating awareness and sensitizing students about overall well-being. It will also manage platforms to support enhancement of skills for personal and professional growth.

"Each of the 250 mentors have about 5 mentees, most of the mentees being first-year students as they are new to campus. Mentors will help resolve issues at the student level or suggest professional help if required," said Jain, adding that another level of mentors will cater to the seniors. Mitr which remains the other wing now deals with reactive mechanism where students help others deal with the aftermath of an issue or an incident or could also involve disciplinary action, said the student body. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

ART VS SCIENCE - Daily Excelsior

Posted on 9/10/2016 by Dailyexcelsior

Gauri Chhabra

In Indian landscape, the debate of Science versus Arts and which one outwits the other is an eternal one. Our fellowmen treat Humanities or Arts like a lesser known cousin of Science. Moreover, for many reading the article, this debate will hardly make any sense. Why? Because engineers and doctors earn better and live better. They have financial security unlike writers and painters.

Even when our country is being respected and appreciated by the whole wide world for our ever courageous decisions and developments, a common Indian is still weak when it comes to breaking the shackles of stereotypes. The stereotype of science being better than art is so deeply ingrained in his mind that he staves off all those who question him.

As many as 2,060 students dropped out from various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) from 2012-13 to 2014-15, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani informed the Lok Sabha during Question Hour. During this three-year period, 2,352 students dropped out from the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). The reasons for dropouts may be attributed to shifting to other colleges/institutions, personal reasons, medical reasons, getting jobs during PG courses, inability to cope with academic stress etc.

There is a guidance and counseling unit, headed by a faculty member in these institutions. It works closely along with a number of faculty counselors and advisors to ‘identify students facing emotional difficulties and guide them to professional counselors for help’. Interestingly, while responding to a supplementary query on whether academic pressure is causing suicide by IIT students, Irani asserted this was “incorrect”.
The drift towards Humanities:
At an international level, this drift can be attributed to the scaling awareness, spread of liberal arts, evolving social scenario and changing political set up. Also, it’s a chronological phenomenon. It’s human tendency to explore new corners. The recent trends have started favoring the virtues of varied arts.
Reason for shift of interest:
The decreasing interest in science and engineering course in India evidently represents that the students are not fond of the teaching of sciences at their school level. The reason why they are inclining towards arts courses or any other unconventional subjects is believed to be the surging interest of children in their country’s governance and their society’s development.
Given the challenges faced by our society, students are interested in studying Economics and other Social Sciences which are available in humanities only. On the other hand, if they take up Arts, they can also opt for subjects like Mathematics and Computer Science.

Cruel Competitive Entrances:
JEE Advanced 2015 exam was held on May 24, 2015. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious and highly competitive engineering entrance exam in India – leading to admissions in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Out of over 13 lakh students who appeared for the JEE Main exam 2015, only 1,52, 401 managed to qualify for JEE Advanced exam. Astonishingly enough, 25,000 of these JEE Advanced qualifiers opted out of the IIT entrance exam and did not register themselves for it.

Appearing in JEE and other Engineering Entrance is no short of a nightmare for students. It is undoubtedly one of the most appalling reasons for the drop of students fromscience even when they’ve qualified. Students believe that they won’t survive the torturous schedules of the IIT’s even if they make up to it. However, for admissions in arts/ humanities colleges, students do not have to write any competitive/ entrance exam. Admissions are straight away done on merit basis.

Flexible enough for flickering minds:
Arts is a flexible stream and has many roads to choose from.The misconception that it is related to theoretical stuff is not apt.It is based on exploring and understanding the depths. And, nobody ever called digging the depths easy.Science, on the other hand, has mandatory calculus and derivations.It’s hard for a student to pass with a good CGPA in Sciences if he doesn’t have a tight grip over numbers.

In arts, we have varying options to choose from.If a student wishes to pursue his studies purely on the plank of theoretical understanding, he can consider History or Public Administration.For informed souls, journalism and Political Sciences can work wonders. And the ones who wish to dig deep the concepts; there are streams like psychology, philosophy etc. For someone who has a way with numbers and has a niche at solving problems, Economics can be the best choice.
Availability of myriad career options:
The past cases of recession led to lay-off of a lot of IT professionals. It was a setback to lot of parents who were nurturing the invisible win of Science over Arts. Also, it forced many students to consider other options than blindly opting for the science stream. Many career alternatives which were previously not regarded as important or popular are now among the sought after career options for students. Among these are radio management, radio jockeying, program anchoring, news anchoring, news reporting, fashion designing, event management, content writing, hospital management, medical transcription and many more. These creative fields have opened up new vistas for education. Though many traditional courses such as engineering and medicine are still in high demand, yet in keeping with the changing trends at the national and global economic scenario, new educational programs are emerging fast, thereby depicting the deviation from the older trends.

Cost of Education/ Return on Investment:
It is common knowledge that Engineering and Medicine are one of the most expensive courses. It is because they are professional in nature and imparted by world renowned institutions. Another factor that surges the cost of these courses is their length or duration. It takes at least four years to get a B.Tech. Consequently, higher cost of education and difficult sanctions of Education Loans compel a great chunk of students to alter their preferences.

On the other hand, Arts provide shorter courses at a relatively inexpensive fee. Students can study the course and decide about their specialization during the bachelor courses of two to three years.

Availability of jobs:
Another conflicting tendency can be found in every part of the country. A problem that has risen the most in the recent years is that the type of education followed by the educational system in Indiadoes not always result in offering jobs to the graduates. 

Our education system does not provide the students with any assurance that they will get a job on completion of their educational degree. However, jobs are definitely being generated by the medium of internet. Writing articles, web designing, writing reviews etc. are amongst the top job opportunities offered by the internet. Clearly, these types of jobs can’t do justice to Science or Medicine graduates.
Internationalization of the Education Process:
Our desi India is getting Internationalized. This process may consist of international collaborations for the faculty members and also the students, joint research tasks or offshore campuses.This trend can enable them to venture into a pragmatic world of socio economic dynamics and carve a niche in their careers. A plethora of opportunities are available in unconventional fields like BPOs, Web designing and event management.

Also, when Indian students explore the option of studying abroad, it dawns upon them that Engineering and Medicine are not the only well-paying options. As a result, they look for courses which are a mélange of arts and sciences. So, globalization has also played its part in favoring the winds towards Arts.

They say that science is about fact while art is about fiction and debates. Science delves into the world and beyond whileart is spiritualand demands us to search within. The two seem to betwo different roads altogether but after travelling a certain distance, these two coalesce. After all, the two are branches of the same tree.

Therefore, the shift from arts to sciences is the one brought about by time. The current political, social and financial landscape has emphasized on the value of knowing these disciplines. This shift is a reflection of evolving minds and nothing more. In the immortal words of Isaac Asimov, “there is an art to science and a science to art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.”

Measures to be initiated to prevent suicides on campus: HRD minister - TNN

Punkhuri Kapoor | TNN | Oct 6, 2016, 09.28 PM IST

VARANASI: Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said that induction courses would be initiated in every university campus along with counseling sessions, grievance redressal and student-teacher dialogue to prevent suicides in varsity campus

Referring to the Rohith Vemula's suicide while talking to reporters on Thursday, Javadekar said, "To ensure that suicides on campus is not repeated, the vice-chancellors of the central universities have been asked to introduce induction courses, ensure arrangements of counseling sessions and a grievance redressal cell besides student-teacher interaction." He also appreciated the six-week-long induction course run by IIT-BHU recently. 

On being asked about the probe report by judicial commission stating that Vemula's mother faked dalit status, Javadekar said, "I am yet to read the report submitted by former Allahabad high court judge A K Roopanwal which is to arrive at office on Friday. As of now, the process is being followed and things are being looked into." The contents of the report are Justice Roopanwal's findings with depositions from different people hence would only comment after reading it, he added. 

In reply to another question pertaining to forgery of marksheets/degrees, HRD minister said that national depository initiatives were being introduced on lines of dematerialization of shares as a part of which degrees of all central universities will be digitized. It has been implemented from this year, he added. 

When asked about majority of vacant seats in universities every year, Javadekar said that it was discussed in the review meeting with VC's of all central universities and they assured that the vacant seats will all be filled. He also cited how the newly opened central university in Motihari filled its seats within a short period of two months. The HRD minister, when questioned about former HRD minister's announcement to fly tricolour atop a 207-ft mast in all central universities, said that he would look into it and check its status. 

Divulging details of the review meeting chaired by him at BHU on Thursday, Javadekar said, "In the meeting, we stressed upon developing each and every central university as a centre of research, innovation and quality education. The VC's of a total of 36 Central universities gave their presentations and the kind of work they're doing. But, we intend to open gates for higher education and efforts are on to increase seats in IITs, IIMs and also ensure that no seats are left vacant in NITs."

Citing examples of universities like Nalanda, Taxila and Vakramshila, HRD minister said, "Our country was one-third of the world trade and that was because we had great universities like Nalanda. If global rankings existed at that time, these universities would have bagged top positions," he claimed, adding that the Britishers provided education to a limited class to serve their administrative purposes but did not want Indians to really learn. 

Javadekar, who also inaugurated the Shatabdi Krishi Bhawan and green building of BHU, appreciated the efforts of varsity towards sustainable development.

Minister of state for HRD, Mahendra Nath Pandey, said that to boost the level of primary education and improve its quality, a pilot project of imparting science skills will be given to primary schools in as many as 88 blocks of Varanasi and Vindhyachal commissionaries to raise the bar of primary education. "We wish to improve the quality of primary education so that the children are not merely lured by introduction of schemes like Midday meal and others. Hence, a pilot project will soon be introduced in both these commissionaries," informed Pandey.