IITGN Essay Competition – The Context of the Essay

It is the year 2035. IIT Gandhinagar has established itself as the leader of world education and has brought back the glory from the days of the great Nalanda and Taxila universities to India. Through its innovative, enterprising and unique approach, IIT Gandhinagar has woven top academicians, cutting edge researchers and inquisitive students into a golden fabric with the finesse of an expert weaver. Further, IIT Gandhinagar has helped transform the state of the Indian education and the society at large through its meticulous and sustained efforts and the entire world is looking up to this star from the east as a unique gem in the necklace of top class universities.

The Winning Entry:

We are Infinite

Today in the year 2035, all hail the success of IITGN, all hail the vision of the institute and the positive impact it has had, but are unaware of how such astounding results came about. Having been a part of IITGN since its early years, I have been witness to the changes that have taken place over the years and extremely privileged to have been a part of the journey that has been exciting, at times a little rockybut never short of surprises.

The journey of IITGN

India EduNews, July 24, 2008:

“As plans to set up eight more Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) get going, IIT Gandhinagar will open on Aug 2 with three specialisation subjects and 103 students.To start operations from the Vishawakarma Government Engineering College (VGEC) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, the new IIT will get ableguidance and study aide from IIT Bombay.”

The Indian Institutes of Technology had been standing firm across the country, producing individuals who have been instrumental in shaping India’s past. However, the sheer numbers that India has, meant that a dire need was felt to address the growing concerns of India’s burgeoning population. As a result, 8 new IIT’s were set up, IITGN being one of them. A new institute with a clean slate, IITGN had the opportunity to create a niche for itself, bring the glory of Nalanda and Takshashila back to the east. With 103 students on board, IITGN set sail with a goal to being the best university in the world.

The Times of India, May 2, 2014:

“If movies like 3 Idiots and ChetanBhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’ led you to believe that IITs are all about rigid curriculum and no space for innovative ideas, then read on. You might want to change your opinion.

It is not just that innovative ideas are mushrooming in the minds of the students at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, but they are also materializing them into actual prototypes through their academic projects”

Six year’s into its journey, IITGN had incorporated traditional customs with new creativity to carve out a curriculum that unleashed the hidden potentials of its students. Giving them the platform to learn technical knowledge and put them forth in forms of innovative products, IITGN had never been the one to only focus on theoretical learnings. The institute had always emphasized the need for producing responsible global citizens who have the zeal to address the issues the society has rather than just providing the students with an engineering degree. ‘Where the mind is without fear’, with this motto, IITGN had always asked its students to speak against anything they feel wrong. Not only did it listen to the suggestions put forth by the students, but also acted keenly on them, empowering the students and thereby motivating their most important stakeholders to be proactive. Perhaps, it is no surprise that a number of innovations had come forth in the very few years of its inception.

The Hindu, January 1, 2020:

“Keeping track with its illustrious past, IITGN has once again surprised one and all with this out of the box program. An institute primarily associated with imparting engineering education to the people of India, IITGN had already left many wondering when it started its MA program in 2015. However, on this New Year’s Eve, this new initiative by IITGN leaves everyone gaping in astonishment.

Many people wish to be entrepreneurs and manage their own businesses, just to feel the thrill of doing something new every day. Well, IITGN never fails to impress such people and it is back once again with this new program. They call it the “Let’s Team Up” program”

In its early years, the seeds were planted of the greatest giving of IITGN to the world, giving itself to the world. The institute built several collaborations with different players like RICOH, UL and Caltech, among others. Joint projects were taken and the students and faculty were provided complete flexibility and autonomy to solve the problems these players brought to the fore. Slowly, more universities and industries started knocking the doors of IITGN to form collaborations.

However, the real turning point came when the institute launched the “Let’s Team Up” program. One program would miraculously solve the problem of addressing all the problems of the world. The institute created one platform, an online portal where anyone from all over the world could mention his / her problem and people from all over the world would rate the problems according to the urgency of the need of the solution and that’s all it took to open up the project and start building the solution. IITGN would then connect sponsors and universities, offer lab facilities, offer technical guidance to anyone anywhere who wanted to solve the problem. People could come to IITGN, stay for a few months and work on the problem or they could simply be located in their hometown and continuously receive feedback and guidance from experts from all over the world. What mattered was just one thing, whether the necessary efforts were made to solve the problem at hand.

The Times of India, June 12, 2024:

“16 years ago, when the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar was being set up, expectations were high. The institute lived up to its reputation in the initial stages but is now facing a severe crisis. The innovative program they had set up four years ago is now sinking. The program is not failing due to lack of participation or enthusiasm, but has rather disappointed one and all with the logistics. There are too many problems, too many solutions being offered, too many people wish to visit IITGN and work. The institute is struggling to come to terms with the scale at which they have started the program.

The Director of IITGN, however has full confidence in the program – “We are trying our best to live up to the promise of the program as we have been trying from the past four years. I believe that a solution will come up from the project itself, thereby saving it from going down.” Hopes are high for the program to regain its foothold, as it still promises to be one of the most important programs India and probably the world has ever seen”

As can be seen from the media excerpt, the program didn’t perform as per the expectations in the early years. Criticism flowed in from all directions and the institute was under immense pressure from all sides. People said the project was too ambitious to be true. They said the scale at which the project is being proposed is unreal. Such a large body cannot be managed or run effectively. This was the litmus test of the program, of IITGN and of all its stakeholders. As fate would have it, a solution did emerge from the “Lets Team Up” project itself and gave breathing time to IITGN. With support from common men, industrialists and stalwart universities in the form of suggestions, facilities and even funds, IITGN was able save its child project. Continuous amendments and changes meant that the program never faced such a stern test again.

Washington Post, October 1, 2028:

“When IITGN launched the “Let’s Team Up” project eight years ago, the hopes were high. The project was in grave danger a few years ago but now is steady and thriving. Ever since, the world has been witness to some unique brilliant solutions to a variety of problems. The jewel from the East has shone and shown the path. People all over the globe are talking, discussing and proposing solutions to a number of problems. The charm has worked.”

What “Let’s Team Up” managed to achieve was bring industries, universities, students and more importantly the common man together under one umbrella. Within a few years of the launch of the project, IITGN managed to do what Nalanda, Takshashila and even other modern educational greats could never do. These places were premier institutes for the select few, whereas IITGN transformed itself into a place of learning for anyone who wanted to learn, develop and help. It has faculty members offering help located in the US, students from Africa, solving the problems of Asia working closely with industry experts from Europe. A 10 year old can go to the portal and say – “Hey, I have an idea to this problem” and all of a sudden millions of people are checking the feasibility of the solution.

On observing more closely one realizes thatthe outlook of IITGN had changed, the institute had attained its own enlightenment. From competing to being the best in India, to being the best in the world, it had by now realized that the world’s problems are far too many for one institute or body to manage. IITGN therefore, changed its vision. The vision and mission of the institute changed towards holistic development through collaborative efforts from a more individualistic approach. The greatest gift of IITGN to the world was giving itself to the world. IITGN devoted all its resources and facilities to everyone in the world, inspiring others to do the same. The institute now did not try to be the best in the world, but rather tried to touch lives everywhere.From trying to provide its students with the best facilities, it now tried to provide quality education to everyone. From asking its limited students to solve a few problems it now asked millions of people to work on thousands of problems. From relying on its few collaborators to provide help, it now asked for help from everyone in the world right from laymen to the best of universities. It was no longer about any one institute, but all about the team, working to achieve the common good. At times, some solutions never came about, some took years to move forward, but with support from all the other stakeholders, the results did come sooner or later.

The Hindu, March 15, 2033:

“If 25 years ago, when the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar was setting sail, you were skeptical of the potential of the institute, it is time to look back and accept that IITGN has surpassed your expectations big time. Yesterday, according to the world rankings released by The World Education Forum,IITGN has topped the rankings yet again for being the best university in the world. In all parameters which includes faculty, research facilities, research publications and projects, on making an impact on the society, IITGN has been the outright winner.”

This is the most important feature of IITGN, which most people don’t understand. This is where the media is wrong. What they perceive as IITGN is an institute running from a few hundred acres of land in Gujarat. However, IITGN has moved much ahead of such limitations. In essence it is only the backbone, the connecting link of a body that has its veins in every house over the world. Every person is a teacher and a student at IITGN. All problems are addressed and solved by the people of the world, IITGN is just the connector, the messenger. Every mind on the planet is a part of the mind of this enormous body and the soul of the body is the human spirit that strives towards excellence in making life comfortable for each one of us. The spirit that tells us that every man is equal and it is our duty to solve the problems that any one of us face.

They say – “IITGN is better than Harvard, Stanford and others.” But, a part of the present day IITGN is Harvard, a part of it is Stanford. There can be no question of being better than one’s own self. Without Harvard, Stanford and the others, the present day IITGN would cease to exist.

IITGN began in 2008, but it has no end. It started with no labs but now can have access to any lab in the world. It started with a 103 students, but now has the entire populace of Earth. It had no experience then, but now has the wisdom of all those laymen, industries and universities. This is the reason whythe motto of IITGN today is – “We are Infinite!”