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An IiT Blog


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Rethinking undergraduate education in the IITs

Anurag Mehra

Anurag Mehra

This summer’s CASI Visiting Scholar, Anurag Mehra, is a professor of Chemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. He is also the author of the latest India in Transition (IiT) article about the need for reform of the IIT undergraduate system.  From coaching-induced burnout to student disinterest in technical fields to teacher apathy, Mehra exposes how India’s most celebrated academic institution may be falling short of its initial objective.

“The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) were founded almost five decades ago with the objective of providing technological leadership to a new and resurgent India, driven by Nehru’s deep commitment to science-led development. Whether they provided technological leadership to India or not remains debatable given the large numbers of their (under) graduates who have migrated abroad or have shifted to non-technical careers. India has changed much since the Nehruvian vision, begging the questions: how have the IITs adapted and how relevant are these institutions today, in particular their core undergraduate programs?” Continue reading…

 

 


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Pivot to Africa

 

Arndt Michael

Arndt Michael

Dr. Arndt Michael,  Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg, Germany and author of the multi-award winning book India’s Foreign Policy and Regional Multilateralism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), has contributed the latest article to CASI’s bi-weekly publication India in Transition (IiT). He discusses the “Indian way” of dealing with Africa and recent evidence of India’s pivot to Africa.

“The drastic increase in trade volumes over the last few years is an impressive testament to the new Indian pivot to Sub-Saharan Africa; trade between India and Sub-Saharan Africa stood at $60 billion in 2012. Still, trade volumes in the same year were markedly eclipsed by those of the EU ($567.2 billion), the U.S. ($446.7 billion), and China ($220 billion). Nevertheless, India’s engagement shows a successful new focus on the region where it has implemented specific programs in the economic, political, and, especially, pan-African sphere. From an economic perspective, there are three pillars of Indian engagement….” Continue reading


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Latest on CASI publications

Defying the Odds book coverToday FT‘s Amy Kazmin reviewed CASI’s latest publication Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs. She writes:

“the book offers fascinating, bottom-up insights into the gritty workings of India’s economy, and its twisting, bumpy roads to potential upward mobility.”

Read the full review here.

The Kindle edition of Defying the Odds is now available in the US on Amazon.com. Be sure to get your copy! You can read more about the book on our website.

Also, don’t miss CASI Director Devesh Kapur’s latest op-eds. In an article for Business Standard, he discusses the trade-off between competence and loyalty in government bureaucracy and argues that the Modi government should take a risk by bringing in new talent. Read the story here.

Kapur also writes about the need to build stronger state institutions which are better at promoting public good in an article for The Economic Times published today. Read the story here.

 


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Cash, Candidates, and Campaigns

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

This week’s India in Transition (IiT) article was written by Michael Collins, a doctoral student in South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Collins has described the impact of campaign finance laws in India and the creative ways that political parties have circumvented them.

“Two months ago, India conducted the largest democratic exercise in history. The 2014 General Election, enacted in nine phases over a five-week period, witnessed 553.8 million voters cast ballots to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha. The resurgence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) captured headlines and, in effect, diverted attention from a disconcerting growth in gross electoral spending. With an estimated $5 billion price tag, including a cost of nearly $600 million to the government exchequer, the recent election ranks among the costliest in the history of democracy…” Continue reading


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Western anti-capitalists take too much for granted

Dr. Devesh Kapur, Director of CASI
Dr. Devesh Kapur

In a recent opinion article in Financial Times, “Western anti-capitalists take too much for granted”, CASI Director Devesh Kapur argues that capitalism’s discontents should look to India for an example of the empancipatory power of capitalist economic growth.BpX2xiFCYAA3VDI

The article comes after the launch of CASI’s newest publication, Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs, written by Kapur with D. Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad, CASI research affiliates and former CASI Visiting Scholars.The book project was made possible through a multi-year research grant on Dalit Entrepreneurship from the John Templeton Foundation. The book was launched this month and is available in India through Random House India. Read More.

Order your copy through Flipkart and or Amazon.


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Land Shackled

CASI Director Devesh Kapur, TV Somanathan and Arvind Subramanian argue the case for land reform in a recent two-part series in Business Standard.

“Capital, labour, or land? ‘Which of these is the binding constraint?’ is one diagnostic question the new government should be asking itself as it seeks to revive the sputtering Indian growth engine…” Continue reading Part I of “Land Shackled.” 

“How can India reduce the severe distortions in land regulation and acquisition to ensure that land facilitates rather than impedes development? We propose four policy reforms…” Continue reading Part II of “Land Shackled.” 


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Random House India Launches CASI’s Dalit Entrepreneur Book in Delhi

Defying the Odds book coverOn July 19 at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi, Random House India will launch the book, Defying the Odds: The Rise of the Dalit Entrepreneurs with authors – Devesh Kapur, CASI Director, and D. Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad, who are both CASI research affiliates and former CASI Visiting Scholars. A panel discussion with the authors will include T. N. Ninan, Chairman, Business Standard, Rajiv Lall, Executive Chairman, IDFC, Milind Kamble, Chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), and moderated by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President, Centre for Policy Research.

This book project was funded by a multi-year grant awarded to CASI from the John Templeton Foundation.

Defying the Odds is about the new Dalit identity. It profiles the phenomenal rise of twenty-one Dalit entrepreneurs, the few who through a combination of grit, ambition, drive and hustle—and some luck—have managed to break through social, economic and practical barriers. It illustrates instances where adversity compensated for disadvantage, where working their way up from the bottom instilled in Dalit entrepreneurs a much greater resilience as well as a willingness to seize opportunities in sectors and locations eschewed by more privileged business groups.

Traditional Dalit narratives are marked by struggle for identity, rights, equality and for inclusion. These inspiring stories capture both the difficulty of their circumstances as well as their extraordinary steadfastness, while bringing to light the possibilities of entrepreneurship as a tool of social empowerment.

The book project was made possible by a multi-year research grant on Dalit Entrepreneurship CASI was awarded from the John Templeton Foundation.

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