A veteran of hydraulics and water resource engineering, Prof. Ram Karan Singh, Vice Chancellor at ICFAI University, Dehradun tells Education Post’s Tanay Kumar about his thoughts on research and the future of water management.
Primary and secondary education places the foundation of one’s approach towards education and life. Please tell us about your family background and your education.
I was born and brought up in a joint family in a village called Sirsira village, Raebareli of Uttar Pradesh. I am one of six brothers and sisters. My father, Tej Bahadur Singh, was a farmer and mother, Bhawna Singh, is a homemaker. My entire school education was in Hindi medium in the village itself.
I was a bright student and a self-learner. I was one of the board topers among 10+2 students and due to this, I got an opportunity to pursue my graduation from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, Rajasthan in 1985. It was a dual degree – bachelor’s and master’s in engineering. My PhD was also from BITS Pilani and also taught for a short while as a faculty member. Later on, I completed my post-doctoral degree from Japan in 2004.
You did your PhD in Hydraulics and Water Recourse Engineering. What is the future of these branches in India if they are offered as separate courses?
The water resource availability per capita is reducing in the country; water footprint per capita is increasing due to changes in our lifestyle. The sectoral water demand in the agricultural, domestic, and energy sector, commercial and industrial sector, is increasing due to the population pressure and anthropogenic activities.
So, the innovative solution for the quantitative and qualitative management of the surface water and groundwater is really important to meet the ever-increasing sectoral demand. Also, a skilled workforce is required in the water management sector to address the future problems at all levels of education. Because of climate change problems and the extreme environmental calamities, the problems are becoming more complex. In order to address the future sustainable goal of the UN and adopt and mitigate the extreme events, well-trained and deft workforce will be required in the future.
Along with the Indian government, you did projects with GTZ Germany, SNV Netherlands, JSPS Japan, UNESCO and many other institutions. What are the practices that inspired you at these organizations, some that you might have incorporated at ICFAI University?
All the projects I completed with national and international funding agencies were researchbased projects and the research outcomes were directly used as a policy in the government scheme of the respective countries. This kind of learning helped me to design the new courses and programs in the area of water, environment and energy sectors and supervise PhD work and handle more projects to benefit others in our society. In the future, ICFAI Tech School will immensely benefit from the various courses and programs which will be designed in cutting edge areas and technologies.
In February, ICFAI Dehradun was granted three international patents in Kuwait. Please tell us about that and how a parttime or fulltime PhD scholar can get benefits at the university, along with a regular one?
The International Invention Fair in the Middle East, Kuwait Science Club, and Under the Patronage of His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait has awarded following three patents of ICFAI University Dehradun each published in USA, Australia and Germany.
- The PAM-Physical Fitness, Bronze Medal Certificate
- The IPIT-Waste Intelligent Process Management, Silver Medal Certificate
- ITPI Steel and Mining Waste Management Certificate
As per the guidelines issued by the United Grants Commission, PhD programs offered fulltime and parttime options. But there is no difference in academic rigor and quality. In the first year of their coursework, they do physical classes within the university campus. It gives them an opportunity to do multidisciplinary interaction. Further, their researches are monitored and guided by supervisors and the student research committee where both fulltime and parttime students meet on one platform, providing them the opportunity to learn together.
How does the university ensure internship and placement opportunities for its students?
The faculty monitored short-term and long-term industrial training programs provide good connect with the industry as well better university and industry linkage. This brings better trust in the organization to visit the campus and provide jobs to students in the core areas of expertise and skill sets. In the times to come, these exercises will be strengthened more to bring better results.
The University offers MTech programs in some unconventional streams like Geoinformatics or Planning, Design and Construction of Rural Roads. How does the university bring opportunities only for M.Tech. Students?
The higher education program at ICFAI University is designed to bring academic excellence to the fore make available quality professionals required in focused areas of engineering. Such kind of manpower is high in demand due to an exponential increase in academic institutions and research organizations within the country as well as abroad.
The ICFAI Group runs colleges and institutions in other states of India. What is the group aiming for?
The integrated efforts of the marketing team, placement team and academia are going to bring glory to the ICFAI Group in the various areas of education, for example, research case study-based teaching-learning process in the ICFAI Business School makes the system unique in management education. The conducive work environment for the faculty and other staff will attract quality manpower. Top academic think-tanks and support by the ICFAI group lends the direction of the growth.