Prof Prabhat Ranjan's Blog

Prof. Prabhat Ranjan is Vice Chancellor of D Y Patil International University, Akurdi, Pune

Concept of “Innovation Belt” for Bihar

– Prof Prabhat Ranjan (prof.prabhat.ranjan@gmail.com)

Objective
To set up clusters of educational/research and industrial organizations at few geographically distributed locations to promote innovation as well as to cater to the gap in demand and supply in education system within the state.

Background
Bihar has been land of innovation in the past and till today this signifies the glory of Bihar. Innovations were in many fields and included new thought processes through “religion” (e.g. Buddhism or Jainism), Mathematics, Astronomy, Politics, Economics etc .. So Innovation was not limited to scientific or technological innovation.

In today’s context innovation is equally important if Bihar has to grow and maintain its growth and be visible not only on map of India but also of world. So this brief document looks at how to kick start growth of Bihar based on innovations.

Education in Bihar

Education has been the lifeline of Bihar so I feel that any such effort has to start around education. In spite of this Bihar has severe shortage of educational opportunity. As per 2007 statistics, Bihar had 1.82 engineering seats per lakh of population compared to a figure of 189 in Tamilnadu. A difference of 100 times! (Which may have changed a bit since I do not have latest data). India average is about 59 seats. So there is a huge gap in demand and supply. Bihar students go all over the country and flood colleges around the country. According to one data, nearly 1 Lakh students go out of Bihar every year for engineering education alone with an outflow of Rs 2000 Crores. Even a far off place like Kota having coaching facilities, 60% of students out of 50,000 are from Bihar. This figure would go up substantially (may be several times), if we add all education groups including schools.

Innovation Belt

So there is no doubt that Bihar would need to build a huge educational infrastructure to meet the aspirations of young people of state. This would need investment from Govt as well as Private Sector. What we are suggesting in this brief note is to organize a fraction of such development in a cluster in the form of “Innovation Belt”. This can be setup in a 5-6 geographical regions spread over Bihar. For example, these could be : (1) Motihari (2) Darbhanga (3) Kishanganj (4) Bhagalpur (5) Gaya and (6) Siwan. This is shown in the map below to show the spread (green dots indicate new areas to be developed where as red dots indicate already existing organizations need to be brought under this concept):

Change in Education System for Innovation

Our education system by and large promotes rote learning at both school level and college level. This does not promote culture of innovation. To change this we need to focus in a different way of learning. This can be done through modern methods based on “Project based learning”, Team Work, Development of Self Learning etc.

Examples of such clusters

Such education needs to be imparted at both school level as well as college level. At school level School of Creative Learning, Patna (operating for last 15 years) has already been working along these lines. We need to identify if anything more needs to be added to this system and if one can replicate similar systems to promote creativity and innovation at school level.

At college level, Olin College in USA is a model. It was set up about 10 years back and has focused on promoting innovation. It has worked on “Project based learning” model. Another good example of innovation is through “extreme affordability” course of Stanford Design School through Interdisciplinary research.

Within India, we have many examples of educational clusters. One good example is Vallabh Vidyanagar near to Anand. In about 50 years from scratch, it has now 92 educational institutes catering to nearly 1 Lakh student along with industry. However they have not really focused on innovation as a goal education.

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