How Artificial Intelligence Got into India’s Curriculum

When I served as a member of AICTE Perspective plan committee in 2017, I did not know that I would become part of a sequence of actions that led to the introduction of AI on large scale in India!

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New Code of Education Award 2021

While AI was being taught as a part of Indian Institute’s curriculum for long time, it got its deserved place as a separate stream more recently. As Facebook showed photo of a meeting held at AICTE in 2017, I thought it would be good to write out the story for others to know.
At TIFAC, we had worked upon Technology Vision 2035 ( a set of 13 documents, consisting of a Main Vision document for India along with road maps for 12 sectors of importance such as Education, Healthcare, Energy etc.). See my blog on this at Making and Launching of Technology Vision 2035.

In April 2017, a committee was formed by AICTE to help in “Preparing Short & Medium Term Perspective Plan for Engineering Education in India”. Here is the photograph of the first committee meeting in AICTE HQRS in Delhi in May 2017.

First meeting of AICTE Perspective Plan Committee in May 2017

Later on, the committee was modified a bit and industry partners were brought in that released the final report. Here are a couple of snapshots of few recommendations made in the report.

After completion of my tenure at TIFAC in April 2018, I joined D Y Patil International University(DYPIU), Akurdi, Pune as its Founder Vice-Chancellor. As DYPIU became operational on March 14, 2018, few programs were started before I joined. However, the engineering program was not started.

As a founder Vice-Chancellor, I had both challenges and opportunities. With technology changing faster than expected and the academic curriculum very slow to change, the gap was widening. Changes were happening at the time scale of 1-2 years and even before a student graduates, technology would have changed.
Based on my earlier experiences as a Scientist and Professor(Please see my blog My Experience with the First “Greenfield” University of Reliance) as well as Head of India’s Technology Think Tank, after internal discussions, I shared a completely revamped B Tech (Computer Science and Engg.) curriculum based on a multi-track specialization system. This was shared with the public at large including social media for feedback and there was a huge response. Please see my blog on this for details: Award Winning Next Generation B Tech(Comp Sci and Engg) at D Y Patil Int Univ, Akurdi, Pune

While details about the program are given in the blog above, basically, it was a 4 year B Tech Degree program in Computer Science and Engineering with 10 track options in :
1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
2. Data Science
3. Robotics and AI
4. Intelligent Transport System and Logistics with integrated MBA in Transport/Logistics Management
5. IoT
6. Cyber Security
7. FinTech (Financial Technology) – Includes Blockchain – with integrated MBA (Financial Management)
8. Bio-Informatics
9. Cloud and Systems Administration (including Data Center Management)
10. Web and Mobile Application(Covering Web 3.0, 5G applications along with Cloud Computing) – Integrated option of MDes (AR/VR/Holography/Games Design)
Specialization tracks were to be chosen after completion of foundational courses in the first two years. Foundational courses were also revamped completely in view of many changes that have taken place in both academic structures as well as technology changes. Some of these were Computational Thinking, Design Thinking, Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, Fab Lab, Python as the programming language of choice, integrated electronics, communication, embedded systems, AI etc. A unique “Lab in the Bag” concept was introduced to make students comfortable working on hardware from home too as they do for software.

Details of the program were shared with AICTE to see how they respond to this concept. I was pleasantly surprised to see an appreciation letter coming from AICTE based on their 8th meeting of the All India Board of Under Graduate Studies in Engineering & Technology on Feb 19, 2021. The letter read as –

“Your proposal was placed before the 8th meeting of All India Board of under Graduate Studies in Engineering & Technology decided as under:

The Board finds the proposed approach of having two years of foundational subjects and tracks or minors letting the students pursue their area of interest, as innovative. With standardized name of the degree, there will be flexibility that tracks can be deleted or added depending on the needs of the industry/ job market. Also it will be useful to effectively bridge the gap due to fast changing technology. It is suggested that name of track chosen by students be specified in the degree, in bracket.”

This was a piece of very happy news and showed the flexibility our regulatory authorities were willing to demonstrate. This program was also awarded by All India Council of Robotics and Automation for Best Academic Innovative Curriculum for Higher Education in 2019.
What followed was even more interesting – AICTE formed a committee to suggest new UG courses in emerging areas of technology. The committee was also entrusted to revise the model UG curriculum of Computer Science and Engg.

I was also made a member of this committee. Based on deliberations of this committee and follow up actions by AICTE, a number of UG courses were initiated by AICTE in 2020-21 academic year. A number of these were influenced by what we had started in 2019-20 academic year at DYPIU. This can be seen in this screenshot.

At our end, we successful launch of Muti-track BTech(CSE) program, we initiated BTech(Bioengineering) and MBA(Digital Business) programs in 2020-21 along the same pattern. Bioengg program is covered in blog: DYPIU Launches Multitrack Futuristic BTech(Bioengineering) Program.

AICTE moved one more step and formed a committee to set up IDEA Labs across the country on the pattern of Fab Lab. I was requested to Chair the National Steering Committee for this purpose. Committee members have been very dedicated to this game-changing work, which can lead to much better skills among engineering graduates and the capability to design products and improve the manufacturing sector of the country.

DYPIU was also recognized to be the winner of New Code of Education Awards 2021(NCOE) for its effort to transform Comp Sci and Engg curriculum on March 19, 2021 in Private/Deemed Univ category. The jury members consisted of Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe(Chairman, AICTE), Dr Pankaj Mittal(Secretary General, AIU), and Dr Prem Singh (Advisor, Higher Education, NITI Aayog).

With a path-breaking National Education Policy 2020 and flexible regulatory system supported by appropriate socio-cultural practices, India would be moving ahead on the path to a better quality of life as envisioned in Technology Vision 2035.

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Prabhat Ranjan

Author: Prabhat Ranjan

Prof. Prabhat Ranjan is Vice Chancellor, D Y Patil International University, Akurdi, Pune. He was heading India's Technology Think Tank, TIFAC(tifac.org.in) as its Executive Director since April 2013 to April 2018. Earlier he was Professor at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute for Information and Communication Technology, Gandhinagar (DA-IICT) since 2002. He was educated in Netarhat School(near Ranchi), IIT Kharagpur and Delhi University. He received his Ph D from University of California, Berkeley where he carried our research on “Nuclear Fusion” at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory during 1983-86. He immediately returned to India after this and carried out research in Nuclear Fusion area at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Calcutta and Institute for Plasma Research(IPR), Gandhinagar. He played a major role in India’s Nuclear Fusion program and was Project Leader of the largest operational Indian Fusion Reactor, ADITYA, at Institute for Plasma Research from 1996-2002. His current interests include applications of Wireless Sensor Network to Wildlife, Planetary Exploration (Chandrayaan mission), Nuclear Fusion, Healthcare, Agriculture etc. He has received National Science Talent Search Award, IBM Faculty Innovation Grant and HP Innovate 2009 award, NPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award 2012, Bihar Gaurav Samman 2012 etc.


1 thought on “How Artificial Intelligence Got into India’s Curriculum”

  1. Very fabulous thing ,krantikari,
    i suppose such idea for you was easy, to make better future.

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