IIIT Bangalore plans to launch BTech programmes, says director

So far, International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore has had only postgraduate (MTech) and research programmes.

Debabrata  Das, Director, Internatonal Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (Image : IIIT Baangalore)Debabrata Das, Director, Internatonal Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (Image : IIIT Baangalore)

Pritha Roy Choudhury | April 20, 2024 | 06:36 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Thus far, the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT B) has been a postgraduate and research-only institution but that is set to change with a BTech programme in the works. IIIT-B’s modular open source identity platform (MOSIP) – the largest contribution of its kind from an Indian academic institution – already serves nine countries, has agreements with 18 more, and another 10 are in the pipeline. Debabrata Das, director, spoke to Careers360 about why India should be proud of MOSIP, taking charge during COVID-19, developing well-rounded graduates, BTech courses, and more. Edited excerpts.

Q. You took over as IIIT-Bangalore director during the COVID-19 lockdown. What challenges did you face?

I took over in July 2021, a very difficult time as it was during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was very challenging as we did not know what each day would bring and I had to handle 1,400 students and over 300 members of staff. But challenges always teach us and make us stronger, more determined. When the lockdown was lifted, I immediately geared up to bring everyone back to the campus. The second challenge was to bring students to the class and make everything normal. I brought them back with a lot of incentives, talked to them, made them feel comfortable, and refrained from being tough.

Q. Your institute is strong in research.

A. Yes, I always emphasise and work for more and more research and world-class teaching. It is only then that students will have an in-depth understanding of the subjects. The third challenge was with bringing the industry into academia, helping them and vice versa. The innovation centre, closed during COVID-19, was reopened and a lot of start-ups came up. The industry and IIIT-Bangalore jointly held around six international conferences within the last two years. As a result, a lot of strong collaborations happened. Also, every student of the institute is asked to solve a problem related to the ecosystem.

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Q. Can you please explain that? What sort of problem?

A. Every student is given a problem to solve, addressing climate change, sustainability, the problems humans face. These are the few changes that I have been able to bring about on the campus and everybody is buzzing with a lot of academic energy. We have young urban children who have very good academic records, have cleared all-India entrance tests but have never planted a tree. We ask everyone to contribute.

Q. How do you ensure students’ mental health is protected?

A. I believe in holistic growth. So, we now have a lot of clubs for painting, music and drama on the campus. It is part of the programme. We also have a lot of sports activities. Sports teaches us team spirit, whether we win or lose. That shock-absorbing capacity as a complete human being has to be taught through sports. Every individual should dedicate an hour to sports every day.

Also, to prioritise the emotional well-being of students, the institute has partnered with an online platform offering virtual and in-person consultations with psychologists. Through orientation sessions students are informed about the platform’s services and facilities. They can access free counselling services all day, through the year.

Q. Are sports a part of the curriculum?

A. Sports is part of their curriculum. As also music or painting. These are the value-added courses in the curriculum. There is a professor assigned to monitor everything, some courses are evaluated, and some courses are only value-added, but they have to do all the possible assignments.

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Q. Are these part of the National Education Policy reforms?

A. NEP 2020 is a different ballgame. What I was talking about here is AHA – attitude, health and academics – in IIIT Bangalore.

NEP is a wonderful thing which the government of India has introduced. However, it will take some time [to implement] because of its nature. Every educational programme takes 10 years to be deployed. NEP 2020 talks about interdisciplinary activities, like students from computer science taking courses in electronics and electronics students taking a course in data science. NEP 2020 also allows lateral entry and exit which we are working on.

Q. How is the MOSIP project progressing? What was your experience with it?


Indians should be proud of MOSIP. This is the largest open-source platform from India to the world. It has 16 lakh lines of code which is highly secured and privacy-oriented. It was developed at IIIT-Bangalore. Across the globe, 80 countries tried this kind of digital platform and failed.

So, IIIT-Bangalore took up this challenge. It's a very big and complex problem and they solved it. Now 18 countries have signed agreements with IIIT Bangalore to deploy MOSIP as a digital identity in the respective countries; another 10 countries are in the pipeline

Digital identity is the backbone of a country's progress in digital public infrastructure. Now, many countries are coming to us because of two reasons -- we are in academia and therefore, neutral, and we are giving this working platform to the world. We are also helping the countries with four-to-five years of hand-holding and training.

Q. How are students involved in this project?

A. We have master's and PhD students involved in these massive projects, along with the faculty members. We have a huge research team inside, along with a development team for research and development to keep pace with changing technology. So, our faculty, the research students and one group of people come out with new technologies which will be required and can be used for these products. And there is another set of students who develop this. It is a wonderful combination of faculty, students, staff, scientific staff and engineers.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the largest product in open-source from any academic institution of India to the world.

Also, IIIT Bangalore is planning to offer BTech programmes in the near future.

Q. From when are you offering the BTech programmes and what programmes?

A. That I will not be able to tell you now. It is with the government and I know it will happen. We are just waiting to get the clearance.

Q. How soon?

A. I will not be able to say but very soon.

Q. This academic year?

A. Maybe.

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