Saturday, Sep 14, 2002
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By Arunkumar Bhatt
The phenomenon shows that the alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology and other premier institutions find highly promising placements at home and abroad and are no longer excited about splitting atoms as they were until the mid-1980s. But small town universities, many in the backward regions, have chipped in to provide qualitative human resource.
"Those who get into the IITs are brilliant but those who cannot because their parents are unable to afford the expensive entrance tests are equally bright,'' says S. P. Garg, who heads the Human Resource Development Division, BARC.
The industrial and corporate sectors may not have heard much of the Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, the Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj University, Kanpur, or the Bharathiyar University, Tamil Nadu, but they are familiar names in the Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore, or the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad. The joke in Trombay, nuclear suburb of Mumbai, is that you prospect for uranium at Jadugoda and for prospectors themselves at Hazaribagh.
Not one IIT graduate has opted for nuclear studies this year. In the past six years, only two of them joined the country's nuclear programme, according to Dr. Garg. But, "the atomic energy and space departments have not suffered because their engineers are not from premier institutes or universities. In fact, these departments have made greater progress in the past few years.''
However, unlike engineers, science graduates of premier institutes do join BARC, which puts the trainees through a year-long orientation course for engineering graduates and science post-graduates (OCEP) at its training school. Subjects such as health physics, reactor designs and operations and environmental sciences, which form the core of nuclear activity, are taught. The school also runs a five-month orientation course for engineering post-graduates.
Most of the leading nuclear personalities are either old students or members of the school faculty. Until last year, over 50,000 first class graduates of science and technology used to apply to the school. They had to write a test and appear for an interview. And less than 400 would get to join the school or its affiliates.
To make it easier for the candidates and BARC, the written test was dropped and a first class degree and GATE (graduate aptitude test in technical education) scores were made the selection criteria. This brought down the number of applicants to 16,000.
The DAE training schools are unique compared to other technology institutes, says Dr. Garg. Even in IIT, the faculty-student ratio is one teacher per 20 students. But in BARC, the faculty outnumbers the trainees.
For 120 trainee scientific officers, the school has a faculty of 450 teachers. "This is because the course is divided into many topics and sub-topics and we find an expert from among 4000 working scientists in BARC.''
The teachers do not get any extra remuneration for the lectures. "But it is a great honour to be called upon to speak on a subject of your interest,'' says Dr. Garg who has been teaching high temperature thermodynamics for many years. And Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, teaches here like his illustrious predecessors, including the late Homi Bhabha, did.
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