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IIT Guwahati wants to work with Bangladesh on rivers

Published : 22 Jul 2022 12:31 AM | Updated : 22 Jul 2022 12:31 AM

The Indian Institute of technology (IIT) Guwahati, which is famed for its world ranking in research, wants to collaborate with Bangladesh on water management as numerous rivers flow from the northeastern Indian states.

Those rivers also create havoc as both sides face floods almost every year.

“We need to work together,” said Prof T. G. Sitharam, director of the IIT Guwahati, when a Bangladesh media delegation visited the campus at the capital of the northeastern Indian state of Assam on Wednesday.

The institute which has a big department on water management currently has such a collaboration with Australia.

The Australia India Water Centre at the IIT Guwahati is a collaboration for water research and education between the countries.

The collaboration focuses on water and food security research, a joint Masters level programme in transdisciplinary water resource management, student and staff exchanges, workshops, conferences and webinars and provides short-term training in the water sector to government agencies and other participants.

“We are ready to work with any country. Bangladesh has scopes to work with us as we face floods every year,” the director said. “We need institutes to collaborate. If there is initiative (from Bangladesh), we will welcome that.”

Bangladesh and the northeastern Indian states, especially Assam, are mainly flat floodplains with numerous rivers flowing across them.

The Ganga which is called Padma in Bangladesh, and the Brahmaputra which is called Jamuna at the lower stream in Bangladesh are the major rivers.

Others include the Barak-Surma-Kushiyara river system, which flows through northeastern Bangladesh and the Barak Valley of Assam.

IIT Guwahati is the only academic institution in India that occupied a place among the top 100 world universities -under 50 years of age – ranked by the London-based Times Higher Education in 2014.

The Institute gained rank 41 globally in the ‘Research Citations per Faculty’ category and overall 395 rank in the QS World University rankings 2022 released recently.

India has 23 IITs in different states with the first IIT being set up at Kharagpur in 1956. The IIT Guwahati, established in 1994, is the sixth IIT.

But it is the first IIT that grew without any foreign support. “We grew completely with indigenous efforts,” the director said.

“IIT Guwahati perhaps built the confidence in Indian academia that one institute or university can become a front-line institute all by itself at a location that was not well connected by air with the rest of the country,” he said.

IIT Guwahati can be considered as a “role model” that represents the successful implementation of “look east” and “act east” policy of the government of India, he said. 

The number of current students is 7,430 including 1,687 post graduates and 2,147 Ph.D students. There are 435 faculty members. Besides 87 professors take classes as a visiting and honorary faculty.

The IIT Guwahati has 11 departments with discussions underway to start a new department - mining and mineral resources. 

Following the National Education Policy 2020 of the Indian government, the institute has also introduced medicine, business, design and humanities courses.

Assam which is close to Bangladesh’s northeastern division Sylhet is a new growth engine of India with the ruling BJP forming the state government.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s zero-tolerance policy against any form of terrorism and extremism helped the state to contain separatist forces like ULFA.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is also “grateful” for that as he told a Bangladesh freedom fighter delegation on Tuesday that PM Hasina’s efforts helped his state to achieve the present-day peace and growth.

Wasbir Hussain, executive director of a local think-tank Centre for Development and Peace Studies, said there are a lot of scopes for better collaboration between the northeastern states and Bangladesh.

“Government, trade and industry bodies and policy think-tanks in the Northeast India and Bangladesh can carry out study or market survey on border trade between the northeast and Bangladesh, which can dwell into the present trade scenario and analyse the constraints and infrastructural bottlenecks involved,” he told the Bangladesh media delegation that visited his office in Guwahati on Wednesday.

“There is the need for greater synergy between regional trade bodies in Northeast India, and cities in Bangladesh like Chittagong and Sylhet, so that they can work together to explore trade opportunities between the two regions,” he said. “The ports in Bangladesh may be linked with Assam through Brahmaputra-Barak-Padma-Meghna riverine waterways”.