V. Kamakoti, the new director of IIT Madras, diligently follows in the footsteps of his family
V. Kamakoti, who recently took over as director of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, is a real blue boy from Chennai. In this interaction, he explains his areas of intervention for the institute.
He was educated at Vidhya Bharathi, run by veteran activist Jaya Araunachalam, and completed his senior secondary education at PS Senior Secondary School.
With an undergraduate engineering degree from Venkateshwara College of Engineering, he entered IIT Madras for MSc and Ph.D. He has done some postdoctoral research projects at Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.
A violinist, who learned the art of CN Chandrasekaran, the CSE teacher, had in his introductory note to the media, emphasized the awareness of school children. He wants to strengthen the school curriculum and increase interaction with young students.
Mentor of two rural schools, he dreams of seeing a child from his school pass the JEE, join his department and carry out a project with him. He was thrilled when the day he was selected (as headmaster), news came from his home village that a student from his school had eliminated NEET.
His family has been steeped in teaching for several generations. His father retired as head of the Sanskrit department at Madras University.
“My great-grandfather opened a school in 1914 at Vishnupuram near Kumbakonam. At that time, 15 of the 17 villages had no school. We now have about 800 children studying at (George Higher Secondary School, government-subsidized),” he said.
In the 1950s, his wife’s grandfather founded the Sri Krishna High School in Thappalampuliyur, near Tiruvarur, where 600 children from disadvantaged families are currently enrolled.
During an annual day at his school, he asked a difficult math question without expecting anyone to answer it. To his surprise, a boy gave the correct answer.
“At his age, I may not have given the answer. Some are blessed. There are geniuses like Ramanujan out there,” he said, adding, “The fact is that the original thought is very important. So far, we have not tapped into the intelligence of rural India. If these children have the opportunity, they will do very well. A child, if he learns to think differently at a very early stage, will make a big difference in life.
The institute has started a course on original thinking for everyone over 10 years old.
“That’s the first step that will bring out the intelligence,” he said.
Mr. Kamakoti plans to set up rural tech labs for children to experiment with their ideas. Such interventions will enable children to be productive human beings, which will enable them to succeed.
“Success is measured by the way you think, the vision you have. It should be on very early,” he added.
On regenerative agriculture
He lost two close cousins, who were sober, to cancer, and this motivated him to embrace the practice of organic farming.
Mr. Kamakoti practices organic farming on a small farm plot in his home village.
With many alumni of the institute returning to set up farms, he believes his dream of expanding would be realized.
“Regenerative agriculture will be an interesting problem to solve. When you want to scale it to large numbers of farmers, you need technology, and I had a set of areas – health, shelter, food and education,” he said.
Ethics and AI
“As technology gets closer to life, there are many things that remain unexplained. Values education is something that needs to be encouraged,” Mr. Kamakoti said, citing another of his plans.
“The Aarogya Sethu app is a marvel, but we need a balance between privacy security and we need people who develop and use technology to have value education,” he said. he declares.
Competency-based vocational training, underlined by the National Education Policy 2020, would help ITI students, he said.
The first institution has a duty to develop a program using its expertise, he said.
“Now there are technically difficult jobs. Some investments to train people in technology, and as a leading educational institution, we have a duty to develop a curriculum,” he explained. Technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality could be used to meticulously train students before sending them to factories, he added.