Dinesh K Sharma, Editor

QS Ranking: IISc Bengaluru fastest rising South Asian university, 4 IITs in top 200

Chandigarh (Agencies): The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, is the fastest rising South Asian university among the coveted QS World University Rankings top 200 varsities, having gained 31 places while four IITs have also figured in the category attaining a higher rank compared to the previous edition.

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a London-based global higher education analyst, on Thursday, released the 19th edition of the world’s most consulted international university ranking.

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, which has bagged the 172nd position, is India’s second-best institution, rising five places while IIT Delhi has risen eleven places to bag 174th rank. The IIT Kanpur has risen thirteen places to its highest position (264) in the history of these rankings, while the IIT Roorkee rose 31 places to its highest rank ever (369). The rankings revealed that IIT Guwahati has gained eleven places, reaching its best result of all the editions of the QS World University Rankings while IIT Indore is the highest-ranking debutant in this edition, placed 396th globally. OP Jindal Global University is the highest-ranked private university for the third year in a row, according to the rankings.

A total of 41 Indian universities have featured in the ranking of which 12 have improved, 12 remained stable, 10 declined while seven universities are new entries. According to the rankings, 13 Indian universities have improved their research impact relative to global competitors, seeing a rise in the Citations per Faculty (CpF) score.

Conversely, Indian universities continue to struggle with QS’ measure of institutional teaching capacity. Thirty of India’s 41 ranked universities have suffered declines in QS’ Faculty and Student Ratio (FSR) indicator, with only four recording improvements, it showed. However, on an encouraging note, now two Indian universities rank among the top 250 for faculty and student ratio, compared to none in previous editions.

The highest performing in this metric is Savitribai Phule Pune University (225th for FSR) and OP Jindal Global University (235th for FSR), followed by IISc Bengaluru (276th for FSR). “This edition of the QS World University Rankings reflects the excellent work that several Indian universities are doing to improve their research footprint, with positive consequences for their reputation on the global stage.

“Conversely, our dataset also suggests that the Indian higher education sector still struggles to provide adequate teaching capacity. Further expansion of provision both within universities and across the sector as a whole will be necessary if India is to continue reaching new heights,” said Ben Sowter, QS Senior Vice President. “The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 aims to achieve equity, inclusivity, and quality across the education sector. Prime Minister Modi, his ministers, and the University Grants Commission (UGC) are implementing new frameworks which should radically transform India’s higher education.

“Among these, the multi-modal education framework is instrumental in taking education to remote and inaccessible parts of the country and partially addressing the exponentially rising demand for university places in the largest democracy in the world,” he added.

A unique initiative to save the environment: Pension is being given to 100-year-old trees in this state every month.

Bihar: A unique initiative has been taken to take care of old trees and create awareness about the protection of the environment in East Champaran of Bihar. A pension of Rs. 400 per month is being given to the trees which have completed their age here. Considering these trees as patrons, the district administration, in collaboration with the people, launched this unique campaign under the name of ‘Guardian Tree Pension Scheme’. The livelihood group is responsible for the care of the trees and they are protecting the trees from this amount.

The Champaran Sentinel Old Tree Campaign was launched in December 2021 on the initiative of the District Magistrate under which, trees older than 50 years are being marked as Guardian Trees. So far 10 thousand 837 old trees have been identified. Of these, pensions have been introduced for trees older than 100 years. In the first phase pension is being given to 50 trees from May 2022, whereas the local administration has planned to give such pension to 100 trees in the district.

The oldest of the pensioners are the 500-year-old Bohr, Pakora, and Pipple trees. District Program Officer (DPO) MGNREGA Amit Kumar Upadhyay said that the amount of pension was being given to an NGO group. It will be used for tree care, soil filling, brick fencing, irrigation, pesticide spraying, environmental awareness, and periodic programs under that scheme. The NGO group responsible for the care will have to issue a utilization certificate of the amount spent. The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has been given the responsibility of monitoring.

Funds are being collected with the help of the people and a  joint bank account of the Director of DRDA and DPO MGNREGA has been opened to collect the amount to be spent in the scheme. This includes personal donations, corporate social responsibility, and donations from socio-business organizations. Indian Oil Company Limited has provided Rs. 10 lakhs for this scheme.

Bhajanpreet Kaur of Ferozepur becomes the only young innovator from Punjab selected to participate in International IYIIC

Ferozepur: The menace of stubble burning during every harvesting season when the whole northern region is engulfed into a smoke causing irreparable damage to the environment and soil could find a viable solution, thanks to the innovative ways propounded by Bhajanpreet Kaur, a plus-two student at SGRM Government Senior Secondary School (girls), Zira, a sub- division of Ferozepur, about how to convert straw (crop residues) into manure, thus checking the double whammy damage of this menace.

This scientific technique that she represented in the Indian Young Innovator and Inventor Challenge (IYIIC), a national level competition for young scientists held at Sigma Group of Institute in Vadodra, Gujarat on May 27 and 28, 2022, earned not only applause from the judging panel that comprised ISRO scientists, but also secured her a berth to participate in the international leg of the competition to be held at Goa from November 23 to 25 later in the year. Notably, IYIIC is a flagship programme of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, kick-started in 2020 to promote outstanding innovative ideas of the young national inventors.

    Bhajanpreet Kaur is the only candidate from Punjab among 32 candidates short-listed for participation in the international competition, which was earlier slated to take place in Paris, Italy, and has been relocated to India after Covid restrictions are still in force in the European nation. Bhajanpreet Kaur had earlier emerged victorious in the North Region IYIIC held at IK Gujral Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar in March 2022, where she put forth her scientific innovation about how to turn stubble into manure without burning it and causing an environmental hazard.

      Her guide Sukhdeep Singh, a chemistry lecturer in her school, who guided her on how to explore her ideas and how to carry out experiments in the lab and in the field, said that they had to work constantly on the idea and their experiment entailed a minute observation and taking note of every change in the productivity of the soil after spraying their compost solution made from bio- gradable materials. They witnessed how the stubble turned into manure ready to be dissolved into the soil enhancing its productivity, thus doing away with the need of setting the stubble on fire.

      Bhajanpreet Kaur, who is the only member of her family to take up the science stream, is very excited to present her findings at the international level and is fully engrossed in her innovative studies. She said she was always worried about the deteriorating health of the soil due to stubble burning. To care for soil and environment is our collective responsibility and only a scientific approach backed by innovative ideas and experiments can show the way, she reiterates.

    Rakesh Sharma, Principal of the school, takes a great pride in the feat achieved by Bhajanpreet and feels a real honour in announcing to the world that his student will be representing the state in IYIIC at the international level.

Photo caption: Bhajanpreet Kaur interacting with a farmer in Zira in Ferozepur, educating him the ill effects of stubble burning