India tweaks tech colleges to 'become real power in software'

We need home-grown Googles and MOOCs might get us there, says minister

The Mosque at the Taj Mahal, shot from within the Taj Mahal through the marble screens

India's decided its massive successes of the last 20 years aren't enough and will tweak its Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IITs) to create home-grown technology colossi.

India's IITs are among the most sought-after educational institutions on Earth: about 1.1 million youngsters sit entrance exams to fight for 10,000 places and the prestige that comes with graduating from one of the 23 Institutes. IIT alumni include Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Sun founder and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy, numerous tech startup CEOs and plenty of significant scientists and political leaders.

IITs are a source of national pride in India, but the country's minister for human resource development Prakash Javadekar has now asked them to do better.

Javadekar has pointed out that while India can point to great success as a service provider, it's yet to produce global companies to compare with Google, WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter.

The minister thinks that kind of success is India's next frontier, so has put the IITs on notice they need to get busy creating the kind of entrepreneurs capable of tapping global zeitgeist.

“We must become real power in software by innovating such new possible utilities,” the minister said at the conclusion of a meeting of the IIIT Council

Intriguingly, one of the resolutions of the meeting was to consider massively open online courses (MOOCs) as one way to take courses at an IIIT. It's unclear if that plan will make the IIITs less exclusive, but with another of the meeting's resolutions calling for “a road map for building brand IIIT” it looks like India could be preparing to export its educational services to the world too. ®

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