The director of IIT Bombay, Devang Khakhar met BT's Goutam Das at the institute's sprawling campus in Powai. Edited excerpts from an interview:
On manual grading of joint entrance papers versus the multiple-choice format: Our numbers are too large now and our faculty has no time to sit and grade entrance exam papers. It has to be machine grade-able. I think it is possible to set a good paper which a student cannot simply guess. You have to keep changing patterns. You want to see some fresh thinking from the students.
On why IIT Bombay attracts the top JEE qualifiers: Mumbai is a bigger city - students feel they will have wider experience during their college life. Second, there is the reputation of the faculty. We have been able to attract a lot of good faculty. We have hired 100 people since March 2010. They are at the assistant professor level. They have all come back from abroad. We believe in holistic education. Within the curricula, students have a lot of choice on what they want to pursue. You could do a Bachelor's course in Chemical Engineering and then (with it) a minor in Mathematics, Humanities, Management, Computer Science etc. It can broaden the scope of your study.
On the changing nature of IITs: More than 50 per cent of our students are post graduate students. So we are actually a post graduate and research institute. That is our focus. Our income from research projects is rising. The research will feed into the teaching. Many of our under-grad students are also involved in research.