NEP 2020: Why engineers must engage in music and arts

Post NEP 2020 and the focus on multidisciplinary learning in technical institutes, the need to nurture creative disciplines at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has become imperative. At IIT Kharagpur, the Academy of Classical and Folk Arts has been set up aligned with this aim in view. “NEP 2020 has chalked out a clear path for interdisciplinary studies including fine arts and music which will create space in the mind of engineers and strengthen their thought process through an immersion in creative avenues,” says Virendra Tewari, director IIT Kharagpur.

Classical music maestro Pt Ajay Chakrabarty, heading the ‘100 Ragas Initiative’ of the Academy is all for the blurring of such boundaries between disciplines. “It will give students the freedom to exercise their choice and live their dreams without sacrificing their academic careers,” he says.

Talking to
Education Times about the blend of music and innovation, Pt Chakrabarty says that the performing arts help in developing several traits which are not nurtured by the present education system. “The fundamental traits of innovation are abilities to focus, improvise, communicate, and have the courage to bring about change, all of which are developed through a training in music and other performing arts.”

He believes that music and the creative fields can help engineers think from a “much broader perspective” and increase their confidence. In fact, having a career in both science and music is not impossible. “I have had students who are performing musicians as well as scientists, doctors or engineers. But this number will be much smaller as compared to the many who will be benefited by learning music or fine arts while pursuing a career in science or engineering at the institute,” Pt Chakrabarty says.

He will be working on the formulation of the deep structure of Indian ragas at the Academy, as part of the ‘100 Ragas Initiative’ to forge a connection between the creative arts and the cognitive sciences such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Modern innovation, according to Pt Chakrabarty, is rooted in collaboration and communication, but graduates from the existing environment of competition are often found to be lacking in these virtues. “Music helps in understanding and developing collaboration, be it in western symphonies, or in the impromptu
jugalbandis in Indian music.”

Agrees Pallab Dasgupta, professor-in-Charge, Academy of Classical and Folk Arts, “Scientific excellence does not come from rote learning but from the ability to assimilate, innovate, apply and communicate knowledge. All these traits are automatically developed through training in music and arts. I have learned sitar for many years and can advocate how this has helped me in developing my research abilities.”

“We have excellent brains in the campus who have gone through an education system that suppressed everything other than memorising facts and formulas. Many of them would have loved to do something else. We cannot change all that, but if we can bring about a change in their perspective and level of happiness, then we will help them evolve into superior human beings,” Dasgupta adds.

The Academy will provide micro-credit courses in areas connecting music, fine arts, and technology apart from lectures and workshops. “In the medium term, we may offer micro-specialisations consisting of such micro-credit courses and related technology courses (such as signal processing, acoustics, etc). At this point of time we have not thought about any new degree or diploma programmes,” Dasgupta says. The Academy also plans to offer courses to people interested in music across the world to learn about the unique aspects of Indian music, folk and the fine arts.




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