IIT-Bombay history book released

The book chronicling IIT-Bombay's first five decades, 'Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 years of IIT-Bombay', was released on 5 September 2008. Authored by Rohit Manchanda of the School of Biosciences and Bioengineering of the Institute, and published by Macmillan India, the book tracks IIT-Bombay’s journey from its earliest days to the present in the form of a narrative history. The book was launched through a reading event on 6 October at Crossword, Kemps Corner, Mumbai, anchored by noted theatre personality Alyque Padamsee, who also read a few excerpts from it.

 Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory draws liberally upon the accounts of those who have seen the Institute grow at first hand. It uncovers the people and processes that brought IIT-Bombay into being and nurtured it in its nascent days.  Embedded in the larger tapestry of India’s science and technology campaign, the road IIT-Bombay has traversed proves to have an interesting story to tell. It prompts reflection not just on the Institute’s own course but on broader issues too, such as the evolution of higher technical education in India and the strains and tensions that have fashioned it, ideas from which may emerge useful pointers for the future. The book examines the IITs’ attributes that helped fashion them into institutions world renowned for the technical education they provide, attributes that include their autonomy of functioning, robustly participative governance, and commitment to academic vigour. No less importantly, the book tackles IIT-Bombay’s (and the other IITs’) perceived shortfalls over the years, such as in the domains of front-line research, in technological innovation catering to national needs, or in its responsiveness to winds of change.

Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory also explores the human face of the Institute. As well as chapters in which we glimpse the intellectual pursuits and preoccupations of the Institute’s staff and students over the years, and some of their quirks and talents, there are others on its inner customs and ceremonies: the rhythms of its campus life; the sparkle of its student festivals; the opinion in which it has been held, and has held itself, over the years; and the avenues it might seek to explore in the future.

Availability: The book should soon be available at leading bookstores. In addition, IIT-Bombay’s alumni can purchase a copy from the Alumni Association Office at the Institute.

About the Author

Rohit Manchanda graduated from the University of Oxford where he gained his Bachelor’s and D.Phil. in the physiological sciences. He is now on the faculty of the School of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT-Bombay, where he teaches and conducts research on electrical signaling in the nervous system. His professional work has been recognized through, amongst others of their kind, the AICTE’s Career Award for Young Teachers and IIT-Bombay’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Manchanda has previously written a novel, In the Light of the Black Sun, which won a Betty Trask Award given to writers from the Commonwealth under the age of 35, and was published by Penguin India.