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Dr. Indira Parikh’s new initiative

An alumna of the University of Rochester, New York and former dean at IIM-Ahmedabad, distinguished educationist Dr. Indira J. Parikh is founder-chairperson of the Puducherry-based Auronya College (AC), a liberal arts and science institute launched at a mega event staged at the ITC Grand Chola in Chennai on April 22. 

Promoted under the aegis of Chennai-based Abusha Foundation (regd. 2006), with an investment of Rs.100 crore by industrialist and educationist S. Abhaya Kumar (executive director of Bangalore-based Strides Shasun Ltd and founder of several other companies, who has over 12 years’ experience in founding and managing education institutions — Shri Shankarlal Sundarbai Shasun Jain College for Women (estb.2004) and Shasun School of Liberal Education (estb. 2013) in Chennai — Auronya College claims to provide ‘Education 4.0’ teaching-learning paradigms for the imminent fourth industrial revolution. 

Newspeg. On April 22, the AC management unveiled its Antariksh one-year postgraduate diploma programme in new age management and leadership (fee: Rs.15 lakh) beginning in October this year. AC’s first batch of 60-70 students for the fully residential programme will be mentored by eight permanent and six visiting faculty from renowned institutions including Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. The students will be housed on AC’s resort style 1.25-acre campus in Auroville, Puducherry, bristling with hi-end technologies including robotics, virtual reality and 3D printing. 

Meanwhile to house students and faculty of AC’s other liberal arts and science programmes, a 30-acre main campus (4 km from the Antariksh campus) is under construction. 

Direct talk. “The world is poised for the fourth industrial revolution in which robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence will all play a big role. Therefore, we need to provide education that prepares students for a critical shift to these revolutionary technologies. Our new-age courses and integrated curriculums will be backed by top-grade faculty from India and abroad,” says Parikh. 

History. Parikh began her academic career with Vivekanand College, Ahmedabad in 1971 before signing up with the internationally renowned IIM, Ahmedabad as a research associate (1972-74) and as a visiting research scholar at INSEAD Fountainebleau, France (1974-75). In 1985, after a teaching stint at the Texas A&M University, Parikh returned to India and rejoined IIM-A as faculty and was appointed dean (2002-2005). In 2006, she was appointed president and head of academics of the Pune-based Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME, estb. 2006) University. After a nine-year stint at FLAME during which she scaled it up to a highly respected liberal arts university, Parikh started her own consultancy firm Antardisha (estb. 2016) which “creates a space for institutions and organisations to reflect on the past and renew themselves for the future”. 

Future plans. Parikh believes Auronya College is one of the few greenfield liberal arts undergrad colleges promoted in peninsular India and has a great future. “I’m confident of creating a holistic 21st-century learning environment in South India where liberal arts education has been grossly neglected,” she says. 
Undoubtedly an overdue development.

Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)

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