Former director of BITS Pilani C.R. Mitra dead

August 29th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) Innovative educationist and former director of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) in Pilani, Chittaranjan Mitra, died here after a brief illness. He was 82.Mitra, a former director of India’s premier technical education BITS died Wednesday, his family said.

BITS is located in Pilani (Rajasthan), the home town of one of India’s top business families the Birlas.

Mitra headed the institution for 20 years from 1969 to 1989. The educational reforms he conceived of, designed and implemented continue to sustain BITS today.

He introduced innovative educational philosophies such as broad-based, multi-disciplinary approach, semester long course based curricula, practice school, industry-academia collaboration and many other features which were firsts in Indian higher education.

After retiring from BITS, Mitra took up yet another round of educational innovation by heading NIIT Academy, a novel educational institution within a profit-making information technology company NIIT Ltd.

He was president of NIIT Academy from 1989 to 2000. In 2000, Mitra set up his own consultancy firm.

In the early part of his career, from 1959 to 1961, Mitra was industrial adviser to the Uttar Pradesh government.

From 1961 to 1969 he was director of Harcourt Butler Technology Institute in Kanpur before being invited by the doyen of Indian business Ghanashyam Das Birla to lead the then fledgling BITS.

Mitra wrote several books and articles on science and technology and on higher education. His most recent book, titled “Higher Education in Changing Scenarios”, was published in 2005.

He was a member of the visiting committee for chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also the first Asian to be president of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

He was a recipient of the Mewar Award, the Watumull Foundation Award and a life-time achievement award from the Engineering Education Foundation, Singhabad, Pune, among others, for 50 years of excellence as an innovator in higher education, as an institution builder and as an educator.

CRM, as he was fondly known, is survived by his wife, son, daughter, son-in-law, two grandsons and a granddaughter.

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