The honour was conferred on Wednesday at a signing ceremony in New Delhi between Minja Yang, director of UNESCO’s New Delhi office, and Ashok Misra, IIT-B director. UNESCO has recognised IIT-B’s contribution in creating a “knowledge society” and a “rich knowledge heritage”.
“It’s not just the first for any IIT, but it's the first knowledge heritage centre in the whole world,” said a proud Misra.
Sanjay Narayen, honorary adviser to IIT Bombay, had originally come up with the proposal and had been the force behind it.
Joint activities in promoting traditional technology and renewable energy for people-focused and sustainable development form an integral part of the IITB-UNESCO agreement. Improvement of the ambience and landscape of IIT-B and cooperation in topical areas like nanotechnology and biotechnology is also on the cards, said the director.
Misra explained that while both UNSECO and IIT-B currently conduct academic and research collaborations with universities, governments and industries to meet the immediate needs of society, the agreement will take it to a higher level and give it “new dimensions”.
“It (agreement) commits IIT-B and UNESCO's New Delhi office to strengthen knowledge and innovation with a special focus on supporting sustained and inclusive growth in society,” said Misra. Other details on the collaborative activities would be decided “as we go along”, he said.
IIT-B will also contribute a revolving fund of Rs 10 lakh for the activities to be undertaken under the agreement and both sides will also work closely and cooperate with each other to generate further resources both nationally and internationally, according to Misra.
It was the technical aid and expertise received through UNESCO, primarily provided by the erstwhile USSR, that had helped set up IIT-B and “we are rejoining hands in the 50th year of the institute”, said the director.
Echoing Misra’s sentiments, Yang said: "IITB was originally established with the cooperation and participation of UNESCO and over the past 50 years has grown in stature as an institution of national importance and a leader in higher education, research and training. UNESCO is delighted to renew and strengthen its partnership with IITB."
Yang emphasised that the core mission of UNESCO has been fostering human and institutional capacities to improve security through sustainable development. “These are crucial issues for India as much as for any country. IITB takes these responsibilities seriously and we look forward to collaborating on programmes to address emerging environmental challenges,” she said.