The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay plans to start a four-year undergraduate programme in economics the coming July, if its Senate approves, enrolling 30 students to begin with.
Devang V Khakhar, the institute’s director, said they had ample qualified faculty in economics and, if required, could also draw from their Sailesh J Mehta School of Management. “We have a huge faculty in economics as we have a big humanities programme with 34 faculty members. So, faculty is not an issue for beginning the programme,” he said.
Students would be selected through the same Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for engineering and the fee charged would be the same as for the BTech programme, Rs 90,000 a year.
Another IIT-Bombay professor said an economics programme was in high demand at the IITs and from companies coming for placement offers. IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Kanpur have been operating a programme in economics for years and have seen good intake.
“Economics is no longer a liberal arts subject. It has acquired the characteristics of a science and engineering discipline,” said Vimal Kumar, convenor, economics discipline, IIT-Kanpur. They admit 40 undergraduate students for the economics programme, considered a successful one. Kumar adds, “If you look at the industry, they want people who can use economics well and analyse numbers. Our students of economics get as good placements as our engineering students.”
The new IITs at Patna, Mandi and Gandhinagar also offer various programmes in humanities, arts and social sciences.
Internationally, some marquee technology institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech have a humanities, arts and social sciences department which run programmes in economics, among other subjects. These are offered for undergraduate, masters and doctoral studies. Virginia Technology Institute has a department of economics offering both undergraduate and graduate study.