From HOD's Desk

   

The creation of the "Department of Economic Sciences" at IIT Kanpur represents a paradigm shift in the functioning of the IIT system. It clearly shows that the ever increasing role of economics in engineering and technology is finally getting its due recognition in India.

Economics is essentially about value, central to all human activity and plays a prominent role in almost all spheres of life. Its key idea is that people will respond to incentives and the goal is to design better incentives. It is important to realize that each and every activity of mankind has an economic implication. For example when one builds an industrial plant near a city, the pollution from the plant may affect the health of the citizens, but the industry does not take care of that cost in its profit and thus creates externalities. Economics over the years have evolved itself into a highly quantitative subject drawing heavily from the tools of mathematics and statistics. In fact, mathematics allows us to remove many ambiguities in an economic argument.

In India, mathematics has been largely taught as a separate subject but not sufficiently emphasized for economics undergraduate and graduate students. In my opinion, a clear understanding of mathematics is necessary to gain insights into the deeper issues in economics. Economics I believe is the "physics of social sciences". Similar to physics, we attempt to understand an economic phenomenon by analyzing the data, building models and then interpreting the results. Thus, students in economics needs to be well versed in mathematics and computer programming. IIT Kanpur is the right place to train the economists of the future. Here an economics undergraduate student gets exposed to basics of mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, and several other engineering discipline apart from doing courses in economics. We also have a Ph.D. program that takes the advantage of all the above subjects.

Research is our main focus and the environment/facilities at IIT Kanpur are highly conducive for economics as well as interdisciplinary research. While some of our faculty are working on projects of great socio-economic relevance, the others are exploring the esoteric land of economic theory. We also lay immense emphasis on teaching and in the near future, we are going to float a unique two years Masters' program in economics sciences. For the students who have qualified in JEE advanced examination and want to study economics, I believe IIT Kanpur is the right destination. Aspiring faculty members who have a flair for research as well as teaching will find IIT Kanpur to be an ideal place to lead a very rewarding academic life. I shall end with a hope that this new department will function in a non-traditional way since to progress one must take the road less travelled.



Joydeep Dutta

HoD, Department of Economic Sciences
IIT Kanpur