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The Human Spark | Best Science Colleges in India

It was set up to be a “college of excellence” for young women by Sir Maurice Gwyer, the then vice-chancellor of Delhi University, and Miranda House continues to provide top quality education and highest standards of excellence 70 years into its existence. Dr Bijayalaxmi Nanda, the current acting principal says, “Miranda’s legacy continues to be a most important or significant element of the college. But beyond that legacy are the symbiotic relations that exist between the teachers and students.”

At Miranda, the teaching of science stream subjects started way back in 1948. Its first batch of students was admitted in the Physics and Chemistry department with classes held at the university building. Since then, Miranda has endeavoured to strengthen its basic science stream and has also laid a strong emphasis on state-of-the-art infrastructure. Dr Nanda says, “Science education in terms of research and innovation has increased manifold with faculty working on new research projects, extension of buildings and state-of-the-art laboratories.”

To create an environment that encourages research activities, the college in 2008 established the D.S. Kothari Centre for Research and Innovation in Science Education (DSKC). In addition to that, the Miranda House Physics department is now part of a global network of physics-QuarkNet, which is linked to the Cosmic Ray e-Lab portal at Fermilab, America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory.

The transformation is not just visible in terms of infrastructure and research facilities. Teaching-learning at Miranda has gone beyond classrooms with the introduction of a number of immersion learning programmes. “We need to have an inter-disciplinary learning system which is the order of the day, an immersion learning technique between Social Sciences, Humanities and Basic Sciences in which students can learn and conduct research work together. Environment is one area where this could happen, so too Psephology and Political Analysis, where Humanities, Social Sciences and Mathematics or the Computer Science department can come together,” says Nanda, who is planning to build on what the college has already achieved.

30 companies visited the campus last year and recruited 38 students, offering an average annual salary of Rs 3,30,000.

In recent years, the college has also introduced certificate add-on courses under the faculty leadership as a form of participatory learning and to include more subjects and hands-on training. Data science analytics, robotics, operation research, medical biotechnology, bioinformatics in silico medicine, computer applications for visually impaired students are some of the new focus areas. Incidentally, Miranda was the first college to establish a computer-based resource centre to aid its visually challenged students.

2 No. of male teachers among the 49 permanent science faculty

‘Miranda innovates’ is a motto the institute stands by and young minds are encouraged to design new projects. Some of the popular student projects include the in-house developed mobile phone using open-source electronic prototyping platform Arduino, snake robots, a surveillance system using drones, a Savant stick for the visually impaired, to name a few. The coll­ege has an all-weather station (AWS) installed and a METKIDS programme to help students analyse climate patterns and precipitation measurements.

101,959 No. of books in the Miranda House library 44 in Miranda House library

Miranda House has basketball, lawn tennis and badminton courts, a gym, and even a bank branch with an ATM

The institute curates programmes such as the Science Conclave, students from the science department also visit research organisations to get training, undertake field trips, excursions, summer projects, internships that develop their intellectual rigour, practical, analytical and problem-solving skills and an ability to apply their knowledge when they are out in the real world.

Dr Nanda says, “I think the Mirandian is reflected by a sense of leadership, sense of community life and team management. All these qualities are already within them. The work of the college, basically the teaching and non-teaching faculty, is to bring these out to shine. Every student of ours shines in their own unique way.”

Manya Jha and Kritika Bansal, second-year students pursuing Physics (Honours) take pride in stressing how opportunities at Miranda are endless. “The first thing which absolutely every Mirandian would say is it is so empowering and liberating in every sense. Obviously, it’s also a great opportunity for women, especially because they get to live in an environment where they develop their voice and their opinions,” says Bansal. Jha adds that there is a healthy balance of academics and extracurricular activities, but adds that there is scope for improvement. “I think we could really increase the amount of sports that we have in our college. Right now, sports is not really a focus area,” she says. With new initiatives on the campus, Mirandians are encouraged to work on a number of projects apart from their syllabus. “The students and teachers are such a close-knit community here, and the amount of effort the faculty puts in to improve us is amazing,” says Jha.

Manya Jha, 2nd year, Physics (Hons)

Why I chose Miranda House

Because ex-students told me the opportunities after doing Physics (Honours) from Miranda are endless.

What’s unique about campus life here?

It is empowering and liberating; it’s a great opportunity for women because we get to live in an environment where we can develop our voice and opinion.

One change I want in my college

Sports facilities and focus on sports.

Best facility in the college

The D.S. Kothari Centre for Research and Innovation in Science Education is our research initiative where every summer students get opportunities to do research work. Students can also work on projects apart from their syllabus, as it is ongoing throughout the year.

Dr Bijayalaxmi Nanda, Acting Principal, Miranda House

What’s unique about Miranda House?

Miranda’s legacy continues to be one of the most important or significant elements of the college. But beyond that legacy is the symbiotic relation between the teachers and students. The science stream has made tremendous progress in terms of research, innovation and infrastructure

New initiatives in the past three years

Efforts have been made to make the college disable-friendly and we will be having a pre-accessibility audit soon. We are also looking into how we can bring in computer applications for visually challenged students.

Apart from new infrastructure, we have extended teaching/learning beyond classrooms by bringing in a number of immersion learning programmes.

New-age courses and subjects

We have data science analytics, robotics, operation research, medical biotechnology, bioinformatics in silico medicine.

What next?

We plan to bring more research programmes into the humanities and social sciences streams with an interdisciplinary learning approach; environment, health, psephology or political analysis are areas where multiple disciplines can come together.

What sets a Miranda student apart?

Sense of leadership, community life and team management.

What do you think?


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