IIT Kharagpur has undertaken a wide range of initiatives to increase public awareness and perceptions regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and check the spread of Covid-19 and also create resources to boost preventive actions. While the researchers are developing strategies, products and even running awareness campaigns, the institute is giving a boost to health and hygiene at this time of endurance.

As students and teachers all across the country go under a 21-day Coronavirus lockdown, here’s what IIT Kharagpur is doing to raise awareness about Covid-19:

1. Health outreach projects

Recently Vision Prabaho, a twenty-member student group from IIT Kharagpur, found special mention in the social media post by Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology.

The group had translated the precautionary advisory issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in eleven Indian languages.

Biswaroop Mondal, one of the students from the group said, “An astounding billion plus people are conversing in regional languages. We thought it would be imperative to help increase the reach through messages in vernacular languages.”

“We have translated the advisory issued by WHO in Assamese, Bengali, Odiya, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Hindi. We are trying to incorporate more editions of the video in other regional languages,” he said.’

In another initiative, four researchers are carrying out a study titled ‘Impact of Social Distancing due to COVID19 on Regular Travel’ to increase public awareness and perceptions about travel and social distancing.

They are collecting public inputs to understand diverse insights and create a sense of preparedness. The researchers include Dr. Saurabh Dandapat, Dr. Kinjal Bhattacharyya, Annam Sai Kiran and Kaustubh Saysardar.

2. Hygiene facilitation

Further to this, a research group is also working towards developing a hand sanitizing solution independently following WHO guidelines.

The Transport section of the institute has also prepared a hand sanitizer for internal use and hygiene.

“The campus hospital is also exploring the procurement of washable masks designed and manufactured locally to ensure safety during unavoidable social and limited professional interactions,” said IIT Kharagpur Director Prof. Virendra Kumar Tewari.

“The administrators have been practicing social distancing themselves and encouraging the practice among the staff and students,” he added.’

3. Alternative academics

It may be mentioned in this regard that restricted travel and social distancing have been repeatedly advised by healthcare practitioners and has been a key component in the address by the Prime Minister on March 19. But the social distancing goes beyond health and hygiene.

“While academic activities remain suspended until March 31, students are being facilitated through existing and newly acquired e-learning platforms,” added Prof. Tewari.

IIT Kharagpur already offers a wide range of course lectures on digital platforms such as MOOCs, Swayam, and DTH platform Swayam Prabha. Students can access these with a high-speed internet connection from anywhere in the world.

“Since the pronouncement of the suspension of classes, the Center for Education Technology has acquired a large number of WebEx licenses from CISCO for conducting classes from 2nd-year undergraduate courses upto postgraduate level,” said Shiv Shankar Das from the Centre.

“First-year classes are being conducted through YouTube Live. More than 40 faculty members are already taking classes using these e-learning facilities. We are further discussing with Zoom to facilitate interactive online teaching,” he added.

Prof. Jeevanjyoti Chakraborty who recently conducted a lecture on Mechanics reported more than 1500 viewers for his lecture on YouTube of which 450 were live viewers.

Talking about his experience Prof. Chakraborty said, “The teaching community is new to managing technicalities while recording lectures. The e-learning which we have been using until now was done at studios and there is technical staff to work through the logistics.”

“The Institute’s stepping up the YouTube Live facility has enabled the faculty to concentrate on the teaching part instead of being concerned with the technical aspects of recording and streaming,” he added.

He also mulled over the flipped classroom and active learning strategies wherein students can listen to recording course lectures prior to the scheduled online class and interact more regarding their queries on the topic.

4. Virtual campus outreach

In a novel initiative to give the mind rest from the flow of news and discussions regarding COVID19, the students of IIT Kharagpur and those studying in schools on the campus are being encouraged to engage creatively especially the occasion of Earth Day which is scheduled on April 22.

The Govt. of India has been actively promoting it for the past few years. The Branding and Communications Cell under the aegis of the Dean International Relations, IIT Kharagpur has launched an online competition and exhibition (Drawing/Painting, Poster, Photo Story and Video) in electronic mode, extensively using social media platforms to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Earth Day.

While the themes would primarily include Climate Change, Sustainable Use of Natural Resources, Pollution, Biodiversity, it would also include themes such as Disaster Management, Hygiene & Cleanliness. (Click Here to Know More).

“The Institute is gearing up for a digitized celebration of Earth Day which is scheduled on April 22 with the optimism of a better tomorrow,” remarked Director Tewari.

“We are among the first in India to strategize an online celebration of Earth Day which is otherwise marked with large public gatherings, environmental events and activism,” stated a staff member.

5. Gearing up for March 22

IIT Kharagpur is also gearing up for the moment of gratitude and solidarity with those sections of the community who have been serving the campus diligently during the COVID pandemic.

Following the message of PM Narendra Modi, Director Tewari confirmed that the community will take part in the solidarity clap with the staff engaged in essential services such as healthcare, security, hostel mess, sanitation, electricity etc. along with the defenders of the nation on these fronts.

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