Kupwara: In the remote village of Bumhama in border district Kupwara, a physics professor who had spent many years abroad returned to his native place to establish a “model institution for advanced scientific research”, one that would “attract gifted minds towards science.”
The intention was to “set up a house of wisdom in an underprivileged area”. In March 2015, Bharat Ratna physicist Dr CN Rao came to Bumhama to inaugurate the International Institute of Basic Sciences. This year, the first batch of 13 students from the school appeared in the state board exams and all of them secured distinctions. Mohammad Ashraf Shah, the founder director of the institute, is a happy man today.
“It was my ambition after returning from abroad to set up a house of wisdom in an underprivileged area, where rough diamonds and talent is in abundance but right exposure is lacking. My elderly uncle and my brother played a major role in the realising of my dream,” Shah told Kashmir Reader.
Shah said he had been “longing for years” to start a school that would produce students who are globally competitive and scientifically oriented.
Located on the Maqam-e-Shahewali road, about 85 kms from Srinagar Airport, the institution has a Board of Governors and an Academic Advisory Council that has members, mostly scientists, both from India and outside.
The institution has unique laboratories for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, and Geography, besides an Interdisciplinary Laboratory that is still under construction.
“The institution has an academic faculty of specialists in Physical/Natural Sciences, Chemical/Materials Sciences, Biological/Medical Sciences, Mathematical/Computational Sciences, Environmental/Earth Sciences, and Languages,” Shah said.
The teaching begins from the 6th standard and the first batch started studying from April 1, 2015. The total intake capacity is 100 students, and the selection is made through an annual Science Talent Search.
“Students are groomed in all respects, with emphasis on sciences and technology. They are educated to serve as a beacon of knowledge and as a bridge between people and cultures across the (Kashmir) Valley and beyond. Its laboratories will be a central facility for academicians and researchers across the globe and will serve as a platform for budding scientists,” Shah said.
Spreading its wings, the institution, its founders say, would have branch institutions like, School of Physical Sciences, School of Chemical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, School of Mathematical Sciences, School of Interdisciplinary Sciences, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, School of Information and Communication Sciences, School of Food and Health Sciences, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Business and Management Sciences, and School of Legal and Judicial Sciences.
A Class 9 student, 15-year-old Bisma, said that she had been dreaming of a place where her scientific imagination would find expression. Like her, many bright minds in various remote villages of Kupwara were waiting for somebody to establish a platform where they could pursue their unconventional and scientific dreams.
“In an atmosphere where one struggles for even normal schooling, an institution with special science features was a big achievement. Now, without moving to any other place, we can develop our talent and equip ourselves with latest scientific and technical knowledge,” Bisma said.
Saleh Bashir, another Class 9 student, idolised scientists like Ibn al-Haytham, Avicenna and father of Pakistani nuclear bomb Abdul Qadeer Khan. She said, “We have a dearth of scientists here and a minuscule section wants to have a profession in science. Resource constraints and lack of scientific exposure are among the reasons that discourage them.”
Securing 10 points in each subject in the recently announced matriculation results, Mehraj-ud-din Shah, a student of IIBS, is planning to enter an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
“It (IIBS) should have been opened long ago. Being just for one year at the institute, I learnt from the faculty the correct way and approach to higher studies. The teaching methodology here goes beyond just imparting education,” he said.
Appreciating the performance of the maiden batch of his institute, Mohammad Ashraf Shah said, “Our intention is to create a model institution for advanced scientific research and I hope within a short time it will be ranked among the top institutions of the state.”