Kategorie: Alumni & Community

10 years of IGCS – celebrations and milestones

IGCS February Meetings
February 17 – 19, 2020 at IIT Madras, Chennai

India and Germany have closely collaborated in the fields of higher education and research for decades now. Since 2010, this close relationship was further intensified with the inception of the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability. The center plays a significant role in the Indo-German teaching and research landscape and is only possible thanks to the generous funding of the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, the Indian Department of Science and Technology DST and ithe center’s partner Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen. in these ten years, IGCS has achieved major milestones, among others:

  • around 700 exchanges of students and researchers were funded
  • several research projects condcuted and findings published in nearly 100 articles, book chapter, conference proceedings and patents
  • 19 Winter and Summer Schools were conducted
  • the basic course “Ecology and Environment” was introduced to all IIT Madras students’ curricula, aside from various other sustainability-related seminars at IIT Madras and German university with the particiaption of IGCS project members
  • various Indo-German meetings and workshops, amongst others the workshop series Indo-German Dialogue on Green Urban Practices and Urban Resilience
  • opened up its own facilities with classrooms, laboratories and offices at IIT Madras in 2017

The annual February meetings in Chennai provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate these milestones. Over the course of three days, various meetings were held, excursions to projects and Tamil Nadu’s highlights done, and IIT Madras’ flagship projects visited. The February meetings were accompanied by a RWTH delegation of 17 members, headed by the rector Professor Dr. Ulrich Rüdiger and Vice-Rector for International Affairs, Professor Dr. Ute Habel. The highlight was the celebratory event on the 18th of February, followed by a festive dinner. IGCS and IIT Madras were delighted to welcome German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner, Consul General Karin Stoll, DAAD-president Professor Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, staff from DAAD and DFG India as well as various professors and staff from IIT Madras as guests to the event.

New faces at IGCS

At the Advisory Board meeting, the newly appointed rector of RWTH Aachen University (2019), Professor Dr. Ulrich Rüdiger, was inaugurated as new member of the IGCS Advisory Board. He is Professor Dr. Ernst Schmachtenberg’s successor.

IGCS waved goodbye to the loyal and hard-working Indian center and area coordinator Professor B.S. Murty and the area coordinators Professor Ligy Philip and Professor Sudhir Chella Rajan at the Steering Committee meetings. All three professors have done an exceptional job in bringing up IGCS to what it is today: teaching and researching on sustainability topics at IIT Madras and Germany, facilitating joint events in Chennai and supervising many IGCS-fellows, long-term guest researchers and the center’s newly appointed Postdocs. IGCS area coordinator for Energy, Professor Dr. Krishna Vasudevan takes over as Indian center coordinator and will have support from his colleagues Professor Dr. R. Vinu (Waste Management), Professor Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam (Land Use, Urban and Rural Planning) and Professor Dr. S.A. Sannasiraj (Water Management). IGCS wishes Professor Murty, Professor Ligy and Professor “Chella” Rajan the very best and looks forward working with new colleagues and the new research expertise they bring to the center.

More reasons to celebrate the Indo-German partnership

Closely connected with IGCS is the eminent role of the Director of IIT Madras, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi in the cooperation with RWTH Aachen University. Aside from IGCS, he has supported the successful Strategic Partnership between the two institutions. Since 2016, both sides have been receiving financial support under the program Indo-German Partnerships in Higher Education, funded by the DAAD- and the University Grants Commission (UGC). This helped significantly to enhance the Strategic Partnership by implementing targeted measures aimed at increasing the exchange at all levels and at institutionalizing the cooperation. It has resulted in over 100 visits so far and the initiation of joint research projects in a variety of subjects. During the visit, the award “Honorary Fellow of RWTH Aachen University” was given to Professor Ramamurthi in recognition of his scientific achievements, his merits for the bilateral cooperation and for the success story of the IGCS and Strategic Partnership with RWTH Aachen.

The years 2019 and 2020 are remarkable for both institutions. For IIT Madras, 2019 marked the 60th anniversary. It was also the year in which the IIT Madras celebrated becoming the top-ranked engineering institute in India for four consecutive years and emerged as the ‘Best Educational Institution’ in the overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) Rankings of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. As of August 2019, IIT Madras has also been declared an Institution of Eminence (IoE) by the University Grants Commission.

Simultaneously, an international panel of experts approved RWTH Aachen‘s application as a University of Excellence in 2019. By the beginning of this third round of the German Excellence Initiative – the Excellence Strategy – RWTH has already developed into an Integrated Interdisciplinary University for Science and Technology, focusing on the convergence of knowledge, methods, and insights. It now aims to create a unique national and international educational, research, and transfer environment with dynamic research networks that transcend individual disciplines and organizational boundaries. With 2020 being the year of RWTH Aachen’s 150th anniversary, the timing for a joint celebration of IITM’s and RWTH’s tradition of excellence could not have been better.

IGCS Germany sincerely thanks the Indian IGCS project members and Professor Mahesh Panchagnula and the staff of the Office of International Relations for their great hospitality and support in realizing the meetings and celebratory events.

German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner together with the director if IIT Madras, Professor Bhaskar Ramamurthi, and rector of RWTH Aachen University, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Rüdiger at the celebration. Source: IIT Madras, 2020; President of DAAD, Professor Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee. Source: IIT Madras, 2020; The IIT Madras Research Park served as venue for the celebratory events. Source: Frank Behrendt, 2020.

IGCS @ Urban Resilience 2

Urban Resilience 2: Coastal and River Management, Vulnerability and Sustainability
October 20-23, 2019 at IIT Madras in Chennai

Continuing discussions from 2017 on the influence of climate change on flooding at rivers and coastal areas Indian and German researchers met for the round table Urban Resilience 2. 15 German scientists from Geoverbund ABC/J, under lead of RWTH Aachen University, met a again delegation of Indian researchers at IIT Madras to continue discussions on the influence of climate change on flooding at rivers and coastal areas. Many Indian scientists from different parts of the country were invited, e.g. from IIT Madras, IIT Kharagpur in Golgata; Anna University in Chennai, NIOT & NCCR in Chennai, and Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu.

The presentations covered many highly relevant topics, such as the establishment of the coastal flood forecasting system for Chennai ‘CFLOWS’ after the devastating floods of 2015 and coastal vulnerability and socio-economic effects in large cities after extreme events. This was also discussed in light of distribution patterns and toxicity of various pollutants, e.g. pesticides from agricultural areas in river catchments and coastal areas after flooding events. Other presentations covered the following topics

  • Urban and Coastal Resilience
  • Climate Change and Coastal/Riverine Flood Hazards
  • Bio- and Ecohazards
  • Social and Environmental Impacts, Adaption and Governance and its Dynamics

In October 2017, IGCS started a discussion on Urban Resilience on coastal and river floods or extreme events affecting megacities and settlements in coastal low lands. More than 1.5 billion people are currently living within 100 km of the coastal zones of the Earth, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. And the number is still growing, due to economic and social attractiveness as large-scale urbanization and mega-city development within the coastal zone is expected to be more rapid than in other areas in the near future.

Almost all future scenarios of climate change and sea level rise point to a higher frequency of extreme weather and climate events in near future, and that this will reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of coastal cities to the current climate variability. Climate change also affects monsoonal patterns, which seem to cause an intensification of the seasonal rainfall that fortifies inundation/floodings/droughts in India regularly during the last years (e.g. 2015 Chennai, 2018 Kochi).

Besides the Indian coast is prone to tsunamis, as the Makran subduction zone may cause earthquakes and tsunamis affecting the Indian west coast, as e.g. in 1945. In 2004, the east coast has been affected by the Sumatra tsunami inducing landfall in the Tamil Nadu coast. Besides the primary destructive effects, the widespread contamination of coastal areas due to the pulsed transport of immense pollutant loads during the floodings may seriously affect the coastal ecosystems. This clearly affects increasing population and urbanization in particular along coastlines and urban or even critical infrastructure, as a consequence adaptation, decision analysis and governance of manifold administrational levels.

At the roundtable, many new collaborations for prospective research projects between Indian and German researchers evolved.


IIT Madras, Chennai, India


October 20 – 22 2019 (until October 25 incl. excursion to Pichavaran )

IGCS Alumni Meeting and Indo-German Dialogue 2018

Alumni Meeting | November 6 and 7, 2018 | Heidelberg

For the very first time, an Alumni meeting of the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS) at the IIT Madras, Chennai, will be hosted at the Heidelberg University of Education on Nov. 6th and 7th 2018. For this purpose, the following call is meant for anybody who can consider himself or herself to be an alumnus of the IGCS, because he or she participated in an IGCS summer or winter school or stayed at the IIT Madras, Chennai, or a German University due to an IGCS research stay funding. The objective of the meeting is the initiation of a debate among the alumni on ways of sustaining their IGCS research experience by networking, combining research efforts, sharing experiences and field work know-how etc.

Program outline

In the course of the workshop, inputs will be provided on selected current issues and methodology of sustainability research, with a specific focus on transdisciplinary approaches and living labs. A guided design thinking workshop will support the participants in structuring ideas, options and approaches for establishing a longer term alumni network and alumni projects.

Indo-German Dialogue on Green Urban Practices | November 8-10, 2018 | Freiburg

The Indo-German Dialogue is conceived as a continuous series of an annual interaction of academics, civil society activists, government officials, and social business/ entrepreneurs. Its key objective is to provide a platform of sharing and exchange of experiences of social urban innovative change in Europe/Germany and India in order to leverage action towards new transdisciplinary research and practice projects.

Based on the experience and activities of participants/initiatives present at the first dialogue and supplemented by a further review of activities carried out across academia and practice we identified “Education, Learning, Training and Awareness” as a crucial area.

These activities connect to global policy frameworks and campaigns such as the UNESCO’s decade 2005-2014 Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and the Global Agenda 2030 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Social transformations towards sustainable lifestyles will only succeed in practice when people reflect on and learn about the implications of their daily life activities, combined with widely communicating and spreading successful practices, skills, knowledge, values and behaviours. While the local conditions and context are essential dimensions that influence teaching and learning on the ground, transnational exchange is inevitable to generate global awareness and action. This importance is evident in Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on education that addresses ESD and related approaches such as Global Citizenship Education.

Objectives of this dialogue
  • good practices: role of learning, awareness, trainings for changing patterns towards sustainable living and consumption especially in urban contexts
  • knowledge sharing about methods of and approaches to ESD (education for sustainable development)
  • potentially, experiences of knowledge transfer implemented in projects
  • explore opportunities for collaborative projects in ESD
  • explore and document potential funding sources
Target groups and participants

The symposium seeks to bring together people from academia, grassroots activists and policy makers from Germany and India for a dialogue about the role and potentials that socially innovative individuals and citizens initiatives have in the sustainability transition of cities on the cross-cutting themes of education, learning, training and awareness.


The first two days will provide opportunities for participants to share and discuss their work and experiences including generating projects. Field visits in Freiburg on the third day will allow exposure to practical applications.

Inauguration of IGCS-premises at IIT Madras

November 1, 2017 at IIT Madras in Chennai

On 1st November 2017 the director of IIT Madras, Bhaskar Ramamurthi, and rector of RWTH Aachen University, Ernst Schmachtenberg, celebrated the inauguration of the new IGCS premises in the Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences. HE Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Achim Fabig, and Dr Akilesh Gupta, Head/Senior Scientist-G, DST, GoI, were chief guests at the function that was followed by a one-day symposium at IC&SR building, Hall 3, IIT Madras. The IGCS team, the Indian and German researchers and students will have an entire floor dedicated to it. The IGCS will now have access to large spaces, new equipment and new furniture that they can use to work with. The aim of the new premise is to have the entire IGCS team under one roof, enabling them to collaborate together to achieve their mutual goals of sustainability.

An important step in further joint research was taken by signing a document on a new project within the framework of the IGCS Research Program on Sustainable Power Engineering financed by Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen.

At the one day symposium on Sustainability: Issues and Challenges Indian and German professors held lectures and discussed the issues at length with the student participants. Prof. Rangan Banerjee, Dept. of Energy Studies, IIT Bombay and Prof. HN Chanakya, Centre for Sustainability, IISc Bangalore started the first technical session. The IGCS was able to invite IGCS alumni such as long term visiting professors Prof Dr Ch. Woiwode, Prof Dr P. Fiener and Dr K. Steger to complement the Indo-German program.

The felicitations that followed the Symposium to Prof R. Azzam were conducted by Prof S. Chella Rajan. Both directors/rectors, all Indian and German Coordinators and Alumni Professors wished Prof Azzam a prosperous time after his retirement.

For further information on the IGCS inauguration please contact:

Prof. Dr. BS Murty | IGCS Centre Coordinator, IIT Madras

Prof. Dr. R. Azzam | IGCS Centre Coordinator, RWTH Aachen University

IGCS Opening

The IGCS has officially been inaugurated on the 6th of December 2010. The opening took place at the IIT Madras. Both, the renown scientist M.S. Swaminathan and M.S. Ananth, Director, IIT-Madras emphasized the history of successful cooperation between India and Germany.

Picture: From left to right, Prof. Ananth (Former Rector, IITM), Prof. E. Schmachtenberg (Rector, RWTH Aachen University) and Mr. T. Rachel (German Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research).