Congratulations on your selection. You worked very hard; now, it is time for you to bask in the glory of success. However, don’t forget the most pressing issue at hand. You need to choose a discipline that you will pursue at the IIT of your choice. Of course, the ultimate allocation of a discipline will depend not only on your choice but also on choices of all those successful candidates whose AIRs are represented by smaller numbers than the number representing yours. I know that by the time you would read this article, you would know as much as I do about the allocation process.
Here, I am sticking to a topic of which you probably don’t know much. This year, IIT Kanpur is offering a four years long bachelor course, called Bachelor in Science or B.S., in Economics. Now, you must be wondering: why does IIT Kanpur offer a Bachelor Degree in Economics. And, even if it does, why should you study Economics in an Institute of Technology? Isn’t Economics a Social Science?
Yes, Economics is basically a social science. However, it has acquired certain characteristics of engineering disciplines. Let me compare Economics with Engineering. According to New Oxford American Dictionary, Engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures. Of course, economists don't design or built machine or any physical structures. However if you pay attention to the definition of engineering, you will see that the key words used in defining the discipline are design, build, and use of structures. Exactly same words are used to describe the dominant methodology of Economics, Economic Modelling.
For example, engineers (TATA's) sensing the need and a market for cheap cars in the society, designed and built a small car called Nano. The process can be described as the combination of formulating the problem and providing a solution. Economists are increasingly called upon to work in the similar fashion. They are supposed to design and/or provide a solution of myriad social problems. The key words are design and provision of a solution to a problem at the hand. The similarities between these two disciplines don't end at the abstract level. The way Economists search/design/provide solutions to societal problems is very similar to the way engineers search/design/provide solutions to engineering problems. At core is, most of the time, a sound mathematical modelling. Yes, of course, engineers go further and build a prototype which economists can't. But mathematical modelling at the core remains the same.
IIT kanpur has realised that the science, particularly mathematics, based education which forms the core for engineering education at IITs, also forms the core of modern education in Economics. To capitalise on this synergy, IIT Kanpur offers a four year bachelor in sciences (B.S.) in economics.
Further, IIT Kanpur has realised that as our country is progressing, sound knowledge of economics is becoming more important and critical. Engineers need to work together with economists. For example spectrum allocation can not be done on technological basis alone, one needs a market mechanism to extract maximum possible benefit from the allocation for the society.The USA and UK, took help of economists to design a market mechanism to allocate spectrum, and were able to generate huge surpluses for their respective societies.