Elaborate on the need for a common vision and ecosystem in the higher education institutions across India.
After independence, for 70 years, the primary agenda of the Indian people was to get school, college and university education. Number two was food for all people and number three was healthcare. I think most of the state governments with the help of the central government have fulfilled this agenda.
So now is the time when we have to take care about the quality of Education, right? If you think, we are following the process of Education that is according to the British systems. The difference of the British and Indian education is almost zero. But after Independence, we have attained growth in knowledge of technology, arts, science and commerce. We replaced the British administration. That was initial target of our education.
If you consider the concept of technology, it was to make available efficient technology. Now, after 70 years, the concept has changed, and now as a powerful country, India has to provide education that will make the minds of students analytical, innovative and ensure quality. So higher education can take an important role to improve the level of education.
Right? And higher education is not for all people, while right education is possible, till 10th standard for all students. At the same time that should be divided into two parts. One will go for the research and Innovation. Another part we go for the skill. So, graduation and master’s degree must be made compulsory. It should not be treated as an ornament. So if you consider the higher education we had to make the infrastructure, lab and then the mind, because in India still today less people are aware about the difference between the college and the university. If you consider the college, it starts from 9:30 a.m. To 5 p.m. After that all the doors and the windows will be closed. When we are talking about the university, it should be 24×7 hours environment.
An intelligent student cannot predict when the concept will come.So, 24×7 hours. Yes, there are two three universities in west Bengal, and other parts of India, including IITs that have a 24×7 environment. But I think we have to make the environment, especially for the University, compulsory to be 24×7 hours. That means research and the study should be continued 24×7 hours.
This should be a common ecosystem which is followed throughout India. So next I would like to come to were the framework for the progress the especially after pandemic, how are you planning to take on the progress of the University?
Of course the pandemic has disturbed somethings, but due to the situation, we learnt more. Initially the basic difference between the mind of the Indian students and the mind of European students was that Indian students always think that classroom education is compulsory, and it should be surrounded by walls. Right? But after the pandemic, the online habits transformed the minds of Indian students, and at the same time the skill setting for the faculty, teachers have improved a lot. So now we can consider the Covid-19 as a blessing to the Indian people. Now, we can almost compete with the skills of the British faculty or the USA faculty. Moreover, the Indian faculty are so technology savvy. They are now very much used to different type of software, instrument,websites, data bank and analysis. So I think after the pandemic, that we are only classroom was restricted within the boundary, but now they are absolutely boundaryless. At the same time excellent professors can reach to the hardest corner of the states and the most talented students can follow the classes of the excellent teachers of the India and also all over the World. Most of the governments are now providing the tabs, laptop. They are giving the internet charges also.
I think we can take this opportunity as a founder of the University. So now we are trying to make that habit to continue because when the whole thing will be boundaryless, then you can participate with the workshops, and if there’s any problem you can participate online. We are now developing our Technologies and software of online classes. We are taking the help of different foreign partners and sources also. So, in that we are trying to update ourselves.
So, it will be a hybrid model with both offline and online classes simultaneous. What are the current drawback which you see in the methods in which we evaluate students because it’s still very traditional form of evaluation, as far as universities and colleges to even at school level? So, what are the drawbacks in that?
Actually already we have identified, not only the top leaders, but throughout India we are trying to bridge the gap between the school education, through the college and university. We are the followers of the British systems. We are transforming our knowledge from one generation to the next Generation. But now, we are trying to develop according to the new policy of Education. How one child can think in a different way, how you can motivate for innovation, for the Discovery. Well, within a period of 10 to 15 years, scenario of higher education will be changed, because there’s another transformation. Because at the preliminary stage after Independence, we always believed that only the government organization can run the schools, colleges and university. Now, there are so many private players who are running the universities, schools and colleges. So,we are very much eager to reach the world class level. So, I think there is a gap. After 10- 15 years this gap will be gone. And at the same time, the Indian students will be more research-oriented. Only the Innovation and Discovery, and study of the science can make the country more powerful.
Coming to the accreditation systems now by the NAAC and AICTE. How do they impact the higher education and how fair do you think it is, considering the parameters that they follow for accreditation of the universities and colleges for different courses? How fair is it and how does it help the system as a whole?
Yes, this system has a goal, and as a founder of The Institute, we’re all thinking how we can reach that goal. Because during the last 70 years, no goal is set now there is a goal. So, most of the people are trying to reach the same goal. It should be transparent at the same time it should be the audited. Because this is the first time in these last two to three decades. We only heard about Financial audit. The Indian people, Indian students, parents and the faculty were not aware about Academic audit. So, this academic audit will help us to move to a more productive India.
That’s why I told you that once upon a time graduation and master’s degree was ornamental for Indian people. So, this is the time that the 140 crore people of India have to be made more skilled, at the same time more productive. So, I think that through this system, the goal is already set and people of this organisation are very serious. I think the audit and review can take our education system to the excellent level. So I am very much hopeful.
How fair is it in the method which are adopted for the ranking. Any changes which you think might make it better?
No, I have the confidence because we have already changed it now. I think after the 10 and 15 years we can raise the question. Generally, the Indian people, when a new thing is implemented, they start to ask questions and start to deviate from the purpose. I am very much hopeful.
Yes, so maybe something maybe wrong, even communication gap may be there between system and institute of education, but first we have to do solidification of our system, for at least seven years or 8 years. Then we can have a look at what the shortcomings and we can advise.
So you have been a pioneer in creating education for students in less developed areas. How difficult was it to establish a new institution and what are the incentives for that? What motivated you?
Number one, we are the largest group in education in the eastern India. I have been in the education segment for over 35 years. My initial set up, in early part of 1985, was that I started professional institute. We trained students who wanted to be bureaucrat, like IAS, IPS. This whole organization and then I started international school. I have been for more than 15 years in the school education, when started University and now we are in the seventh year of the university.
As one of the exceptional persons, I notice very closely. I identity with the faculty and the teachers, every day I used to take a couple of classes. So, as a faculty, as a teacher, I watched closely the difference between the school education and the college, and the University.
So as a human being, because still today in India more than 8 to 9% children die after birth due to lack of nutrition, lack of medicine.
Till today 30 to 35 percent students are not able to go for the higher education. Even 10 to 15 percent people of India only used to take either dinner or the lunch. So, we are the privileged people and we have the responsibility to bring about the reform in the society in terms of education. Only education can change the mind. There is so much divide due to religion and there are so many riots also.
So, the only education can ignite the minds of future India. As ahuman being as I have the privilege, so I am very much committed to the societyand the students also.
That’s one thing. Another thing is that there’s a challenge also. Sometimes the policy of the land, and financial systems or the financial positions of the country or the state, is a challenge. But at the same time, I think is a unique journey as a founder of the Adamas University. Starting the professional Institute to the journey to the University. All the well wishes of students, of the guardians and the success of the students, especially as a bureaucrat, or school students, inspired me every day.
So these policies and conditionsor legalities have been a challenge or has it been supportive always?
See I think it would challenge maybe if you start your life on the morning to the night and there’s no smooth bed of roses. So as a person every time you have to think that challenge will come. First you analyse the right way. Check what is the reason for the challenge and try to understand that what is the future results? I think then you’ll be able to face a challenge and to bring the solution.
Definitely. Tell us about the Rice, its unique concept and how has it been instrumental in getting the students ready for the competitive exams. Many of the students are at the highest positions in the government jobs. So, just tell us something about the concept and technology of training.
Actually in India, in case of the general education, we divide the students into three-part. Number one is Arts, number two is Commerce and number three is Commerce. When one student wants to be a bureaucrat, having a background of the science, he or she will be made aware about the history or geography or psychology. If you want to be a successful bureaucrat, so he or she should be aware about the local history, geography. Only then he or she can be a good bureaucrat. And as a student having a background of the arts also you have to know physics, chemistry and maths also.
So, I think in our college system and the university system, it is not possible to acquire knowledge about the 20 subjects. Only this training centre can act as a finishing school and as the capacity builder, because after the graduation and master’s degree, generally students face only seven to ten subjects. But when you want to be the bureaucrat, you have to face 20 subjects, you have to know these disciplines. This institute is thus the capacity builder. Now more than 40 % West Bengal govt. officers are ex-students of our organisation and more than 2.5 lakh students who are now under the state or the central government service in different parts of India, are ex-students of the organization, RICE.
So, it means that there is a requirement for this type of institute here. So, we have talented students. How we can help them, how we can guide them, how we can set an example which can inspire the students also. That is our role as an Institute.
An educational institution runs with a core team, which is responsible for making all the policy decisions and taking them forward. So, what is the correct pathway do you think for building this core team? And how do you ensure that the faculty at all levels, from the World School to the university and the college, is of a superior quality?
Number one the security of the faculty had to be taken care. The security initially for Financial security. The structure of the pay scales should be better than your competitors. Number two, you have to take care of their family also. Their health and education should be covered by the insurance, and number three you have to take care regarding the health also, that is the medical policy. And then you have to create scope for doing research. And then it is possible.
If you want to make an excellent institute, you’ll have to make a core team, philosophically who will believe that we are here to make an excellent Institute and not just to run as an official process. Yes, teaching is a profession, but I think teaching should be treated as a habit, as a hobby. So as a founder of the University or any Institute always try to create this environment and this situation. This is the agenda.
That is like you are mirroring your own quality in the faculty, employ and then train them for growth.
They are also under continuous training. I take the initiative when the faculty want to go outside India also, research with a foreign University. We bear the air fare or the other expenses also. Well, that’s true. That’s acts as instrumental in inspiring them.
Talking about IT education in India. We have come a long way from what we were a decade back. But still, what is the way ahead for IT education in India to take it at a leadership position?
Yes, very important question. I think in the last three decades, 30 to 40 years, a huge number of Engineers who act as software developers, actually, they are not developers but more than 95% of the time they are engaged to cater the service to the clients.If you consider that the TCS and Infosys. Most of the engineers were engaged with the service industry.
Well, if you consider the country Israel, they have developed all the software, which is used for defence, to make Army instruments, to make satellites, even for cultivation, and to find natural gas and petrol. So even as a small country, they are earning more revenue as software developer country. So, India has a huge scope. But we have to take care regarding the development of the software.
If you consider Facebook, Google or Oracle, all the software is made by the foreign countries. If you consider Microsoft also. This is the time that if you want to develop in the field of IT our people should be good program coders. We are taking care of it already. When they will do coding in the efficient way, they will be able to make a universal software. So, there is a large number of the engineers.
At the same time, the central government and other state governments most of the time they are announcing the fund for Innovation. So, I think this is the time. Now we are thinking in a different way. Service is one of the important things and we can earn money, but at the same time when we develop some software, we can earn more money and we can become stronger. I think that should be the next agenda.
We are going international with IT and training. But you have also looked into International collaboration for higher education and with the new education policy they have allowed the setting up of international universities in India. So how do you think the international collaboration will work at the higher education level and how will the Indian universities compete in this new agenda?
I think this is a great opportunity for the Indian Universities because already our university is engaged in two to three projects, which are funded by the Commonwealth and the Asian banking firms. So, if you want to get one example of the smart city. The smart city is one of the agenda for the modern civilisation. But the nature and process of the smart city will vary from place to place, because who will lead the changes in the smart city? A group of Russian people, Americans or Indian people, or a group of French people. But because of the difference of the culture and the habits of the life, the sense of the smart city may vary.
So, our project is that one university from India, the Adamas University, and another University from France, another from the USA, and another university from Russia. The four universities are now trying to make one project for the smart city. There is the exchange of knowledge.
In this exchange of technology, I think there is a huge scope to transfer the knowledge from one university to another University, which will help us to know more important developments. So according to the new policy now the Indian people will start to involve other International Universities also. If you consider the Harvard University or MIT, the funds of MIT and Harvard is so huge, it is only comparable to the fund of the USA government. From where they are getting this money? They are not earning this money only from the education by providing the graduate degree or the master’s degree. Actually, they are earning only by the Research, it’s the commercial research, and that money they are using to maintain the quality of Education.
So, when we will attach more to the International Universities, our mind also will transform, will change as a Founder. Yes, if you want to maintain the quality of education you need money. So, from where the money will come? Not only by providing the undergraduate certificate or a master degree, but only with the commercial research. I think in that way that is a great opportunity.
We have seen that you have also laid a great emphasis on developing sports in the schools and colleges. But overall, we see still there is very limited support as only some international schools are providing, but very few places in colleges where sport is encouraged. So why is this and how can the situation be changed?
Actually, I think the private founders of the university should study the case studies of International universities. I was not aware about the basic reasons to develop the university. But when I studied more and more, I found if you want to make your university reach at the International level, you have to emphasize on three fields- number one education, number two is sports, and number three is food and cultural atmosphere. These are the three fundamental area we have to emphasize if we want to make our university at the international level. So, for the first time, yesterday, one student of our university ranked first in an event that was discus throw. And now she’s going to join all the world university competitions, within a short time. We have more than a hundred and twenty National players under-16, under-17, and under-19. So that is one of the agenda.We can make our university vibrant. At the same time, the name of the University can reach to the people, not only through the area of education but sports also.
You know that philosophical leaders said that the mind will be strong. Yes, knowledge is required but mind will be strong if you are physically strong. Yes, so to maintain the physio, and to reduce the pain or different diseases, from school level sports should be one of the important agenda. So that is one of the reasons I understand that sports is one of the most important things and that every university and school must take care of sports.
Now, how does a model like the knowledge city contribute to better academics as well as the socio-economic growth of the community surrounding it? And how does it then spread to the other areas neighboring it? So, tell us about the model.
First I want to tell you regarding the knowledge city. Actually, as I told you that I want to make an environment that is 24×7 hour education environment. So, 24×7 hour you have to open your medical shops, your xerox centres, health clinic, your research centres, science labs, your library. So, that concept forced me to make the knowledge city. In the knowledge city, a greater number of students are in the campus, and at the same time most of the professors are in the campus, and then the all the administrators and heads are within the campus. So, the atmosphere is like a family atmosphere. When a student likes to reach to the faculty at 8 o’clock or 10 pm, he or she can ask the professor. At the same time, any professor who are intent on research can spend that time within the lab even at the midnight. Even the students can continue to spend the time in the library till late night. So that is the result. Yes, we must make the educational area as a knowledge city.
Another thing is that when the university will be famous, a number of students will come. But all the students will not be able to stay inside the campus. They are also acquiring different hostels. We are having a committee already to recognize the hostel owners. We guide them on how they will maintain the hygiene and health, and what is the facility. So, when the student comes to ask for the admission, considering their financial capability we propose that you can stay inside the campus, or you can stay outside the hostel also.
In that way we have now already developed a cluster of house owners who have rented their house. They are the actual local guardians of the students. So, they are earning money, and there are a number of food shops and stationery shops are coming up. I think that way the economic position of the society or the surrounding area can be developed.