Ten Random Thoughts

Greater Kashmir

The global landscape is changing rapidly. The academy has a role to respond to challenges through ideas, institutions and effective governance to stay relevant for all practical purposes. Here are ten random thoughts that may prove beneficial for academic planning and development.

After having watched several webinars, my thinking process reactivated. As a step towards women empowerment, focus on developing women institutions is a must. A proposal may be put up to de-link Women College M.A Road from Cluster University Srinagar. Another proposal may be put up for accord of autonomous status to the college like Women College Parade, Jammu. After five years the college may avail an opportunity to apply for grant of deemed University status. This will be a women’s university. However, Nawakadal or Zakoora College may be constituents of Cluster University in place of Women College M.A Road.

In pursuance of twin objectives of access and equity, two more cluster universities may be setup. One at Kupwara and the other in Chenab valley. The Kupwara Cluster University may consist of colleges like Kupwara, Handwara, Sogam, Tanghar and so on. Similarly, Chenab valley cluster university may consist of colleges like Doda, Baderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban and so on. This will facilitate students to redress their problems locally instead of visiting affiliating universities at far off places.

Covid 19 lockdown taught a variety of lessons. Academy learnt to explore alternate examination system. For instance there has been a switch over to open book from closed book exam, memorisation to understanding and comprehension, closed choice to open choice question paper, routine / common questions to unique / intelligent questions, Simple MCQ to composite MCQ and so on. The transformation empowered teachers and trusted examinees. The teachers and students may share their experiences with regard to alternate examination system in order to improve upon it further.

IIT Madras Alumni funded to the tune of Rs. 113 crores during 2019-20 to their Alma Mater. A question arises how many rupees our colleges and universities are remitted by their Alumni. This depends on process value addition. The IITs and IIMs produce students who are in demand at global level. The pass outs from our colleges and universities, less than 5%  are employable and that is only by dint of their smart work. The remaining 95% find no opportunity but to apply against class IV job. Unemployed are generated in our colleges and universities. Employability is a function of content, communication, competence, confidence multiplied by consistency. We must examine the processes to find out gaps in each factor.

Adhoc arrangement at the level of college principals and faculty should be abandoned. An in-charge Principal may not be in a position to exercise his/ her writ. The contractual faculty suffer from several limitations. This is a double edged sword. On the one hand, when students look at a contractual teacher, they gather an impression that how bleak is their future. The contractual teachers may not be giving their best to the students simply because they do not want to create more competition for themselves. The immediate step to be initiated is to do away with ad hoc arrangement at all levels by initiating a proper process.

On my turn, I entered into chamber of my physician. He was my batch mate in the college. I appeared in B.Com final and he appeared in B.Sc final examination in the same examination centre. I told him that I am a patient. On the perusal of diagnostic reports he said “No”. You are sick so you have to be patient or exhibit patience. He corrected me. On my return home, I thought for a while. Being a student, one necessarily has to be obedient. Similarly, being an employee, one has to be submissive to the rules and regulations of the organisation. If such simple but golden principles are observed by the citizenry,  our society will be well disciplined and improve upon  work ethics and work culture. Our productivity will increase in all walks of life.

Confined to a room during current lockdown, educational broadcast on Radio Kashmir is acting as a wider classroom for senior citizens as well. The subjects discussed are varied, from sciences to social sciences to literature. The pedagogy and teaching style of school teachers have been highly effective. The concepts are being made clear and with due focus on application wherever required. Senior citizens enjoyed these sessions together with school going children. This results into lifelong learning for them. GK App has done a wonderful job. The articles published in the daily can easily be heard by playing them if one is not interested in reading an item.

It is a big achievement to shift CUK from rented to non-rented accommodation at its place. The focus should be its designated place, Tulmul.  In the first instance to shift administration to Tulmul in PEB-1 and call it University Secretariat (seat of governance), the former VC’s played their significant role. The new Vice Chancellor may be an eminent academic and perform like J.K.Tareen, Furkan Qamar, A.M.Pathan or an IIT return with Civil Engineering background or equivalent  (like chief engineer G.H.KHAN ) or top bureaucrat like  ( Mehmood ur Rehman) whose writ in all matters must be supreme. There should not be role overlapping between VC and Registrar, Registrar and Finance officer, Registrar and Controller of Examination. The respective roles must not be encroached upon. The Vice Chancellor may focus on development of physical infrastructure and should create physical infrastructure for at least five schools during his/ her tenure of five years at its designated place.

Entrepreneurship as a course of study is more practice oriented rather philosophical. This course of study should be taught by working entrepreneurs. While transacting the content, they are in a position to highlight their failure and success stories. The students would be motivated to opt for entrepreneurship as a career choice. The academics draw their salary from exchequer, while as entrepreneur gets their share from the value addition they generate. This makes the difference between the two.

Mass promotion and progression of students based on past semester performance have no defence. However, in the former, all students are placed in the same grade while as in the latter they are placed in different grades. Academy cheated society by not engaging students to work smart. This is not a student friendly initiative but an anti-student and anti-society approach. The course content, learning objective, learning outcome and learning practice for each course of study are different. Thus each course of study demands independent evaluation. The performance achieved in other courses of study cannot be applied to the present one. There is no reason and logic or any convincing argument in support of what is being done. However, Kashmir University and Cluster University deserve appreciation.

To conclude, it is time to move forward to adapt our institutions to the global requirements.