Teaching in Meghalaya has almost turned into a stepping stone for most individual, till they get a government job or jump into politics. The recent protests by school teachers in Meghalaya, so also the college teachers who keep fighting for their security has only exposed the negligence by the concerned authorities, hence, most of the young minds take up teaching when they failed to get other jobs, or while waiting for other appointments. This has affected the noble profession.
However, on the eve of his four years in office, the 13th President of India, Pranab Mukherjee recalled his early life as a teacher in Suri Vidyasagar Collage of West Bengal before joining politics. He said that he loves teaching and remembers his days as a teacher fondly. The President also stressed the importance of teachers, saying, “Teachers are like the soft and skillful hands of a potter. They mould the destiny of thousands of students, in turn shaping the future of a nation.”
The incumbent president assumed office on July 25, 2012 and to mark the occasion of this anniversary, five books titled “A Work of Beauty: The Architecture and Landscape of Rashtrapati Bhavan”, “First Garden of the Republic: Nature in the President’s Estate”, “Around India’s First Table: Dining and Entertaining at Rashtrapati Bhavan, “The Arts and Interiors of Rashtrapati Bhavan: Lutyens and Beyond”, and “Discover the Magnificent World of Rashtrapati Bhavan” and three portfolios of paintings in Rashtrapati Bhavan will be released on July 25, 2016.
Also marking the occasion, Mukherjee, through his Press Secretary, Venu Rajamony, had answered as many as 51 questions on a wide range of issues via Facebook live chat from the President’s page, as he hailed the Narendra Modi government’s initiatives like Digital India, Swachh Bharat and Skill India as transformative in nature and their successful implementation will alter the landscape of the country.
Speaking about Mukherjee’s love for teaching, this is a profession which has turned into dumping ground for political appointees, at the cost of education. Recently, a post-graduate mechanical engineering student at IIT-Guwahati, Sauravh Bharadwaj stressed that there is a huge gap between industry and academia. Companies have their own mindset; they do their own research and do not want research of the scholars from the universities. While in countries like the USA, they reach out to scholars or colleges and use their work.
Other local research scholars too feel that it is futile to pursue a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy), as the same will end up as yet another job seeker, the scholars felt that the degrees earned have no value, if one cannot start something himself or implement the findings in developing the society, because unlike in the developed countries, industries in India rely upon their own research instead of the research conducted at higher education institutes.
It may be recalled that the President of India, on May 11, 2016 asserted that India is moving towards becoming the world leader in the field of scientific research, being placed among the top five nations in the field of space exploration. It is gradually inching towards becoming the leader in the field of scientific research, he said while addressing the National Technology Day celebrations.
Mukherjee, while lauding the entire community of Indian space scientists for their unique Made in India accomplishments, pointed out that ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 35th flight recently, successfully launched a 1,425 kg satellite into orbit. This was the seventh and the final satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System enabling us to enter an exclusive club of nations.
However he also emphasized that India must not rest on its laurels as the recent achievements should propel the country to further upgrade the existing technologies, keeping in view the rapid changes occurring in science education and research, only those countries having a technological edge will emerge successful in the fiercely competitive global market.
A couple of years back, Mukherjee, who is also the Visitor of the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), was personally present for the XXIth Convocation ceremony of the Central University here in Shillong. The future students will envy this particular batch to have received their degree from the hands of the President of India.
The academicians and administrators, on the other hand, were made to see the ugly truth on the failure to connect infrastructure, traditional cultural knowledge, providing sustainable knowledge and tapping the human resources.
The President expressed his resentment that none of the Indian Universities figure in the top 200 list of global universities. Also for over 80 years none of the Indian Universities have managed to produce a Nobel Prize winner after C V Raman. On the other hand Indian Students like Amartya Sen, S. Chandrashekar and Hargobind Khurana got their Nobel Prizes while working in US universities. He urged upon the universities in India to prevent this brain drain.
Mukherjee called upon the Academic Councils to redraft the curriculum to provide enough scope for developing the society and motivate the scholars to expand research and innovation in India itself.
As the state is boiling under the issues of statehood in Garo Hills and Inner Line Permit (ILP) and checking of influx in the state and other states in North Eastern Region, the President called upon all the students to pay back the university which has moulded them like a parent.
The four decade old NEHU only in recent times is being noticed in the international platform through the Life Science research. Other research works are merely formalities for degrees; very few are being implemented into developing the society or enhancing human resources. Strangely, most of the work is not even found in the University’s Library!
Mukherjee has rightly pointed out that the education system in this part of the nation fails to converge at any point. As the degree is being conferred to the students, they are urged to conduct, speak and act as per the knowledge being bestowed.
44 year old Meghalaya, on many occasions has employed scholars from other universities to draft policy and project works, and these are not by the students from the state. The research work in most cases just end up in the library of the university, very few get published, which only means most of the research work is not at all suitable even for other scholars as reference, nor could the findings and recommendation which is part of the thesis be adopted in the society.
The state government keeps facing agitations from the society demanding change, till date none of the research scholars have ever produced any practical suggestion to end the impasses between various organizations, pressure groups or even a solution to end the National Green Tribunal ban on mining in the state by suggesting ways and means of restoring the environment and adoptable Mining Policy.
None could come out with recommendation how to end the traffic congestion, revamp the education system, generate means for employment within the existing situation, and the list will be on for the academia to provide input to industry and government.
A University’ role is not confined only to produce engineers, doctors, bureaucrats, politicians and others. All need to be inter- connected as pointed out by the President of India towards building a progressive society, improve the work culture of every individual and more so produce morally, spiritually and well conducted human resources. NEHU has miles to go to be an instrument of change for society.