Mridul Hazarika, the newly ordained vice-chancellor of Gauhati University, doffs his hat to his predecessors, who have done a “great job” but says there is still scope to improve in an interview to Rajiv Konwar of The Telegraph.
Excerpts from the interview
The Telegraph: How will you describe Gauhati University?
Mridul Hazarika: I consider it an institution with a strong foundation. Despite constraints, it ranked among the 50 universities in the country. It has been passing through difficult circumstances, which I always consider to be momentary.
TT: What are the areas in which the university needs improvement?
MH: Lots of reports have come out on the needs of higher education like National Knowledge Commission, UGC and Yashpal Committee. The recommendations of these reports are valid for this university too. We need to take out specific contents of these reports which are relevant to Gauhati University. Students should be proud of their institute where they study after all they come with great hope. At the same time, students should respect the sincerity of the authorities. We must do our best with the resources we have. Teachers’ needs should be properly addressed. They are mentors and they also need special attention. Communication gap between different stakeholders should be minimized.
TT: What are your immediate plans for development of the university and improve its academic atmosphere?
MH: I do not think it would appropriate to list out priorities without understanding the working of the university. I do not think it will be difficult to change the perception that exists in a certain section regarding the academic atmosphere in an institution with so many learned teachers. Academic atmosphere is a combination of infrastructure, people and administration, that can win the trust of the constituents without compromising academic principles. The university is doing a great job but there is always scope for improvement. I will have to build on the footsteps of my predecessors.
TT: Recently, education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said most development funds are diverted for paying salaries of teachers...
MH: It is true for many institutions. This requires long-term planning to bring an institution to a comfortable position.
TT: Do you think student politics helps students or a university?
MH: It is a vexed issue. Everything has both positive and negative aspects. More important is how we strike a balance.
TT: It is seen that many male students of the university continue to stay on in university hostels even after completing their courses. There are instances of such boarders indulging in ragging...
MH: I need to understand it more before I comment.
TT: Gauhati University is the oldest institute in the Northeast yet it is not computerised. It is still not possible to submit admission forms online. Will you take any step?
MH: The world has entered into an information age and we cannot remain out of it. This is one of the priorities.
TT: What will you do to check ragging in the university?
MH: This is difficult to answer right now. I need to discuss with my colleagues, students before taking any step.