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'Aim to develop institute into university' HARD TALK/ DM Diwakar

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 7.11.11
RESEARCH ABODE: AN Sinha Institute building in Patna. Telegraph picture

What is AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies?

AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies makes an attempt to understand society through professional research. The state government established it in 1958 in the memory of Anugrah Narayan Sinha, one of the architects of modern Bihar. Dr Rajendra Prasad inaugurated the institute of which Golak Nath Sinha was the first director.

Six years later, the institute was enacted by the legislation of Bihar as AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies. It has an autonomous board of members representing members from the University Grants Commission and the Indian Council for Social Science Research and is affiliated to Magadh University, Bodhgaya. Efforts are on to develop it into a deemed university.

Though the university is affiliated to Magadh University, it pertains only to getting degrees and there is little interference from the university administration in its work.

What are the future plans of the institute?

As AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences is one of premier institutes in research work in eastern India, there is an effort on the part of the institute and the state government to develop it as a research university.

The institute will launch an integrated programme in MPhil and PhD. There is an effort to start several programmes in multi-disciplinary subjects such as centre for women studies, centre for democratic governance and planning, centre for disaster management and planning, centre for policy research, centre for international relations, centre for non-violence and peace, entrepreneurship development and others. At present, the institute offers research studies in sociology, psychology, political science and others.

What is the scope of research scholars in Bihar in particular and India in general?

There is a large scope of research in Bihar, as there is no university of repute offering courses in research in social studies. Moreover, universities in Bihar lack qualified teachers and professors in research. The number of teachers required for research work is insufficient. If we create a pool of qualified teachers in research work, they can generate a large number of research scholars. The door for research scholars is open.

Don’t you think that social studies, especially research work, is lagging behind science subjects like engineering and medical in drawing students towards it?

There is lot of scope for social studies today, as students getting social studies degree with research experience can be easily absorbed in the government as well as in private agencies. The research scholars are absorbed in Oxfam, Department for International Development. Students opting for international relations can be absorbed in United States Information Service (USIS). Moreover, the United Nations under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) runs a series of programmes in research. The demarcation between natural science and social science has come down. Persons with research work experience get jobs in research institutes. Moreover, in government agencies, persons having research work experience get jobs in planning commissions, jobs in various task forces such as disaster management, women and education cells of the labour and employment department.

There was a time when the institute was in a bad phase because of lack of interest by the state government and also political interference.

A few years back, there was a phase when the education system in Bihar was in bad condition and AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies was no exception. At AN Sinha Institute, there was no appointment since 1983. However, in the last few years, things have begun to change with the state government taking steps for revival of the institute. The present state government holds a keen interest for its revival with human resource development department minister P.K. Shahi recently being appointed as the institute’s chairman.

About DM Diwakar...

Born in Jalsain village in Madhubani district in 1956, D.M. Diwakar completed his primary education from the village school and graduated from a college at Jhanjarpur. Later, Diwakar completed his masters degree from LN Mithila University, Darbhanga, PhD from AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna and post-doctoral degrees from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Diwakar has worked as a consultant in World Bank, as a research associate at Bath University, England. Prior to the present assignment, Diwakar was working as a professor in Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow.

If you were not an academic, what would you have been?

In my family, education has always been given importance. If I were not an academician, then I would have opened a school in my village to educate village children.

‘Bihar has huge potential’

Why is Bihar still a backward state despite having a pool of talents?

Bihar is not a backward state, as people from the state have huge potential. You can see people from Bihar having proved their mettle in all fields — right from the education system to bureaucrats. Students from Bihar despite having little resources form a large chunk in clearing competitive examinations such as the civil services, IIT, medical and other competitive ones. Moreover, there are states like Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat, whose economy is supported by people of Bihar. It is the land of Gautam Buddha, where he achieved his enlightenment; it is the land, where the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, first started his freedom movement in Champaran against the British Empire protesting against indigo plantations. The state’s contribution in the freedom movement and the total revolution started by Jai Prakash Narayan is well-known. It is one of the states, where people are more politically conscious than people of other states. Here, even a labourer working in a village field knows about his political rights. This is because of political conscious generated by people for years.