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'Odissi lessons on Skype for NRIs'

Your university is going to organise its 6th convocation on February 26th. Who are the people coming?

The convocation will be held on our Madanpur campus on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. Santoor maestro Bhajan Sopori will address the convocation. Chancellor S.C. Jamir will also be there. Doctoral, post-graduate and under-graduate degrees will be awarded to those who have qualified in various examinations held between April 2017 and January 2018. About 985 degrees and 30 gold medals will be awarded.

Do you have any plan to go for international expansion?

We have a sprawling campus at Madanpur. Many infrastructure projects have come up for its expansion. Now we have the School of Languages, School of Culture studies, School of Architecture and Archaeology, School of Performing Arts and School of Visual Arts. We have got a request from the Odia society of America to start an online short-term certificate course in Odissi music, dance and other forms of arts. Through Skype, we will teach them from here and later they will sit for examination. The proposal is at the formative stage. Besides, we have got request from countries, such as South Korea and Brazil, to explore the opportunities of cultural exchange programme. Their students and teachers will come to our university and our faculty members and students will go there and know about their culture and tradition. We are exploring all opportunities to expand our activities and our horizon.

Vice-chancellor of Ravenshaw University had triggered a controversy saying that there was unnecessary political interference in the university administration. Have you experienced similar things?

I am completely satisfied with the way the administration is functioning. There is not a single instance in which the government has ever interfered in the day-to-day affairs of the administration. It has given us all freedom to make the university a centre of excellence.

Debate is on that quality of education has been deteriorating in general. Even the chancellors of the universities have expressed concerns...

This is a general trend and is not specific to Odisha or to our university. But, I personally don't think there is any deterioration. The younger generation is smarter than my generation. With information technology at their service, they are much smarter and innovative. I must confess they are much ahead compared to the boys of our generation. Deterioration is a very subjective issue. Some students may be weak in one subject but the overall standard of education is much better and competitive compared to my generation.

But, we have noticed that the number of students joining the all-India services, particularly the IAS, from Odisha has come down over the years...

Institutions are not meant to produce only IAS. If any institution is only meant to produce IAS officials, I think that is not right. We want to produce quality research papers, innovative students as well. IAS may be only a part of the students' future path. If one university does not produce the required number of IAS officials, that does not mean that it lacks in educational standard.

Even research papers produced by the universities are said to be not up to mark...

The number of research papers here has increased. Then again, I think that quality of research papers is a subjective matter. It's matter of debate. How can you say that quality is deteriorating?

How do you accept the fact that a number of private universities are coming up?

Private universities and the state-run universities run hand in hand. There should be collaboration and co-operation between the two. For example, sometimes we have noticed that the private universities have excellent labs and government-run institutions lack them. Students of government universities should be allowed to use these facilities and there should be exchange of knowledge with private universities.

It has been alleged that your varsity's syllabus is outdated...

That is not true. There is a board of studies comprising distinguished people from various fields. They decide the syllabus keeping the need of the time in mind. The vice-chancellor is not a part of it.

But are graduates of your university doing well in the job market? Are they being able to ensure a decent living for themselves?

Our students never face any unemployment problem. They have the specialised skills in art, sculpture, paintings, music, design and other forms of arts. There is no dearth of opportunities for them. Now, the government is setting model schools across the state. They appoint art teachers. It is our students who are getting the opportunity. Even before they graduate, they are sought after by various organisations. What is satisfying is that many of them also get opportunities to earn while are pursuing their studies. They get good money.

Is Odisha advancing culturally?

Odisha is doing very well in every sphere. There is a cultural revival in the state. When I was a child here in the city, there was only one auditorium - Rabindra Mandap. Now, we have at least four massive auditoria, including Bhanja Kala Mandap and Utkal Kala Mandap. Odisha is full with cultural activities and the future of artistes is bright.

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