- As an educational leader, what has been one of the biggest challenges in your career so far?
Frankly speaking, I have always been bogged down by the most basic thing in my role and capacity as a teacher of English, which is: to be able to teach and guide my students well, to improve my knowledge, skills and understanding of my subject. If and when, despite all your qualifications and work experience, you are not able to make your students understand what you want them to understand, you fail as a teacher, as an educator. It does not matter that a large number are impressed by your scholarship; what matters is how many of your students have been able to follow your advice and make amends in their academics, career and life; and, even if only one student of yours practises one bit of what you have taught, you are successful as a teacher.
- As an educator, you have interacted with and inspired several students. Any event that left a mark on your memory?
It is difficult to say if I have been able to inspire any student of mine. There have been students who have showed interest in my ways of teaching and imparting knowledge and education to them. But I fail to recall any outstanding case. In my interactions, my stress has always been on making the learning fascinating and enjoyable. I strongly believe that in order to understand something, you must enjoy it and like it. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t understand it. I immerse myself into the subject I am teaching, be it a poem, play, fiction or criticism. If I am not into it, I won’t be able to navigate my students into the world of pleasure and understanding which a literary work offers.
- What is your take on the present-day educational leadership?
I will rather refrain from passing sweeping comments because the educational landscape in India today from primary up to university education is quite varied, much like the diversity of the entire country. Moreover, I am not sure as to what I should understand by ‘present-day educational leadership’. Should I take it for the principals of schools and colleges and vice-chancellors of universities? In that case, I would say this- a lot of water has flown down the Ganges in recent decades. Decline in values and standards is all pervasive. The principals and vice-chancellors nowadays are only as good as the milieu all around. In the torrent of commercialization and corporatization of educational institutions all over, the nature, character and, to a certain extent, the goals of education and learning have changed drastically. Machines, computers, new technologies, soft learning and the like, and topping it all, corporate benefits are driving the agenda of education, which seem to be in sync with the times we are living in. But the fact remains that we are humans, and the education of humans has to be essentially humanistic. So, the educational leadership has also to be steeped in and driven by humane concerns and social and cultural essentials unique to the society and the place where an educational institution exists and function.
- How do you view the Indian education system after the implementation of the New Education Policy- 2020?
It is too early to say anything in this regard because the changes brought in, and the goals set are much radical. However, I can say from whatever limited experience and exposure I have in the world of education that the structure and facilities, and also the work and value culture prevailing in the USA and Europe, which appear to be the model and framework for effecting the new modes and patterns in education under the NEP, are so different from those here in our country. Hence, the implementation of the NEP and the realization of its fruits are quite hard to come by. I am not sure of the success of the FYUP, the introduction of semester system all over, the options of major and minor subjects, introduction of research in the fourth year, direct admission to PhD, exit options for certificate and diploma levels, and many things more of this kind. In short, the NEP 2020 seems to be an ill-planned exercise done in a hurry, which is leading to a lot of chaos on campuses all across.
- Suggestions for young educators to embrace changes in educational technology?
Though I have learnt to use computers, smart phones, tablets, etc. for accessing information over the internet, I am not much of a technology man myself. I am able to write on a laptop. But I find it arduous to read things online. For reading long articles, research papers and books, I resort to the printed form. But yes, this is the age of high-end science and technology. One just cannot avoid it or wish it away. Education has entered online mode in a big way. Hence, we have to cope with it. We should happily embrace the new ways of learning and teaching and train and equip ourselves with modern means and methods of educational technology.
- If not an educator, what would you have been? Perhaps a journalist.
I have always been fascinated by the printed word; my initiation into the world of the English language, reading, ideas, etc., happened when I picked up the English dailies and magazines read regularly by my father. I began to like the printed word and became fond of reading newspapers and magazines of all sorts. I nurtured aspirations to become a journalist or an author, but that didn’t happen. I became a teacher in a college, which has kept my passion of reading and intellectual pursuits alive though.
- Please fill the following:
a. Birth date: 21 November 1972
b. Place of Birth: Gola Gokarannath, District – Lakhimpur Kheri (Uttar Pradesh)
c. Zodiac Sign: Don’t believe in Zodiac Signs. What’s going to happen in your life will happen no matter what you do to avoid it; rather, I go by Omar Khayyam’s wisdom expressed in his Rubáiyát (trans. Edward FitzGerald) —
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
d. Your favourite book: Thomas Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, especially, its subtitle (The Life and Death of a Man of Character) and its moving and masterly exposition in the narrative.
e. First Educational Experience: Can’t recall exactly; but, to remember something as an educational experience, it was, perhaps at the age of 10 or 11, I suppose, when my father told me about the book Hints for Self Culture by Lala Hardayal and what it contained and gave it to me. It was difficult for me to fathom it at that stage, but its extensive range and eclecticism left an indelible imprint on my mind in following pursuits of intellectual interest.
f. The quote you live by: Bernard Shaw’s “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Please let us know anything in any aspect of your career that you would like us to highlight.