Honorable Chief Guest of today’s auspicious occasion of Teachers Day , His Excellency The governor of Chhattisgarh state, Shri Shekhar Duttji , Honorable Vice Chancellor Dr Lakshman Chturvediji , my respected colleagues, my dear students and erudite of the assembly . It’s a great honor indeed to me to share some of my thoughts with you all today. The thoughts that have been taking shape during my last 22 years association with this university as a teacher.
As far as today’s topic is concerned, as a student of political science in the present scenario I would prefer to get engaged in a discussion on role of teachers in building the world rather than limiting myself to the geographical boundaries of a nation as I trust that the students of this university do have the potential to contribute to the ongoing process of building the world.
Yes as teachers do have an unparallel opportunity to build those who build the nation and the world. It’s a great feeling of self respect and at the same time a great responsibility, a great challenge. I have tried to identify the various nuances of the role of teachers in building their students.
The first thing that is most important to me is to Inculcate Strong moral and human Values in the students. At the turn of this century we are experiencing profound cultural and psychological changes. Our understandings of the world is being destabilized and deconstructed. It’s a time when the world israpidlly transforming into a global village, where the geographical boundaries are diminishing. This is an era of information explosion and also of the most confusing conflict among various set of values. Its fact that a set of values is the foundation of any individuals life. In an emerging culture where both parents are working, where joint families are disappearing, where friends are available only on the face book, the teachers have greater responsibilities then ever to provide this much needed set of values to the young generation. The set of values that includes love, peace, tolerance, non violence.
The second thing that is very significant is to help the students grow as a rationally thinking individual. The human civilization, in our times is experiencing the best opportunities for growth and the worst ever challenges to its survival. The challenges are expanded from the global level to the local level. At the global level the civilization is threatened by the terrorism, threats to environment, growing population coupled with vanishing resources, intolerable economic inequalities and the threat of nuclear war. At the local level we do have dissident groups, corruption and fanaticism. There are times when one has to take sides; one has to decide his or her own course of action. We the teachers have the responsibility to produce an individual who is well informed and hence is capable of taking rational decisions at the time of crisis in his or her own life, in the life of nation or in the life of the human civilization itself.
The third very important thing is to equip the students with best possible employability opportunities. In other words to add best market value to the knowledge that are we imparting to them. It’s a well accepted fact today that those who dominate the economy will dominate the world and the whole global discourse. And one way to dominate the economy is to produce the human resources that are able to exploit the emerging economic opportunities. Only the teachers can do this. That is why the author of best seller “the world is flat” wrote that America needs to revise whole of its education system to meet the challenges posed by bengulru and bejing. Here in India the challenges are higher as Only 39.5 per cent of graduates in India are employable. We as teachers need to pay attention to this.
Another important way to contribute to the nation building is coming out of the class rooms and getting engaged with the society. There are two ways to do this first by conducting society oriented researches and second by having continuous dialogues with the society where we use our knowledge to help society in opinion formation over various contemporary issues. This becomes more pertinent in the context of developing countries where the common person is facing many dilemmas and generally does not have access to required information sources. Teachers can at the least narrow this information gap by sharing their knowledge.
Now I would also like to identify the challenges that a teacher faces while attempting to play his or her role in building the students.
The first challenge that we face as teachers is that the goals that we are expected to set and to achieve for our students are global and off course the aspirations of the students have also become global whereas the social –cultural context within which we have to work is local. Universities can not exist as islands. They are the part of the society. Continuously we do face the conflicts between the values and the work culture that are required to achieve the set goals for our students and the values and the work culture that our local community expects from us. Many of the times we helplessly experience that our energy, time and even resources are exhausted in our not so required engagement with such type of conflicts.
The second challenge is a very sluggish administrative machinery and to an extent its over domination in the sphere of policy decisions and resource allocation. Academics to grow requires a democratic , open , flexible and not so rule stricken environment where as the administration that is the supporting tool for academia is almost just the opposite.
The last challenge comes from us only. Most of the times we teachers are resistant to change. We do not want to learn the new skills, new languages of instruction, do not want to enrich our knowledge of our subject, seldom we are interested in initiating a participatory and transparent decision taking process, we try our best to protect the age old power structures within the academia, we are not very welcoming to entry of the new ideas and new people into our comfort zones. We try our best to stick to primitive mindset of dividing the teaching community in categories like senior and junior, ad hock and permanent etc. We who are supposed to be the change agents, most of the times become the biggest hurdles in brining the changes. To day we need to conduct a neutral and a ruthless self evaluation in the reference of the role that is expected from us.
Our university is upgraded to the status of a central university recently and the expectations have become higher from the teachers. I would share with you my observations on the process of transformation that university is undergoing currently . During the last one and half year the university has witnessed unprecedented positive changes that are slowly but steadily giving the university a shape that teachers like me have always craved for. Classes are as regular as were never before, teachers are teaching sincerely. More than 100 teachers with good academic credentials are appointed on contract basis .They belong to the best institutions of the country and have certainly contributed in up scaling the standard of teaching in the university. The supporting services for the students are increased and strengthened. To name a few of them are ,The university cafeteria that is now operated by the university community itself and that has become the most popular place for the university community now, Conditions in the hostels are improving, sports facilities are emerging , syllabus are revised to meet the global standards, administration has been almost overhauled . The plan for the networking of the campus is initiated. The campus has become most disciplined and free and secure for the students especially for girls. One day I saw a group of seven eight girls walking on the road that leads to girls hostel at around 6 in the evening, singing and laughing. One can watch students sitting under the huge green trees working on their laptops , reading books and having discussions. Believe me all this was not there a year ago. So many good things are happening.
For many of you these may seem very small steps but as a teacher I know that these small steps will lead us to the biggest goals. As a teacher I feel happy. I want to work harder. I want to contribute positively and constructively to this historical institution building process.
Two years back when I was a member of the Research Degree Committee that rejected all the applications for Ph. D. registration in Political Science because of the low standards, one of my colleagues from a post graduate reputed college in Bilaspur met me and told me that " Ham Bilaspur ke log Dilli Mumbai Walon Ki Barabari Nahi Kar Sakte" This was hurting. When i sent my 15 years old daughter for further studies in Delhi because of the lack of quality education in Bilaspur i felt sad. Why not we create a DU or a JNU or even a better institution right here in Bilaspur. Right now as a teacher i believe that the university is moving in this direction. We are at a juncture where if we work hard and in the right direction nothing can stop us in achieving this.
The journey so far has not been very smooth. There have been incidents of disturbing the peaceful ambiance of the university by the vested interests that are certainly hindering this process of institution building. Conflicts between the forces of changes and the forces that try to maintain the staus quo have been universal phenomena. Right now we in Guru Ghasidas University are also witnessing the same. Its one of the most positive but also the challenging time for all of us in the university. It would be most appropriate to remember Guru Ghasidasji at this juncture as he 400 hundred years ago exhibited the courage and the confidence to carve out a new path for himself and for his followers. The university is named after him and I am sure that the teachers and the students of the university together will be able to face the challenges successfully and will emerge as the winners, will emerge as the individuals who will one day build the nation and the world in the manner that the whole world will salute.
At the end I would like to share with you all vision of my university that is best reflected by Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore ,
WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.