Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Paritosh K. Banik is the Vice Chancellor of AKS University, Satna since June 2015. Prior to this assignment, he was the Founder Vice Chancellor of Adamas University, Kolkata (2014-15) and Director General of Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU), Gujarat (2010-14). He was the Director of School of Petroleum Technology, PDPU in 2009-10. During 2005-2008, before joining PDPU, Professor Banik was the Director of National Institute of Technology (NIT), Silchar (Assam).
He obtained Masters’ degree and Ph.D. degree in Mining Engineering from Moscow, Russia in 1980 and 1984 respectively. He was Associate Professor in IIT- Kharagpur and Professor in ISM-Dhanbad. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India), a Member of ISTE and ISTD and also a Member of Global Engineering Deans’ Council (GIDC). He has traveled widely across the globe including USA, UK, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Singapore.
In recognition to his contribution in Coal Mining Research and Effective Leadership as Head of Educational and Research Organizations, Prof. Banik was honored with ‘Life Time Achievement Award’ by the Indian Mining and Engineering Journal during its Golden Jubilee celebration in 2011.
Dr. Banik’s experience in the education industry
I have chosen education sector as first preference without knowing that this sector will have a status of an industry one day. My sole objective of joining this profession was to create new knowledge, impart knowledge to students and apply this knowledge for the benefit of the society. I started my career as a dedicated lecturer in a highly reputed and professional institute Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. I also taught students at IIT-Kharagpur as Associate Professor. I was deeply involved in teaching and research in my area of specialization, i.e. Coal Mining without having a concept of the education industry.
Gradually, as I grew up, the era of open economy and globalization engulfed everyone in the society and I was not an exception. Privatization of higher education in addition to the public sector was the only answer for development and growth in higher education. Then it became a business model and a very lucrative to industrialists, politicians and many individuals in terms of profit and other financial criteria. I have worked in National Institute of Technology, Silchar, Assam as Director and observed that this model is very expensive in terms of expenditure per student due to less efficiency and bureaucratic hurdles. I had an opportunity to work in Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gujarat as Director General (Vice Chancellor). This university was built under PPP Model. This was a new experience for me working with Dr. Mukesh Ambani as the President of the University and the Chairman, Board of Governors. Being the Vice Chancellor of Adamas University, Kolkata and subsequently the VC of AKS University, Satna, I have seen different models of Higher Education in the fully private sector. After completing the full cycle of working in Govt.-PPP- Private model, I could realize that teaching-learning is most successful when full autonomy is given to teachers and education administrators irrespective of the nature of the model.
The education industry is the best industry because the service which we provide is for nation-building. The key factor for survival in this industry is the quality of products, which can be achieved only when full autonomy is provided to true and dedicated academicians and academic administrators.
Dr. Banik’s philosophy of leadership
AKS University is a new university, set up in a rural sector. Obviously, the role of a leader is different here in comparison to reputed and well-established universities. My philosophy of leadership is to motivate teachers by an example. Accordingly, I involve myself in regular teaching in B.Tech level. Normally, I take 2 full subjects of Mining Engineering in each semester. I encourage teachers to carry out research by bringing research projects from various funding agencies and publish research papers in reputed journals. In brief, my leadership style is to be one amongst all faculty members.
Challenges faced as the Vice Chancellor of AKS University
Real India is represented by rural sector, where financial affordability of parents for higher education is very poor. In order to enhance gross enrolment ratio in higher education, we are fixing tuition fees at a very low level. Otherwise, the mass population in rural sector will not be able to get a higher education. This causes a financial constraint for fast development and growth of the university. Hence, the significant challenge is to maintain quality education with less financial resources.
Dr. Banik on his time management
As I said earlier, I am first a teacher and then an academic administrator. I go to class with due preparation for a lecture. This keeps me occupied. I believe that a teacher cannot be a good teacher unless he updates himself all the time. I prepare myself for a class using books, journals, web-based material, etc. Most of the administrative issues are managed by senior colleagues and their subordinates. Moreover, all our routine administrative jobs are taken care of by Management Information System. I am fully conversant with the system and hence monitoring of university affairs is very simple for me without consuming much time. I do not face constraint regarding time management.
Curriculum of AKS University
Our faculty members are constantly in touch with the industry. They take care of best practices of the industry in their curriculum through respective Boards of Studies of the departments. Being an autonomous university, we deliberate upon the proposals of Boards of Studies in Academic Council and implement very quickly all decisions of Academic Council, which is the highest academic authority of the university.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at AKS University
I firmly believe that the student community follows a normal distribution in terms of their talents, skills, analytical ability, leadership quality, etc. Hence, we distribute students into various categories for placement and invite various companies of different levels. Most of our students are sincere and hard working. Many companies need this kind of students.
Dr. Banik’s relation with the students and his availability for them
I have an advantage over many other Vice Chancellors in establishing a relation with students, since I teach regular courses and supervise projects like other faculty members. I come across my students in classrooms. Many students are connected to me through social media. In addition, I directly participate as a mentor in students’ activities. My door is always open to students. They can knock on my door and enter with any kind of problem any time and any day without going through the official procedure.
Views on an ideal school environment
I have been educated in a world-class university abroad. Hence I am well aware of an ideal academic ambiance and culture. Students need to be groomed not only in classrooms and laboratories, they should be provided with facilities for self-development. There must be a Students’ Activity Centre (SAC) in the university, where facilities for indoor games, gym, cultural and literary activities, technical skill development activities, etc. must be provided.
Goals in mind for the university
My one and only one goal for the near future is to create an ambiance and culture conducive to a disciplined university. Not only a few students but almost all our students must be ready for employment once they pass out of the portal of the university. Research activities must be enhanced and hence potential faculty members must be recruited.
Suggestions to the current youth and the aspiring students
Success in life comes with hard, sincere and dedicated work. Do not expect any miracle to happen if your valuable time of student life is wasted. Always remember that failure, if it happens, is a temporary phenomenon. Your hard work of student life will definitely pay you back.
Before taking admission anywhere, a student must be very clear as to “why”, he or she wants to pursue the degree. Also, students should not take decisions on the basis of if their reference group is doing one thing, they too fall in line and do the same things. Taking informed decisions for yourself is critical. Also, education decides one’s future, and should never be pursued casually. Double check affiliations, and recognition of degrees by higher bodies before falling for any fancy degrees.