Interview by Pratyasha
Prof. (Dr.) A.K. Bakhshi is currently working as the Founder Vice-Chancellor of PDM University. A double gold medallist, did his post-doctoral training at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg in Germany. He has excellent working experience at various capacities both in India and abroad. In terms of research activities, his interests include theoretical polymer chemistry.
Dr. Bakhshi has published nearly 170 research and education articles and one patent. With this, he has authored/ co-authored 11 books, 51 e-Books/Books as editor/chairman/convener of the working group and 49 e-modules. He has also received several awards such as World Education Award; Haryana Ratan Award; Dr. R.D. Desai Award of the Indian Chemical Society; Bharat Jyoti Award; National Education Award and many more. He has been felicitated two-times by the Former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam for his outstanding contributions to education.
In an exclusive interview with Dr. Bakhshi, he shares his views on the education industry, his working style and talks about his university.
Thoughts on Education Industry in India
Education sector plays a vital role in producing quality human resources. The real purpose of education is to empower the students for their all-round development. I feel that this industry has the wholesome responsibility to bring new changes in an individual’s life and at large in the world.
If we look at the statistics, India has the 3rd largest education system in the whole world, and currently, there are more than 900 universities in India. However, if we look at the darker side of this, the gross enrolment ratio is still less than 26% despite India being one of the youngest nations of the world. Therefore, it is essential to make education more accessible to more and more people.
A leader’s definition as per Dr. Bakhshi
A leader plays a vital role in any educational institution in terms of its growth, efficient operations, brand building, and other essential factors. He/she must have a vision for the betterment of the institution and work whole heartedly towards its growth and development accordingly. Everybody has some gifts and talents. A good leader should know how to harness them towards the same goal.
Another skill, which a leader must possess is the ability to articulate his/her ideas to stakeholders. Talking about the persona, a leader must be a team player who should lead by example (a role model). A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
University welcoming the Digital change
The country is gradually moving towards the digital age, and I have been personally very much involved in the development of e-learning material and MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). In PDM University also, our focus is on encouraging both teachers and students to become ICT savvy.
The learning process at the university is more than just a classroom. Recently, a conference on e-learning was organised, where experts came and enlightened teachers on the importance of e-learning and MOOCs in higher education. I believe that now, every individual must become more aware of the basics of technology, it has become the need of the hour. ICT-enabled education has the potential to change the face of education in the country.
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Quality of Faculty at PDM University
I think that a teacher is the foremost guide in showing a direction to any student. It becomes our responsibility to recruit the best of the best faculty. At the end of the day, these members are the ultimate guides who take the young minds to the places. According to me, having faculty, which is well trained and understands the psychology of a student’s mind and also knows how to deal with their problems is like getting best of both worlds. An institution is ultimately as good as its faculty. The faculty should be able to perform both the functions of disseminating knowledge and creating knowledge very well.
Dr. Bakhshi on the need for co-curricular activities for the students
Academics is just one component in a student’s life. What ultimately matters is the way of talking, manners, dressing, and one’s overall personality. An educational institution must not only focus on doing very well in academics and making students creative and innovative, but must also work towards grooming the personality of each and every student. It’s very unfortunate that with increasing focus on rote-learning and scoring high marks, innovation and creativity have taken a back seat in India’s education system. This needs to be reversed. One must understand that good marks do not necessarily equate to proper learning.
Co-curricular activities can help them to express their creative side by allowing them to showcase their talents. At our institution, our focus is to encourage and nurture “out of box” thinking among the students.
Maintaining relationship with the students
Being an educationist, it is my duty to look after every student. The doors of my office are always open for my students. They can discuss any of their grievances with me freely. I believe that they should not hesitate about anything while interacting. We have to build a very healthy relationship amongst students, teachers, and administration. Since PDM is a relatively new University, there might be few things where we may be lacking but during the last three years we have grown considerably and are on a path to become a world class university.
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Ideal school environment according to Dr. Bakhshi
An ideal school environment accepts the notion that every student can learn and possesses the potentials to develop and grow. It involves teachers who are knowledgeable, caring about student learning, and adaptable to instructions to meet the needs of the students. An ideal school environment makes the curriculum relevant and related to the lives of people most especially to the learners themselves. It employs authentic measures or ways of assessing or evaluating student learning and achievement/progress. An ideal school environment centers on academic, athletic, extracurricular activities that are vital to the learner.
In our University, we are making all efforts to create an ideal learning environment for our students. We do organize from time to time various motivational lectures and activities to guide, energize and inspire them.
Suggestions to young generations
My only suggestion to the current youth is to make proper use of their time. The secret to success lies only in time management. Everybody in this world gets 24 hours a day. How you manage this time in the light of your priorities will determine your success in life. Believe in yourself, have a positive mind set, be self-disciplined and work with bull-dog determination and will power, world will be at your feet.