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Climate of freedom needed in academic institutions: Hari Jaisingh


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, July 17:

Eminent Journalist Hari Jaisingh today underscored the need for freedom in the academic field while stressing on the need to reorient the system to meet the changing needs of society and the expectations of the youth.

Hari Jaisingh
Hari Jaisingh

“It is said that growth is possible only in a climate of freedom—freedom to be and freedom to become. This is essential in the academic field as well. Those associated with the academic world must, therefore, feel free to raise inconvenient questions and issues without fear,” he said while delivering the 8th Foundation Day Lecture at the SOA University here on Friday.

“Negativism and petty politics should have no place in our temples of learning”, he said while referring to several controversies which had erupted in academic institutions over appointment of people with leaning towards a certain political ideology.

Referring to the controversy over the appointment of the head of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Jaisingh said “high-profile positions in academic institutions should be decided on merit when there is no dearth of talent.”

He said the question of academic freedom and responsibility had to be viewed on a larger canvas of educating students and advancing their knowledge. “The idea is to create congenial atmosphere which should enable faculty members to conduct their research activity freely and guide and equip students with the skills in learning so that they are able to contribute to society.”

Quoting Thomas Paine, Jaisingh said the American philosopher had written: “the voice of the common man says that the greatest tyranny in the world is to tie the future generation to a set of dogmas and beliefs.”

“An unjust system, wrong decisions, misplaced concepts and mental rigidities need to be seen as part of the tyranny syndrome,” he added.

The Vice-Chancellor Prof Amit Banerjee presided over the function in which two of the stalwarts of the University, Deputy Chairman Prof BK Sarap and Director (Research) Prof PK Dash were felicitated for their contribution to the growth of the University along with two of its faculty members, Smruti Ranjan Mohanty and Ms Pamela Satpathy, who came out with flying colours in the Civil Services examination recently.
SOA University
Prof Sarap, Prof Dash, Prof PK Nanda, Dean (Research) and Prof PK Sahu, Dean, Institute of Technical Education and Research (ITER), the faculty of engineering of the university also spoke.

Stating that the education system could not and must not remain static, Jaisingh said things could certainly improve “provided we reorient the system to meet the changing needs of society and the expectations of the youth.”

“Link education to life, associate it with concrete goals, establish a close relationship between society and economy, invent or rediscover an education system that fits the surroundings … surely this is where the solution must be sought,” he said while  quoting the UNESCO advice on education.

Jaisingh threw up the suggestion that the government should explore the possibility of setting up Rural Universities to meet the aspirations of the rural youth who deserve a better deal.

“The Prime Minister has been talking of smart cities, but he should also think of smart villages, as 70 per cent of our people live in villages,” he said.

BP Tripathy, Associate Dean of School of Hotel Management, proposed the vote of thanks.