Nagpur Today team had an exclusive tête-à-tête with acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Vinayak Deshpande on 27th. Excerpts from the conversation.
N.T. Dr. Deshpande, what was the recent agitation of students about?
V.C. – Whenever the University effects any change for betterment of the system there are some teething problems and unfortunately some students do get affected by them. Often the problems are unanticipated and have to be tackled as they crop up. We, at the University, always take a supportive and sympathetic approach towards such issues and try to resolve them in a way that will least affect students negatively.
This time the disturbance was over students who had exhausted the three re exam chances of the B.Sc annual exam pattern and could not be absorbed into the semester system. The issue has been sorted out at our Board of studies meeting today and students will be offered two more chances.
Problems got more severe because our rules do not permit “Jumping” between semesters since it devalues academic standards.
N.T. Why was the B.Sc. annual pattern changed to semester pattern?
V.C. – This is the pattern followed by most international universities and also most of the progressive Indian Universities. Since exams in this pattern are held every six months students are evaluated more often and thus get more regular with their studies too. It reduces the tensions of the annual exam where they have to study the whole year’s course. Also, if our students opt for higher studies abroad our system will adapt easily to theirs leading to ease of admissions.
N.T. What are the other changes on the anvil?
V.C. – We are constantly trying to upgrade our curriculum and bring about changes in our systems which will benefit the student body at large. Like we would like to introduce the ‘Cafeteria’ pattern for choosing subjects and courses like is prevalent in all American Universities. But often we find that not just the students, but even society as a whole is not ready for new ideas or sudden changes. So we have to go about it gradually and step by step. We have already introduced the credit system. But tomorrow, like in the US, we say students graduating in Engineering can also go in for two credits in Music or Dance how many will understand and appreciate this? But an inter disciplinary openness is needed and will be beneficial.
I would also request students, their parents and so called student leaders to be more concerned and aware of real issues. I would love it if people came to me with demands like ‘introduce these new courses in our curriculum’ we want more options in Science or Humanities subjects etc. etc. rather than demanding more and more laxity in re exams, revaluations and the like.
N.T. – Speaking of revaluation, have any changes been made in this system? In the past some Engineering students have lost an year since reval results came late.
They should understand that facilities like revaluations are a benefit offered by the University, it is not a matter of right. Though we have made this process also easier now since it can be done online and the time frame for results has been decreased from 90 days to only 32 days.
Students can check their answer sheets online.. and they won’t have to apply for xerox which used to take a week earlier, so this will also make the process fast and many students will not waste another year due to delay of process.
N.T. Why are Nagpur University examination fees among the highest in the country?
V.C. – We do not think that is a fact. Students will compare us to those who charge less and hold that up as a standard. Actually, we had not increased any fees for over ten years and this was causing a lot of financial strain on our resources. So we had to reluctantly increase some fees recently.
About the Acting V.C. Dr. Vinayak Deshpande
Dr. Vinayak Deshpande is an eminent Economist who has been Head of the Economics Deptt of the RTMNU and served it for 24 years. During his tenure at this department it was involved in and often header significant Financial Feasibility studies of many Govt. of Maharashtra projects. Some of the well known projects that came under the purview of these studies were the Pench irrigation project, and projects in Gadchiroli.
He was also a member of the Kelkar Committee that studied the problems of Vidarbha and has made some revolutionary observations about changes required.
Dr. Deshpande opines that if one has to study the feasibility of a new state – Vidarbha for instance – applying only financial parameters will not get us anywhere. “If you look at it only through this prism, no state is really feasible” he said. “You have to evaluate how successful it will be at attracting investments, developing industries and giving clean and effective administration. Success of any state depends on these issues”.
Without really advocating separate Vidarbha state Dr. Deshpande opined that in his view ‘Small is Beautiful’ and creation of smaller states will lead to faster development of the nation. He also opined that failure of the co operative movement in Vidarbha and its impressive success in Western Maharashtra was one of the factors that lead to rapid progress of that area while Vidarbha lagged behind.
It is worth mentioning that Dr.Vinayak’s father Dr. S.A. Deshpande was also a well known Economist, had also headed the University’s Economics Department and had been part of the V.M. Dandekar commission.
Dr. Vinayak Deshpande is also an active Rotarian and is currently the President of South Rotary one of the oldest Rotary clubs of Nagpur doing significant work for Melghat tribals.