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Great institutions are about memorability: Bagchi

(Surjit Dhal Bhubaneswar, Feb. 17): Great institutions are about memorability and built on emotional and intellectual infrastructure, Mr. Subroto Bagchi, Chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority said on Saturday.

Institutions standing on physical infrastructure alone hardly count as there is a surfeit of such institutions, he said while addressing the inaugural function of the three-day 93rd annual meeting of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) at the SOA Deemed to be University.

“Physical infrastructure does not make you anybody, though physical and digital infrastructure can give you presence,” he said adding intellectual infrastructure made the differentiation while emotional infrastructure was about the positive feelings students and teachers had for each other, Mr. Bagchi, co-founder of Mindtree and chief guest on the occasion, said.

“Universities like Calcutta, AMU, Jamia Milia  or Utkal are known for memorability,” he said.

Listing proximate leadership, rituals, rich communication, learning from adversity continuously, vision and values as ingredients of emotional infrastructure, Mr. Bagchi said what the institution stood for mattered the most.

Stating that academic institutions held the key to the future, he said “when we have examples of institutional failures all around us, academic institutions are the only hope.”

The University of Pennsylvania hinged on one word ‘trust’, he said adding values were the heartbeat of academic institutions.

Prof. Sandeep Sancheti, President of AIU presided over the inaugural function which was also addressed by Mr. L.N.Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary to the Odisha government, Department of MSME, Mr. Bishnupada Sethi, Commissioner cum Secretary in the department of Higher Education, Prof. Rajnish Jain, Secretary, University Grants Commission, Prof. Furqan Qamar, Secretary General of AIU, Mr. Raimund Magis, Deputy Head, Delegation of European Union to India and Prof. Amit Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor of SOA.

Around 200 Vice-Chancellors and top officials from the academic world are attending the conference. A national seminar on ‘Autonomy for Excellence in Higher Education’ is also being held simultaneously.

Referring to the debate on autonomy for excellence in higher education, Mr. Bagchi said he would prefer to use the word ‘freedom’ as freedom and academics were synonymous.

A book, ‘Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education’, authored by Prof. Arun Nigavekar, former Chairman of UGC, was released on the occasion as also a special issue of the University News.

Gupta said universities should be totally student focused while pointing out that the curriculum and structures had to be reviewed.

Despite the quantum explosion in the number of colleges, only eight per cent of Indians were graduates as per the 2011 census, he said adding the progress was not reflected in quality.

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