Cuttack :The Central Zone Vice-Chancellors’ Conference 2020-21 of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) was hosted virtually by Sri Sri University, Cuttack, Odisha on 8th & 9th February, 2021. The theme of the Conference was ‘Promoting Quality, Research and Internationalization in Higher Education’ which was attended by more than 100 Vice Chancellors from the Central Zone of AIU. Her Excellency, Hon’ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Smt. Anandiben Patel graced the Inaugural Session as the Chief Guest. Her pearls of wisdom touched, moved, and inspired everyone present. She acknowledged AIU for its contribution towards building a strong ecosystem for achieving excellence in Higher Education and implementation of NEP 2020.
The Guest of Honour, Dr. Arun Kumar Sahoo, Hon’ble Minister of Higher Education, Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Fisheries and Animal Resource Development, Government of Odisha pointed about the number of challenges in the field of research. He put forth his thoughts on the aspects related to industry-academia collaboration, development of vocational skills, provision of more funds and inclusion of research as criteria for faculty promotion to foster research. He pointed that the Odisha Government aims to provide all support and tools to institutions to perform in its full capacity.
The inaugural session started with a virtual lamp lighting and ‘saraswati vandana’. Mrs. Rajita Kulkarni, President, Sri Sri University welcomed the dignitaries and guests during the welcome address. She stated that India is progressing to become self-sufficient (Atmanirbhar) under the stewardship of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi Ji. With a strong research and development, India has fought against Covid-19 by producing vaccines and is supplying to fifteen countries of the world.
Dr. (Mrs.) Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General, AIU gave the welcome and introductory address. She emphasized the need to implement the NEP-2020 to make India: a ‘Vishwaguru’. She also gave a virtual overview of the facilities and initiatives of AIU in augmenting the quality of Higher Education in India.
Dr. Tej Partap, President AIU & Vice-Chancellor, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar during his presidential address proposed discussion on quality of students, education, and environment along with teaching and pedagogy. The challenges faced include lack of finances to invest on quality and survival of the institutes during the pandemic. He highlighted that we need to produce good research scholars to contribute towards the community, farmers, and the state.
Hon’ble Governor released the journal edited by Dr. Sistla Rama Devi Pani, Editor, University News and Head of the Research Division at Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living delivered the valedictory address and highlighted that education is not a process of job creation only but an evolutionary process of human life. He congratulated AIU for organising such an enlightening conference and to address the opportunities and challenges of Higher education institutions of the country. Answering to a question of Prof. Tej Partap on internationalization, He advised for an ecosystem and building image of new India to attract international students to the country. He said perception, observation, and expression are three important components of education. He advised students to take some time from the gadgets and practice restful alertness (meditation) which is researched to nourish the hippocampus of the human brain.
Prof. Ajay Kumar Singh, Vice Chancellor, Sri Sri University during his remarks mentioned that Sri Sri University should be given the status of Institute of Global Eminence by the government and with the autonomy to have centres around the world as Art of Living is present in 156+ countries with more than 40,000 teachers having millions of students and with just one approval can become the largest University in the world. SSU should be allowed to have online education for ensuring the global reach to become number 1 University in the world. Prof. Singh also mentioned that an ecosystem should be created where each company should adopt at least one University to allocate some portion of CSR funds for contributing towards collaborative research so that the problems of the business/industry/society can be solved through this process of research and innovation.
Dr. S. Ramadevi Pani delivered an extensive vote of thanks during the valedictory session. She acknowledged the presence of more than 100 dignitaries and Vice Chancellors of the Central Zone who participated in the Meet.
Three technical sessions, one session with APEX body members, and an AIU Business Session were conducted with eminent academicians, regulatory authorities, and Vice Chancellors of various Universities of the Central Zone. Some of the speakers include eminent Mathematician Padma Shri Prof. Dinesh Singh, Former VC Delhi University; Col. Prof. G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-President, AIU and VC, AMET University, Chennai; Dr. Neeraj Saxena, Adviser, AICTE; Dr. Jagannath Patil, Advisor, NAAC; Prof. P. B. Sharma, VC, Amity University, Gurugram; Prof. S. C. Sharma, Director, NAAC; Prof. Najma Akhtar, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Prof. Upinder Dhar, Vice Chancellor, Shri Vaishnav Vidyapeeth Vishwavidyalaya, Indore; Prof. Souvik Bhattacharya, VC, BITS Pilani; Prof. C. Raj Kumar, VC, OP Jindal Global University; Dr. Kavita Sharma, Former President, South Asian University; Mr. Francisco J. Marmolejo, Education Advisor; Qatar Foundations, Doha, Qatar; Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro Chancellor, Symbiosis International University, Pune; Prof. N V Varghese, VC, NIEPA; Mr. Anthony Miranda, Country Counsellor for Cultural and Educational Affairs, US Embassy, India, etc.
The Chief Rapporteur, Prof. Kalyani Samantray, Head, Department of Arts, Communication, and Indic Studies, Sri Sri University presented the report of the entire two days event during the valedictory session. Dr. Vijaya Lakshmi Mohanty, Associate Prof. FMS was the Head of the Team of Rapporteurs of the Conference. Ms. Mani Goswami, Deputy Dean at VC Office, SSU acted as the Nodal Officer, SSU of the Conference.