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Association of Indian Universities, Annual National Conference of Vice Chancellors “Reimagining Indian Universities” Hosted by National Law University Delhi (August 17-18, 2020 )



Annual National Conference of Vice Chancellors

“Reimagining Indian Universities”

Through Virtual Mode | August 17-18, 2020

Hosted by National Law University Delhi


The Association of Indian Universities (formerly the Inter University Board of Education) organised its Annual National Conference of Vice Chancellors on the theme ‘Reimagining Indian Universities’, 2020, in association with National Law University Delhi. The AIU is a network of higher education stakeholders and has the majority of the National Universities, as well as several International Universities, as its members. The Annual General Meeting, starting with a splendid inaugural ceremony and culminating in a valedictory function, comprised of several events.


The chief subjects deliberated upon over the course of two days are – Reimagining Indian Universities; Promoting Research and Innovation; Developing Employability and Entrepreneurship; Towards Global Best Teaching-learning Process; Governance Reforms of Indian Higher Education; Improving Access, Equity and Excellence in Higher Education Excellence; Internationalization of Higher Education and Global Rankings. Several esteemed dignitaries graced the event. Eminent academicians and educationists addressed the audience, primarily on issues of importance in the sphere of higher education.


The National Webinar, which stretched across a period of two days, attempted to set the foundational framework in initiating an expansive discourse on the challenges faced in the sphere of higher education in the country. While extending a warm welcome to the audience, Prof. Dr. Aparajita Bhatt, gave a brief introduction of AIU, the frontrunner organisation in the field of higher education in India. The mega event commenced with a cordial welcome address by Prof. Tej Partap, the current President of the AIU.  A visionary and a passionate Agricultural Scientist, Prof. Tej Partap, has been instrumental in the development of organic agriculture in the country. He expressed his gratitude to more than 500 VCs from across India, who were gracing the event with their kind presence. He explained how ‘Reimagining Indian Universities’ has been a recurring theme in several previous editions of AIU meets and has been a much-talked about issue in general.


Dr. Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General, AIU, thanked all the people who have been instrumental to conducting of the event, including the President AIU and the Vice Chancellor NLU Delhi. She thanked Shri Kailash Satyarthi for very kindly accepting AIU’s invitation to deliver the Annual Lecture before welcoming him to deliver his address. Nobel Laureate Shri Satyarthi’s some most acclaimed initiatives include - Bachpan Bachao Andolan, 100 Million for Hundred Million, Kailash Satyarthi Foundation, etc. A short documentary video on the journey of Shri Satyarthi ji was presented, followed by his address which included references from the Rigveda, and how India has been a reservoir of knowledge. He spoke on covid-19 being the ‘crisis of the civilization’ and how the pandemic has affected the education system and the children of the world. He also highlighted the work-from-home template of working yet also the incorporation of technological advances in education system, that might lead to a ‘market of education’ through online mode of learning.


Following this was the inaugural session. Dr. Aparajita Bhatt welcomed the audience to the inaugural session of the AIU General Meeting. She introduced Prof. Ranbir Singh, Vice Chancellor of NLU Delhi. Prof. Ranbir Singh took over to extend a heartfelt welcome remark to all the distinguished dignitaries present in the webinar and introduced the various themes of the discussions and deliberations, which were to be held over the course of two days. He also mentioned how Covid-19 has brought about a vast change in the educational landscape, and further appreciated platforms like SWAYAM, online classes, remote internship opportunities, etc. for presenting viable alternatives to previous modes of education. This was followed by introductory remarks by Dr. Pankaj Mittal. She thanked all the honourable attendees for attending the session. She also mentioned several online initiatives that have been undertaken by AIU in response to the pandemic – ‘Kuchh Creative Corona’, ‘Survey of Universities Regarding Preparedness for Online Education’, etc. She explained the theme ‘Reimagining Indian Universities’ and also informed the audience about the much-awaited array of speeches and sessions, including an address by K. Kasturirangan and Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.


The next speaker, Prof. K. K Agarwal, Chairman NAAC, expressed his approbation of the NEP and stated that the New Education Policy has been introduced after 34 years, which makes the changes more fundamental and seminal. He stressed upon the importance of ‘Science plus Spirituality’ and that quality is extremely important to education. He also talked about the importance of incorporating technology-oriented learning in the educational system. He concluded with an interesting concept of ‘e-quality’. He said that ‘Education’ system needs ‘Equality’, i.e. E plus Quality. ‘E’ refers to ‘digitization’ and ‘technology’. This has to be paired with ‘quality’ and ‘efficiency in implementation’.


This was followed by Prof. Sahasrabudhe’s address, who commenced his address by stating that ‘education must ignite curiosity’ and emphasised on the importance of creativity. He said that education must not just comprise of IQ but also EQ and social as well as spiritual quotient. He discussed some important aspects of the NEP – developing multidisciplinary universities, focussing on research, teaching and awarding degree as a well-coordinated function, etc.


The next speaker, Dr. D. P. Singh, Chairman UGC, cited Sanskrit shlokas to highlight that knowledge is the instrument of completing any task with excellence. He said that although the current times are precarious, they also offered an intensive opportunity for growth and reform, especially in the field of knowledge acquisition. He added that a teacher must be transformed into a ‘guru’, who must lead the students not just through learning but also through life itself. He exhorted all the VCs to ensure that they become examples to emulate while also providing a conducive learning environment to all his pupils.


The next address was by the President of the AIU, Prof. Tej Partap. He reiterated Shri Satyarthi’s message that Universities builds civilizations. He mentioned the messages of the book ‘21 lessons for the 21st century’ by Yuval Noah Harrari, which dealt with the unique problems of the century. He said that students must be helped in imbibing four essential skills - critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. He suggested the need for establishing an education system that catered to the demands of technological advancement and built students who could tackle the social changes happening in the society currently.


This was followed by a much-anticipated event of the day – the release of the books; ‘Reimagining Indian Universities”, “Monograph on Protecting Academic Interest of Students during COVID-19: Sharing Best Practices”, and the AIU portal by Hon’ble Union Minister of Education, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’. These books deal with contemporary concerns in the higher education system. Following this, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, graced us with his informative address. He spoke about how the New Education Policy aimed at reinstating India as Vishwa Guru. While quoting the Hon’ble Prime Minister, he said that 21st century was the century of knowledge, and stressed on the need to rise above the trivialities and think globally towards the resolution of the problems of the entire humanity. He emphasised on the ‘stay in India’ and ‘study in India’ initiatives. They have been undertaken to prevent the brain-drain from India. He mentioned the national technology forum, SWAYAM, Deeksha, e-Pathshala, Yukti portal and other digital reforms incorporated in view of Covid- 19. He also reaffirmed that initiatives like the AIU meet, where leaders come together to chart the path for the nation, are instrumental to taking India on the throne of a global leader. As the event drew to a close, Prof. G. S. Bajpai, Registrar NLUD, delivered the Vote of Thanks.


The first day of the two-day event, witnessed the conduct of two key technical sessions. The first was ‘Promoting Research and Innovation’, followed by ‘Governance Reforms’.


On the second day event, Prof. Ritu Gupta extended a congenial welcome to all the attendees. She informed elatedly that over 3200 viewers attended day one of the event. Prof. Tej Partap, President, AIU, delivered the formal welcome address for that day’s ceremony and thanked all the honourable dignitaries individually for gracing the event with their presence. He elaborated upon the theme of the event i.e. Reimagining Indian Universities. He delineated three important issues that are up for discussion in this event: What the government intends to do?  From within the system, what do Universities themselves intend to do? and What is the society willing to do?


Dr. Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General, AIU introduced the special guest, Padma Vibhushan Dr. K Kasturirangan, who had kindly consented to deliver the special address for the day. Dr. Kasturirangan has been instrumental in chalking out the NEP and underscored the requirement for India to be ‘ambitious’. He spoke on how the NEP stresses upon the holistic development of students, the policy providing for teacher-education, research centric provisions in the NEP, vocational education integrated into higher education, technology to be used to make learning more efficient, etc.


The Valedictory Session witnessed the release of ‘COVID-19 Response Tool Kit for Higher Education Institutions: Institutional Resilience for Academic Planning and Continuity’, by Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Hon’ble Member of Parliament and President, ICCR. The session began with a brief Welcome Note by Prof. Tej Partap, President AIU, followed by the introductory remarks by Dr. Pankaj Mittal.  Prof. M. M. Salunkhe, the Past President, AIU, briefly took the attendees through the key takeaways of the six technical sessions and reiterated some of the valuable insights shared by Nobel Laureate, Shri Kailash Satyarthi and Padma Vibhushan Dr. K. Kasturirangan. This was followed by the Valedictory Address, delivered by the Hon’ble minister, Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. Prof. Dr. Ranbir Singh, VC NLU Delhi, delivered the closing remarks. As the session drew to a close, Dr. Pankaj Mittal proposed the Vote of Thanks and once again extended her gratitude to all dignitaries and panellists, the seen and the unseen, for their contributions in successfully conducting this momentous event.