On his last day as Vice Chancellor (V-C) of Mumbai University, Rajan Welukar speaks to Mihika Basu and Dipti Singh on his achievements, challenges and where the university can go from here.
Your tenure has been controversial. What’s your take on it?
I am satisfied. I was focused, and therefore I was not bothered.
What are the targets you had set for yourself and how much could you achieve?
I could achieve the things I had set for myself to a great extent; around 75 per cent were completed. For example, launching some new academic programmes which are of inter-disciplinary nature, starting community colleges, creation of skill-based programmes at Garware Institute, as well as increasing the human resources for guiding research, especially in engineering and management where there was a shortage of PhD guides. Augmentation of infrastructure was another area I focused on and a lot of infrastructure have been created and some of them are state-of-the-art. I wanted to bring in distributed de-centralisation, which I could achieve to some extent, like establishing a campus in Thane, a centre in Kalyan, among others. I wanted to create content in Marathi language for poor people from tribal and rural areas, which I could not accomplish due to the voluminous work I had. Another area where I could not achieve much was creating open education resources. I started with economics, but not many people came forward.
You had mooted the idea of having four pro V-Cs. Does the university still need it?
Yes, you should have such a system in big universities with many affiliated colleges so that each can have own portfolio and devote time only to that. These four pro V-Cs can look at research, examinations, international collaborations and bringing funds, and sub-centres.
What difficulties did you face as a V-C from the system or the state?
All V-Cs have to devote time to a lot of administrative work and this is true for universities across the country. Therefore, these posts of pro V-Cs can be created. If every file comes to the V-C and waits for the V-C, the V-C will not get time for other things. There was, however, no political interference during my tenure in the last five years. I could say no to several things. I had a board outside my office, which said no one should meet for admissions. I have not called anybody to give admission to anyone.
Which are the areas the university should now focus on?
Inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research need to be done. There needs to be promotion of autonomous colleges and creation of distributed decentralised administration, among others.