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Importance of a Mentor

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Belonging to the then Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology,the only one of its kind, it was my mission to take the excellence to the university level. I have failed miserably.Talking about the primacy of quality of data and not quantity made no sense to many. It was the era of ‘produce more to be ahead of others‘ as academic posts were scarce. One teacher even boasted that he had 48 scholars under him at one time !

UTKAL holds the 87th position while SOA and KIIT Universities hold higher positions.

Many academics are worried.I have taught as a Visiting Faculty various aspects of Book Publishing and Development Communication in many institutions of higher learning including BHU and DU, but Utkal University has never bothered to invite me for a lecture in the last two decades. I am pained as I am an alumnus of this University.

My friend Prof Pratap K Rath has written recently to express his frustration :

‘I am an alumnus of Utkal University, a proud one, and a retired professor of psychology having worked since 01.01.82. Never have I been happy with the state of affairs. I wanted to be free to be able to say things that needed to be said the way in should be.

My dream was, believe it or not, never to be a Vice Chancellor, a helpless jod holder who threatens the teachers but bows down to the students pressure and the machinations of bureaucratic set up. I wanted to lead a strong Teacher's group, the Teachers’ Association. I have fought with students, my colleagues, sat with all associations as equals, countered the Vice Chancellors and defended them from bad behaviour of the students, trying to find ways to make Utkal University, a little better.

Belonging to the then Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology,the only one of its kind, it was my mission to take the excellence to the university level. I have failed miserably.Talking about the primacy of quality of data and not quantity made no sense to many. It was the era of ‘produce more to be ahead of others‘ as academic posts were scarce. One teacher even boasted that he had 48 scholars under him at one time !

And then came the UGC mandate. It equated a retired professor to a retarded professor. I tried to twist it to be able to guide and ensure that the bright youngsters do not suffer because they lack a Guide for PhD. The previous Vice Chancellor, Mr Patnaik did his best to damage this aspect. Utkal suffers for this. The one previous was equally bad. Coming from a research institute, he had no intention of making Utkal better. It was self promotion. He succeeded. He damaged Utkal. Now he is given a chance to do that to Odisha.

As usual, we the teachers have learnt the art of praising somebody sky-high when in chair and then to run them down when gone. I had opposed them when they were in chair. They are never made accountable for the damage they do. And what they have done is reflected in the newspapers.’

Utkal University lacks spiritual inspiration.
Spiritualism is heart of Hinduism as advocated by Swami Vivekananda in world religious forum. Aprt from that, there are many saints of India like Swami Ram,Osho,Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo ,Sri Sri Ravishankar,Satya Sai Baba and Raman Maharshi whose views and practices are accepted worldwide.They never propagated like the fake scholars of today advocating for Hindutva and publicising that Hinduism is in Danger !

‘I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth,’ as said by Swami Vivekananda in his Chicago Address.

Today’s children lack proper mentoring. Every father should be a mentor of his children, and in most of the cases it is.My father was a mentor of my creative habits and public speaking.Had he not taken me to various meetings and the first ever coffee house of Puri,Aadarsha Mistanna Bhandar on regular intervals,I would not have grown as a Public Speaker.

My uncle was a mentor in later years,and continued to be.My sister ( Pravat Nalini Mahapatra )and Jhununani ( Rashmirekha Mahapatra) were there to inspire me.In the School,it was Lokanath Sir,Arta Sir and Somanath Sir.In college,it was Narayan Satpathy, Kailash Chandra Tikaitray,Ratnakar Panda and Subhendu Mund.In literary life,it was Bhagaban Nayakburma,Jagdish Pattnaik,Jayant Kumar Das , Choudhury Hemakant Mishra and Hari Krishna Devsare to a large extent. As I strongly feel,mentoring or inspiration is a life long requirement like food,water,air ,home,clothing and education.

But,as I understand,today's children and youth are not getting the real kind of mentors that they require.Utkal University is the latest victim.

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