Monday, December 11, 2006

The Man Who Brought A Difference: Prof. RP Singh

Prof. RP Singh, the Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University, has been working on polymer science and engineering - a very important part of material sciences. A product of Allahabad University and having a research career spanning over four decades, several of Prof. Singh's contributions are supposed to be internationally accepted. He has been published almost in all top journals of physics, polymer science, polymer composites, and is one of the most renowned professors in these fields. He is recipient of the Flory Award 2005, which is supposed to be the highest honour in the field of polymer science and engineering. The Award is given by World Forum on Advance Material on Research and American Chemical Society. Renowned magazine Nature published reports on two of his works, one on water treatment and industrial affluent and the other on application of polymers in agriculture. One of his students received the highest ICAR award known as Best Thesis in Agriculture Engineering Award, more popularly the Jawaharlal Nehru Award. Applications of polymers in areas ranging from agriculture to aeronautics and Physics of Ultrasonics in polymers too are his pet fields. All praise to Prof. Singh for the talent and expertise that he has brought to the Lucknow University. In an exclusive chat with this physicist turned administrator, we talked to Prof. Singh regarding the changes that he has brought to Lucknow University and those that are going to take place in the near future. Read his views, in first person.

When I came to Lucknow University, I had this realization that standards of research and teaching, both have gone down in all universities of North India. They are beset with Employee Union, Student Union, Teacher's Union and various other problems. Moreover, they were not getting adequate financial support from State and Central governments.
This also reflected in the participation of professors and scientists from these universities in national and international meets. I myself used to organize several national level meets and participated in various important events in related fields in India and abroad, but I had found that there was nearly no participation from universities of UP. I used to wonder what could be the reasons for it.
When I came here, I found this university beset with all sort of problems, be they from academic, financial and disciplinary areas. Since then I have tried to improve it and I have been quite successful.
I have encouraged research work considerably; now there are more than 55 projects which have been granted from UGC, CSR and others. Various departments have got Centre of Excellences including Botany and Zoology departments. Some of our Arts & Humanities departments are doing very well. Department of Social Work has commenced lot of people friendly projects on adult education, teaching the school children from slum areas, etc. Recently we have adopted 7 villages for total development, which was done on advice given to us by the Hon'ble President of India.
In academics, I have encouraged research, I have introduced semester systems in post graduate studies and overall I encouraged participation of faculty in national and international conferences. Apart from that, I organize many big scientific and humanities conferences in LU. I have also tried to enforce lot of discipline among students. I did not allow them to enter academic premises in cars and on motorcycles. Now all around the University campus, there are car parks, where they have to park their vehicles. There were number of tea-stalls, which have been taken outside the building. I am also trying to improve the libraries; we have got grant of as 2.2 crores for improvement of teaching laboratories and departmental libraries, which we are doing vehemently.
Classrooms, water drinking and toilets were in shambles. I have built quite a few toilets for ladies and gents. Now water coolers are available all over the campus. In the classrooms also I got them repainted. Black boards have been replaced, electricity has been provided and fans are working. What we are doing is that we are strengthening the infrastructure. Similarly, these things are being strengthened in the new campus also.
For several decades, new courses had not been introduced in those areas where students have more job opportunity. I have introduced 25 to 30 courses this year. Next year, we are going to introduce another 25 courses. Some of the important courses include those in Institute of Material Sciences, another on Environment and Ecology, Institute of Rural Development, Institute of Buddhist Studies, Institute of Journalism, Mass Communication and E-Communication & Film Technology. Next year, we are going to introduce Bio-Technology in Under-Graduate level as well. Microbiology too is to be started. Bio-informatic centre is also being opened. Computer Science department is being expanded. This year a Masters Couse in IT has been introduced. Hopefully, MCA too will be added to the BCA we are providing now. Agricultural Marketing and Agricultural Product Processing courses will also be started as part of Agri Business courses. In Arts, Graduation in Police Science, Rural Development, Diploma in Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, Logic have already started. All this has given boost to our education level here. By next year all good courses which are hallmark of a good university will be available here.

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