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PRABUDDHA BHARATARamakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute  

 

 

 

 

 

Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute

 

 

 

A Concept Paper

 

 

 

     Swami Vivekanandas Vision

 

 

     Swami Vivekananda envisioned that Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrisna Mission, would be a centre of harmony and synthesis, not only of all religious beliefs and traditions, but also of the arts and sciences and the various branches of knowledge, both secular and spiritual. It would be the centre of great spiritual and cultural awakening. In fact, on 2 July 1902, just two days before he passed away, standing on the Belur Math grounds he prophesied: The spiritual impact that has come to Belur will last fifteen hundred years, and it will be a great university. Do not think I imagine it; I see it. In another place, Swami Vivekananda clearly wrote: The aim is to gradually develop this Math into an all-round university. Following Swami Vivekananda we believe that Belur Math and all its large number of branch centres would be centres radiating the light of secular and spiritual education.

 

     In consonance with this vision of Swami Vivekananda, the Mission has established a deemed university, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute (RKMVERI).

 

 

 

     RKMVERI

 

 

     The present university is intended to realize Swami Vivekanandas fundamental educational ideas on imparting life-building, man-making and character-building education by combining the best elements of the East and the West. He envisioned an educational system wherein the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of our country with its hoary tradition of values like sacredness of knowledge, shraddha and devotion to truth, on the one hand, and the Western values of scientific temper, rational investigation, science and technology, work efficiency, team work and tenacity, on the other, are taught.

 

 

 

     Aims and Objectives

 

 

 

     The aim of the institute is to provide opportunities for education and research in the disciplines of arts, sciences and spiritual studies. Arts will include humanities and social sciences; sciences will include fundamental and applied sciences of all categories as well as technology; and spiritual studies will comprise moral, ethical and value education, and comparative religious studies in their broadest form. The supplementary and interdependent character of these three disciplines will receive special emphasis in this university. Thus there would be science-based arts and spiritual studies as well as sciences complemented by arts and spiritual studies. Value education will therefore be an essential component in all the courses.

 

 

 

     Actualizing the Vision

 

 

 

     To start with, this institute would have some major thrust areas not usually covered by other universities in India. These are meant to meet two distinct kinds of needs:

 

 

 1) Need-based and job-oriented professional development courses aimed essentially at addressing the masses and marginalized sections of society. These courses would, in large measure, enable the students to give themselves the jobs they seek rather than seek them from others. They would also enable them to stand on their own feet, to put it in the words of Swami Vivekananda.

 

 2) Culturally, morally and ethically enriching value-orientating courses aimed at addressing all the stakeholders in the field of education, including parents.

 

     The courses offered will be designed accordingly. Although the university would begin by operating in the gap areas not usually covered or emphasized by other conventional universities (see under Major Thrust Areas), courses of the more usual type, particularly in emergent disciplines like information and communications, microbiology, bioinformatics and biotechnology, and nanoscience and nanotechnology will also be on the anvil and may be gradually started over the years.

 

 

 

     Distinctive Features: A University with a Difference

 

     Administrative Aspects

 

 

     Although Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission, under whose guidance and overall administrative control all the branch centres function, the actual implementation of the policies adopted by the headquarters and the activities flowing therefrom are, for the most part, monitored by the branch centres under the supervision of their respective heads, who, in turn, are appointed by the headquarters. The newly formed deemed university under the aegis of the Ramakrishna Mission, its parent body, will also have its central administrative office at Belur Math.

 

     Thus the institute will be an international university that could operate from and through any of the branch centres of the Ramakrishna Mission in India and abroad. Its deemed-university character does not mean that it is a single institution located in a particular campus. Rather, it is a cluster of institutions, all of them belonging to the branch centres of the Ramakrishna Mission. In this sense, the university is a deemed university with a difference. This fundamental and unique feature of the university having been understood, the other academic and administrative details follow as a matter of logical consequence.

 

 

     Major Thrust Areas

 

 

     The four thrust areas chosen to be the major faculties of the university have received little attention in other Indian universities. The Ramakrishna Mission has been working for decades in these areas and therefore has the necessary expertise, both theoretical and practical, and branch centres with experience in these fields could easily become specialized faculty centres with sufficient augmentation of infrastructure, faculty, etc. to enable them to rise to the university level. The four contemplated thrust areas are:

 

- Disability Management and Special Education


- Integrated Rural Development including Tribal Development


- Indian Cultural and Spiritual Heritage and Value Education


- Disaster Management including Relief and Rehabilitation

 

     Specialized Faculty Centres

 

 

     For each of these thrust areas, there will be a separate specialized faculty centre (popularly called nodal centre). To start with, branch centres of the Ramakrishna Mission already specializing in these areas, as mentioned above, have been chosen to act as nodal centres. The nodal centres corresponding to the four thrust areas would be as follows:

 

 

- Disability Management and Special Education: International Human Resource Development Centre for the Disabled at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, which is already involved in training Special Education professionals at the national and international levels.


- Integrated Rural Development and Tribal Development: Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Morabadi, Ranchi, Jharkhand; Ramakrishna Mission Lokasiksha Parishad, Narendrapur, West Bengal; Ramakrishna Mission Samaj Sevak Sikshanamandira, Belur, Howrah, West Bengal.


- Indian Spiritual and Cultural Heritage and Value Education: Ramakrishna Institute of Moral and Spiritual Education, Mysore, Karnataka.


- Disaster Management including Relief and Rehabilitation: A suitable Ramakrishna Mission centre.

     The following branch centres, which have fairly adequate facilities, could also be thought of as additional specialized faculty centres to be included later on:

 

 

- Disability Management: Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys Academy, Narendrapur, West Bengal.


- Tribal Development: Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama (Abujhmarh Tribal Service), Narainpur, Bastar, Chhattisgarh; Ramakrishna Mission Ashramas at Cherrapunji and Shillong in Meghalaya; Ramakrishna Mission centres at Along, Itanagar and Narottam Nagar in Arunachal Pradesh.


- Indian Spiritual and Cultural Heritage and Value-based Education: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Gol Park, Kolkata, West Bengal; Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh; Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi.

 

     Vivekananda Research Centre

 

 

     The Vivekananda Research Centre for fundamental science and philosophy will be housed in Swami Vivekanandas Ancestral House in Kolkata to conduct research on various aspects of Indian culture and philosophy, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda thought, Vedanta vis-a-vis modern science, consciousness studies and some areas of fundamental science. Among the fundamental sciences contemplated are theoretical physics, pure mathematics and theoretical computer science, to start with.

 

     One central purpose of the research conducted in this centre will be to study, explicate and interpret the lives and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda in the context of the philosophies, social institutions and religious traditions of India and the rest of the world, so that people all over the world regardless of the distinctions of caste, creed, or race may derive benefit from these lives and teachings and help to build an enlightened, prosperous and peaceful global society.

 

     In addition to the above, research in fundamental science will also receive some emphasis in this research centre, for Swami Vivekananda was the pioneer in initiating research in fundamental science in India. It was he who suggested to Sir Jamshedji Tata to start a research institute in India for fundamental science in order to inculcate a scientific temper and objective research orientation in the Indian psyche.

 

     In fact, any branch centre of the Ramakrishna Mission or any other institution with adequate infrastructure and other facilities working with the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda ideology could be gradually added to start newer faculties and be designated as a specialized centre for that faculty. As new specialized faculty centres come up, the size of the university will keep expanding, but the principle will remain the same: all the specialized faculty centres, along with the administrative office at Belur Math, will together constitute the Vivekananda (Deemed) University.

 

     In each discipline, necessary appointments of professors, readers and lecturers, in addition to administrative staff, will be made on contract/part-time basis according to UGC norms. Since each of the above centres is an active institution functioning over years with already well-developed infrastructure and trained faculty and staff, it should be possible to raise them to the university level with suitable augmentation and reinforcement of infrastructure, as may be necessary to maintain UGC standards. Courses started de novo might require some structural changes, which are not difficult to make. Thus, in each of the disciplines (or thrust areas identified above), the university will have the required number of core faculty members, who could be supplemented by some specialist visiting faculty to teach certain specialized topics.

 

 

 

     Academic Aspects: Courses, Teaching and Evaluation

 

 

     The university will have the semester academic system with provision for summer courses.

 

 

     Types of Courses

 

 

     The university will concentrate on two types of courses: long-term courses leading to diploma, postgraduate diploma, graduation, postgraduation and research, and short-term programmes ranging from three-day orientation/refresher courses to certificate courses of six months duration. While the long-term courses aim at preparing specialists in the thrust areas, the short-term programmes will aim at orienting and building the capacity of existing teachers, community members and other persons holding responsible positions in society, by exposing them to ideas they have not learnt in their school, college or university curricula. Measures will also be devised to expose them to contemporary ideas in emerging disciplines, so that they can make significant contributions in these areas, given their already well-developed expertise in their respective fields of specialization.

 

     Though short-term in-service programmes and certificate courses do not normally come under the purview of universities as such, the Vivekananda (Deemed) University proposes to bring these programmes too under the university system by offering credits which can be accumulated over a period of time by the learner. These credits will be transferable to long-term programmes when needed.

 

 

     Study Centres or Off-campus Centres

 

 

     The specialized faculty centres will identify suitable institutions in India and abroad to function as study centres, offering courses under the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda (Deemed) University. These will be off-campus centres offering courses as a part of distance education with the permission of the Distance Education Council. This mode will be taken up in a couple of years time. Meanwhile, suitable study materials and necessary infrastructure will be developed. Normally, these study centres will be located at centres affiliated to the Ramakrishna Mission or at institutions working with the same ideology as the Mission and under its general guidance and advice. Thus the university can reach a large section of society, young and old, through its off-campus mode of education. In fact, the university will concentrate on this mode so that a large number of people in India and abroad would be benefited.

 

     Of the four thrust areas stated above, the university will begin with Disability Management and Special Education through its nodal centre in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, as advised by the UGC and notified by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Further, Disaster Management including Relief and Rehabilitation is an emerging discipline, and although the Mission has been doing extensive post-disaster management in the form of relief and rehabilitation for over a century, it has to do some serious planning before starting courses, both theoretical and practical, on pre-disaster management, it being a new field that has been emerging in recent times.

 

     Though each of the faculty centres specializes in one area, they may also serve as off-campus centres for courses offered by other faculties. For example, the Coimbatore centre, which will serve as the main specialized faculty centre for Disability Management and Special Education, may also become one of the off-campus centres for courses dealing with Value Education, Integrated Rural Development, and so on. These off-campus centres may start functioning once the concept of distance education is implemented, which could be during the second or third year of establishment of the university.

 

 

     System of Credit Accumulation

 

 

     The deemed university will offer its courses through a system of credit accumulation, thereby enabling students to learn at their own pace. The courses in all four thrust areas will be categorized as core courses, practical-oriented courses and stand-alone independent courses. The award of credits for theory and practical hours will be decided by the academic council and the boards of studies to be constituted by the university.

 

 

     General Evaluation Strategies

 

 

     Separate boards of studies will be constituted for the various disciplines. These boards will look into the overall curriculum for each course, question paper patterns, practical activities, etc. However, the following general guidelines will be followed in evaluating the courses of the university:

 

 

- Programmes offered through distance mode will have specific credits for contact programmes, project activities, and practical and independent study.


- Attendance, as per requisite norms, at the contact classes will be made compulsory for each of the courses.


- Internal and external systems of evaluation will be in place and the boards of studies will recommend the ratio of internal : external weightage.


- Examinations will be conducted twice a year and the in-built flexibility of the credit accumulation system will give the students the freedom to complete the course over a certain span of time.


- The respective boards of studies and expert committees will be responsible for deciding on these aspects.

 

 

     Vivekananda (Deemed) University: a Movement More than an Academy

 

 

     Lifebuilding, man-making, character-building education being Swami Vivekanandas watchword, the deemed university will persuade every one of its students to acquire a certain number of credits in value education, irrespective of the course he or she might be studying. For the first and foremost requirement of any country is educated men and women of impeccable integrity- wholesome human beings with head, hand and heart harmoniously developed, rather than merely knowledgeable and skilful engineers, doctors or computer scientists lacking in feeling and dedication.

 

     Swami Vivekananda envisioned a glorious future India arising out the hard work and sacrifice of millions of her children - men and women who are sincere and honest to the backbone, with brains to conceive, hearts to feel and hands to work. Endowed with brilliant and luminous intellects, loving and overflowing hearts, energetic and efficient hands, the children of Mother India educated in a new ethos of self-sacrifice rather than self-aggrandizement will revivify and resuscitate our country to her past glory. This was one of Swami Vivekanandas favourite visions. To this end, the proposed university bearing his hallowed name would inspire young men and women to work for the actualization of this vision.

 

     Thus, the deemed university, being under the aegis of the Ramakrishna Mission, a worldwide movement silently serving people in various spheres for over a century, should also be contemplated as a movement rather than a mere academic institution. It is our fervent hope that the students trained in it will not be mere academicians and scholars, but participants in the enormous task of nation building - rebuilding India by building individual character cast in the mould of harmony and synthesis of knowledge, love and work.


 

 

 

       





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