“I would rate it 5/10. KU is an office; it is yet to reach a level of university”

Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University Professor Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi tells Kashmir Life that there is no official ban on research related to Kashmir conflict at KU

Vice-Chancellor-of-Kashmir-University-Professor-Khurshid-Iqbal-AndrabiKashmir Life (KL): Seeing your academic qualification and exposure, how would you rate the University of Kashmir as an institution?

Khurshid Andrabi (KA): I would rate it 5/10. This institution is like an office or a school. It is yet to reach to a level of university. Over the last so many years our priority [in this university] has only been teaching. Research and knowledge creation is rarely seen here.

KL: Kashmir University is the oldest higher education institution in the Valley. Even after six decades if we consider it a school, what should the other universities, which are only ten years old, be called?

KA: It will take them [other universities] a lot of time to reach to KU’s level. See, KU or even the society, will take a lot of time to grow or to get educated. I am a second generation educated person. Seeking formal education started with our parents. So, it is normal and we have to face this transition. We should not take it as a reflection on our ability. The only thing is that the atmosphere has not gone to a point where everybody was educated at every point of time. KU was established in 1948 and there are universities which have been established in 1800’s. We stand nowhere in that comparison.

KL: Are you satisfied with the growth of the university over last 60 years?

KA: No, the growth should have been more but there were disturbances all over the state which retarded our growth. Still we are not that bad!

KL: Why is KU reluctant to allow students to do hard-core research on Kashmir conflict?

KA: Who told you? I don’t know it is possible. See, if the research is objectively presented and approached professionally no one can stop anyone from doing research on any topic. If someone proposes a topic, it is the prerogative of his supervisor to accept it or not. We have no problems. No one has imposed a formal ban on studying Kashmir conflict. Anyone can study any topic provided he has required specialization. It will be evaluated like any other synopsis, on merits and nothing else.

Actually no one here is an expert in studying conflict, so perhaps that is why no topic related to Kashmir conflict gets approved. A person without having an expertise in Peace and Conflict cannot do justice to a topic related to Conflict. A research guide needs to have at least a Phd and a few research papers related to the topic.

KL: A program of International Law (Human rights) was once started in KU but later it was mysteriously stopped. Why?

KA: I do not have any idea about it. I, perhaps then, was not holding the chair.

KL: Why University of Kashmir has failed to introduce courses of international relevance like International Law, International Relations or Peace and Conflict?

KA: An expansion of that level has not occurred yet in KU. We do not have multi-specialities subjects yet. That is why I told you I will rate the university as 5/10. We need to work a lot.

KL: The University is not teaching subjects like International law, International relation and Peace and Conflict at even post-graduation level?

KA: To start any [new] innovative programme, a concerned department has to send a requisition. For example, if the faculty of Law desires to teach a new programme of International Law. They need to come up with a proposal. We actually have dearth of individual who have expertise in these specialized subjects. That is why they are not in a position to propose any such new course.  A Vice Chancellor has nothing to do with it. A specialized person has to propose it and then it goes through different bodies who look at its different facets like feasibility, implementations and other implications of the programme viz a viz finance, faculty etc. Nobody can stop anyone from submitting any proposal about any programme.

KL: Has this university produced any big names in research?

KA: Not yet. The research mind set has kicked off since last 5-10 years. It will take a lot of time to evolve. I agree that we are still weak in social sciences but in biological sciences, physics and chemistry we are very strong. People interested in these subjects do not prefer to go out.

KL: Why are we weak in social sciences?

KA: Lack of exposure and inbreeding are the main reason.

KL: Are you working on rectifying it?

KA: Yes, the changes would reflect with the fresh recruits. The new members will mask out the short-falls of the older faculty members.

KL: How is a diploma holder heading a full-fledged media department?

KA: He has been allowed to do that…(smiles)…I do not know how has it happened but it has happened. See the problem is we have advertised a post of Professor so many times but we have received no significant response. Now if we want to elevate the existing faculty members in the department they do not fulfil the proper guidelines. There is no way out. So, we have got outsiders to head the department temporarily. He is just an in-charge and is on adhoc basis. He is not a permanent faculty member.

KL: What about the employees of the university who apart from working in University are working at some other place as well?

KA: Since, it came into my notice and I strictly warned every employee to restrict his role and I believe they have obeyed.

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