Debating India


A man and a mission


Friday 2 July 2004, by SUBRAMANIAN*T.S.

DR. K. CHOCKALINGAM, Vice-Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, believes he has a mission: to shore up the academic and administrative standards of the university. When he assumed office in December 2001, his first task was to give the university "a mission statement".

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A. Shaikmohideen
Dr. K. Chockalingam.

The university has set out to achieve three tasks: to provide quality education to the rural people and the unreached; to attain excellence in teaching, research and extension activities; and to inculcate and promote human values so as to create a "culture of lawfulness". The last mission is close to Dr. Chockalingam’s heart, for he has more than 30 years of teaching and research experience in Criminology and Victimology. He has stared a Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Dr. Chockalingam has guided about 50 Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. students in their dissertations, besides directing eight research projects. He participated as an Invited Expert from India in the United Nations Congresses on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, held in Milan in 1985, Cairo in 1995 and Vienna in 2000. He was awarded the prestigious Max Planck Research Fellowship three times - in 1992, 1995 and 1998. "I strongly believe that educational institutions should nurture in young minds the respect for law," he says.

Chockalingam has paid attention to several aspects of the university: publication of examination results on time; streamlining the Directorate of Distance Education; boosting the infrastructure; creating endowments for invited lectures; periodic upgradation of syllabus; and introduction of a choice-based credit system.

"What is unique about Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is that it has classified the allied subjects [for the undergraduate courses] into four categories. This provides flexibility in the choice of subjects," he said. For instance, the university offers two groups of allied subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Computer Application, Information Technology, Zoology and Botany. The student can choose one subject from each group. "In this system, the teacher has a big responsibility to guide the student. This system helps the student prepare for the Civil Services examination or any other competitive examination." In order to educate students on social problems and environmental issues, the university insists that every student do a project on Social Value Education and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Chockalingam is trying to get the private sector to contribute to the university’s infrastructure development. The Dina Thanthi group has contributed Rs.1 crore towards the construction of a building to house the Departments of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Business Administration. A library building has come up at a cost of Rs.85 lakhs. Work has begun on the construction of a building for the Centre for Information Technology. The university’s Sri Paramakalyani Centre for Environmental Studies situated at Azhwarkurichi is funded by the Amalgamations Group of companies. "They have donated more than 100 acres of land. They have also given Rs.50 lakhs for the construction of the centre’s building," Dr. Chockalingam said.

Says he: "The fruit of our hard work came in the form of assessment by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. We got B++ grade, with an institutional score of 80 to 84 per cent."

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