Thursday, May 30, 2024

In Conversation with Professor Amarjyoti Choudhury- Indian educationist, scientist and author

Robin Bhuyan (Editor)

Naba Kumar Sharma- Enigmatic Horizon Staff (Staff Reporter)

Professor Amarjyoti Chowdhury is a well-known name in Assam, in the field of education. Aside from being an educationist and a scientist, he is also an author, actor, playwright, editor, novelist as well as a poet. He has served as the Vice-Chancellor of Gauhati University, as well as the Pro-vice chancellor of Tezpur University. He had also previously served as the editor of the renowned Assamese daily Dainik Axom. Recently, Enigmatic Horizon had a conversation with Mr Chowdhury regarding several important issues. Let us take a look.

EH: Today, we are living at a time where science and technology can be considered to be at its peak. Despite this, when it comes to education, many students in Assam are still seen to be choosing arts over science. What do you think is the reason behind this?

AC:   It is true that science and technology has truly become a blessing for people residing in all parts of the world. Despite this, in our state of Assam, there is a lack of enthusiasm among the students when it comes to science or taking up science as a career. If we compare the number of students pursuing arts and humanities to the number of students pursuing science, the number of science students can be seen to be way fewer in number. It is most likely that those who are leading figures in the field of science and technology, have not been able to attract today’s generation of students to develop an interest in science, or to take it up as their career. In addition to this, there is a proper infrastructure needed for the expansion of education in the field of science, which the colleges and universities of our state lack.  

EH: Why do you feel that Assam’s colleges and universities lack the proper infrastructure needed for the expansion of science education?  Why do you think many colleges are unable to offer education in the science stream?

AC: Comparatively, science education can be quite costly, compared to arts and commerce. This is why many colleges and universities are not able to provide the level of education that is required in the field of science. Lack of science teachers is another reason. Thus, it is important to take the right steps, and both government and private institutions need to appoint more and more science teachers if they truly want to provide quality science education.  

EH: What is your opinion regarding all the research work conducted by the IASST as well as the universities in Assam? Do you think their work in this field is satisfactory?

AC: I can say that the research work that is being done in Assam by universities across the state is quite commendable. Various kinds of research works are also being conducted at The ‘Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology’ (IASST). They are doing their research-based work quite efficiently. Although we are not seeing any results yet, within some time, we are likely to see a positive outcome.

EH: Many are worried about the rise of electronic as well as internet media, and feel that print media may soon lose its importance, and may even become extinct. What is your opinion regarding this?

AC: Yes, with the rise of electronic media, as well as social media and other forms of internet media, we can see that there is a decline among today’s generation in reading books, newspapers, magazines, etc. I would classify today’s new generation into two sections. The first section is enthusiastic about knowledge and learning, and this is why internet and social media has provided them with a wonderful opportunity to enhance their knowledge. This same section also prefers to use books as a medium of learning, because their ultimate goal is knowledge. However, the second section is using internet media just for showing off and for entertainment. This section is going to face a serious difficulty in the future, since electronic and internet media has its limitations as well.

EH: Regarding the new education policy in India, everyone is talking about its positives as well as negatives. What is your opinion regarding this?

AC: The new education policy has definitely provided us with a new direction. However, it eventually depends on the execution and implementation of this policy, whether it is going to be a success or not.  

EH: Many are today realizing the importance of vocational education, especially when it comes to employment. What do you feel about the importance of vocational education in Assam?

AC: The Assam Skill University was established recently, with the hope of strengthening the skills of the youth, so that there can be employment opportunities for everyone. And I am extremely hopeful that this university is going to make a positive impact in the field of vocational education.

EH: In order to revive the habit of reading books among the youths of Assam, you had started your own initiative. We would like to know more about this.

AC: I tried to start this movement in 2011 in order to revive the interest of the youth in book-reading. I was motivated to start this movement, upon seeing that the students and youths of the state were beginning to lose interest in any kind of reading. I received a strong co-operation in this movement, from people from all walks of life. The movement was a success, and it led to a revival of book-reading among many people from various sections of society.

EH: Throughout your life, you had met various renowned scientists from all the world. Do let us know more about your experiences with them.

AC: During my time in Oxford University, as well as other universities abroad, I was able to meet several renowned scientists from different parts of the world. Some of them include Nobel laureate R Penrose, the renowned British mathematician, Neville Francis Mott, British physicist, and Professor Colin Sheppard, well-known British scientist. Meeting with such people was definitely one of the best experiences of my life, and I cannot describe how much joy it has given me.  

EH: It was a pleasure talking to you, Professor Choudhury. We wish you the best in your future endeavours.

AC: My best wishes to you as well.

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