Q. Why did you choose to build an educational institution dedicated to Swami Vivekananda and his teachings?
I am closely associated with the Ramakrishna Mission where I have gained greatly from interactions with the monks who are highly enlightened souls and very intuitive people. One day seated under a silver oak tree at the Mayawati Ashram, also known as the Advaita Ashram, in Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand, visionary monk Swami Jitatmananda ji said, “Everyone talks about Swami Vivekananda and his works and he is quoted very extensively, but we have not been able to create an institution, a memoriam or monument in the memory of Swami Vivekananda.” And from that observation the idea became ignited to create an educational institution. The sale proceeds of my ancestral home formed the seed money to take on this mission. The vision was to prepare for the education scenario 50 years into the future. There is a saying that a tree owes its existence to the sapling, so the humble sapling of Vivekananda Institutions of Professional Studies was planted in 2000 in the national capital.
Q. What forms the strong foundation of VIPS?
We believe that bricks and mortars don’t make an institution great, rather, it is the people who make it great. We scout and handpick the best of the best candidates as faculty members so that no parent has any regret about bringing their ward to this institution. We have very highly qualified, very enriched, research oriented, scholarly people as faculty who are aligned to our mission and vision, and together we move forward to grow steadily in strength. The compliments received from parents and students when they qualify for higher education or grow in their career – that is the most rewarding and satisfying moment for us. So the entire credit goes to our highly responsible, motivated and enlightened faculty members, who try and meet the high benchmarks set by us because this is not merely an education institution, but a centre of excellence to its core. We compete with premier institutions in the country, and to create such an institution in the private sector requires great effort. This makes VIPS one of the best institutions that people envy. I think that is the reward for our dedication.
Q. What differentiates VIPS from other institutions?
What is lacking in the Indian education system is that it has forgotten our intrinsic value system, the basic eternal values of being honest, being just, being fair, being truthful. This is where VIPS differs from the others because we practise what Swami Vivekananda taught all his life. We expect three things from the students - right conduct, sense of duty and sense of responsibility and in return we give them man-making, character building, nation building. These three tasks we have collectively taken upon ourselves and this percolates right from the top management to the last person on the campus.
Q. How are you safeguarding students from the menace of digital addiction?
We have created ‘inner space’ where students can go and sit in silence and turn within, contemplate and meditate, and this is combined with yoga that makes one intuitive and which ignites the initial spark, that first craving for knowledge. So here we are different, nurturing each student with values and ability to study with more focus, rather than just dumping information on them. We are creating men of wisdom, responsible citizens and building them as national assets. At VIPS there is a judicious blend of value system with formal education and our students are equipped to compete anywhere in the world because they are rooted.
Q. What is VIPS’ contribution in nation-building apart from imparting education?
This is an institution with a difference where ancient wisdom is blended with modern education. Those who have passed out from here – they have become advocates on record in the Supreme Court, they are judges on the bench, and high ranking officers in the army to mention a few. We have created individuals who are highly content, and perhaps more innovative and creative.
In its 20 years of existence, VIPS has created productive and responsible citizens, and I think that is the biggest contribution to the nation.
Q. What is the vision that you have for the expansion of VIPS, and the challenges that come with it?
There are many regulatory bodies involved in establishing an institution and we have to meet the guidelines which a joint assessment committee examines, yearly. We also incur huge expenditure under different heads payable to the University. We are eagerly waiting to win the legal battle between the Government of NCT and IP University to which we are affiliated. Once UGC recognises VIPS as an autonomous body, it will set us free from all hassles. As per the new education policy, we can build a university in 5 acres of land, so then we can build in future and spread out in other areas as well.
Q. What is your take on the New Education Policy?
NEP is opening up and it can get us good ties-ups with universities under exchange programmes and VIPS has already signed MOUs with national law schools. But then the NEP offers you more opportunities for signing MOUs with universities of global repute. Often, young students are at a loss about which subjects to pursue, and for them the NEP offers a wide range of interdisciplinary courses to choose from that come with credit scores. At our end, we have adhered to our commitment of maintaining high education standards at VIPS. We have raised funds, borrowed from banks, but never compromised when it comes to offering quality education. This is essential for our inner satisfaction.
Q. What is the bane of the Indian education system, according to you?
Unscrupulous institutions are mushrooming across the country and continue to come up dime a dozen by bribing the authorities, mostly as creations of the state legislature. Such false traders of education are doing more damage than service to the student community by taking hefty fees and conferring ghost degrees, which are not recognised in proper universities. This is one of the biggest menaces that India faces. In fact they are diluting the quality of education and are not serving any social cause. Instead, such institutions are playing with the future of the gullible students and their parents with false promises, so they must be shut down.
Despite all these challenges, I see a very bright future for India. The UGC, the statutory bodies like the AICTE and many others take precautions and safeguards to ensure quality education.
Q. As a public figure and lawmaker how do you see patriotism through initiatives such as Har Ghar Tiranga celebrating 75 years of India’s Independence?
Patriotism is something which is very spontaneous. As and when there has been a war, every citizen right to the common man on the street has come forward to express their solidarity with the defence personnel and the nation. Post-independence, nationalism and patriotism existed right from 1962 War with China and the wars thereafter. Patriotism is not to be invoked or to be proclaimed, because you are a patriot by birth as one is born in India. You should be true to the nation and prove to be worthy to your motherland. The need is to focus on man-making, nation building, and inculcating responsible citizenship to keep the neighbourhood and the environment clean and keep the water source clean. Instead they are being polluted with impunity, something that this country has miserably failed to limit. Blind faith and superstition too has led the country into darkness. But our culture is truly very rich and even today speaks of oneness of mankind, universal peace and knowledge sharing.