It is a question of Respect …

respect-give-it-to-get-itWhy does the “premier” institute that I hail from, treat its own alumni so shabbily?

I am a regular visitor to Pharmacy colleges across India, especially down South. None of these institutes claims to be a “premier” institution. Although, these institutes have eminent scientists, industrialists and other super-achievers on their governing councils- just like my “premier” Institute in Bombay.

And yet, I am always struck by the considerable difference in how these non-premier institutes treat me when I visit them – as compared to my own alma mater.

Usually these institutes invite me to conduct a lecture or workshop, and sometimes they call me over to talk about research projects, or sometimes I just drop in to say hello to the faculty.

No matter what the reason for my visit, I am treated like royalty. From the head of the institution down to the first-year undergrads, they all possess a quality that I have rarely seen at my former institute at Matunga.

Respect. They treat me with respect. In fact, they treat all visitors like me with respect.

On Saturday last, I was at a symposium held at a pharmacy college in a town called Hanamkonda, about 150 km from Hyderabad. They had invited me to conduct a workshop on gas chromatography.

Those of you who are from high-tech Class A metro cities would never have heard of Hanamkonda. But mark my words, one day this little town will be a top-quality destination for pharmacy education. From what I saw, it is already half way there.

And what an enlightening experience it was. The Institute’s Chairman, Director, faculty and students alike, they all made me feel remarkably special. Apart from the felicitations and mementos that I was laden with, what really touched me was their warmth – and their respect.

This has been my consistent experience with pharmacy institutes down South. They are invariably respectful.

What an enormous pity that I have yet to receive any kind of respect from my own alma mater in Mumbai. And this is an institute in which the faculty consists of my classmates, whom I’ve known since thirty years. Perhaps a case of familiarity breeding contempt?

International research grants, ISO certifications and political accolades are commendable. But these do not make a premier institute. What sets one apart from the rest of the pack is an institute’s value system.

Finally, it is just a question of Respect.

“One should avoid a place that has no respect. One should not even spend a minute in a place that has no respect.” … Chanakya, circa 150 BC.

Cheers … Srini.

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