Professor Profile: Dr. J Jena
Journalists: Simrat Pal Singh and Ipshita Chatterjee
Dr. Jasobanta Jena is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics in NSIT and also the Dean Academic (UG). In the light of the recent whirlwind changes and controversial decisions in the past academic year, The Alliance decided to catch up with the man at the eye of it all. His candid introduction as “Mathematics professor hoon, Dean UGS hoon aur Freshers’ cancel karwane ke liye badnaam hoon”, accompanied with a jovial chuckle, set the tone for this candid interview which answered several questions posed by the student community at large.
How has your experience as Dean UGS been so far? What are some of the major changes undertaken in the institute during your tenure in office?
It has been an enriching experience for me and hopefully, for the institute too. Under the guidance of the Director, Prof. Yogesh Singh, there have been several changes in the overall functioning of the institute. Faculty members are urged to conduct classes regularly. Stringent attendance rules have also been enforced. Consequently, the number of students attending classes have also increased.
The Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) has been introduced after much deliberation with the DU. This syllabus revision was a difficult task, since NSIT doesn’t have university status yet, but with the cooperation of all concerned authorities, we managed to implement it.
A formal regulation on the conversion of percentage to GPA has been passed, to simplify application procedures. CIMS NSIT now allows easy access to attendance, results, time-table and notices. A Finishing School has been instituted for students and passouts with backlogs, who require remedial classes in any subject. Interested students should reach out to Dr Tarun Kumar Rawat, Dr Bijendra Kumar or me. Given a minimal strength of 10-15 students, extra classes will be held on weekends by a faculty member chosen unanimously. An Enabling Unit has also been formed for the welfare of differently abled students in the institute, wherein a special committee with representation from faculty members from the same category are appointed to resolve any grievances of such students. I am personally heading the Grievance Unit where students can lodge their complaints. I assure you that anonymity will be maintained upon request and appropriate actions taken upon your complaints.
How do you balance your teaching and research, along with your administrative responsibilities? What are the research prospects for undergraduate students in the Mathematics department?
I’ve been teaching for a greater part of my life and it is always the first priority. However, research is slightly tricky to balance. As per the previous guidelines, students of other departments couldn’t take up research projects directly in the Mathematics department. Nonetheless, we assist students with the mathematical aspects of their research problems, when reached out to. Now, under the CBCS, students can undertake projects in any department of their choice.
Mathematics happens to be a subject of great value. It is taught right from the first semester to the students of all branches because one can’t excel in the field of science or technology without sound knowledge of this subject.
Talking about the various infrastructural and functional changes which have taken place in NSIT, the NSIT Feedback system introduced last year, which was heartily welcomed by the students. How has the response been on the part of the faculty and administration? Could you tell us about the nature of the feedback received?
Many students treat feedback as a chore, since it is prerequisite for admit card generation and thus, fill the forms arbitrarily. They should realise their responsibility in improving the affairs of the institute and how their proper feedback can help teachers rectify their faults. The online implementation has improved the state of affairs considerably, as it is quite convenient for the students, although the proportion of casual feedback is still quite high. Nonetheless, faculty members are held accountable for their respective feedback and I believe that there’s a positive change.
What sort of infrastructural advancements can we expect in the near future?
As you must have noticed, a lot of work is in progress all over the campus. The construction of a new multi-story block extension is underway, to increase the student intake to over a thousand students. The Nescii lawns are being completely revamped to include the underground irrigation system like the block lawns. A new auditorium will be constructed beside the Moksha ground. We also plan to have an inventory near the newly constructed Students’ Activity Center. However, all of these projects are directly under the supervision of Delhi Government and hence, are bound to take some time.
The Batch of 2020 is the first batch under the CBCS. However, the results of their first semester was declared after unprecedented delay? What was the reason behind it?
Evaluation and recording of marks was complete quite a while back, but we were still unsure of the grading methodology, whether it should be relative or absolute, the decision of which was pending with the Delhi University. This is one of the drawbacks of not being a university. It delays the decision making process. As soon as this confusion regarding GPA was cleared, it didn’t take much time to declare their results.
Sir, so according to you, which grading methodology is suitable in the context of NSIT?
I believe that it is infeasible to have relative grading in NSIT, due to the acute shortage of permanent faculty members. 50% of our requirement of 200 faculty members is fulfilled by guest faculties and TRFs, who cannot be expected to grade with equal maturity as their permanent counterparts. Arbitrary evaluation and grading puts the future of our students at stake and in my opinion, absolute grading is our students’ best interest.
There have been a series of decisions which have left the students unsettled. One of them was the cancellation of the official freshers’ party and Resonanz, the intra college cultural fest, due to reasons still unknown to a lot of students. Could you tell us the reason behind it?
Strict action against unofficial freshers’ parties was long overdue. Any untoward incident in these parties would tarnish NSIT’s reputation. Since students had already taken the liberty of organizing a freshers’ party themselves, an official party by the college was unnecessary. I feel that these measures will deter such activities and we can all work together to organise a grand official party next year.
Any fest requires the active participation of students. In the absence of a competent team, it is not possible to have fests. Resonanz was scheduled for the odd semester but due to the unavailability of a student team, it was postponed. In the even semester, although a team was formed, the conflicts among the students eventually led to its dissolution. Who am I to say that Resonanz shouldn’t happen? But the cooperation of the students is absolutely necessary.
A recent notice regarding hostel regulations read “Residents of Girls’ Hostel are found roaming in isolated places in campus along with boys up-to 9:30 pm.” Sir, do you think it is appropriate for the authorities to comment about the people girls meet with as long as they are well within their hostel timings? What are your views on the concept of the curfew imposed on the residents of the Girls’ Hostel?
Since the notice was issued by the Proctor office, I’m not fully aware of its background. But these steps are primarily taken for female safety. Moreover, it isn’t felicitous if students indulge in inappropriate acts in the campus.
Personally, I am against the concept of curfew timings for girls. However, their safety is a major concern as well. We are trying to improve the security in campus, but some concerns still remain. There has been an extension of the timings to 9:30 pm and I believe things will improve in future.
I remember during the first Moksha in 2003, girls stayed in academic blocks until 2:00 am working for the fest, with special permission. If students feel the need to stay outside past their hostel curfew timings in order to work, they may seek appropriate permissions or reach out to me directly.