Mahatma Gandhi University Kottayam
Visit to the School of Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam,
Monday, November 12, 2007
Web page: http://www.mguniversity.edu/home.htm
The Mahatma Gandhi University is one of six state universities in the southern state of Kerala. (The others are University of Kerala, Cochin University, Calicut University, Kerala Agricultural University, and Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit.)
MGU, as it is known, was established in 1983. We visited its main campus in Priyadarshini Hills, a short way outside Kottayam, but the university includes seven satellite campuses and 183 affiliated colleges extending over five districts in central Kerala.
Each year approximately 150,000 students enroll in its 410 graduate, postgraduate, M.Phil., and Ph.D. programmes through 22 university departments, 22 engineering colleges, one law school, three medical schools, twenty nursing schools, seven nursing institutes, four schools of pharmacy, and four dental colleges.
In addition there are colleges for Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicine, a college of music and fine arts, and a large number of affiliated colleges in the arts and sciences, teacher training institutes, schools of education, and teacher training colleges on the university level.
The university enjoys a fine reputation; one often hears of scholars at major research institutions who have gotten their training at MGU. In addition, MGU is widely known for its strength in the humanities. Such famous Malayalam writers as the late Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and Shri M.T. Vasudevan Nair, as well as the world-renowned filmmaker Shri Adoor Gopalakrishnan, are graduates of MGU.
Unfortunately, our schedule only allowed us to spend one day in Kottayam, and mostly we visited the School of Social Sciences in its separate campus a short distance away from the main campus in Priyadarshini Hills. From what we were able to glimpse, the surroundings were very green and the air fresh – in contrast to the big cities we visited. Kottayam struck us as a bit languid and relaxed.
|At the School of Social Sciences, from left to right: K T Rammohan, Anna Lindberg, Sanal Mohan, Rajesh Komath, and Maya Subramaniam.|
We were met at our hotel by Dr. K.T. Rammohan, and he was the person who organised the day’s programme for us with meetings at the School of Social Sciences. He also offered us a most interesting sightseeing tour of Kottayam, visiting some of the most ancient Syrian Orthodox churches in town, and brought us for a drive around the main campus of the university.
Dr. Rammohan took this responsibility since our main contact person at MG University, the Director of the School of Social Sciences, Prof. P.M. Rajan Gurukkal, on short notice had been called to New Delhi for urgent business.
We were welcomed by a gathering of faculty and students at the School of Social Sciences. Among those we had a chance to speak with, besides our host Dr. Rammohan – whose main interest is economic history related to specific crops, were the Senior Lecturer Dr. Sanal Mohan, a historian who is carrying out research on the Dalit movement in South India; and two Ph.D, students, Rajesh Komath, who is studying theatre as social movements, and Maya Subramaniam, whose main interest is gender issues in Hindu scriptures.
Faculty members and students were eager to learn about SASNET’s activities. We had a gathering in which approximately forty students participated. Many of them asked about the possibility of studying in Sweden or elsewhere in Europe for extended periods. While SASNET does not have the funds to sponsor such graduate students, we hope that bright yet financially underprivileged young people like these may soon benefit from other programmes.
Many students had heard of Anna Lindberg’s dissertation because it concerned women in a nearby area, and asked her to give a talk about her book. It was very rewarding to hear the relevant questions posed by several students. The audience was attentive and the talk well received.
We also visited the Government Medical College, Kottayam, affiliated to MG University. It is located a few kilometres from the main campus. There we met with the director, Dr. A. Meharunnisa (photo to the right), who was very cordial to us and impressed us as a very competent person. Despite her tight schedule, she showed a great deal of interest in SASNET and spent time talking with us about the medical school. Compared to the large medical college in Trivandrum, this was a very rural place.
The college was well maintained and clean, but visiting the adjacent hospital, one wished the hygienic conditions had been better. The patients we saw there were mainly underprivileged people with little or no resources of their own. Beds and equipment were lacking and the medical staff seemed very overworked.