“I believe my biggest strength is the ability to work hard. When people observe my work ethic, it inspires them to work hard and achieve every day,” says Dr. Sudha Malaiya, the Founder & Chancellor of Eklavya University. Along with her hard-working nature, she brings an intellectually diverse background and an extensive professional experience to the table. Her team at Eklavya University and the people around her respect and admire her leadership style. Dr. Sudha, therefore is an epitome of an inspirational leader in Indian Higher Education.
While discussing her personal role models, Dr. Sudha shares that Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya (Co-Founder of Banaras Hindu University) and Dr. Hari Singh Gaur (Founder of Dr. Hari Singh Gaur University, Sagar) have greatly influenced her journey of becoming an educationalist.
A Deep-Rooted Yearning to Learn New Things
Dr. Sudha was born and brought in Meerut, UP. Since childhood, she had an insatiable desire to learn everything. Whether it was structured education in school and college or extracurricular activities, she actively took part and excelled in all of them. Later on, she pursued science as she aspired to become a doctor. However, her conservative family background and resistance from her father switched her career paths from science to liberal arts. As a result, she decided to study history for her master’s degree.
All throughout her college years, Dr. Sudha also learnt the art of dance and music without informing her family. Looking back, she humbly admits that it wasn’t one of her proud moments. Her love for performing arts continued and made her participate in every event of the college. Dr. Sudha took home the ‘Best All-Round Student’ trophy at the end of her college tenure.
The Journey towards Establishing Eklavya University
After her marriage, Dr. Sudha moved to Damoh, M.P. She had already identified that teaching was her passion and calling in life, and so she began teaching honorarily at the local Saraswati Sishu Mandir and Kamala Nehru Girls Degree College, Damoh, in the initial days. But what struck her about the Bundelkhand region was the lack of quality higher education for students. Later, through some divine intervention, as she calls it, Dr. Sudha started a Science and Commerce College and introduced new subjects like Computer Science for the first time in the city of Damoh. This was followed by various schools and colleges dedicated to engineering, nursing, and education, and the journey culminated in the establishment of Eklavya University in 2020.
“I started the educational institutions to contribute to the social, educational, and economic fabric of Damoh and Bundelkhand and am proud to say that today the youth of Damoh do not have to travel away from their homes and spend way beyond their means to get a quality education which will equip them for a bright future and success,” shares Dr. Sudha.
Bringing Multi-disciplinary Academic Background to the Role of Dean
According to Dr. Sudha, her multi-disciplinary education in sciences & liberal arts and her time devoted to preparing for IAS examinations give her a rare edge and help in fulfilling the role of the Dean of Eklavya University. “My years of experience in varied fields like research, dance, journalism, archaeology, history, politics, social work and entrepreneurship has given me a unique perspective on education and the tenets of what makes a world-class university,” shares Dr. Sudha.
In the light of this, Dr. Sudha firmly believes that multi-disciplinary learning, practical knowledge and adaptation of concepts, deeply rooted Indian values, and commitment to humanity are the pillars of a world-class university. Therefore, as the Dean, she hopes to impart these tangible and intangible characteristics to each student who graduates from Eklavya University.
A Day in the Life of a Leader
Dr. Sudha begins her day by waking up at Brahma Mahurat (the Creator’s Hour, before sunrise), practising meditation, exercising, and sometimes even singing and dancing. At work, her day is spent in coordinating and managing the activities of her various entrepreneurial initiatives. Irrespective of her busy schedule, she also ensures to take some time out to pursue her scholarly interests and devote time in drafting a series of books on dance and arts.
“At the end of the day, my biggest stressbusters are my 4 grandchildren. Talking to them and playing with them brings me the greatest happiness,” smilingly says grandmother Dr. Sudha. She further attributes her calm and composed mindfulness to her gurus and their guidance that enables her to handle stress and pressure successfully.
Beating the Pandemic Odds
Sharing her experience as a Chancellor of Eklavya University during the pandemic and how she and her team coped with it, Dr. Sudha says, “I remember when the first lockdown was announced, our entire teaching body and myself felt like a fish out of water. We all were struggling to understand what the lockdown would mean for all our stakeholders and its impact on teaching, learning and assessment.”
Moreover, the transition from classroom teaching to online mode was not a cakewalk. The team of Eklavya University had to deal with numerous challenges such as slow internet speed, bandwidth challenges in rural India, cost of data, device scarcity in households, and overnight training of teachers to learn online tools. “But it was encouraging to see how quickly and seamlessly our teachers and students were able to ride up the curve and ensure minimal learning deficit,” adds Dr. Sudha with pride.
At Eklavya University, with joint efforts, online training sessions were conducted for teachers, and digital content was developed in the form of notes, PowerPoint presentations, videos, and Google forms. Moreover, Dr. Sudha and her senior management team brainstormed over Zoom & Google Teams to develop various strategies to support students and help them continue their learning journey during uncertainty. Most importantly, at regular intervals, the University also held online mental health interventions to safeguard the spirits of its people.
Need for Reforms in the Current Educational System
As a teacher and scholar, Dr. Sudha is pained by the portrayal of Indian History in the current curriculums taught in schools and colleges. “Through my YouTube channel, SudhaRanjani, I am attempting to educate fellow Bharatiyas’ on these glaring historical errors,” asserts Dr. Sudha, a passionate history enthusiast.
Another pain point that disturbs Dr. Sudha is implementing English-medium education in all disciples of learning. Only recently, a slight shift has been observed in favour of vernacular languages where colleges have been given the option to teach and assess them. This initiative has been made possible due to our Honourable Prime Minister’s vision and deeply-rooted Indian values. She states that if fellow Indians wish to preserve their values and diverse cultures, then this initiative needs their complete support and encouragement. Dr. Sudha also holds the western education philosophy responsible for eradicating the Gurukul System of education in India and therefore encourages everyone to bring it back in the Indian schools and colleges. Taking a step ahead in this initiative, Eklavaya University uses “Jai Bharat” as its form of greeting instead of Good Morning or Good Evening. Additionally, the university has introduced subjects like Yoga & Naturopathy and Performing arts to inculcate an interest in and understanding of Indian values and culture for its students.
“I have been a proponent of hands-on practical learning forever. At all educational institutions run by our group, we have given precedence to practical and lab-based learning,” states Dr. Sudha, the Chancellor of Eklavya University. The NEP 2020 has also finally taken a long-awaited first step toward a holistic approach to learning that will bridge the gap between rote techniques and day-to-day hands-on experiences and open new doors for students.
Pearls of Wisdom
From the beginning, Dr. Sudha never regarded gender inequality as a roadblock that limited her vision or goals. “In my opinion, excuses are only for the mediocre. Hard work and perseverance can help us reach the top,” mentions Dr. Sudha.
Therefore, one crucial advice Dr. Sudha wishes to share with every individual aiming for higher goals in life—is to make spirituality a part of their daily lives and find their Guru. “I believe that the guidance and power that one gets from their Guru is the elixir for achieving success and greatness,” further adds Dr. Sudha.
Personal & Professional Goals for the Future
Currently, Dr. Sudha is deeply immersed in writing, designing, and publishing a series of books comprising 11 volumes on dance and art. She regards these books as the fruit of her intellectual labour of over 3 decades based on her PhD thesis written in 1984.
In the coming years, as the Chancellor of Eklavaya University, Dr. Sudha will continue to provide her students with the best infrastructure, faculty, training, and placement opportunities similar to those available to students in bigger cities. “We have lined up exciting collaborations with institutes and industry from across India and the world and hoping to be able to give our students the education they deserve,” concludes Dr. Sudha.
For More Info: https://eklavyauniversity.ac.in/