Councils Should Not Dictate, Rather Give Guidelines: Prof. Ramesh K Goyal
| Onkareshwar Pandey - Editor in Chief - CEO, IOP - 13 Mar 2022

Core Skills Cannot Be Taught Online

Exclusive Interview with Prof. Ramesh K. Goyal, VC, DPSRU, New Delhi

By Onkareshwar Pandey, Editor in Chief, IOP with Dr. Jyotsna Pandit

  • The proposal to have one regulatory body in the NEP is a good thing. However, councils should not dictate, they should rather give guidelines.
  • Technology has a big role to play, but it should not be over-relied on It cannot be used everywhere. 
  • Where human power is required, it must be used. You cannot teach how to treat a patient online. MOOC or Swayam is fine for theoretical studies. But, core skills cannot be taught online. 
  • A big challenge common for most educational institutions is about recruiting faculty. Without faculty and their expertise, you cannot move ahead.
  • For the two-year loss due to Covid, there have to be some bridge courses or bridge modules to be developed by each institution to fill up the gap.

“One good feature about New Education Policy NEP is the multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach it has. But Professional education has suffered a lot due to nationwide lockdowns during Covid19, including pharmacy. Secondly, every state has been instructed to bypass and get away with examinations, but a two-year gap has occurred due to Covid, how to bridge that? There have to be some bridge courses or bridge modules to be developed by each institution to fill up the gap created by these two years,” Says Prof. Ramesh K. Goyal, Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences & Research University (DPSRU) in an Exclusive Interview with Indian Observer PostProf. Ramesh Goyal is the second term VC of DPSRU, the first Pharmacy University in India and third in the world. Here are the edited excerpts of his Interview.

Q: Being the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research University (DPSRU), which is the first Pharmacy University in India and third in the world, Plz. tell us about the journey of this great institution from a D. Pharma in polytechnic in 1964 to a full fledged University today. How do you summarize the legacy of this great institution?

RKG: The journey of the institution started in 1964 when it was founded as the Department of Pharmacy with a DIPLOMA in Pharmacy Course at Kashmiri gate Polytechnic. In 1972 it was converted into College of Pharmacy and transferred to PUSA Polytechnic building under Delhi University with induction of B. Pharm course and in 1979 we moved to the present location at PushpVihar. In 2004 we upgraded to Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DIPSAR). It was established as Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research University (DPSRU) on 11th September 2008. The Delhi Government implemented the legislation of 17th October 2008 which made the university functional by notification on 24th July 2015.  After getting the status of University, the intake capacity of the Diploma, UG, and PG/Ph.D courses increased from 180 and 35 in 2014-15 to 400 and 120 in 2017-18 respectively. The number of courses being offered in Diploma, UG, and PG/Ph. D. courses increased from 2 to 6 in 2014-15 and 5 to 15 including Ph.D. Courses.

Q: Prof. Goyal, you have given 43 years to Academics, including 25 years as Professor; Served as Ph.D. Guide in 8 Universities; Guided 182 M Pharm and 44 Ph.D. students; Over 700 publications, 19 Books, 32 book Chapters, and 76 Awards in research at State, National, and International levels; 8 patents filed, 3 awarded.  You have also been a distinguished visiting Professor in Malaysia and Russia. From a Professor at Ahmedabad and VC at M. S. University, Baroda to 2nd term as VC of DPSRU, how do you look back and summarise your own journey?

RKG: Well, God has bestowed his blessings on me. I would rather go back to my school time when I was in Rajasthan. It was a humble beginning. Now, collaborating with an NGO, we have built a new school building. So I feel fortunate that whatever I got in education, I’m trying to pay back to society. By virtue of becoming VC of MS University, I became chairman of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Baroda. I had got UG and PG degrees from MS University Baroda, and later I went there as the VC.  Becoming VC was never a dream, and even today I relish academics and research more than being an administrator. https://bit.ly/3pXyk1p

Q: Plz. tell us briefly about your 8 patents.

RKG: My major patented work revolves around formulation development for diabetes and Covid 19. These have not been commercialized as of now, but are expected to be used commercially in the future.

Out of the 8 patents filed, 3 patents have now been awarded, and now 4th is also on its way to getting awarded. I started the patent filing for herbal drug formulation; there was this anti-diabetic drug for which we filed a patent. We have worked with a few plants, but have taken this to the molecular level. So that formulation patent and isolating the active compound was the first patent which I got.

And with ginger, we again isolated the compound, and Gingerol is again, I could correlate molecular mechanisms. I was happy when I saw that in Australia, someone has taken that as a lead paper and tried to work further. Then there was a patent.. What happens is that our insulin is bound with zinc. When I was a postdoc fellow in Vancouver, Canada, we worked on chromium, and I was something like insulin substitute will be provided with Vanadium at that time, but vanadium is a very toxic element, it cannot be used. So we formed chromium, and we can tag it with the insulin, and we got tagged with the insulin.

Q. I think DPSRU should officially write a letter to the government about this achievement.

RKG: As pharmacologists, we believe safety and efficacy have to be ensured first.

Q: DPSRU was created with a vision to be the “Ultimate destination for education, training, and research in pharmaceuticals.” What have been its major achievements so far?

RKG: To expand horizons and promote research activities the University has more than 30 MoU signed with National Government institutions and Pharma Industry. In 2020-21, we started PG Diploma in Clinical research with Apollo Hospital Research & Education (AHRE). From this year (2021-22) we are starting eight new courses like Executive M. Pharm. (Drug Regulatory Affairs); MBA (Pharma Economics and Trade); BBA (Public Health Administration); MPT (Sports Physiotherapy; B. Pharm (Ayurveda); PG Diploma in Tissue Culture; M.Sc. (Artificial Intelligence and Precision Medicine); DMLT; BMLT; Diploma in Meditation and Yoga and new Skill development courses in Medicine Management.

Q: India’s higher education system is in a phase of major overhauling through the NEP 2020. It has been emphasized that NEP implementation can be helpful in Enhancing the Global Competitiveness of Academic Institutions. What steps are you taking for Enhancing the Global Competitiveness of this institution?

RKG: Our University has been thriving for quality education and the welfare of the students. This year 51 students qualified in the national competitive examination GPAT, which, I suppose, is probably the highest number in the country among pharmacy institutions. All India the 1st Rank and 4th Rank have been grabbed by our students in GPAT. We have now 128 Ph.D. students and more importantly, one-third come with Govt scholarships from agencies like ICMR, DST, CSIR, etc, and an equal number getting collaboration and aid with research centers like DRDO, THSTI, IPC, and pharma industries.

We have 14 full regular professors and 50 regular faculties and are in the process of recruiting more staff and faculty members.

We have centers of excellence that include DIIF (BioNest Centre) that is actively working in the field of innovation and incubation, the DPSRU-CRAFT center, part of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India sponsored the grant that would make us support the MSMEs. Thirdly, we have the Precision Medicine Center which relates to the Delhi Government knowledge consortium DKDF.

Q. So, are you satisfied with these achievements?

RKG: Foundation has been laid and that is satisfactory. We are now aiming to place ourselves well in NAAC, NBA, and good NIRF ranking, as well as striving to intake more foreign students.

Q: The mission of DPSRU also includes catering to the health needs of the people at large. What was your institution’s role during Covid-19?

RKG: Our most notable achievement was to come out with a drug. This is a repurposed Ayurvedic Formulation. Nature is great that we have got this from Aravalli Biodiversity. We got a drug that is directly ACE2 only rather than anything else. It is effective to us, not only this, in the post covid complications also. We are the sole research partner of Coroquil-Zn. This is going to go a long way, and the post covid complications will be treated by this drug only. We have also developed sanitizers and innovative masks.

 Q: Your motto is उद्यम: कार्य साधक: To develop core competency in the pharmaceutical sector and contribute in building leaders.  What are the challenges you face in achieving this motto? 

RKG: I don’t think I faced a big challenge. There were only some shortcomings. We want additional land now the way with which we are expanding. This is one challenge but it will come through.

Another challenge common for most educational institutions is the faculty. Getting faculty and recruiting them is a big challenge. Without faculty and their expertise, you cannot move ahead. I would like to mention here that 4 of our faculties have featured in the top 2% of the scientists in the searches by Oxford University.

Q: DPSRU is the first Pharmacy University in India and third in the world. What steps are you taking or planning to take to make it a world-class University in Rankings?

RKG: The age of the university matters. If you see the world's top-ranking universities, they are pretty old. Still, this is not the limiting criterion. Still, a few parameters are very strict, no.1 is infrastructure, budget, third is faculty, fourth is research. Research environment and research funding, the government is doing very well. Thanks to both the central and state government. I must thank the vision given to us by our former President APJ Abdul Kalam. When he was the president, he brought out various programs such as the INSPIRE fellowship, which boost the research.

Q: India has different categories of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In your opinion what should be the main focus areas for the different types of HEIs while implementing NEP 2020? Any specific measure, you think the Union Govt should take, which will be helpful in accelerating the NEP implementation in the country?

RKG: For me, the challenge of faculty is immense. Education is heavily regulated in India.

Q: Has this problem not been solved in the NEP? What is your suggestion to Higher Education sector stakeholders for smooth and effective implementation of NEP 2020?

RKG: The very proposal to have one regulatory body is itself a good thing. However, councils should not dictate, they should give guidelines.

Q: What are the major challenges in NEP implementation? And how these challenges could be addressed?

RKG: When I was involved with framing the Gujarat model, we suggested there should be a multidisciplinary approach. Say if I’m a student of sciences, I want to learn philosophy, how it will be done, that is, a transdisciplinary approach. One good feature about NEP is the multidisciplinary approach, core electives, open electives.

Prior to that, the main problem is IT. Now online education has come. Several programs such as MOOC or Swayam by GC and AICTE have now been used. That is a good thing. But skills cannot be taught online. You cannot teach how to treat a patient online. Professional education has suffered a lot , including pharmacy, Secondly, every state has been instructed to bypass and get away with examinations, but the two years gap that has occurred, how to bridge that.

Q: NEP 2020 Document also highlights the linkage of this policy to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In your views, how NEP 2020 implementation can be helpful in realizing UN SDGs?

RKG: Well we were just going through the sustainable aspect, they have put it nicely but sometimes I feel they have taken components from NEP, and vice versa. If these policies are taken in the right spirit, it will be through.

Q. During the Covid19, the use of Technology has increased. How Technology can play its role in implementing NEP2020 and make Indian Education world class in quality?

RKG: Every challenge brings opportunity. With online classes, it’s proven that technology has a big role to play, but it should not be restrictive. I still remember a joke that instead of a signal, put all the police constables to generate more employment, their technology is required. But everywhere technology cannot be used, where human power is required, it must be used.

Q: How do you see the future of the Medical and Pharma Education domain in 2022 and beyond post Covid situation?

RKG: Covid 19 has made good changes with respect to hygiene, cleanliness. As far as education is concerned, the pharma and medical device industry has a bright future. Because in Covid, it was clear that practice of medicine is necessary. Many countries were more concerned about non communicable diseases, now they will also pay attention to the communicable diseases.

One problem was that the medical facility and infrastructure was not sufficient. Even in European countries, America and India it was widely inadequate. Still we are talking about giving AIIMS to one state, etc.

Q. So, do you think more focus is needed in creating health infrastructure?

RKG: In the pharma industry, you will find manufacturing any capsules, etc requires sterilization while in the medical industry, if surgery has to be done, the patient has to start with antibiotics before surgery, which means they are confident that the patient might get an infection before surgery. It’s a big change. So that itself speaks if care is taken. Also, during covid period, there was an oxygen problem that was faced. During 2003, I faced 10 ICU beds and only 2 ventilators. If another patient is waiting, we have to allow him to die. So, it's not covid situation only, hospitals were not that well equipped. If you say 10 beds, is there a regulatory agency that checks that there are 10 ventilators also. I’m still curious to know. I may be wrong about it. Covid has definitely taught that.

Q. So what is your suggestion to the government, what changes, and policies they should make to improve the health infrastructure?

RKG: Increasing the number of hospitals is necessary. The government hospitals have now started working in this direction.

Q. Govt. hospitals are now moving in PPP mode. Your comment?

RKG: Good move, but we must ensure these things are not repeated. Like a short supply of oxygen.

Q. Recently, we saw an issue, in the southern state of Karnataka, and the issue was, whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear hijab in educational institutions or not. What is your opinion?

RKG: See, we respect all religions. So it’s not good to give calls like that. This is my personal view

Q: We have lost almost two years due to Covid19. From the students to Educational institutions and the whole fraternity have suffered. How can this loss be recovered now?

RKG: For the two-year loss due to Covid, there have to be some bridge courses or bridge modules to be developed by each institution to fill up the gap created by these two years. For example, after 1st year to 3rd year, there’s a gap of 1 year, there must be a limitation for the medical student that he could not be taught certain aspects properly, I’m not saying every practical needs to be taught, but there should be some practicals.  Like in pharmacy, we have something like formulation, physical pharmacy is there in the first year. Now in the first year, those students were not taught this, now they have come to the third year, so to revive that devise module so that gap is covered. So, that one should not take it for granted.

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JIM VARGHESE AM, Chancellor, Torrens University, Australia - https://bit.ly/3KdITGg

Prof. Ramesh K Goyal, Vice Chancellor, DPSRU, New Delhi - https://bit.ly/3MkGlqM

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