Banasthali Vidyapith

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BANASTHALI VIDYAPITH: Panchmukhi Shiksha Including Physical, Practical, Aesthetic, Intellectual And Moral Aspects

When in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic unsettled and altered social, economic and cultural rubrics of human existence not only in India but in the entire world. The disruption found the mankind lost in time and frozen in space.The norms of social-distancing and self-isolation, to control the spread of the novel corona virus, triggered the global lockdown of educational institutions; schools, colleges and universities.However, there was an institution which stood undeterred under the able leadership of visionary and vibrant Vice Chancellor Prof. Aditya Shastri. We are talking about none other than Banasthali Vidyapith itself.

The institution was completely locked down in mid-March. But Banasthali, which unites as a family, showed remarkable resilience in response to the clarion call of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Aditya Shastri; it moved entire teaching learning and examination to online mode. Banasthali not only completed its examinations in time but also commenced the session 2020-21 well in time, seamlessly migrating to online mode.

Talking about its technological advancements, the computer and IT infrastructure started developing in the university in the late 80s. Later on, it expanded to a level of Banasthali being the only university to provide internet in its hostels at the turn of the century, and the infrastructure kept growing as the number of students rose exponentially from approximately 2000 to 16000.

The institution, today, is reaping the fruits of the foresight of young Prof. Shastri who sowed the seed of computer education very early and today, the university is not only smoothly conducting the online classes for its big student strength but is also geared up for venturing into E Learning, which can be taken up by all Category (NAAC A++ with grade point over 3.63) universities and Banasthali Vidyapith features in this elite list.

Transforming research into products of innovation

Prof. Aditya Shastri, himself an alumnus of reputed seats of learning like BITS, Pilani and MIT, USA has also been instrumental in the expansion of infrastructure and research facilities of the university thus strengthening the complete research ecosystem. This led to Banasthali fulfilling the eligibility of 1000 high quality research papers and qualifying for THE World University Rankings.When it comes to facilitation of start-ups at Banasthali, The Atal Incubation Centre is the key to incubate start-ups wherein the research from the labs is transformed into products of innovation. The upcoming Centre for Artificial Intelligence is way ahead of time.

The university has 12 faculties, 27 departments equipped with high end laboratories, equipment and classrooms. Located in sylvan surroundings in 850-acre campus, Banasthali also has 50 hostels, DGCA approved flying club, equestrian arena, swimming pool, yoga and aerobics centre, sports facilities with lush grounds for cricket, hockey and 23 other sports plus a state-of-the-art gymnasium, music studio, dance centre, community radio, farm science centre and a hospital.

Such exquisite infrastructure supports the unique educational ideology of the Vidyapith, five-fold education or Panchmukhi Shiksha including Physical, Practical, Aesthetic, Intellectual and Moral aspects. The practical and skill training is an in-built component of education at Vidyapith campus. It helps inlearning music, painting and dance that develop an aesthetic sense among students so that they nurture their harmonious and holistic personalities. The intellectual dimension includes the richness of intellectual and epistemic orders which are instrumental in developing their critical thinking and soft skills.

Giving many firsts to the nation

The moral aspect of education is the universe in which the other dimensions lie and which connotes the rich campus culture wherein students from varied backgrounds, states, religions, castes, creeds, sects embrace each other in true spirit of bonhomie and celebrate all festivals together. These elements of Panchmukhi Shiksha create a sense of appreciating the richness of Indian heritage, culture, ethos and values which nurtures enlightened citizens with strong value base.

When it comes to creating women leadership, the five-fold education of BanasthaliVidyapith has been the key to nurturing women leaders in all walks of life since generations. The holistic education imparted in the residential setting, with no distractions and anxiety, led to Banasthali giving many firsts to the nation like the first woman fighter pilot to fly a fighter jet solo, Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, the list being long and including big names in politics, corporate, education, sports, fine arts and bureaucracy.

Banasthali Vidyapith is unique in ways more than one. Universities are started either by educationists or by a legislature of the government. By that count the Banasthali founders Pandit Hiralal Shastri ‘Apaji’ and his wife Padma Bhushan Smt. Ratan Shastri ‘Bhabhuji’ did not fit the description. Social reformers at heart, the dedicated parents of the exceptionally talented Shantabai, their daughter, decided to groom her as a social worker. Pandit Shastri, answering an inner call gave up his covetous post of Secretary in the Home and Foreign Department in the erstwhile Jaipur State in 1927, choosing instead to devote himself to rural reconstruction in Banthali, known today as Banasthali in Rajasthan’s Tonk district.

Even death could not discourage their purpose

When a sudden illness took Shantabai’s life in April 1935, the Shastri couple was devastated, their daughter was just 12. Steadfast in their intent, the founders decided that they would train talented girls like Shantabai in the same way as they were grooming their daughter. “In a classical example of positive thinking where even death could not discourage their purpose, they went from door-to-door seeking funds and donations for an educational venture, when the concept of girl child education virtually did not exist. So, Banasthali Vidyapith began life on 6 October 1935, with a handful of students in mud huts. And a movement was born!In 1949, Pandit Shastri was chosen to be the Chief Minister of Rajasthan when the state was formed.

On account of its revolutionary endeavours in education, Banasthali Vidyapith has been honoured on multiple occasions. In October 2020, Banasthali Vidyapith was honoured with the coveted Smt. Sushma Swaraj Stree Shakti Samman.In September 2020, Banasthali Vidyapith featured in the most prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2021, consolidating its 2020 position as the second best women’s university in the world. In India, it is the best women’s university by the MHRD-NIRF ranking. Banasthali Vidyapith, university for women, also featured at significant positions in THE Young University Ranking and THE Impact ranking this year. The latter speaks volumes about the efforts of the university in contributing towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

More importantly, Banasthali Vidyapith continued with the attainment of highest possible grade in NAAC accreditation third time in a row. In fact, Banasthali made history by attaining A++ grade with a CGPA of 3.63 which is highest for any private, multi-disciplinary university; the only women’s university in India and only university in Rajasthan which can boast of such an achievement. Year 2020 is termed as the ‘Year of turmoil’, but “the glorious uncertainties of life never fail to amaze me”, says Prof. Aditya Shastri, Vice Chancellor of the university. The year 2020 has brought some hardships consequent to the pandemic. At the same time, 2020 has been kind as there have been many accomplishments for the institution.

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