An Interview with Dr. Vandhana Sharma, Assistant Professor & Director-In-Charge, School of Languages & Literature
Dr. Vandhana Sharma is an Assistant Professor & Director-in-Charge of the prestigious School of Languages & Literature in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University. She is the founding member of the School. A highly accompalished, experienced and well known face in the field of Languages & Literature she is also involved in different aspects of the university activities. Her area of expertise is in the field of African Literarture & A very popular figure among the student community, Dr. Vandhana shares her ideas & thoughts with us.
Dr. Vandhana, many thanks for taking time out and speaking to us. Madam, tell us a liitle bit about your Academic and Research background?
Dr. Vandhana: I did my post graduation in English Literature from the University of Jammu in the year 1996 and joined an Engineering college in Jammu as Lecturer in English after that. So my initiation into teaching was with engineering students which I value a great deal. During my teaching, I registered myself for my research in African Literature and worked on a Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka. The topic of my research was “ The Dialectics of Tradition and Modernism in the works of Wole Soyinka”. I completed my Ph.D in the year 2005 and joined this University thereafter. After joining this university, I set up School of Languages & Literature, set up Jammu Chapter of ELTAI ( English Language Teacher's Association of India) and currently my area of research is Indian English drama.
Dr. Vandhana, Can you tell us a little bit about the field of Literature & Languages in general and specifically regarding your area of specialisation?
Dr. Vandhana: Literature is a reflection of life and language as we all know is a powerful medium of expression. There exists an intrinsic form of relationship between language and literature and this symbiotic co-relation is inter-complementary. Literature represents a language or people: culture and tradition and introduces us to new worlds of experience as we evolve our own literary journey with books. In essence, literature is a reflection of life. Working on an African writer gave me an insight into the turmoil which Africa had been witnessing during colonialism and in the aftermath of colonialism and how thoughtfully Soyinka has portrayed the same in his works. Drama has been my passion as it has direct contact with the society.
Dr. Vandhana, What are the Career options for students who pursue Literature in general as their field of interest? Are there any career options in Languages & Literature in the industry?
Dr. Vandhana: Broadly speaking there are two career options for students who pursue Literature as their field of interest: teaching and writing. Besides that, the industry too offers lucrative career options for literature students which relate to their creative abilities. The corporate giants like Infosys, Nestle and others offer the posts of Content Analyst for post graduate students.
Madam, What are the areas of research that the School of Languages & Literature is working on currently? What are your plans for the School in the next five years?
Dr. Vandhana: Presently, the area of research of the School is Indian English Literature with focus on contemporary writers like Mahesh Dattani, Arvind Adiga and Salman Rushdie. Moreover, the significance of research in literature, language and culture of Jammu and Kashmir has been realized by the School which the School plans to take up in future. In the next five years, the School plans to innovate further in teaching and research as it has been doing in the past. Set up in the year 2005, School of Languages & Literature has been catering to all Schools and colleges of SMVDU besides offering a post graduate course. We envisage some more result oriented innovations in ELT for our undergraduate students in addition to giving an impetus to research.
Madam, can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in the ''Publication & Media Cell'' & Gender Sensitisation Cell?
Dr. Vandhana: Well, I took up the charge of Media Cell in 2008 and rechristened it as Publication and Media Cell as the Cell is not only looking after the media coverage of University but is also publishing a significant annual document of university i.e Annual Report and other leaflets, magazines etc.. I started the publication of newsletter, Chronicle which was online initially and this year with the encouragement of Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, we took out the printed version of that. Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harrasssment ( GSCASH) was constituted this year only which has aims not only at the enquiry and redressal of complaints but also more significantly at gender sensitization, as gender is a social construct. An initiative in this direction was made with the celebration of Women’s day in the University, this year.
Dr. Vandhana, since you have a lot of experience of teaching at various prestigious universities & institutions, I would like to ask how do our students at SMVDU compare against them?
Dr. Vandhana: I take great pride in saying that the cosmopolitanism of SMVDU is its greatest asset. This multiculturalism makes our students more receptive as well as competitive.
Madam, any advice that you would like to pass on to the students at SMVDU for achieving success in their career?
Dr. Vandhana: I strongly believe that the mantra of success is constant evolution and success should not be measured in terms of materialistic terms only. My advise to my students is that always think beyond your personal gains, think in a wider perspective, in terms of your society and humanity at large. This is the real aim of education as S. Radhkrishnan said: “ Learning is not an end in itself. It is a means to reform and improve one's conduct and behaviour.”
Madam, Many thanks for sparing your precious time to speak to us and for advising the students.