Inside Insight: Prof Vamshi Krishna Reddy
In a candid interview, Prof. Vamshi Krishna Reddy gives us his insights on college, his passion for culture, changes he would like to bring about NIT system and more. Stay tuned to this exclusive from Team MM.
MM: Tell us about your education and schooling.
VKR: I did my graduation from Nizam College in Andhra Pradesh. The combination of English literature and Political Science has always been well-vaunted, and I did my honours in this. In this field, it is natural to aspire for the civil services and that is what I did too. However, after graduation, I moved on to do my masters from the University of Hyderabad, also known as the Hyderabad Central University. It was here that I slowly gave up my focus on the Civil Services, deciding to focus more on research.
MM: What prompted you to take up teaching?
VKR: The university environment has always been oriented toward research and I was drawn there too. I had always been interested in cultural studies. Being from the transitioning period between the conservative and the neo-modern generation, I was lucky to witness the emergence of globalization and the changes it has wrought on society. People’s perception of their identity interests me and this is what brought me into culture studies. I never had a specific goal towards teaching. Several events coming together brought me here. On the same note however, I don’t regret anything about teaching. One thing which must be said about teaching is that it stays tremendously interesting, and also is the only profession which keeps you really updated in your field of study. It is challenging, especially since you teach to students who are not of your generation. But, on the other hand, you manage to get first-hand descriptions of everyday culture and trending phenomena from students, and that makes these challenges interesting and worthwhile.
MM:You have several writings on Indian Cinema. What is it about Indian Cinema that interests you so?
VKR: Being Indians living in India, we cannot escape the prominence of Indian Cinema. Especially in South India, where cinema stars become prominent politicians, the nexus between the fan ideology and the gain of political power and influence has always fascinated me and this is something I seek to study. Though I was always interested in movies and follow most of the trending factors affecting the film industry, I was never caught up in the trappings of eclectic star power and celebrity fanboyism. I was more interested in observing and analysing the people who worship these social icons with religious zeal. While several people in the West have studied this phenomenon, I am one of the few in India currently conducting research on this. My research on South Indian cinema and politics has yielded quite a remarkable response from other researchers, Ph.D holders and external examiners.
MM: Many students perceive Language Learning as an unnecessary and burdensome component of engineering. How would you correct this idea?
VKR: I strongly disagree with this notion. Language is fundamental for any stream of learning, not just engineering. And the language per se, does not necessarily restrict itself only to English learning. I am convinced that students can never seek to acquire fluency in English, if they lack the same fluidity of thought in their mother tongue. I also use smartly-devised strategy to sustain students’ interest in Language Lab. I never take grammar to the classroom, preferring to use newspaper articles, extended reading and thinking sessions, and works of fiction. Unconsciously, their passage construction, sentence construction, articulation and vocabulary is augmented to such an extent that competitive exams like GRE become slightly easier to crack.
In a post-globalization scenario, English fluency and command is critical in order to gain any measure of success as an entrepreneur, a business entity, or whichever profession you choose to go in.”
MM: How has your experience been in NIT? What would you have to say about your department?
VKR: Experience has been good. Our department is highly inter-disciplinary as we have students of psychology, English and others. Each of us has diverse research fields, with some working on sociology, or globalization, cinema, with still others working on yet other fields of research.
MM: What are the changes you would like to bring about in NIT? Especially for your department?
VKR: I would recommend more number of Language labs. There should be one Basic Language lab in second year where we develop the students’ basic language skills and an Advanced Language lab in final year that helps develop the students’ soft skills that would help then in Group Discussions (GDs) and interviews. Language skills are something that is of utmost importance even after you get a decent job. So we should make sure that when a student graduates from the institute, he should not only be technically sound, but should also have good language and communication skills.
MM: What are your views on the relationship between language proficiency and placements?
VKR: There is a coherent link. Even if you have knowledge and skill, you need language to convey it. Being fluent in English also helps one bag a foreign internship. Not just campus placement, language proficiency is necessary in every sphere of life. Moreover, this is the high time to improve one’s language and communication skills, because after graduation it’s impossible to find time to do so. Communication skills are a must if one aims on becoming a leader or a successful entrepreneur. By good communication skills I don’t mean fluency in English, it implies the ability to express your ideas influentially and persuasively to others.
MM: We understand that you play an active role in student activities, especially in the Student Activity Centre (SAC) and have also taken up the onus of Faculty Advisor for Clarion, the literary and debating club. What motivates you for this?
VKR: I was very active as a student in my university days and used to participate in various activities. After becoming a faculty, I miss doing all that. So when the opportunity came to be associated with a club that helps students improve their speaking and communication skills, I was very fascinated. Clarion is a very active and lively club and almost every day they come up with some application form to be signed for some activity!
The director wanted me to be involved with SAC and even personally I desired to do so as I’m interested in cultural activities. Currently, I’m the Vice-President of the Film & Music Society (FMS) of SAC.
MM: What are your hobbies, interests outside of teaching and your ongoing research activities?
VKR: I like watching movies and make sure that I always get the tickets to the first day-first show of all the movies being played in the cinema halls of Rourkela. I also follow cricket.
MM: What are your future areas of research?
VKR: I am basically working on post globalization. I’m working on contemporary English fiction, more specifically neo-mythology that includes books like Kaurava, Jaya, the Shiva trilogy and movies like Bahubali. I’m curious why authors are publishing these books again, and why are they so well received by the youth. Is it because we are looking for our very own superheroes like they have Spiderman, Superman etc in the west?
Secondly, studying how people communicate on social media - how new words are coined everyday and how it’s transforming English language. I’m also working on the sociology of identity formation.
MM: On a concluding final note, do you have any message for the students?
VKR: As a teacher, I don’t have any message as such. But as a faculty who is involved in SAC activities, I strongly advise the students to be more active in the various SAC eventsandactivities and also come up with new ideas to change some of the existing structures and formats which are not very efficient in the current scenario.
Also, the students need to stop the habit of leaving everything for the last moment. Many a times they don’t get funding from SAC for events due to this very reason.
They come at the last moment before an event and the bills get stuck in the finance section and even though the money is lying there, the students are not able to use it. I expect them to plan everything beforehand and submit the relevant bills and documents to SAC for the smooth conduction of any event.