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‘I try to create awareness through literature,’ says Abasaheb Garware College principal

She is the first woman principal of the 73-year-old  Maharashtra Education Society (MES)’s Abasaheb Garware College. Her primary focus is on making the college space inclusive, apart from catering to the marginalised.

pune Updated: Sep 07, 2018 17:39 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,Maharashtra Education Society (MES)’s Abasaheb Garware College
Muktaja Mathkari, principal, Maharashtra Education Society (MES)’s Abasaheb Garware College.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

She is the first woman principal of the 73-year-old Maharashtra Education Society (MES)’s Abasaheb Garware College. Her primary focus is on making the college space inclusive, apart from catering to the marginalised. Muktaja Mathkari shares insights into the work done so far and the future plans for the college with Ananya Barua.

How do you plan to create an inclusive space in college?

A space cannot be inclusive if every individual does not feel that they belong there. And, that starts not just from students, but from teachers as well. As the two most important stakeholders of an educational organisation, it is important to build a connection between the students and the teachers. We have to move away from the hierarchy which has been there for ages. So, when I joined the college in July 2016, my first goal was to be the most accessible principal for my students. This is indeed their space and so a healthy dialogue between us should be inevitable.

Can you tell us a few initiatives taken to cater to the marginalised?

There are several levels of marginalisation in a society. Be it from patriarchy marginalizing women, the social morality stigmatising the LGBT or even something as simple as a person’s physical aspect, lets say of being left-handed.

Through various workshops and awareness sessions, I have been trying to help students in the college develop an open mind. For instance, an activity was held recently to spread awareness about left-handedness and we established the Left Handed association in August 12, to remove any sort of oddity associated with it. With respect to gender, for the past 2 years we have been holding several gender sensitisation workshops and skilling sessions, which have been successful.

I personally feel, as an English teacher, that literature is the language of liberation and inclusion. And, so through literature I try and create awareness among students.

How do you use literature to change the mindset of your students?

Young minds are like clay molds, if you shape them well, they turn out to be beautiful products. And that beauty comes when you are open to new ideas and identities. Social inhibitions should not wear you down, and literature helps you do just that, to let go. Thanks to the efforts of a few students, we have also introduced a new poetry circle on campus, a medium of metaphorical intellectual discourse that can help students develop new ideas, gain confidence and learn to express themselves better.

Amid the talk of inclusion, could you please comment on the recent controversy around religious activities on campus

According to me, any religious activity, whatsoever, is in good faith and is certainly inclusive. While the matter rests entirely with the management trust -Maharashtra Education Society (MES) - the way a few student outfits responded to it with hostility was unfortunate.

Every year, for the past 45 years, the Satyanarayan Puja is being organised as a symbol of peace and well-being. Such events don’t have any negative political connotations.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 17:37 IST