Prof Dilip Shah, Fountain Pens and the art of transforming education – Jyotshna Agiwal
Prof Dilip Shah. Officially he is the Dean of Student Affairs of the Bhawanipur Education Society College (BESC). But for many like me, his students (past and present), he is the latest avatar of God, no less.
Prof Shah – Dilip Sir, as he is universally called, is a man of many parts – he is known for his ability to talk on any subject, at length, before any audience, that too spontaneously. And this, I can say with some amount of certainly because I have had the pleasure of hearing him, apart from confirming the same from students of CA, CS and CMA Institutes, where too he is a regular invitee as a teacher, as a visionary.
And visionary he certainly is. The gravity defying ascent of the BESC that has taken the academic world by surprise over the last couple of years, is without doubt, manifestation of Prof Dilip Shah’s vision. Today, it will not be an exaggeration to state, that the post pandemic strides that the BESC is making, thanks to its digitally integrated system of pedagogy, is because of the steps that the institution had taken to embrace e-enabled education – well before even the virus had made the transition from the animal to the human realm – thanks again, to the vision and the foresight of none other than Prof Dilip Shah. Yes, the management of the institution was dynamic enough to have let him have a free hand, but then again, it is the thought that counts, doesn’t it?
But Prof Dilip Shah has contributed much more to this transformation of BESC than making the campus totally wi-fi enabled and all the classrooms electronically empowered. His greatest contribution, and I can say this as an ex-student, has been the way he had freed education from the confines of the classrooms. It was Prof Dilip Shah who sought to give the students the exposure to learn on the run. We learnt everything – from commerce to communication – even as we organised college fests and a plethora of other activities, picking up life lessons as we had the time of our lives. He also believed in real life interactions with domain leaders, which led us to attend countless seminars and talks in which, thanks to his connections, experts from a variety of fields descended on the college and shared their experiences with us gaping students, explaining in simple terms concepts that textbooks take chapters to illuminate and still often, fail to elucidate. And we went on tours and visits to see for ourselves many exciting things that came across as drab and lifeless in the dank and squalid confines of the syllabus.
I will fail in my duties if I do not mention another brilliant initiative of Prof Dilip Shah, what he had christened “Career Connect”. The idea was as simple as it was brilliant – give the students opportunities to expose themselves to as many fields as possible so that they may make a qualified decision about the careers they want to pursue in the future. I had first gone into Ethical Hacking, from where I did this course in Corporate Communications, which was, shall I say, a mind-bending experience for me. Suffice to say, I am now doing my MA in journalism and have already found employment with a Corp Comm professional.
But why am I writing this panegyric about Prof Dilip Shah, here in a blog about fountain pens? The answer is simple – because Prof Dilip Shah too is a fountain pen aficionado. Not really what we call a collector or a hoarder, but a regular user, one who is rarely without one. As a matter of fact, all the ideas and the programmes that he has helped shape and implement, were once jotted down, neatly on paper, using his fountain pens (either a Lamy or a Pilot or a Click)!
He has another habit that most fountain pen lovers here will do well to embrace. When people go to meet him in the Dean’s Office – and there is an endless stream of visitors normally – he would, even as he hears them speak, write their names in small pieces of special paper, using a Click Calligraphy pen that he keeps specially for the purpose, to present it to them as they leave. The reaction is almost always eclectic, as even the most hard-nosed professionals are jolted by either the good gesture, or the stunning calligraphy, often both.
And guess where he had got that calligraphy pen from? It was given to Prof Dilip Shah by none other than our own Dr Nirjhar Mondal, who had once gone to conduct a Calligraphy class in the BESC – one, that Dilip Sir had also attended with the other students!
Thanks to Prof Dilip Shah’s encouragement, there is a very thriving fountain pen fraternity in the BESC one where fountain pen events have seen the participation of legends like Prof Y Pitkar, Yusuf Mansoor, Dr Nirjhar Mondal and Sukla Roy. Chawm Ganguly off course has been the litmus of change. And for those who do not already know it, L Subramaniam of ASA pens, is an ex-student.