Gopa Bhardwaj: An Exclusive Interview
Complete interview published in Psychologs Magazine January 2019 issue.
Educational qualifications: M.A., M.Sc., Ph D
Scholarships and Achievements: BHU Gold Medal, UGC Research Fellowship, Commonwealth Scholarship & Life Time Achievement awards from NIPM and BHU
Publications: 77 papers in National and international journals, 4 Book Chapters, Three books
Teaching Experience: 44 Years (BHU, Delhi University, Galgotias University and various Management Institutes)
International teaching Experience: In Poland and Iran and ERASMUS Scheme
Administrative Experience: HOD Psychology Department, DU, Dean Arts faculty,DU DirectorAdministrative Staff College DU, Dean SHSS Galgotias University
Research Projects: 9 projects:Funded by UGC, DRDO, ICSSR
Research Guidance: More than 250 MA Projects, 30 M Phil Projects, 44 Ph.Ds.
1. When did you first become interested in a career in psychology?
Response:- I had to do intermediate (U.P. Board) after my tenth as I fell short in terms of age. There I had my first encounter with Psychology as a discipline. The very nature of the subject looked very promising and challenging.
2. Who was your role model in your student life? Why?
Response:- My role model was Swami Vivekanad who inspired me.I learnt about him from my father who also was a Professor in BHU.
3. What was The Biggest Challenge you faced in your Student Life?
Response:- To keep a synergistic relation between academic pursuits and personal life.
4. What was your topic of research in your Doctorate?
Response:- Job Motivation of Indian Executives (worked on Herzberg’s two factor theory).
5. What is your current position/Responsibilities?
Response:- Advisor to a start-up called Sthaapak in Noida. My role consists of research and practice.
6. Where have you worked in the past?
Response:- BHU, Delhi University, Galgotias University (and several others on a timebound basis).
7. Describe some of the current research projects you are involved in?
Response:- I am right now working for the under privileged and creating relevant Mobile Apps to help them access necessary information for their empowerment.
8. What are some of your personal strengths and weaknesses? What have you done to address your weaknesses?
Response:- My strength is my ability to understand theory and work with an applicable goal but readiness to accommodate changes. This can also be taken as weakness as I am goal directed with a flexible approach. I have done a lot of introspection to overcome the hurdles.
9. What aspect of research are you most interested in and why?
Response:- Right now, I am interested in Gender studies as I find my own self closely integrated with the issues.
10. The extent of research practiced in India is not made worthwhile for general citizens of the country, or we can say that the research remains limited to only a few scholars. What efforts should be made to change this?
Response:- The Research in India is mainly to comply with degree requirements. The research funded by agencies like ICSSR, UGC and others are never used for public benefit like the medical model, all that is done is either to publish research papers or a book which only adds to the biodata of the researcher and record of fund spending of the sponsoring agency. Such wastage of public fund needs to be remedied. The researcher must be able to coordinate with agencies which are doing operations in the related areas and an interactive relationship must be built for the benefit of individual as well as collective. There has to be an accountability to research. Some world class journals must also get connected and coordinate without any bias or prejudice. The research also needs to be connected with policy planning. Psychologists need to be associated with policy making agencies and create meaningful dialogue plus practice orientation. There is too much emphasis on clinical practices which is individualized. We need to create a platform for group mobilization and research participation which need to be encouraged.
11. You have worked among Indian population for many years. what has been experience working with the diverse and/ or multi culture population?
Response:- I have experience of interacting with students of Poland also. The kind of openness to teaching- learning is so very much appreciable. I also taught students under Erasmus programme. Language was a difficulty as they all are proficient in their mother tongue and some European language. The cultural bases the students presented was a joy to learn and interact. This also was my own self-empowerment.
12. There are various good psychological associations / societies abroad. Do you think India also needs that level of association / society?
Response:- There are excellent Associations abroad but very few meaningful ones in India. The basic problem with Indian Associations is power mongering and political approaches in organizing conferences and now a new strategy has emerged of money making and obliging the students by meaningless certificate distribution. It seems crazy. The academic approach has gone out of the window in India. We do need association without political involvement.
13. What kind of changes have you seen in psychology in the past five decades?
Response:- If you are talking about Indian Psychology, then there is not much change as we are dependent on the Western paradigm. A limited effort has been made to include some Philosophical themes like Patanjali Yoga Sutra, however due to non-availability of learning materials not much progress could be made. Psychology is also getting closer to aligned disciplines like Sociology, Education etc, however, we need an open mind and along with that maintain our unique identity. Too much emphasis on Individual and marginalizing the collective has not worked favourably for the discipline. Another, unfortunate issue is with research methodology. People are either too much quantitatively inclined and forget the inner dynamics of the human psyche or they are qualitatively inclined and losing the sight of reliability and validity of the findings i.e. the scientific orientation which had in past and also in present that has brought credibility to the subject. Student must be encouraged to think and live out the tenets of Psychology, which unfortunately very few institutions are encouraging. Most of the learning is by rote.
14. Crimes against women are increasing at a very fast pace. What role of psychology as per you be helpful in reducing it?
Response:- Yes, and this was one of my own reason of interest in gender studies. Psychology can play a very significant role by making the society aware of the problems of patriarchal mind set which is practised in a very vicious manner right from birth to death. Psychology should be made a compulsory subject at every academic institution and be taught by competent experts. Every citizen must be trained to introspect and develop empathy. The issue of women’s subjugation is mainly a matter of a derogatory attitude towards women and commodifying women through films, media and various other sources which depict women in a subversive role.
15. There are many Student who want to go abroad for Higher Education. What would you like to suggest them?
Response:- Exposure to Western system of education creates a sense of autonomy and desire to achieve. Indian system is too memory bound. Hence people should get a chance to experience but come back to our country instead of living the life of a second-class citizen.
16. What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a psychologist?
Response:- To be pragmatic and see everything from its application in life along with theory. I follow Lewin in this regard.
17. Any other advice for aspiring Psychologists?
Response:- Be true to yourself. Be an honest learner of the subject and always keep open mind for the application of your understanding. Learn to be critical but with a positive approach and not to humiliate others. Share your knowledge with others and learn.