The education sector in India has evolved manifolds while opening doors of equal opportunities to males and females. In today’s age, women have complete freedom to pursue any course they want and build a successful career in any field of their choice. Moreover, women have also made a mark in the education sector. They have emerged as successful mentors and educators while nurturing the students and assisting them to become the leaders of tomorrow.
With their never-give-up attitude and dedicated endeavours, these prominent women are changing the face of the education sector as we know it. One such prominent personality among the league of renowned women educational leaders is Mrs. Saroj Khosla, the President of the Foundation for Life Sciences and Business Management.
A postgraduate from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, Mrs. Saroj is an educationist with extensive experience in managing academic organisations. She comes from a family that is deeply committed to the teaching profession. After graduating from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi, Mrs. Saroj’s father Mr. M.L. Handa moved to Lahore to study law. However, he changed his mind and decided to become a teacher. He firmly believed that girls should be educated so that they can be independent and become assets for their families rather than liabilities. He was a renowned educationist and an upright man who served as a role model for Mrs. Saroj and inspired her to choose the noble profession of teaching. Her three sisters went on to become teachers, while the fourth one pursued a career in medicine. Her paternal uncle, who was the press secretary to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, also encouraged the siblings’ decision to pursue higher studies.
Prof Prem Kumar Khosla, Mrs Saroj’s husband and an internationally distinguished academician, provided unwavering support throughout her teaching career. Prof Khosla has added new dimensions to higher education and research in Indian Universities. He has served as Vice-Chancellor, HPAU, Palampur (HP), and as Senior Scientific Advisor to the Government of Himachal Pradesh and has been responsible for guiding its science policy. He became the first Vice-Chancellor of the Shoolini University and is presently its Chancellor.
Prof. Khosla and Mrs. Khosla complemented each other throughout their academic journeys. In 1972, they went to the U.K., where Prof. Khosla conducted post-doctoral research in tree genetics at Oxford University on a Commonwealth Fellowship for three years. Mrs. Khosla took advantage of her husband’s visit by enrolling in a one-year course on international education at the same university.
An Inspirational Journey
The Khoslas have shown an inspirational sense of initiative and entrepreneurial acumen in their over four decades of untiring work. When people prefer to retire from active work and spend quiet time at home, they took a calculated risk to invest their lifetime savings in establishing a not-for-profit organization after retiring from their respective jobs. They set up the Foundation for Life Sciences and Business Management (FLSBM) in 2004 with a mission to provide affordable quality education to the youth from rural and semi-urban areas of Himachal Pradesh. They were focused on their vision of using science as a tool to empower the marginal farmers of Himachal Pradesh. They emphasised the research and study of the state’s biodiversity for environmental conservation. Moreover, they are passionate about creating a globally recognized and world-class private university. Their thinking has been ahead of time and has always been followed up with result-oriented action.
A Responsible and Dynamic Leader
Mrs. Saroj Khosla is the President of the FLSBM, which was founded with the aim of using frontier areas of bio and management sciences for the socio-economic upliftment of Himalayan people in general, and Himachal Pradesh in particular. The Foundation’s primary goal is to develop high-quality human resources in biotechnology, basic and applied sciences, engineering, liberal arts and their integration with management disciplines.
The FLSBM manages two prestigious educational institutions: Shoolini Institute of Life Sciences and Business Management (SILB), founded in 2004, and the Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Business Management, established in 2009.
Mrs. Khosla is also the Chairperson of SILB, which is the most prestigious institution of Himachal Pradesh University. She is an educationist who is self-motivated and result-oriented. She retired from the Himachal Pradesh Education Services as Principal of the District Institute of Education and Training in Solan, where she was involved in the academic excellence of pre and in-service teachers. She firmly believes in the great educator Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophy of “where the mind is fearless, and the head is held high.” According to her, highly dedicated teachers give their very best to their students, and students learn the best practices, allowing them to become virtuous citizens of the nation.
She has been conferred with the prestigious ‘Academic Excellence Award’ by Adoption of Social Media in Academia (ASMA), the leading global community of Academia. “Your leadership in the field of education is extraordinary,” said the citation presented to Mrs Khosla as part of its initiative on the “Trailblazing women leaders in Indian education”.
Believer in Family Values and Students’ Welfare
Mrs. Khosla believes in family values. This is evident from the fact that she and her sisters always took good care of their mother and did not leave her alone even for a day, despite their own family and professional commitments. Students’ welfare and their education is very dear to her heart. She is especially passionate about building their careers. Mrs. Khosla opines that the New Education Policy (NEP) would provide academic freedom to students for pursuing the subjects of their interest and a holistic education.
Both Prof Khosla and Mrs Khosla belong to Parmahansa Yogananda Order and have fully imbibed their guru’s teachings.
About Shoolini University
Shoolini University was established in 2009 by academicians with a very clear vision to be amongst the top 200 global universities by 2022. To realise this bold ambition, significant efforts were made in the areas of research, teaching and learning, and the creation of world-class infrastructure. Because of its advantageous location in the Himalayas, Shoolini University decided to concentrate all its research operations in and around the Himalayas, and research centres of excellence were established to that end.
Various national and international agencies have recognized the university’s research potential, which have funded several competitive research projects, totalling more than Rs 40 crore. The varsity is also assisting industries through consultancy projects. Its research quality indicators, such as Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) (2.04), citations per publication (13.5), and percent international collaboration (57.8%), have always been at the top of the Indian education and research institutions. However, the university is now competing with some of the best in the world. Shoolini is one of India’s top patent filers, having filed 800+ patents, 100 of which have been granted. Its current h-index is 82, which is the second highest of all institutions and universities established after 2009.
In the 2021 NIRF-MHRD Rankings, Shoolini University was placed 89th out of the top 100 institutions in the country, with the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at 36th, the Faculty of Management at 76-100, and the School of Engineering at 103rd. The university is ranked first in the country and sixth in Asia in the QS Asia 2022 rankings for citations per publication, a sign of high-quality research.
The campus was awarded one of India’s top cleanest campuses in the Swachh Bharat Survey 2020 and Yogananda Library has won several national and international architectural awards.