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Aravali Institute of Management - [AIM], Jodhpur

Aravali Institute of Management - [AIM], Jodhpur

Jodhpur, Rajasthan AICTE | Estd 2000 Singhania University, Jhunjhunu Private Institute

Interview: Mr. Varun Arya, Director, Aravali Institue of Management, Jodhpur

Ques. After such a long and successful career in corporate world what prompted you to join an educational institution?

Ans. I did not join but rather established an educational institution, as an entrepreneurial venture.

While being in senior positions with some of the leading corporates, I was keenly interested to also recruit candidates from my home state of Rajasthan. I found that while they had the requisite qualifications but unfortunately they did not have the capabilities and competencies which were expected with those qualifications. Therefore, I decided to establish an educational institution in Rajasthan with focus not on qualifications but rather on developing the capabilities and competencies required by the corporate world.

Ques. How is your experience working as a secretary at IIM Ahmedabad and as the president of IIT Delhi Alumni association? What are your long term goals towards Aravali Institute of Management?

Ans. While working in senior positions with some of the leading corporates and multinationals for 16 years and also as the Secretary of IIM Ahmedabad Alumni Association and as the President of IIT Delhi Alumni Association, I had occasions to meet and interact with a large number of people at all levels in various organizations.  Based on these experiences, I was convinced that the biggest problem faced by the youth of today is not really the lack of opportunities for career but rather the opportunities to develop the requisite competency to realize their true potential.

To be able to meet the ever-changing challenges, for sustenance and growth, today’s organisations need people who have the passion to be their assets. However, the organisations are increasingly finding it difficult to get people who meet their competency requirements, despite willingness to pay high salaries. To effectively redress this state of affairs, the only solution is to have not the quantity alone but more importantly, the quality of educational institutions. The quality of education alone can ensure that the students develop the capability and competence required to perform and deliver results in the organisations where they work or they create. 

At Aravali, it has been our commitment to the students, their parents and the society at large that we will provide high quality of management education by way of ensuring the requisite Institute culture, Aravali Institute of Management faculty, Aravali Institute of Management courses, pedagogy, infrastructure & facilities and organisational networking. In the process, we sincerely believe we are able to develop the required capability and competence in our students to make them good human beings - budding managers who will be assets to any organization or entrepreneurs who establish successful organisations. This way, while creating the foundation for better career and life for our students, we believe that we are also able to make a humble contribution to the gigantic task of our nation-building.

I want Aravali Institute of Management to be a role model institution for values-based top quality education, blending the best of traditions and modernity, without any compromise on ethics.

Ques. What advice you would like to give to students seeking admission in a management institute?

Ans. My advice to those seeking admissions in management institutes would be that they should neither go by the brochure of the institute, nor by what the Director or faculty of the institute say but rather go by the feedback of those who have studied at the relevant institute and their parents.

This is just like even when we want to purchase a television or a car or anything, we generally talk to those who have purchased the said items earlier and their experience with the same.

Ques. What challenges you faced in changing a barren piece of land to a place where Aravali Institutions stands today?

Ans. We had no choice but to purchase an extremely saline wasteland since we could not get the promised land from the government in view of our refusal to compromise. Similarly we could not get the normal land since all those who had offered it wanted a significant portion of payment to be made in cash, which we did not have and also it was an unethical practice which we would never accept.

We had no choice but to transform the extremely saline wasteland into a productive land. We told ourselves that the failure as an option was just not available to us. We also told ourselves that the threat of it being a wasteland was actually a unique opportunity in disguise and we should make the most of it.

With scarcity of finances and being novices in the area of land, we went by the first principles to learn and came to conclusion that the most cost-effective way to transform the land was by using the traditional wisdom. We did a large number of experiments to transform the wasteland into a green campus and fortunately these succeeded.

Today I am reminiscing sitting on the banks of one of the lakes and looking at our around 100 acres green campus demarcated by three kilometers long boundary wall which contains

  • A total of 15 lakes, made through rain water harvesting, having capacity to store around 6 crore litres of water with plenty of fishes, frogs and even tortoises which have come naturally into these.
  • Two large bridges constituting the rain water harvesting structures.
  • Three large size lawns of 2.5 acres each, with solar lights on the periphery of each and 60 benches made of fibre glass.
  • 28,000 sq. feet of built up space housing the library, computer centre, classrooms, offices, guestrooms with attached bath rooms, electricity room, guard room and stores.
  • A natural meditation centre, with capacity to seat around 2000 persons, surrounded by 1500 plants.
  • Over 8000 plants and trees which have grown upto 15 feet.

Added to the above are hosts of migratory birds visiting the lakes and truly memorable sunrise and sunset with reflections in the lakes. It is a place I feel like just not leaving at all and sitting there for eternity.

However, the land was not like this when we purchased it in the year 2005. It was extremely saline wasteland (people say, it was the worst land in Rajasthan) with water level around 400 feet below ground, which too highly saline. It was the land on which nothing could grow and nothing could be constructed. Comments from some of the experts:

  1. ISRO, Department of Space, Government of India: Campus land is extreme wasteland and development of the same for academic purpose is going to cost enormous effort and the money.
  2. CAZRI, Ministry of Agriculture and Government of India: Plot lies in a wasteland with high inherent salinity that is difficult to develop. The salinity also makes building construction risky because corrosion problem is very high.
  3. AFRI, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India: Soil depth 25 to 40 cm (rock beneath), PH2 7.8 to 8.8, EC2 7.8 to 26.7 dsm-1 and Texture Loamy Sand.

Ques. Can you enlighten us with the mode of admission in this institution and what are the different specialization which is being offered?

Ans. The admission is based on academic track record, performance in CAT or any other written test, group discussion and personal interview. With everything being equal, we give preference to those from the disadvantaged sections of our society and rural population, irrespective of the caste, community and religion.

We believe in making our student a complete manager, who is competent to work and deliver results in any area of any organisation anywhere in India or abroad.

Ques. How is Aravali institute of Management different from other management institutes?

Ans. It was with a dream, mission, passion and vision to create the unique model of a truly world-class management institute without any compromise in an out-of-the way place like Jodhpur in Rajasthan that Aravali Institute of Management was established in the year 2000. The Institute has indeed come a long way during the last 16 years. Within the first year itself, we had the affiliation with the Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by the prestigious IIMs – making us the only non-IIM institute to be accorded this affiliation within first year of its existence and first such management institute in Rajasthan. The Institute has been accorded “A++” Rating (Financial Express survey 2009), Ranked 1st in Rajasthan (Business Today survey 2002) and 50th in India (Outlook survey 2005) amongst the top management institutions.

However, let me hasten to add that this journey so far has not been smooth but filled with unending hardships, risks, sacrifices and struggle – much beyond our expectations and imagination. We, at this Institute, sincerely believe that education by definition is based on ethics. Therefore, right from the conceptualization of the Institute, we had set ethics, equality, integrity, quality, merit and societal service as the core values of the Institute. I am indeed highly pleased to say that all along so far we have managed to strictly adhere to and uphold these core values without any compromise despite many severe adversities, difficulties and problems faced by us. It has been possible entirely because of the strength of our character, strength of our commitment, the strength of our confidence, the strength of our conviction, the strength of our courage and the strength of the societal support. We are firm that we will close down the Institute, rather than compromise with any of these core values. We are clear that we are in the education of the business and not in the business of education. We believe we are doing something good for the nation and would like to do it the right way.

Normally the management institutions all over India and abroad are concerned just with conducting MBA level and some also with management development and training programs for the industry.  While our Institute is also involved in such programs but we continue to look at our role much beyond this. We believe that the local society of Jodhpur, in particular, and Rajasthan and India, in general, should also benefit from this Institute. Towards this objective, our Institute started conducting various societal benefit programs right from the day one. In the last 16 years we have conducted over 300 societal benefit programs primarily at Jodhpur but also in Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Alwar,

Ahmedabad, Baroda and Delhi. These include public lectures, programs for the industry, college/university/schools teachers, the students of local colleges, universities & schools and the physically challenged & orphan children.

Ques. Which areas you think Aravali Institute of Management needs to work upon?

 Ans. We would like to extensively work upon the following areas:

  1. Hand-holding against corruption: At least 80% of people do not like to pay the bribes to get their work done in case they are able to get some support for advising and guiding them for facilitating their work. We would provide this support to them.
  2. Education for empowerment: A large part of our country's rural population and disadvantaged sections continue to be exploited and undermined by and through the vested interests in the government, specially in the police and administrative wings. We would empower the rural population and disadvantaged sections through education in the relevant areas such as their rights, under what circumstances they can be arrested, how to get the ration-cards, driving license, BPL cards, etc. made, how to avail the various government schemes, bank loans, etc.
  3. Tathastu: This is meant exclusively for the disadvantaged and downtrodden sections of our country. We would facilitate, help and train them to get their work done, such that with passage of time they would need less and less of our help to get their work done and ultimately they would do their work themselves.

Ques. What are your long term goals towards Aravali Institute of Management?

Ans. In the year 2000, we began with a management institute in Rajasthan and we are now working towards establishing world-class institutions in all the other major areas of education as well, leading to a world-class deemed university. We are also working to establish three other unique landmarks in the State – Entrepreneurship Incubation Park, Centre for Scientific Temper and Education for Empowerment project.

Ques. Tell us about your plans in making this institute as one of the premier institutes of the country in the field of management?

Ans. Providing top quality management education in a non-elitist manner which is accessible, available and affordable to all those who wish to pursue it.

Ques. Any suggestion you would like to give to the current youth?

Ans. Be a firm believer in the Pygmalion Effect, which says that anyone who is no one can become someone – for example, even a sweeper can become CEO of a top corporate. Have a dream (purpose in life), passion (surrender to the purpose) and values (principles which signify the uniqueness in you). Tell yourself everyday that failure as an option is just not available to you. Have immense confidence in your character, commitment, courage and conviction. And you will succeed, sooner rather than later. All the best in your career and life.

Last Updated - 29 Apr 2016

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