Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. Nimit Chowdhary is working as the Professor and HoD of Tourism at Jamia Millia Islamia. He did his BE in Mechanical Engineering and MBA in Marketing from Jai Narain Vyas University. He completed his Ph.D. in Business Administration and Management from Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University. Dr. Chowdhary’s focus has been on the tourism sector for the last 10 years.
Dr. Chowdhary holds a vast working experience. Before joining JMI, he has worked as a Professor, Professor and Chairman, Assistant Professor at Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, FMS and Mizoram University.
He looks forward to opportunities for working close to real-time business situations to learn from them and carry the lessons to the classroom by associating interpretations to create new knowledge for the learners and the larger business community.
Dr. Chowdhary’s experience in the education industry
My experience has been a very good experience and one of the reasons for it that it was my preferred employment. I left other good options to join teaching and I chose it as my preferred employment because there is a huge opportunity for continuous planning. Once I joined the sub-sector of tourism, it also included a lot of traveling. As I grew up in this industry, the job became more challenging. The academic scenario, the learning scenario around the world is changing fast which throws more challenges. Therefore, there is a huge opportunity to contribute. Obviously, it is good to be among young people as a teacher. That is why I think it is a very good industry to work in.
Dr. Chowdhary’s philosophy of leadership
For me, the first thing which is very important is activity-based learning. The departments that I lead, I try to inculcate learning by doing kind of an environment. I believe there is great potential in the young people. We really need to show them the way and facilitate their learning. Experimentation of the idea, opportunity to create an ecosystem where young people and teachers get adequate opportunity to experiment. For us, it’s an investment. So, you experiment, learn, you try, you fail and you learn. Your failure is to be taken as an investment.
Significant challenges faced by Dr. Chowdhary as the Professor and HOD of Tourism of Jamia Millia Islamia
We are a young department at Jamia Millia Islamia. I joined them only 5 months back. The department was there but there were not a lot of activities. My first responsibility was to put things in order which we have already done. I’m happy to share that today we are the most comprehensive tourism school in operation. By comprehensive, I mean that we offer a variety of programs ranging from the 1st year of graduation and technically it’s called ‘Level 5’, 2nd year of graduation has a certificate program, 3rd year of graduation has two more certificate programs.
We have two regular programs, one is Bachelor of Hotel Management and second is Bachelor of Tourism and Travel Management. For graduates, we have a Diploma in Tourism & Travel Management, we have a Masters in Travel & Tourism Management. We will also be offering M.Phil in Travel & Tourism. From Level 5 to Level 10, which is Ph.D. level, putting things and infrastructure along was a challenge. We are almost done with this too.
Curriculum of Jamia Millia Islamia
One formula is simple, we do what the customer wants! The industry is the customer. So, customer and pedagogy are driven by the need of the industry. To be responsive and to be addressing their need, we try to be as close as possible to the industry. We ensure to do that by being constantly in touch with the industry. We make use of most of the opportunities to allow us to do work, volunteer for the events and activities that the industry requires. We keep sending our people to industries, their activities, and events. We keep in touch with them, we allow people to visit the departments so that we get a feel for what is going on in the industry.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at Jamia Millia
We are the only university with best tourism school in Delhi NCR. No other university has a tourism department so we are the only one. On the other hand, the tourism industry of the country is largely based out of NCR and we are in touch with them. Personally, I have a very good connection with the industry, so placements are not at all an issue.
Dr. Chowdhary’s relation with the students being the Professor and HOD of Tourism of the university
I am always available for them 24x7 and we try to inculcate a culture wherein relationships with the students are so cordial that they have absolutely no limitations to reach out to any teacher when in need. Teachers get a lot of interest in their curricular and co-curricular activities. Students that we receive in the department are very polite and they have great respect for the teachers and elders.
Growth of Tourism Industry in next few years
Tourism Industry is growing in a very large space. Particularly in India, it’s doing really good. There’s already an increase of 18% foreign tourist travel between October 2016 and 2017. This is going to multiply and the kind of jobs it will create, the impact it will have on the economy is going to be huge. For the last so many years, I think if I am right, we have never had a negative growth in tourism. We had a negative foreign tourist travel only in 2010. Foreign tourist travel is one of the parameters of understanding foreign tourism.
Ideal school environment for Dr. Chowdhary
The keywords are freedom, responsibility, experimentation, and entrepreneurialism. We do so by encouraging the students should be a part of activities that are planned in the department and for the department. They should also do the implementation of the planning. Administration of the department focuses the energies on infrastructure and development.
On the other hand, teachers are supported to ensure continuous quality improvement and the quality of class and experience cannot be compromised. It is intended that the classes should be very vibrant and participative. There must be a lot of discussion and analysis. And of course, being in the Travel & Tourism department, traveling is a shared ethic. Everyone is encouraged to travel including the students, teachers, and staff.
Suggestions to the current youth
My only suggestion is that they should not miss any opportunity to learn from real-time situations. Unfortunately, our education system is too theoretical. Even students who come for postgraduation have do not have any idea of work. Some of they don’t have a work experience at all. When we teach in the class, we talk about certain terms of the industries. It goes over their heads, they don’t understand what is being discussed in the curriculum and what is being taught in the classes.
So, this is a challenge which most of the business schools and most of higher education in India is facing. What we are doing in our department is to allow students whatever real-time experience can have so that they can have a feel of real-time situations, feel of the corporate culture and very importantly, they can have the feel of the future job roles they are aspiring for. The students complete their postgraduation, but they don’t know what kind of jobs they are going to get. So, you spend 2 years in the postgraduate program, and join a job and then you don’t like it. We know this beforehand and therefore help the students to get the right direction.