Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Mr. Arjun graduated from University of St Andrews in 2007 and worked with Merrill Lynch International Bank for close to five years, before realizing that it was not for him, but he continued supporting the Arsenal Football Club much to the dismay to his friends. He moved back to India in the fall of 2011 and joined ITC’s rural development and farmer empowerment programme: E- Choupal.
His research took him to the remotest parts of the country where Mr. Arjun focused on the right to price information for the benefit of farmers. Post his stint in rural India, he took over as the strategy head at a leading consultancy in the high-school mentoring and study abroad sector. Mr. Arjun now divides his time between Gurgaon and Sonipat, and works in the education sector with OP Jindal Global University in the capacity of Director of Admissions and Outreach. He teaches in the Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities as well. He focuses on food and culture studies. He launched his first book at the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival in 2015. He continues to write for leading publications, giving his opinion on most things food, culture, cricket. With a book on its way, the road ahead is both nervy and exciting. He recently delivered his second TEDx Talk and is slated to speak at another one very soon. Mr. Arjun is very passionate about Study in India and spends his time traveling across India and the world – addressing thousands of students.
Mr. Arjun’s experience in the education sector
The journey has been extremely exciting! I left London in the fall of 2011 and decided to move back to India. It wasn’t the easiest decision in the world leaving such a renowned organization. But for me, the most important thing was to chase something I was passionate about. I moved to work in the rural development/farmer empowerment sector with ITC (E-Choupal) and found it to be a great learning experience. It gave me a deep and honest insight to India. And, over the last 4 years being part of one of India’s finest universities, O.P. Jindal Global University, I have had the privilege to interact with some of the brightest minds in academia, both faculty and students. It’s a blessing! The ability to always be in an environment of learning and education – it’s a dream.
Issues according to Mr. Arjun that are majorly faced by the students
I take up several speaker commitments through the year and try reaching out to as many students as possible in as many locations possible. I recently delivered my 3rd Tedx Talk in Coimbatore and found the audience to be incredibly reactive, intelligent and honest. The idea is to spread the good word! I try and speak to them of my own experiences, failures and confusions. To address the youth, it is most important to be honest with them. I try and reach out to them about the importance of decision making, to chase what you love and to always believe in oneself. The students face several issues – some speak of parental pressure while others highlight depression, some speak of their inability to study what they love because they see no career opportunities within that sphere while others raise concern over extra study load in schools. We must support students and understand their concerns and try do our best to help them – every step of the way.
Changes according to Mr. Arjun that Indian education should imbibe
I feel we should try and make our system slightly holistic and not only focus on marks/grades. It is important to assess each child individually and to let them grow.
Mr. Arjun on the importance of time management in life
Being the Director of Admissions and Outreach, I have an extremely hectic schedule to maintain – as I teach as well, it is of utmost importance to allocate time according to priority. Time management is critical in any profession. I have always believed in reaching a meeting 10 minutes before time and not wait till the last second! I am extremely punctual and respect those who are considerate of time. I always relay this to students as well – please respect the time of others!
Curriculum of OP Jindal Global University
We believe very strongly in constantly updating curriculum. Students must have up to date texts, articles, journals (etc.) to study from. The libraries need to be stocked accordingly, collaborations must be organized accordingly. At JGU, we firmly believe that the curriculum is essential to a student’s development. To engage with faculty/peers, it is of utmost importance that the curriculum is relevant and challenging.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU)
As the Director of Admissions and Outreach, it is important for me to have an up to date list of what our graduates are doing and how they’re faring. Each school at the university has its own CDPD (Career Development and Placement Division) cell that works around the clock to assist students. I am of the firm opinion that students must take part in a few internships (at least 5) before choosing what he or she wants to pursue as a career. At JGU, we encourage students to intern regularly (through summer and winter breaks). And, the students are asked to submit their feedback to their faculty mentors, this assists in understanding a student better in terms of the professional spaces the student might want to explore.
Mr. Arjun on how O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) is transforming itself for the changing education environment
We’re blessed to have the freedom we do in order to impact lives and full credit for building such a world class university goes to the benefactor and Founding Chancellor, Shri Naveen Jindal, Founding Vice-Chancellor Prof (Dr.) Raj Kumar, Principal Director Prof (Dr.) Sanjeev P Sahni and the faculty and administrative staff of this amazing university. One must come to the campus to see the transformation it is making in the country and globally. It is a matter of pride to see such universities coming up in India.
We believe in leading from the front and have been involved in nation building through institution building. We’re focused on the social sciences and have been from the very beginning.
At JGU we have-Jindal Global Law School, Jindal School of International Affairs, Jindal Global Business School, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, Jindal School Art and Architecture and Jindal School of Banking and Finance.
We believe in creating opportunities for our students and to encourage them to believe in inter-disciplinary learning and development.
Important skills according to Mr. Arjun that the students must possess in today’s environment
Each student has his or her own strengths – to focus on those is top priority! We waste enough time trying to become someone else – let’s keep things simple and encourage our students to be the best that they can be. In terms of skills that I feel greatly benefit students, I’d rate communication skills and decision-making skills right up there! We must encourage our students to be leaders and not followers. If we’re to move from a developing nation to developed nation, the youth of this country will play the most pivotal role.
Mr. Arjun’s focus area as a Director of O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU)
As the Director of Admissions and Outreach, I feel the most important area for me to focus is the quality of students. They should be ambitious, aspirational, diligent and good team players. We must move from a competition mindset to a collaborative one! We provide the students the best opportunities at the university, both in and outside of the class. We believe in creating an incredible learning environment – which means we invest in the best – infrastructure, faculty, opportunities and so on. Hence, the students we bring on board must be of the finest quality. I hope someday we can assess students on more than grades and marks and have a more holistic approach.