Ques 1. You have been the vice chancellor of AISECT University. Currently, you are the Senior Advisor there. Kindly tell us about your experience in the education industry and what makes it the best industry to work in?
Ans. I am quite fortunate to be the first Vice-Chancellor of the first Private University of Madhya Pradesh located at its capital Bhopal. The education industry is not only the biggest industry of the country, it plays the most crucial role in the nation building. It is also said that if you want to measure the strength of a nation, then look at its education system. For any good, bad or ugly, happening anywhere, you can trace its root cause to the education system because the education system is the main source for producing most vital raw material for every sector – the human resources. I feel proud to be part of this nation-building industry. Private participation in education is the biggest game changer in recent times. Private institutions are addressing two most crucial issues i.e. enhancing accessibility and affordability of education to much larger mass and increasing GER rapidly – both being pre-requisites for faster growth of the nation. The contribution of AISECT University in improving affordability has been significant. The largest Scholarship “Shikha Mitra” benefiting about 500 students from rural and poor background every year was a big initiative that we took in AISECT University. It makes me very happy that I have led this private participation as Founder VC of the first Private University of M.P. We did not follow the beaten path but created space to think and work out of the box. I found that Private Universities can also play a big role in furthering various governmental and social initiatives like Digital India, Skill India, Swachch Bharat, Make in India, Environment Awareness, etc. AISECT University was probably the first university to establish Skill Academies and organize a PAN-India start-up contest in collaboration with CII, adopt a number of villages to launch various social action plan including e-Shakti the digital literacy campaign for women. So, the experience as the Vice Chancellor has been quite rich and satisfying.
Ques 2. Apart from your strong background in the education industry, you served the Indian Air Force as a Group Captain (1970-1998) as well. What is your philosophy of leadership? How would you describe your leadership style?
Ans. Whether you are commanding a defense force or leading an academic organization, good leadership traits are most common. As a leader, the question is, how accurately can you assess the challenges and opportunities, how you organize your resources, motivate your people to achieve the organizational goals. I call a person a good leader who is flexible but firm, who encourages all teammates for opinion, advice, and participation but takes and stand by, by his own decisions, who loves his team but keeps his organizational goals above everything else. I think the four letter of the word LEAD gives you some clue to be a good leader. The first letter L stands for learning- a good leader has to be a good learner all his life. The letter E stands for example- by personal example and not by preaching a leader has to lead from the front and win confidence and love of the entire team. The letter A stands for anticipation and adventure- the ability to foresee problems and opportunities and having the courage to take calculated risk are the qualities which can make a leader successful. The last letter D is for decision – capability to take the right decision at right time must be vital for a leader.
Ques 3. Any of the significant challenges you faced as the vice chancellor and senior advisor of AISECT University?
Ans. The education system in the country is passing through a transition phase. Students look at education like a product in the market. Job opportunities for students are now a bigger priority than acquiring knowledge. Employers do not want to spend on the training of students taken as employees. They want them to be productive from day one. The technology is changing very rapidly and institutions are not able to cope up in updating of their syllabus. These gaps have resulted in so-called employability gap and employers are saying that around 70 to 75% of the pass outs are not employable. The biggest challenge for us, therefore, was to address the problem of employability gap. We decided to tackle it on many platforms. We inducted industry experts in all our Boards of Study to modify our curriculum as per the need of industry every year. We are the first university to introduce compulsory skill courses for our students and established Skill Academies for over 30 skills. We also took the initiative to invite a large number of industry and corporate experts for interactive sessions with students on a regular basis. Introducing a large number of value addition courses and workshops on new technologies was yet another initiative. All these have paid rich dividends to meet the biggest challenge of employability gap. We were felicitated by Ministry of IT and Communication, GoI, for being best in skill delivery and bagged many other awards at national and international forums as the best skill based university. The other big challenge as the first private university was to face bias and over regulation by various Regulating Bodies. We organized the first Private University convention in 2013 where regulating bodies, industries and govt agencies participated with VC’s of a large number of private universities. We deliberated at length and everyone agreed that there is need to provide level playing field to Private Universities and thereafter some corrective actions also have been started by policy makers. As a result, MP has over 22 Private Universities which are together contributing to the growth of the Education Industry. As a Senior Advisor, my responsibility is to create a vibrant environment for research and innovation. We have created a Core Research Group (CRG) with experts from all over India. We have identified Renewable Energy, Material Science, Space & Earth Science and Environment Science as our key research areas and developed Advanced Research Labs with an investment of around one crore. We have announced very attractive awards for research initiatives of various kinds for our students and faculty.
Ques 4. How do you look at the growth of students through placement opportunities available at AISECT University? How do you wish to push the envelope further?
Ans. Our approach towards placement problem is slightly different and multi-dimensional. Our efficient Training and Placement Cell is just minuscule part of the game plan. Our philosophy is to teach fishing to a person rather than giving him fish on a platter. Our effort is to make a student competent and confident where he could rightly deserve and claim a job. We have industry experts in our Academic Council and BoS who advise us on curriculum changes, value additions and skill tips on a regular basis. We have established Skill Academies for imparting over 30 types of skills to fill skill gaps. For overall development of a student, we do not limit ourselves to only effective teaching learning pedagogy, but we offer a vibrant platform for overall development. A very dynamic Student Activity Council (SAC) and NSS are entrusted with organizational responsibility for regional, national and international cultural, sporting, academic and social events. A literacy club “Lekhni” a debating Club “Samwad” a social drive “Uththan”, a student research forum “Horizon” a Cultural Cub “Umang”, etc. are many forums runs by students, for students. We facilitate overall development of students in a big way. We are also aware that the world is passing through a difficult time of job crunch and global economy slow down. To face this challenge, we promote entrepreneurial development. We have established a vibrant ED Cell and Incubation Center. We are the first to organize a yearly PAN India Startup and Standup Competition in collaboration with CII. We continue to enlarge our effort because we feel it’s better to create job creators rather than job seekers. We provide mentors and support from Industries to all start up programs of our students.
Ques 5. Being an alumnus of IIT Madras, do you agree that the other universities across the country are coming at the level of IITs or will they always remain a difference in terms of quality education?
Ans. IIT’s have a distinct advantage in form of huge governmental support for resources, funds and ease of functioning and governance. One must understand that performance of IIT’s is to do more with the creamy layer of most brilliant students who take admission there, rather than the quality of education imparted. There are a number of old Private institutes/universities also which are doing equally well. Most of the private institutions are rather new. If given time, level playing field, equal treatment and support by the government, many of these Private Universities have potential to develop like IIT’S in time to come. I feel with the right effort that AISECT University could be one of them.
Ques 6. Your university has students coming from different backgrounds as well as different states of the country. How do you build a positive culture or climate among the students?
Ans. We have students coming from 23 states and also some from abroad. Our Student Activity Council (SAC) and NSS are the most potent platform in the university which works as an effective bridge to bring students from different regions and background together. AISECT University is very well known for the most colorful, social, cultural and musical events organized round the year to celebrate not only local occasions but also to cover events and festivals from other regions. Our students collaborate with many organizations outside MP which give an opportunity for a larger canvas. A big Theater Group Catharsis from Romania collaborated with our students Cultural Club “Umang” and together they have staged many shown in Bhopal and outside. AISECT University is a mini India living in perfect harmony.
Ques 7. How does your curriculum ensure best practices of the industry?
Ans. Our curriculum is reviewed every year. Reviews are done on the basis of inputs from multi sources. We obtain formal suggestions from employers who visit our campus for placement after recruitment cycle. We have a large number of industry experts who visit our campus for interactive sessions and expert lectures as part of our academic calendar. We have a system of finding gaps in our curriculum in a formal way from them. We have Board of Studies for each discipline which has concerned industry expert as a member who gives advice on curriculum upgradation based on new happenings in industries and corporate world. There is a formal system of feedback on curriculum from other stakeholders like faculty, student, parents and academic experts visiting our campus. All the above inputs are considered in academic meetings and Board of Study meetings to discuss and process these inputs to make curriculum industry ready.
Ques 8. How do you tend to establish a relation with the students being the ex-vice chancellor of the university and now being the senior advisor there? How do you make yourselves available to them?
Ans. As the Senior Advisor, I have more time for students that too on an informal platform. We have formed a Core Research Group (CRG) which promotes Research, innovation and skill development. We have created a fund of Rs. One Crore to be spent every year on these activities. We also publish two Research Journals “Shodhaytan” and “Anusandhan” which is approved by UGC. We encourage students to take up research projects, motivate them for writing research papers, and participate in research events in and outside the country. Financial support is provided to the student for these activities. All these activities provide ample opportunity to interact with students.
Ques 9. What goals do you have in your mind for your university for the next few years?
Ans. There are few areas in which I would like my university to excel. We are promoting research activities in a big way with a goal to take the university to the very high pedestal. We organize international research events every alternate year. Last year, it was a conference with about 15 countries participating after which a Consortium has been formed. We have entered on to MoU’s with many international organizations. We have two ongoing international research projects currently. With our own resources, we have started 8 research projects also. We have developed remarkable research labs. So, I hope that on the research front, the university is ready to take a big leap. Another area in which we are keen is the Skill Development. With the kind of facilities created, Skill Academies established and curriculum worked out in the university, we are going to be an important Skill University in coming years. I would like our ED Cell and Incubation Center to contribute significantly in Make in India initiative. I see a lot of startups by our students in coming years.
Ques 10. Any suggestions you would like to give to the current youth and the aspiring students?
Ans. I would say that our aspiring students should keep four C’s in then mind. Core Competency, Communication, Concern and Character. They should not go by the market trend but identify the field of study as per their aptitude and capability. Whatever discipline they join, they should work hard to excel in acquiring fall knowledge, Skill and Competency. From day one, they should make concerted effort to develop the art of good communication. They should acquire the skill to communicate effectively and convincingly through various extracurricular platforms available in the institutions. The third C is for Concern for social and moral values. Always make effort to empower the society through your education. It is said that wealth lost is nothing lost, health lost is something lost, but character lost is everything lost. The youth has to develop a character and dedicate him/her to cause of the nation by working honestly and efficiently where ever he or she is. I am sure that if a student acquires command on these four C’s, he/she is ready to command a fulfilling and successful career.Last Updated - 05 Jul 2017