Interview by Pratyasha
Mr. Mukesh Kumar, IAS is presently serving as Provost of Gujarat Maritime University (GMU). He is also the Vice Chairman and CEO of the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). He carries a rich experience of 20 years in public administration and has served in civil services as Assistant Collector. His qualifications include B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur and an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, USA. Mr. Mukesh has worked in industry as well as educational institutions in various capacities from Managing Director to Commissioner of Schools with great competency; he has administered all projects and responsibilities. Being a devout philanthropist, he has ardently worked for social upliftment as well.
What makes GMU stand out!
In India, the ports and shipping industry plays a significant role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce. As per the Ministry of Shipping, around 90% of India’s trade by volume and 70% by value is moved through maritime transport. The industry acts as a primary means of international transport of any essential commodity.
A majority of programs cater to technical job roles in the industry which has turned the focus of Maritime Education Institutes on technical areas. However, there are very few institutes in India who actually focuses on the entire value chain of Maritime Industry. GMU envisions filling this void in the maritime education in India. In the initial years, the University will be focusing on commercial courses which have great demand for such qualified manpower in the industry. And next, they will hold various student exchange programs so as to provide them with a global exposure and understand the trade in a better way.
With this, GMU is set to launch a programme on Maritime Law, Policy and Administration. The courses will help the institution to realize the true potential and in coming years will put India in the forefront in providing qualified and trained power in the maritime domain. Through these programs, the University would address the manpower, education and training and research needs of the Industry.
GMU aspires to serve Maritime Community with world-class faculty
The prime objective of GMU is to be a global center of excellence in maritime education, research & development, and impart excellent professional training. It aims to enhance and increase the human capital and capacity in India and across the globe, by producing educated and well-trained professionals in this domain.
Apart from regular classes, students are given exposure that will make them industry ready. There are various problem-solving group exercises, entrepreneurial programmes, internships, research projects, research assignments, field surveys organised regularly by the faculties and organising committees.
Another step that we have taken is to recruit renowned national and international faculty to take up a various guest or regular lectures. International partners like Erasmus and STC are also assisting in designing the course curriculum as per the international standards.
Read about Gujarat Maritime University Faculty
In addition, GMU will also undertake research and consulting assignments with the industry and help address their research needs.
Challenges faced during inception of the University
The idea of setting up a Maritime University in Gujarat was conceptualized by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He had envisioned setting up of a knowledge bank and development of a university in Gujarat, to meet the demand for skilled manpower for the marine industry.
However, the major challenge for the establishment of this University was to find the faculty for the niche courses being offered at the University.
Curriculum practices at GMU
Each school shall have a Board of Studies and an Academic Council for all the courses and academic activities, having a fair representation of industry and government. GMU is planning to have visiting faculty from the Industry associated with the University. We are also taking help of our International partners to prepare curriculum which matches the international standards. Moreover GMU have a pool of eminent educationist to advice and guide Academic Council. Since, Gujarat Maritime Board is the sponsoring body of GMU and GMB remain in constant touch with the industry and takes regular feedback.
Keeping the needs of the industry in mind the LL.M programme is being offered in 2 modes i.e. General and Professional. Although, the LL.M (Professional) programme is full time, GMU will make necessary arrangements to facilitate the completion of study programmes by the students along with their continued services at the respective firms. There shall be some relaxation in the attendance, few classes shall be conducted during the weekends and some modules may also be taught through virtual classroom training tools and through video lectures.
Methods opted to interact with students
Being a new educational institution, it is highly important to enhance ourselves, develop and grow with each passing day. And to attain that, the best inputs we can get will be from the students as they are the prime focus of the university. To ensure free and comfortable flow of feedback or reverse inputs from the students we have to create and open environment.
We hold interactive sessions with the students as well as faculty members. These sessions helps us to obtain real-time feedback and helps us to plan a strategic and workable solution to the same.
We involve the students in the decision making of the Institute in terms of course delivery and issues related to course execution. To harness their talent, there are a number of clubs starting from book reading to covering startups, entrepreneurship, travel, and tourism, subject-related associations to make the University’s environment positive and healthy. We liberally connect them to their peer groups in India to showcase their talent.
Current and upcoming plans for the University
Establishing a continuous learning mechanism and supporting environment is quintessential for any educational organizations’ success. We are a firm believer of this philosophy. In order to ensure a holistic development of our students we have established a process of dynamic curriculum development. In this process, as I earlier mentioned, there shall be a collaboration with industry and international institutes to support and guide us in routinely revising and modernizing our course content.
The University plans to set up a Center of Faculty Development, where experts from academia and industry will conduct training sessions for the faculty of the University. Also, a comprehensive research infrastructure will be set up to facilitate continual learning and development of the Faculty.
Suggestions to the young generations
Nowadays, there is a cut throat competition in every stream or industry. My advice to the students is to choose the right course after doing proper research. Also, they must opt for a course that they have interest and passion for.
While conventional courses are still in demand there is a wide gap between supply and demand of sector specific skilled manpower. Students must opt for employ oriented sector specific courses to expand their mental horizon.