Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Dr. Amit Srivastava conferred PE (Professional Engineer) by ECI

Engineering Council of India (ECI) jointly with Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) with approval from Board of Registration of Professional Engineers (BRPE) conferred Dr. Amit Srivastava (Associate Professor & Head, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, The NorthCap University, Gurgaon) the title of Professional Engineer (PE).

Engineering Council of India, the Apex Federation of 32 Indian Professional Engineering Institutions / Associations representing all engineering streams in India, was created in 2002 to oversee the development of engineering profession in India. In continuation of its mandate, it has now entered into an agreement in a South East Asia meeting at Bangkok to create and develop an Asian Register of Professional Engineers to facilitate Cross Country Operations. After receiving PE enrollment, engineers will be empowered to become capable and competent to work in Asian countries across the border.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

ReThink India - Visionary Eduleaders of India


Personal Vision for the Institution Headed Last

As Vice Chancellor of ITM University (now The NorthCap University) during 2011-2014, a number of transformational initiatives were taken which were intended to bring in research culture in a private university, which in general is handicapped due to lack of research support from the industry and the government.
  • Vision, Mission and Core Values of the university were established.
  • Faculties mentoring scheme, 
  • Flexible timings, 
  • 360 degree like faculty performance appraisal system, 
  • VC innovation fund
  • Recognition of best teachers,
  • Researchers on 5th September each year were some of those initiatives.
  • Attracting, retaining good faculty was priority area for my attention.
E-governance,zero tolerance against delays on academic deliverables, extensive inspirational meetings with faculty;benchmarking with best practices of better known institutions were attempted andit made a visible impact of ITM (now NCU)’s brand equity.

Set up an Academic Advisory Board comprising of some most well-known and eminent persons fromthe academic, scientific and industrial world gave us a powerful Think Tank as our direction indicator.Leveraging locational advantage and transparent systems, more collaborations were established.
How Prof PremVrat likes to see India’sEducational System unfurling and playing a lead role in defining & determining the national discourse?

Indians are extremely intelligent people. Its demography is also favorable to pay rich demographic dividends. Indian parents can do whatever sacrifices it takes to afford a quality education to their wards.These are positive environmental factors to nurture Indian education system.If we do not convert the demographic dividend by ensuring 100% employability to our young population, it may become demographic disaster.

We need to match brilliant minds with equally brilliant mindsets to impart 100% global employability.This can transform the development agenda of the country. It will produce outstanding individuals; scientists, engineers, doctors and others who will contribute to India’s growth and development and also be sought after globally to support other economies of the world.Thus focusing on creating world standard education and producing great minds who are also great human beings can put India into the category of ‘vishwa-guru’ once again.

We also need to shed Macaulay mindset by over-recognizing foreigners and ignoring scholars of comparable caliber who chose to remain in India.
Prof. PremVrat’s candid evaluation of the direction & demeanor of the current disposition and his objective critiques & suggestions for improvement across the spectrum

Current scenario of education at all levels- primary, secondary and tertiary is far from being quality driven, learning-centric, affordable and employability oriented. In number terms-particularly the technical education it has grown almost exponentially but its quality has taken a back seat.Commercialization of education has attracted huge private equity participation but due to lack of perceived quality and employability it is now experiencing a boomerang effect. Enrolments in engineering and management schools have gone down to the level of where it was in 2008.

Prof. PremVrat has written extensively on different occasions to control this decay to avoid major catastrophic outcomes in higher education. Undue focus on monetary/profitability issues in private owned institutions and apathy on the part of stakeholders in publicly funded institutions are a cause of concern. Over-regulatory approaches rather than nurturing, mentoring, hand holding and facilitatingrole of regulators is aggravating the situation further.

Education in India is in the need of major surgery if the demographic dividend potential is to be realized- sooner than later.

Teacher has to be made the fulcrum to leverage quality in education. A great inspiring teacher-at all levels of education can transform the future of society.

Teachers can’t be considered as employees but important contributors to the nation building process.

Being an IITian of 54 years standing which symbolizes excellence; Prof. PremVrat has prescribed the role of teacher as ‘IIT’: Involve Inspire and Transform.

Thus great inspiring teachers are critical success factors in quality education. An inspiring teacher can do wonders to the class in the talent nurturing process provided they love the job that they do.It is only possible if society creates environment when the best and the brightest of the society joins teaching and research as a preferred career option.Right now it is the other way round. To reverse this trend is a major socio- economic challenge.

There is currently an acute shortage of great inspiring and dedicated teachers in the country.In US/Canada, there is no age of retirement of a teacher. In our country due to policy paradox, even talented teachers retire on attaining a particular age –which should actually be no more than a number. Yet there is 25-30% of faculty shortage in even India’s most elite institutions. Thus talent shortage and talent wastage due to ‘expiry date on talent’ are happeningsimultaneously which does not happen in the best systems in the developed world.

We could therefore benchmark the best practices of reputed universities worldwide.We should also provide a level playing field between government funded and privately funded institutions.In USA, some of the best universities are in the private sector.We should also correct the distorted priorities in educational management in private or even publicly owned institutions.The correct priority in our opinion is- quality of faculty;quality of teaching-learning process; quality of academic leadership; quality of admissions;quality of infrastructure, alumni relations collaborations with academia and industry;focus in sports and cultural events in that order as ranking.

Any distortion in these priorities must be corrected if Indian education system is to excel.

Even world class buildings with mediocre faculty will not result in excellence.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

India’s Most Visionary Edu Leaders - Prof Prem Vrat


Predictions & Striving

Prof. PremVrat has strongly believed that unless, the best and the brightest of the society join teaching and research as the most preferred career option, the quality of education in general and technical education in particular will not improve.The faculty quality is the most critical success factor in quality of education.He has also been strongly advocating that in the end, only quality driven educational educations would survive.

With this in mind, he has been persistently following with passion to enhance the quality of education.

At an individual level, he is personally engaged in teaching and research for more than 48 years.

It also conveys that being a professor should be more respectable than holding an additional administrative job such as director or Vice-Chancellor. With this in mind, he has always been engaged in directly teaching, guiding research writing books and research papers despite holding top academic ranks as director at IIT Roorkee and IIT Delhi and Vice Chancellor at UPTU and ITM Gurugram.It sends the right signal to academic world that teaching is the most respectable among various jobs.

He has also been predicting that unless we make our young population globally employable;the demographic dividend potential might turn out to be demographic disaster potential.Hence making our education quality driven to enable 100% employability should be our goal.If they are employable, employment will come, if not even if employed they may not be able to hold on to it.With this he has written; lectured and researched on the need to ensure 100% employability to our graduates to reap the demographic dividend.

He has developed a model of employability


Where E= Employability, A= Attitude, K= Knowledge, S= Skill, ∝=relative importance of knowledge over skill (between).A software has been filed under copyright to enable employers to use this model to improve the quality of hiring decisions. This applies to all types of courses.
We also need to have a wider focus on IT. IT to him could be much more than ‘Information Technology’ if we interpret and nature IT as ‘Indian Talent’.

Persistence of Pursuing

Prof. PremVrat's conviction in improving the quality of teaching and research for past 48 years has resulted in great personal satisfaction as a teacher and researcher leading to 39 international quality standard PhD degrees being awarded under my guidance and 3 are under submission.

He has published more than 450 research papers with google scholar citations of more than 4950.
He has written 7 books; guided 118 M.Tech and 65 B.Tech projects; conducted 33 industrial consultancies.

This success on academic front is due to his persistent passion for past 48 years to personally excel in teaching and research so that it can sense as a role model to rest in the institute. This has done wonders in his contributions to educational institution building process.

Transformation of IIT Roorkee as its first director, quality focus and transformation in UPTU and major quality driven changes in ITM as its Vice Chancellor are the testimony of realizing the outcomes of persistence on ensuring academic excellence.

Cauldron of Conviction

Some anecdotal examples of calculated risk that he took in his long academic journey in teaching, research and institution building are given below.  In hindsight he believes that those calculated risks were worth it.

Punctuality & Personal Integrity

I have focused on two personal attributes since my childhood-punctuality and personal integrity. Despite being labelled as ‘embarrassingly punctual’ by some, this trait has helped me in at least converting some people to become more punctual; it has enhanced my image in general and people take me more seriously.

I did not give up on this count though I may mention in lighter vein that I must have spent 3-4 years of my life in waiting-waiting in class for students; in meetings for members to assemble and in conferences for sessions to begin. But I take that as a premium for practicing my values.

It was only in AIT Bangkok where I was Division Chairman that my President, Prof. Alastair North a British noted and appreciated in me being always the first to be in meetings.

My second focus on integrity was a risk worth taking. One’s your image travels faster and people knew that if it is merit driven, case; no need to pursue with him because it will be done in normal course. And if it is not merit driven no need to pursue with him because it will not be done. Hence I had hardly any interference in my work; my telephones have been remarkably silent even as IIT director or Vice Chancellor. But the risk I took and have willingly accepted it is that I do not get frequently approached for any favour. As a side effect, I do not get nominated to important policy or selection boards because of this perception. I am fine with it.

Patience, Determination & Calculated Risk

I was invited by President of AIT Bangkok, to take charge as Professor and Division Chairman. On the very first day of taking charge, there was a major fire in the Computer Lab of the Industrial Engineering Division and it caused heavy damage to the lab though there was no causality. On first day; such a huge loss did not disturb me though some felt it could be a sabotage as I had been asked to come from India to chair the division. Ignoring all rumors, and some motivated concerns on environmental issues arising out of burning of asbestos etc.; I led the division with courage and honoured all the staff and students who helped in fire control and ignored the scare from rumor mongers. After a month of rescheduled venues for meetings and with full support of almost all in the faculty, the normalcy was restored. Patience; determination and calculated risk proved to be worth it.

Strength of Conviction for Search of Excellence

In the process of transformation of erstwhile university of Roorkee to IIT Roorkee; many calculated risks were taken which were based on the strength of conviction that in search of excellence those decisions were required.Eventually those decisions turned out to be the game changers. Amalgamating 5 different employees unions into a single union, replacing students union with Students Affairs Council on part with SAC of IIT Delhi were some very difficult but required changes where risk was worth taking. It proved to be great help in pursuit of excellence.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


Excerpts from Convocation address at B.S. Abdur Rehman University, Chennai on Nov, 20 2016 and Dr. V. K . Saraswat, Member NitiAayog and published in University News, Association of Indian Universities, Dec 19 – 25, 2016.

Pre Scouter, a futurologist developed a report which showed that there are nine disruptive technologies that provide to revolutionize the world as we know it. These are:
  • Big Data
  • Automation and Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things, IOT
  • Micro Electro Mechanical Systems MEMS
  • Nano – Materials
  • Bio Technology
  • Tera – Hertz Imaging & Communication
  • Advanced Energy Systems (Production and Storage)
  • 3 D Printing

He predicts “Big Data” will be a $50 billion industry by 2017. Many industries and organizations have already started using this. Automation and AI is starting to get introduced in consumer goods and this is already a $205 billion industry. He believes that by 2022 there will be a network of 50 billion connected objects as IOT and this would contribute a whopping $2 Trillion.

MEMS sensors and actuating devicesare important building blocks of cyber-physical system. Miniaturised devices are already transforming the medical world as well as industrial diagnostics,Nano materials are revolutionizing the sensors, structures, electronics, etc. The market is more than $25 billion.

Biotechnology is revolutionizing agriculture. Biotechnology has advanced to such a point, that crops are able to be developed that are drought – resistant and have better vitamin content and salinity tolerance. This technology will make highest impact on Second Green Revolution to get rid of the problem of hunger in the world. The market already exceeds $80billion per year. Tera Hertz imaging; extends sensory capabilities by moving beyond the realm of human body. Communication in this frequency range will provide very high bandwidth for transmission of zeta bits/s data.

Advanced energy storage and generation is the need of the hour for ever expanding population of world, which has been expanding needs of energy. Besides newer battery technology, green energy producing systems (solar wind, ocean, bio, hydrogen etc.). Cold fusion power may become a reality. 3D printing is making tremendous strides and contributing to smart and advanced manufacturing of products using different materials viz..polymers, metals, ceramics, tissues, etc., at low cost and without wastage of material. It is already a $20 billion market and growing at 35% each year.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Prof Prem Vrat - Visionary EduLEADERS of India


Case 1

Research breakthrough inspired by a casual comment of a participant in an Executive Development Program at IIT Delhi

I was conducting an Executive Development Program for senior central government officers on ‘Materials Management’ in early 1980’s.The issue was how to estimate the cost of carrying inventory and as usual I listed all the cost components that are found in a good textbook on inventory management.However, a senior engineer who was participant asked a question –What about the increased material consumption by virtue of having them in stock?This casual observation stirred my thought process and we developed an inventory model called by us as ‘stock dependent consumption’ phenomenon.The first scientific model based paper was published jointly with my research student (Dr. Rakesh Gupta; Senior Technical Director NIC, Government of India) in OPSEARCH in 1986; which has become a path breaking research model globally and has enables researchers globally to take lead from this very first research paper.

It can be seen that our first paper has been cited by more than 215 research papers published globally. I have guided three PhD students in this area and there are more than 500 research papers published globally based on Stock Dependent Consumption model first conceived by us. We are still working by linking it with Waste Control because any stock induced consumption is an un-necessary resource consumed and hence a waste. Recently my current research scholar who examined through a case study that about 20% extra water is consumed over legitimate requirements in DDA Colonies due to huge storage tanks residents have installed in their houses because ‘just-in-case’ phenomenon.This paper has recently been awarded the best student research paper award and by The Indian Institution of Industrial Engineering at the National Conference at Nagpur.All this is due to that casual question my course participant had asked which gave me an extra informational input resulting in such a major research outcomes.

Case 2

Resuscitating the Legacy of First Steam Locomotive at Roorkee

When I joined IIT Roorkee at its first director in 2001;I came across through the Librarian Mr. Yogendra Singh about a book written in 1860 by Sir Cautley, published from London which gave a graphic, technical details of ‘Solani Aquaduct Railway’ which had 2 coaches and steam a engine called ‘Thomason’ from Roorkee to PiranKaliyar, a distance of 10 miles at the speed of 4 miles/hour. This was the first steam engine train that ran on Indian rails;though the Railways had been celebrating 150 years of first train that ran from Bombay to Thane; which was 2 years later than the Roorkee train.

I found great historical value in this information to project Roorkee-PiranKaliyar as the first train on Indian rails and not Bombay-Thane as railways had been assuming.With strong conviction, I pursued it with press. Ministry of Railways and then HRD minister Dr. MM Joshi, who supported my finding; but Railways were reluctant to accept.May be they were in the midst of celebrating 150 years in 2003 and it could have upset it. However through my constant persistence and proof given in that book of Sir Cautley (then Chief engineer of Ganga Canal Project);finally in 2005; railways accepted it and put a line-diagram of ‘First Steam Locomotive’ in India called ‘Thomason’ at Roorkee Railway Station.Eventually through kind support of then chairman Railway Board, Mr. R.K Singh; a working model of India’s first steam Engine which ran in Roorkee was fabricated at its Amritsar Railway workshop. Mr. R.K Singh then CRB travelled by a special train to Roorkee to ‘install’ that engine infront of Roorkee Railway Station.This inaugural plaque also mentioned my presence on the occasion. That gave a new recognition to Roorkee, not only the first engineering college but also the first steam engine that ran on Indian rails. But it all started with a casual glance of Sir Cautley’s book.

Case 3

Data Based Analytics at UPTU to augment Student Performance

When I had joined as the Vice-Chancellor of UP Technical University, Lucknow in 2006;

I noticed that everyday a huge queue of hundreds of students across the entire state will assemble to collect their provisional mark sheets. I felt it was unreasonable to make them travel and wait when information technology can do the same job at their own place. I discussed with the Controller of Examination (COE)-Prof. V.K Singh, if we could reduce the misery of our students leveraging technology but ensuring fool-proof arrangement on the credibility of the process. Eventually it was decided to electronically transmit these provisional marksheets to their respective colleges with authority of the COE and then the college Principal/Director could get it downloaded; countersign it and give it to those seek this information. This simple step led to almost zero queues which were a daily routine earlier. UPTU Examination Cell would be generating 25 million data points on examination results every semester but it was not analyzed to gain insightful information earlier. I used this in a variety of ways to improve the examination efficiency by analyzing this data every semester. Some initiatives based on this information which led to breakthrough improvements were:

I used Pareto’s Law by analyzing the examination data to observe that in the First year of B.Tech Programme, 7% subjects were resulting in 91% of the total failures. I used this information and shared it across all colleges so that they could focus on these 7% courses to control 91% of student failures by maintaining the teaching effectiveness;special attention to these subjects; field their best teachers to teach these subjects, also examine the syllabus and question papers for any improvements needed.This process of sensitization about very few subjects critical to reduce failures resulted in very substational improvements in student performance.Encouraged by this many other data-based initiatives were taken which will perhaps require a book to document.

Case 4

From State University to State of the Art University

When I was appointed first director of IIT Roorkee; it was an honour, an opportunity-cum-challenges to ‘transform’ the oldest and reputed state technical university into a newest IIT. I redefined my transformation goal as-from state university to ‘State of the art university’-IIT system. In a single tenure such a massive transformation was a wild wired imagination because more than minds; the transformation of mindsets is more important. I used a strong logical appeal to all stake holders of IIT Roorkee to accept my vision as their shared vision. The idea that clicked to motivate positive action was my managerial version of Eiensten’s Scientific equation.
But in my equation E=Excellence that IIT system requires; m=Motivation and c= Commitment of all stakeholders to achieve excellence. I used this to motivate faculty, staff and students of IIT Roorkee. Choosing this equation was because it had a brand value but with a solid motivational appeal to quantitative oriented scientific minds.

I demonstrated that if c=0.5 then we are doing our job in a half-hearted, laid back indifferent style. This will result in E =1⁄4 m. However if we have to the passion, zeal enthusiasm with c=2 then E=4m. Thus no excellence will ever be possible if we do our job with indifference and lack of passion. With passion and Zeal no one can stop the attainment of excellence. If IIT Roorkee were to join elite group; excellent has to be its sole aim which requires passion and zeal by all. I extensively shared this equation every semester among faculty staff and students. They became owners of the change agenda and a major transformational, overall academic, infrastructural and systemic improvement was accomplished when I demitted office on 31st May 2006.

Case 5

Design of UP Technical University Academic Excellence Award Model

In 2006, I had an opportunity to lead UP Technical University as its Vice Chancellor.

This was anti-thetic to my challenges at IIT Roorkee. IIT’s have quality but fewer quantity. UP Technical University had quantity but all did not perceive it to be quality numbers.Thus ‘quality’ became my sole objective in giving leadership to UPTU.

I had to carry with me-throughout the state all engineering and other professional colleges in this journey and sensitize them all that only-quality will survive in the long run.I wrote and lectured extensively that ‘quality is relevant for anything worth doing’ and ‘if quality is not relevant then it is not worth doing’. To remove apprehensions I debated that quality and numbers are not necessary anti-thetic. I said numbers are immaterial if these are quality numbers and numbers have no meaning at all if these are not quality.Thus growth of UPTU concurrently with quality enhancement was possible.With a missionary zeal, I focused in improvement of quality of colleges affiliated to UPTU and used techniques of TQM and statistical process control extensively leveraging my background of industrial engineering. One idea that became a great success was ‘design of UP Technical University Academic Excellence Award’ model designed and developed by me leveraging quality award model framework but in a technical higher education context. In 2007 it was launched with the full blessings of all stakeholders including the Governor – Chancellor.It energized these colleges to focus on total quality as measured over ten parameters and assessed out of 1000 points. To ensure its perfect implementation; an eminent jury-headed by then AICTE chairman and members who were drawn from famous institutes and industry. No one from UPTU or its colleges was associated with it so that it is also perceived to be a credible assessment. It required courage to accept that in 2007, none was found suitable to be given ‘academic excellence award but some ‘star performers’ were honoured. Second and third year of its implementation spread the quality message through the entire spectrum of these colleges. Eventually-the success story of UPTU Academic Excellence Award found inclusion as a case study in Indian version of a prestigious American Book in a chapter related to quality.

Case 6

Human Values & Professional Ethics in Technical Education

I had strong conviction that technological growth without good human values and professional ethics can indeed be a curse to the society rather than a boon because technology does better whatever we want it to do for us, but it does not say no if we want to use it for nefarious anti-social things. It does even those things more efficiently.Hence technological development must go on hand-in-hand with human development.We cannot be engineers/managers unless we are also good human beings.This imagination led me to initiate a project of introducing a compulsory audit course on ‘Human Values & Professional Ethics’ in all degrees to be awarded by UPTU.To effectively implement the idea, a number of sensitization workshops at different regions of UP with college chairmen, directors and faculty were conducted where I delivered lectures on the need to do it and how it will be good to the collegesas it will improve placements; reduce indiscipline and lead to better work culture.With enthusiastic colleges’ response, a team of role models in that subject was persuaded to develop an optimal curriculum for that. It deliberated the issues extensively and evolved a curriculum including the pedagogy and delivery mechanism.Without clearing the course one would not get a UPTU degree and one has to sit through again in the course if not passed as an audit course.It resulted in a very popular text book co-authored by Prof. RR Gaur, Prof. Rajeev Sangal and Prof. Ganesh Bagaria. On successful implementation in UPTU; over 7-8 other state technical universities have adopted that model in addition to Royal University of Bhutan. Punjab Technical University has even got this book translated in to Punjabi Language. Thus a wild imagination resulted in major breakthrough.

Case 7

Striking out a reasonable correlation between theory and practical marks

I have always held that we, in general; have lots of data but do not drive information/knowledge or wisdom out of it. With this perception I looked at a paradox in UPTU Examinations results. I analysed that about 97% of B.Tech students in UPTU graduated with 1st division. Yet the general perception in the society was that the quality of engineering graduates is declining. To analysis it further, I found a major variation in the centrally conducted UPTU theory examinationswith 70% marks and 30% marks to practical or sessional examinations given by the colleges as a part of their academic autonomy. It was very revealing. A student who may score 30% in the theory was getting 98% in practicals and almost every student would score more than 90% in sessional. This was distorting ranking perception of the colleges. A thorough statistical analysis was presented to the colleges to prove that there was no correlation between theory and practical marks.Hence it was decided to filter out the practical marks while academically ranking the colleges.Since a common examination and centralized evaluation was done by the university;it was decided to use only examination results data by the COE on theory papers to rank the colleges. This way the distortion in ranking could be reduced.It also revealed here that the autonomy given to colleges in practical evaluations was not being used effectively and lot of interactions was done with them to have a reasonable correlation between theory and practical marks. Some initiatives were taken to reduce the imbalance.

Case 8

Curation of Locale Specific Indigenous Metrics to Evaluate Student Attainment

A very innovative measure of academic performance termed as ‘GAIA’ Gross Average Intellectual Attainment was evolved in UPTU which almost transformed the way we look at academic performance. The genesis of this was an observation that colleges result analysis was based on the conventional style-% distinction; % first class and % second class. My under- standing of statistical inference led me to believe that an index which does not use complete data available on the subject cannot be a good index.Hence, we should develop an index which is holistic and uses 100% of examination related data available with the university to compute academic performance index.I was also curious to know why some colleges though not generally perceived to be quality driven, yet had some university level gold medalist in it.I was told that a strategy was to select one a two stars and focus all resources and attention on them so that they top the university examination and then leverage this attainment in publicity of the college. GAIA was an answer to all that. GAIA= (Sum of marks of all the students in all the subjects in all the semesters)/(Total number of answer books evaluated.) Fortunately all the above data are available in university computer system. Upon merits of this case; it was adopted as a holistic measures of academic performance and was used in academic ranking of all colleges and for UPTU Academic Excellence Award model. GAIA had a hierarchical structure and GAIA can be computed at a college level, at a department level; at a subject level; at a teacher level etc.! The benefits are enormous. To rank high; colleges have to focus on all the students-not on chosen few stars only; in all the subjects; in all the years and also in selection of students for admissions. If good students are selected GAIA will be higher and Vice-Versa.Inter-batch comparisons; inter-subject comparisons and inter-teacher comparisons can be done more holistically using this academic index.I have introduced GAIA but called it even in my current university-The NorthCap University and MSES where I served as chairman of Academic Committee. GAAP means Gross Average Academic Performance and is easy to pronounce.

Case 9

Relocation of the Agricultural Farm

This case is a non-academic change brought about while I was director at IIT Roorkee;which many felt was a long standing problem but note attempted to address it.Since it was amicably resolved by my proactive efforts; hence it is worth sharing.I was intrigued to observe that next to faculty housing and academic buildings;there was a 10-15 acre farm growing various crops as a part of experimental research in the famous WRDTC-Water Resource Development and Training Centre.The Idea was to experiment on crop productivity with varying intensity of irrigation.In summer there was harvesting/threshing at the same venue which manyresident faculty complained that it was eroding air quality and even contributing to ailments such as asthma. I realized it to be an important problem to be resolved. I learnt that there was only one faculty in WRDTC with 1-2 research scholars in undertaking this research.I persuaded the faculty if the farm could be shifted away from faculty residence and academic buildings. Rest of the departmental faculty was willing except the concerned professor. I believe that if individual interests have to be sacrificed for a greater public good; then it is worth doing and hence a decision to shift the agriculture farm was taken ensuring that the place is used for developing it as a park and hockey stadium which was also needed. The outcome of this bold decision delighted almost all in the campus and that area is now a place of pride in the campus. Temporary unhappiness of the affected professor vanished when I corrected what I perceived to be injustice to himin denying him the headship of WRDTC as with a perception that he may not be able to carry the department because of his strong stand on some issues. This opportunity to him to lead the department created a great enthusiasm in him and he turned out to be a very good head and also appreciated my decision to shift the location of the agriculture farm.It was an out of box solution to two persistent problems/issues which got resolved simultaneously.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Major Developments and Trends in the Higher Education System

India’s 16-rung leap in the recently released Global Competitiveness ranking by the World Economic Forum points towards its sharp focus on improving competitiveness. Towards this end, institutions of higher education have a great responsibility in empowering students with intellectual skills and ability to research, communicate and solve problems, ready to take up challenges in a changing global world in which most future jobs have not yet been created.

The focal point of higher education is to provide quality of learning and innovation in all programmes and consider new areas of learning with all rigour and relevance.The youth of today are not averse to taking risksand a growing number are inclined to work on their own. On the academic side, students look for flexibilityand choices. The complexity of present day issues do not allow for a linear or ready-made formulae. Multi and inter-disciplinary universities, at par with international standards, are a growing trend, where individuals are not restricted by the boundaries of a particular discipline.

Technology, particularly Information Technology has been a game changer. It calls for a complete re-engineering of educational processes and systems, both in content and style of delivery. The informational role of a teacher is giving way to a broader role of a mentor. ICT is encouraging self-learning and helping students acquireself-upgrading skills. Internationalization of education is one of the major trends in the Indian higher education sector. All measures to supplement faculty resources by reputed foreign faculty has the potential to bring in a fresh approach to pedagogyand research, one of the strongest pillars of any university.

Focus is on practical orientation and outcome based education. Students get an opportunity to come up with practical and realistic solutions.‘Learning by doing’  validates theoretical concepts in the curriculum.The Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the latest trend. They are breaking the barriers of geography and are accessible anytime anywhere.They have easily brought the best universities within the reach of students. MOOCs which were introduced by UGC in 2016 are ready to take off in a big way. 

Institutions of higher education have to change and prepare students for the future by identifying and preparing students for futuristic jobs and opportunities. Trends to watch out for in 2017:
  • More concern with enhancing employability and encouraging entrepreneurship in a big way 
  • Course content aligned to changing industry needs 
  • Introduction of more inter-disciplinary courses, courses at the boundaries of intersecting disciplines
  • Enhanced seamless vertical and horizontal mobility to create intellectual, economic and social value
  • Learning rather than teaching to be the guiding principle for tomorrow in a 24x7 e-learning environment.
  • Institutions of higher learning to offer an immersive learning environment that simulates realistic scenarios
  • Use of Open Educational Resources (OER) that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by users
  • Students to be imparted smart skills such as Machine Learning, Robotics, Business Analytics, Big Data Analytics, Gaming Skills, Critical Analysis skills and more.
  • Attracting the very best minds to the teaching profession by not only offering reasonable economic compensation but respect of society and peer groups to teachers

The sheer scale and diversity of the current Indian higher education scenario presents a significant challenge for the educator.

Rekha Mathur

Monday, 26 December 2016

E-commerce vs E-business : Stepping into the Digitized world

Dr Ruchi Nayyar
Assistant Professor & Head Of Department
The NorthCap University, Gurgaon

Broadband connectivity and increased usage of credit cards have provided a favourable infrastructure for the growth of online shopping in India. Continued liberalization in the telecom sector has shown positive effects in the past few years. The Indian Telecom Policy recognized the convergence of different media and permitted direct inter-connectivity amongst various service providers. Presently full – duplex communication for transmission of voice, data and information services is permissible under the telecom policy. Today, internet services can be conveniently obtained from telecommunication providers at affordable rates. Internet has reached common individuals, thanks to sprawling cyber cafes, inexpensive broadband connections and government initiatives of e-kiosks.

E-commerce offers customers maximum convenience. They can visit the websites of multiple vendors in the comfort of their homes and offices and are able to compare prices and make purchases. It is also easier to negotiate price and terms of delivery as the internet can help companies efficiently obtain competitive bid information. From the sellers’ perspective too, e-commerce increases sales opportunities of the sellers. They do not need to build, staff, or maintain a physical store or print and distribute mail order catalogs. Besides, use of automated order tracking and billing systems can cut additional labor costs Sellers can also enjoy the benefit of selling on international platforms and are therefore not limited by the physical location of a store. Internet technologies also help sellers to capture the consumer buying behaviors on the internet which could be used to build an ongoing relationship with the customer by customizing products and services to meet the customer's needs.

Despite providing innumerable benefits to the customers, e-commerce has its limitations too. There are a number of businesses (such as involving perishable foods and custom- designed jewelry) that cannot be successfully implemented on the internet. These products, regardless of the technology are difficult to get inspected from a remote location. There is also a universal standard of e-commerce. Taxation and data transmission over the internet cause a lack of trust in e-commerce. Technically speaking also, companies face problems while integrating their existing databases and transaction-processing software designed for traditional commerce into the software that enables electronic commerce. This resists a number of firms to invest into e-commerce.

E-business refers to the transformation and streamlining organizations value chain activities through the use of internet technologies. Sometimes e-business is equated with e-commerce but many contend that e-commerce is only a part of a much bigger picture. Although the terms e-commerce and e-business are used interchangeably, they are distinct concepts. In comparison to e-commerce, e-business is a more generic term as it refers not only to information exchanges related to buying and selling but also to B2C perspective. E-business enables companies to link their internal and external processes more efficiently and flexibly, work more closely with suppliers and better satisfy the needs and expectations of their customers. Besides, while e-commerce utilizes information and communication technology (ICT) in inter-business transactions, e-business deploys ICT to enhance the business in terms of production, customer relationship management and internal management. Therefore E-business is a key component of Higher Management Education to enable students to best utilize the power of the internet to improve customer delivery.