Thursday, 12 January 2017

India’s Most Visionary Edu Leaders - Prof Prem Vrat

PROF (DR) PREM VRAT
PRO-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR OF EMINENCE & CHIEF MENTOR,
THE NORTHCAP UNIVERSITY
GURUGRAM

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

E=A[∝.K+(1-∝)S]

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.

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