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‘There is an immediate need to overhaul the education system,’ syas Flame University V-C Kamdar

Dishan Kamdar joined Flame university as vice-chancellor in August. A scholar in organisational behaviour, negotiation analysis and decision making, Kamdar speaks to Ananya Barua, about his goals for the development of the institution and the education sector of the country.

pune Updated: Sep 28, 2018 17:10 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashta,flame university
Dishan Kamdar, Flame university vice-chancellor. (HT Photo)

In your opinion, where does Indian education stand?

With fast-paced deviations driven by technological, social, economic and political changes, the world is becoming complex and knowledge that is learnt in isolation can make you obsolete in future. With sectors like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, cryptocurrency, robotics coming up, we will see plenty of new jobs emerging in the next few years - careers that we did not even think of. India is poised to become one of the youngest nations in the world by 2030, with around 140 million people in the college-going age group. So, there is an immediate need to overhaul our education system to prepare youngsters for hitherto unknown opportunities.

Our education system must support students to think out of the box, develop an entrepreneurial attitude and learn to perform multi-faceted roles in multi-cultural settings. I see a greater need to have a ‘generalist’ approach to education instead of ‘specialist’. This is precisely where liberal education can bring about a change with its multidisciplinary approach and a ringside view of looking at things. Offering cross - integrated courses and life-skills, liberal arts prepare students for diverse fields, opening up multiple career opportunities across sectors for students with diverse interests. Therefore, a liberal arts-based education is more relevant and indispensable in the coming decades. For far too long, India’s education has focused on IT, engineering and related streams and it is time, we bring back the arts and humanities and give them the importance they deserve.

What is the most important aspect that policy makers and educationists need to concentrate on, to progress?

The government and education sector must collaborate to collectively raise the standard of education in the country and make it more practice-oriented. While Indian students do well across the world, they continue to lag behind their western counterparts in higher-order thinking skills and innovation. We have not seen a single, impact-making, and thought-provoking idea from India in the last few decades. Our education system is doing well in creating managers but not leaders. An innovative approach and focus on excellence is profoundly missing in the Indian higher education system. The traditional system of rote learning must be done away with if we have to grow and progress as influencers and change makers.

I see a greater need to have a ‘generalist’ approach to education instead of a ‘specialist’

We need to upgrade our higher education curriculum and bring in cutting-edge knowledge to equip students for the unknown. The government must provide more autonomy to higher education institutes to promote excellence and facilitate their holistic growth. While we have some institutes that are among the top institutions in the world, these are very few and we need many more Institutes of Excellence if we have to make a difference to our students, our economy and the world. The latest Institutes of Eminence initiative from the MHRD is a step in the right direction.

We also need to build and promote a culture of excellence and create a reward/incentive system for faculty. This will give teachers the credit they deserve and attract well- qualified and talented people into the teaching profession.

Could you please elaborate upon the achievements accomplished by Flame University through an a major thrust on liberal education?

As the pioneer of liberal education, Flame University has carved a niche for itself as one among the reputed liberal arts universities in India. We have been the thought leaders in this space, which has been possible due to the efforts of a group of visionary board members who could foresee the need for and significance of liberal education in the country. Over the years, the University has made its mark for innovative programmes spanning across liberal arts, communication, fine and performing arts, finance, entrepreneurship, and management, and global connect. Flame was the first Indian Institution to be accepted as a member of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance. We also launched the Flame Investment lab, and have several specialized research centres in the areas of Organisational Growth and Excellence, Case Development, Earth and Environment, Public Policy, Experimental Social Sciences, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, South and Southeast Asia Studies and Mathematical Modelling.

After being associated with Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad for the past 14 years, and now as the VC of Flame University, what are you future plans for the institute?

I have been a part of the management education scenario over the past 14 years; in fact, I was one of the earliest faculty to join ISB. What drives me most is the ability to create impact. The ability to sculpt lives, providing students a rigorous and relevant curriculum and seeing these polished diamonds settling well in their careers and transforming the industry and the lives of those around them. After a long association, I thought it’s time for me to move on and be part of a new facet of the education system.

Flame presents an opportunity to contribute to a larger canvas and in a more relevant and futuristic multi-disciplinary education. I want to be part of the journey that creates a truly world-class liberal education university in India. My vision is to make Flame an aspirational destination, a globally acknowledged, Liberal Arts University of choice for students, faculty, industry, academia, and one that supports the business world, government and society at large.

Any new courses underway? Please elaborate? Any major initiatives that Flame University is planning to execute in the upcoming academic year?

Several plans are on the anvil and we are in the process of riming them up. Moving ahead, one of our most important efforts would be to engage with and involve our alumni more actively in the progress of the university. We would like to strengthen our faculty efforts in teaching, research/ studies, industry projects etc. and generate more practitioner-focused research. We also intend to deepen our engagement with the industry in various ways.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 17:08 IST