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Participate in college activities, says Dr. Kiran V. Mangaonkar

All that was needed was one phone call, and I had an appointment set for this interview. Considerate and unassuming, he offered a time at my convenience, so that I could also meet my deadline. With his innovative thoughts and vision, he has marched ahead as an academician, and has over 32 years of experience in research and academics and an administrative experience of 10 years. He has launched pioneering initiatives, initiated partnerships with universities/ organisations across the country while connecting across communities ranging from corporate India to rural India. Recently, he was felicitated with the ‘Dr. Sarojini Devi Memorial Award in Chemistry’ at the Higher Education Forum’s Teachers’ Day Awards. Knowledge is proud to present to its readers, Dr. Kiran V. Mangaonkar, Principal – Guru Nanak Khalsa College, in Matunga East.

One could see how sensitive he must be towards his students and how much they can learn from him, by his actions. While I was taking notes for the interview, he was patient enough to wait till I finished writing, before moving on to the next thought. At the outset, he informed me of his vision, that of reducing the gap between what the industry needs in terms of professional personnel and what the colleges have to offer as graduate students, with a series of doable ideas, not just in theory

“I agree that there are a lot of systemic difficulties in our education system and changes are needed at university level. However, we should think what we can do at the college level.We have to make a genuine attempt to bridge that gap,” Dr. Mangaonkar says. He adds that degree-holding students often find it difficult to get good placements and packages. At the industry level also, time is spent in training the new hires to be eligible to work. He believes that the education system should construct such experiences for the students that they are able to work as professionals from the first day.

The experienced educationist says, “Colleges are taking care of the academic part, but that is only one parameter of testing the suitability of a candidate for a particular job. The others are communication skills, presentation skills, technology skills and personality, to name a few. Students should also concentrate on building such skills.” He says that a great way of learning these hands on is to participate in the various inter-college and intra-college events and festivals. “Students learn management skills, and can focus on tasks. They learn how to work efficiently as part of a team which is absolutely necessary. You see, individually a student may be a good worker, but if the team loses out because of him, he will be a failure at that level. If students undergo even one festival or event, they will learn how to handle competition,” he offers his opinion. In addition, he mentions that he always tells his students, “If you are equipped with all these skills, the industry will welcome you with a red carpet, since the industry is also looking for those who can work efficiently right after being recruited.”

That leads the discussion to the marks mentality students have – as in they are just used to running behind marks. Dr. Mangaonkar says that often, he discusses the example of the film ‘3 Idiots’ in his classes. “Films are primarily made for entertainment, but also give out messages. If you remember the interview scene from this movie, you will see that the character of Raju was judged on so many other parameters at the interview other than his marks, since academically he hadn’t done so well. And finally, he does get the job.” He mentions that a rank without an idea on how to apply the knowledge does not mean much.

He goes on to say that at G. N. Khalsa College, about 25 unique certificate programmes are offered to students be it in English, other foreign languages, skills or technology. He believes that in today’s age, technology is a platform for everything, so no student can escape the advances of technology. “Students need to be technologically advanced, no matter which stream they are studying in. Today, you know that everything works at the push of a button, whether you want to read the news or use online payment services!”

Another aspect the learned principal is strong on is research. At G. N. Khalsa College, students in the science stream are introduced to the idea of research at the undergraduate level itself. The principal proudly mentions that at the college, there are 34 registered PhD guides with more than 60 students enrolled for their doctoral programmes. The seed of research is sown young in their minds, and they want to tap on that. The college, which has won several accolades like ‘College with Potential of Excellence’ from the UGC and the FIST grant for the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, is now offering unique postgraduate programmes to interested students. These include MSc in Neutraceuticals, MSc in Bioanalytical Sciences and MSc in Bioinformatics.

As our interview draws towards the end, I ask Dr. Mangaonkar his views on soft skills and the ability to communicate effectively in today’s competitive world. He says that it is great if students are good with their mother tongue, but the knowledge of English is needed since it is a universal language which students need to develop in. Other than that, he is strong on pushing communication skills for he believes one needs to be able to express his knowledge, and impress an interview panel with it. Secondly, he feels that effective written communication is also necessary for students, as finally, they have to express their thoughts in the exam paper through their writing. He is afraid that the text messaging shortcuts may have compromised language skills, but is hopeful that students will change for the better. “Students need to learn how to put their skills on paper, because the marks are awarded on what is written, and he needs to elaborate on his thoughts. This will, in effect, enable in him to improve his skills in drafting emails, letters, reports and proposals in future when he is working.”

When we are almost out of time, I ask him for a message for our student readers: “I know you all are busy and on your toes balancing academics and preparing for exams. But take some time out to participate in the activities for all round development. That will help you enhance your acceptability in the job market, and boost your career growth as well.”

Original: http://www.freepressjournal.in/education/participate-in-college-activities-says-dr-kiran-v-mangaonkar/975352
By: Shraddha Kamdar
Posted: November 21, 2016, 10:59 am