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employability_personality-development_01Professional degree awarding colleges/universities take pride on speaking about their students in terms of ‘Placement record percentage’, ‘Highest salary offer for Job’, and ‘Partner companies from industry’; but rarely speak about ‘employability’ and ‘personality development’ of students. ‘Placement cell’ in most engineering colleges acts more like a recruitment consultancy company providing ‘job search’ services to students. So, (1) how different is the term ‘Placement’ from ‘Employability’, (2) which one of the two above terms should the management board of engineering colleges give more focus, (3) what parameters distinguish professional degree courses from basic general degree courses, and (4) what add-on skills apart from scoring high in academic semester papers ought to be learned by engineering students before graduation?

News media often talks about poor quality of graduates coming out of engineering colleges in India. Industry also cites that majority of graduating students do not possess clarity on engineering concepts and are not up to the basic level of employability skills. Both the technical education accreditation body ‘AICTE’ and respective management board of engineering colleges seem to focus more on academic contents plus infrastructure provision provided and at times on academic staff profiles, than personality development aspect needed for students to be an ‘Engineer’. ‘Placement service’ is about supporting students to get recruited by visiting companies at the college/university campus, and thus, focus for ‘placement cell’ in engineering college is rather on quick-fix approach to satisfy basic entry requirements mandated by recruiting companies on the attending engineering students to their placement process such as percentage score in semester exams, previous scores in school and higher secondary school levels, aptitude test conducted by the company, technical and HR interviews of the company, test on specific technical areas (e.g. programming language, technology domain). Hence, placement preparation activities by engineering students are portrayed as if an entirely different unrelated activity during the engineering study program from the ethos of learning semester papers.

‘Employability’ refers to enabling the student employable i.e. qualified and ready to work. Thus, it hints to grooming the student on three key aspects – (1) mindset/behavior attached to that specific engineering profession, (2) background knowledge and skills need to execute tasks in that specific profession, (3) awareness of industry culture and career growth patterns in that specific profession. Format and academic content of engineering degree programs in various colleges/universities are accredited by AICTE for maintaining quality. Some practical oriented skill training modules are inserted to the course program structure by respective engineering colleges (and universities where they are affiliated to) in order to accommodate practical reasoning skills onto theoretical concepts. Still, most engineering degrees are rather focused on ‘academic reasoning’ and ‘basic technical skills’, thereby lacking a sense to impart common sense skills/knowledge of actual industry requirements on engineering graduates. Employability services (if provided) ought to aim the much needed outcome of ‘what’s exactly expected of an engineering graduate by the current industry’ not just by focusing on ‘placement activities’ aspect.

It isn’t the mandate of any university (or college) to guarantee a job to students, though universities/colleges may advertise their student placement record to attract prospective students. Employability services are valued-added facilities provided to students that aim to connect the two mindsets of academic world and real industry world. Many engineering students (and few professionals even after working in industry for years) often get doubts ‘what that engineering job is about?’ and ‘is that profession really meant for him/her?’. Unlike basic general degree courses, professional degree courses ought to intend to create a professional out of a student at the end of that course program. Studying basic general degree courses is about curiosity to explore the knowledge aspect on a specific domain, whereas studying a professional degree is about applying the knowledge of understanding a specific domain onto some applied activities/outputs. Thus, imparting professional spirit much needed by the actual industry in addition to providing the academic knowledge and reasoning skills is very crucial for professional degree programs.

Engineering colleges/universities should provide equal focus to ‘employability agenda’ on par with ‘academic excellence agenda’. The Management of those institutions currently focus heavily on planning the successful conducting of ‘admission process for newly joining engineering students’, ‘semester classes by leading academic staffs’, ‘periodic examination for students’, ‘timely declaration of exam results and conformance to academic calendar for various curricular activities’, ‘living supports during the course of study and accommodation services at hostels’, etc. Moreover, in India, these engineering colleges/universities emphasize more on bachelor degree education and feed degree graduates to various companies at entry level engineering jobs, thereby sidelining priority on post-graduation (Master and PhD) levels esp. R&D activities and technological innovation. Some cash-rich engineering colleges/universities (including eminent management groups) do provide non-academic services such as ‘placement cell’, ‘social/local impact clubs’, ‘sports/entertainment facilities’ and ‘alumni engagement cell’.

A lot more needs to be done on ‘Employability’ agenda by engineering colleges/universities, if the intention of these institutions is to create a professional out of an engineering student and not just an engineering graduate with a degree similar to a basic general science degree. The term ‘engineering’ itself means ‘practical application of science to commerce or industry’. Employability is also about inspiring ‘enterprise’ agenda among engineering graduates so as to aim to setup startup technology companies. Academic excellence can be easily guaranteed by respective engineering college/university since that is the core purpose for setting up those institutions. The discussion needed now is how to impart the ‘value-added services’ under ‘Employability agenda’ to engineering graduates. This employability topic is even more important to those engineering colleges/universities located in Indian states wherein there is less ongoing economic development activities and minimum/nil industry presence. Colleges/universities providing general degree programs may produce ‘graduates who can think and come up with new conceptual ideas’, but professional colleges providing professional degree programs must produce ‘graduates who can apply thoughts to reality as products/services’. Thus, providing ‘placement services’ isn’t sufficient enough for students in those engineering colleges/universities located at less industrial activity regions; rather these students need to be imparted with skills of technology entrepreneurship and how to survive in startup jobs without opting to get placed as engineers in some companies.

Key add-on skills/activities that engineering graduates should aim to acquire or get involved during the 4-years degree program (with/without the support of management of respective institutions) are:

(1) Co-curricular activities – to identify relevance of academic contents being studied to the real technological world; e.g. attending professionals’ technical conferences, project workshops, research journal paper presentations, hands-on skills training on technical areas

(2) Extra-curricular activities – to build social behavioral personality needed in the industry/society; e.g. joining debating clubs/competition, sports and fitness clubs/competitions, cultural programs/events, managing groups/clubs of interest, organizing team/group activities

(3) Job/career oriented skills – to build professional personality needed in the industry; e.g. Speaking (on stage, during interviews, among team/group), Dressing (during casual or business/official meetings), Presentation (as PowerPoint slides, without any technical tools to present, style/tone of expression in front of peers/seniors/externals/juniors), Writing (in blogs, journal articles, newspaper columns, as official letter, emailing format), Team-work (during group discussion/meeting, problem solving in tight project schedules, tasks delegation among a group), Corporate skills (speaking other foreign/regional languages, programming/technical skills, industry news update, connection to working professionals in relevant industry sector)

Finally, engineering institutions ought to start thinking on how to provide the above add-on skills to their engineering graduates during the course of 4 years degree program, on top of, just acting as the recruitment agency for companies through their placement cell.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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People are living longer in this century due to availability of better health and social care facilities. Pace of change in social lives is also very fast in recent decades due to the emergence of internet, social media, and mobile communications, etc. In such situation, this world is facing new dilemma of high aging population around. On one view, these elder generations have gained huge experience in life and build on piles of wisdom because of having overcome many challenges in their lives. On the other aspect, these elder generations need to keep up their pace to adapt to social changes around to make their lives interesting and lively among the current younger generations. Out of nowhere, curiosity arise – what elders can do when they retire from their jobs, not only just to enjoy their own lives but also to contribute to the society in their last peg of lifespan.

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Retired senior citizens can guide middle-age adults who are in-charge of various organizations by sharing their own experiences of running those institutions in the past. Advices of seniors are often useful to such middle-age adults since they have encountered failures in the past and lived through crises by amending mistakes. Technicality of doing things can be learnt but wisdom of common sense (i.e. gut feeling) needs to be passed on from one to another. Senior citizens may not need to work for a living, but sharing know-how experience to middle-aged adults may stimulate their brain power back again and help keeping them in-touch among their peer groups still even after retirement. Senior citizens may form groups or social clubs among liked minded friends and colleagues of their age based on similar interest of sports, or previous careers, or social cause, or fun habits to enjoy, etc.

Kids and school going teenagers often tend to bond better with grandparents than with their own parents. In this way, grandparents may indeed support the kids to shape their characters and personalities for future. Parents may be too busy to make earnings for the family in order to lead a better future, but in the process, they often may miss to rectify small mistakes of their wards that can lead children on wrong paths of no return. At times, children can be very stubborn and family can be in chaos due to tensions between parents and growing up teenagers. In such scenarios, presence of grandparents can ease the atmosphere within the family bringing happiness and mutual understanding.

Since people live longer now and social change is also rapid due to impact of new technology trends on people, senior citizens have to re-learn new ways of doing the same old habits. About shopping, online shopping using credit card is the new trend; about banking, it is about online and phone banking; about watching TV, it is now digital flat TV with touch screen or online streaming; and so many other examples. Even middle-aged adults often have to re-learn various habits of doing things newly, or else, they will miss opportunities in their careers and not able to get along with changing trends in the society. Thus, senior citizens also have to show interest in the various social trends if they are to live in tune with trends in the society. This social change is not something this generation or last generation nor next generation can ever stop; the only way forward for everyone is to adapt accordingly.

Most teenagers and youths find honored to have met senior citizens who possess command over intellectual ideas of high significance over relevant topics in the society. They may even follow those elders (as fans) who are still up-to-date with modern technologies or social trends. Most senior citizens often become role models for the school going teenagers and youths; because their lives are all in the limelight having proven and passed through almost every phase of a human lifespan. As modern lifestyle for everyone is spent on being too busy competing with each other for a better life, retired senior citizens may offer peace of mind and calmness to current generation by sharing their wisdom through occasional interactions.

Mentoring is similar to coaching or teaching or training or advising, but still different from these terms. Intention of mentoring is neither to teach someone what one knows to the other nor just about to advise a junior by a senior. Mentoring is like parenting in the sense that ‘the mentee is allow to create own imagination of their life ahead, and mentor only ignites the mentee’s passion enabling realization of dreams while keeping the mentee on check from possible mistakes’. Of course, it is good to have a mentor who has some experience of the topic or scenario the mentee is in the past. Yet, role of mentor is not inclined towards technicality as a trainer; rather, it is understanding like a coach and still allows the mentee to lead own path.

Retired elders from work or any senior citizens can indeed enjoy mingling with teenagers and youths by only just adapting their willingness to do so. They can act as mentor to younger generations, which will not only spice up their retired lives but also able to still influence the society they were once the shapers of social trends. Young people also can avoid falling into uncertain pitfalls in life by listening to experiences and wisdoms of elders. Mentors are like trust-worthy friends who listen with full attention and share their honest opinions.

Thus, we can clearly see that there is a win-win situation for both senior citizens and younger generations to engage often in all means of discussion themes. Elders can learn about modern trends followed by teenagers (enabling them stay relevant to the current society), while teenagers can gain experiences of elders (enabling them shape own lives ahead better).

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

 

Availability of govt jobs has almost dried up in Manipur state. Getting recruited into govt jobs are also extremely tough requiring bribing and having contacts with govt ministers/officials. If one compares the amount likely to incur to get a govt job with the amount one will get as salary in the lifespan of that job, it’s mostly obvious that one will be running into debt for the sake of getting a govt job. Young graduates have almost no industry jobs to work within Manipur except leaving outside Manipur to look for job. So, the question is – ‘isn’t there any other career option for young graduates in Manipur?’

owning_business_01

There is the saying – ‘Where there is problem, there is the opportunity waiting to be unlocked’. It’s now left to self how one approaches the problem. Another interesting saying is – ‘When you got nothing to lose, why not take the chance?’ So, how about planning to own a business as one graduates and becomes the ‘Boss of own life and other employees’.

Anyone who just passed 12th standard (i.e. 17th/18th yrs of age) is already sufficient to be in the world of business. By that age and qualification, one has got the basic education (reading, writing, calculation, social common sense, world we live in) and also, the physical and mental strengths to lead. May be what’s still missing for running/owning a business is the will power and extra guidance/tips on that business setup.

The ultimate formula for a business is based on the simple mathematics equation of ‘Profit or Loss = Selling Price – Cost Incurred’. By considering how to maneuver the parameters on right hand side of the equation, the result on the left hand can be impacted accordingly. To understand concept of a business; try to imagine how a local shop operates, how a school functions, how a rickshaw driver works, how elderly women at Keithel (i.e. Photpham Phambi) make a living, etc.

If a ‘Business’ is to be demystified, it can be viewed as activities happening in three aspects;

(1) Legal/Financial Accounting – A business needs to be a legal entity thereby requiring a registration to operate and show financial statements annually for Income Tax filing. The govt lays down regulations (including tax benefits and supports) for doing business in that industry sector and the region where it operates.

(2) Continued Justification of a Business Case – The logic behind purpose of doing business has to be appropriate at any instant of time throughout lifespan of the business. A business can’t continue to run if incurring losses beyond permissible limit of operation, or business has failed to achieve minimum targets as expected by promoters or shareholders.

(3) Sales-Production-Procurement logic – Any business goes with this concept of ‘get something’, ‘add value on that something’, and then ‘sell off that modified something by making some benefits (e.g. money)’.

While studying a degree course in a college within Manipur, a youth can focus on how to setup a business before graduating. The college may have few basic ingredients that may be helpful to the business setup – such as access to library, buildings, high bandwidth internet, academic staffs, like-minded friends, local communities, industry professionals and govt officials, etc. Also, the similar resources in Manipur University, Central Agricultural University and other higher education institutes in Manipur can be utilized for own business setup support. There are development grants provided by various govt ministries in each district which youths can apply for business setup. Also, youths can avail training support provided by state govt departments (e.g. Manipur Skill Development Society) and central govt departments (e.g. ministry of DoNER) from time to time.

What’s worth reminding herein is ‘Life is not a SPRINT, but a MARATHON’. Graduating from a college is not just the end of life or start of a career. Also, ‘What’s the difference of doing and not doing a degree course in Manipur?’ in the sense that ‘Will someone give the graduate a job in Manipur after graduation?’ Time of youth is to try to find out the purpose of life and what one is best at doing things. One may always fall back on parents to restart a life/career again till age of 20-25th yrs. All the big businesses and organizations we treasure today (e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, Apple) are built by youths in the age of 15yrs-30yrs. So, why not try and take the chance when feasible. Get a business mentor today and start thinking now.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

Manipur State Govt has tried to build new infrastructure projects at many tourist spots and organize tourism festivals in the recent years for tourism promotion. Yet, common people seem still confused what exactly Manipur tourism is all about. So, basic queries arise – ‘Why tourism?’, ‘Do we really need it?’, ‘What’s the gain/loss?’, ‘Who are the real stakeholders?’, ‘What role by whom for how long?’, and ‘what’s tourism in business sense?’ Thus, looking again with a fresh mind about promoting tourism in Manipur and growth of businesses connected to tourism may be useful.

manipur-road-mapThe foremost essential focus that state govt ought to do in tourism promotion (even before investing in any infrastructure building projects) seems to be about ‘Building a good network of motorable roads connecting every village/town within Manipur’. Once motorable roads are built, intra-state and inter-state commutation will be easier; thereby allowing people themselves to participate in tourism related activities by default. Second focus ought to be ‘Sensitization of local public on how tourism works and who can play what role to get maximum benefits for public themselves’.

On social aspect, tourism is to do with movement of people i.e. temporary migration, while on business aspect, tourism is to do with visiting people buying goods/services from local people during their stay. In true sense, tourism is just all about people and state govt seems to miss this key ‘understanding’.

Most appropriate slogan on Manipur tourism seems to be ‘Govt provides Motorable Roads and People take care of Tourism’. Once a network of motorable roads connecting every village in Manipur state is in place, people will automatically take care of tourism related businesses. So, state govt’s main focus on tourism promotion ought to be ‘Motorable Roads’. The add-on priority of State govt on tourism promotion may instead focus on collecting statistics of tourist visitors (such as places visited, tourist traffic, reason of interest/visit, days/hours stayed, money spent per person, demographic survey of tourist inflow, and issues found during tourist visit, etc). This statistics info is crucial not just for tourism aspect but also for controlling social migration and illegal immigration issues. Some genuine support that state govt can do in Manipur for tourists are installation of readable signposts on travel roads, creation of tour-route guide maps, distributing illustrated pamphlets showing entertainments and activities that can be done while visiting a place, stationing tourist support centres at various locations with info, and opening a call centre support for tourist emergencies, etc.

Taking an example to understand potential stakeholders in Manipur tourism:

Visiting Manipur by air is the best choice of many (foreign/national) tourists. Imphal Airport thus becomes the first thing a tourist is likely to see. Hence tourist friendly environment needs to be created within airport (e.g. direction signboards, promotion messages, Do’s and Don’ts guides on social ethics, courtesy from airport staffs, take-away tourist fliers at easily accessible locations, foreign exchange store, shopping and gift stores, emergency doctors/clinic, etc). Just outside the airport exit, a tourist expects friendly travel operators who will not cheat and safely take him/her to nearby hospitable hotel or paying guest houses. In between airport exit and nearby hotel/accommodation location, a tourist may have expected roads on the route to be of motorable condition with proper signboard, and local people (including houses/buildings) of welcoming attitude.

At the hotel or paying guest house, a tourist may not get own foreign food/snacks, but will at least expect local food and cuisines being served in high hygienic conditions. Tourists will appreciate the hotel more, if extra tourist guide info is provided in addition to delivering excellent customer service. A tourist will expect customer friendly staffs, proper sanitary waste bins and toilet services, and other relevant entertainment services while visiting a tourist spot or an ecological garden. Business owners of that tourist spot (or garden/park) may do their best to enhance the customer experience, because inflow number of tourists impacts their business. But, we often seem to miss to acknowledge who is going to take care of providing hospitality to tourist in the route gap between a hotel and a tourist spot. That missing gap is what local people on the route ought to take in-charge of; thereby also giving job and benefit to themselves by providing add-on product/service for visiting tourists. New recreational spots and small shopping stores can be created on the route in between any tourist spots and nearby reputed star hotels within Manipur. Best effort has to be made to create many cycle-drive and foot-walk routes in most village/town (nearby popular tourist spots) so that tourist visitors can roam around and spend time/money in the process while interacting with local businesses and people on those routes. This approach will bring about inclusive growth within Manipur by allowing small businesses and local people to earn by serving tourist visitors in addition to earning by those large businesses and star hotels.

During popular festivals at a particular location conducted on specific dates in a year, students of local schools/colleges can be availed to support visiting tourists voluntarily or under paid service. Proper coordination for festival support to tourists can be made between festival organizers and management of educational institutions. This approach will also enables students to experience management skills and help own personality development. These educated students can support visiting tourists in English or other foreign languages as tour guides. Pamphlets showcasing attractions on a particular Leikai/Zone may be created by local clubs (or tour operators) for the benefits of businesses and people in that Leikai/Zone. Local ‘Leikai Mandap’ and community halls can be redecorated occasionally for exhibitions and tourist events; thereby allowing ‘Leikai clubs’ to participate in maintaining Leikai roads/streets and also welcoming visiting tourists altogether during the big festival. Also, individual houses and properties (if interested) can be allowed to adapt for businesses providing some benefits to visiting tourists. Rickshaws and horse-carts can be reused rather in a fashionable way for shorter travel within village/town routes by tourists.

State govt has to start delegating more (i.e. give work/opportunity with responsibility and accountability) to non-govt entities and local businesses on tourism related activities within Manipur. Necessary support for finance and resources (on demand) should be made available to social and private bodies working in the area of tourism and hospitality services. State govt (or delegated authorizes) may also act as auditors or benchmarking bodies to check quality specification and conformance by tour operators and businesses in tourism sector – such as hygiene level, business operations under valid licenses, maintenance of registry for foreign nationals and outside-state visitors at hotels, customer support ethics, extra care support for disable visitors, upholding diversity in work-force, maintaining dignity for children and women, etc.

State govt should provide an integrated tourism framework (i.e. a basic diagram) that explains in a simplified manner how various stakeholders are interacting to each other on day-to-day basis within Manipur state. This approach will allow local people, business owners, tour operators, and govt officials to work alongside towards tourism promotion and tourism related business growth. Rather than conducting only one big festival at Imphal municipal area per year by state govt (incurring heavy cost in crores rupee), many smaller festivals and events throughout seasons in a year ought to been conducted by local people and businesses (with support from state govt) in their respective locations within Manipur state. State govt also need to keep in check about the side-effects (i.e. implications) of tourism related activities in Manipur due to inflow of large volume of tourist visitors – such as air population due to excessive exhaust from motor vehicles, noise population due to festivals, resource scarcity due to over-consumption, road traffic chaos due to extra tourist vehicles, cultural and social influence from tourists, etc. Accordingly, new policies and support services need to be established to tackle tourism induced problems by state govt, and people should be sensitized on these topics periodically.

Thus, involving local people into tourism planning and making local people to take ownership of tourism related activities across villages/towns of Manipur is one of the best ways toward achieving the comment of ‘Nice People, Nice Place’ from tourist visitors. Giving ‘an amazing experience’ from the moment a tourist lands in Manipur and letting to return back home after spending few memorable moments in Manipur should be our focus on how tourism promotion activities and growth related projects ought to be.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

Thousands of working Manipuri professionals (within Manipur state, across Indian cities and foreign countries) wishes to contribute for a better Manipur, but they are mostly not sure how/what to do amidst complexities in govt administration and social chaos in Manipur. State govt can effectively benefit in terms of both financial and voluntary (knowledge/experience) contributions from high caliber Manipuris, if a systematic contribution management framework is developed at the state level with global usability focus. Any individual Manipuri professional willing to share his/her expertise and experiences must be able to do so in a simple and straight forward process towards improving public service deliveries. Thus, the Manipur State Innovation Council (headed by the Chief Minister) and the state planning department ought to consider adapting the current working model towards an integrated and comprehensive Innovation Management structure that can impact every village/town in the state with contribution of Manipuri People (i.e. professionals) residing across the globe.

 Innovation Management in Manipur State

  To create and sustain innovations systematically within Manipur State, we needs –

(1) Local Knowledge-based Institutions enabled to support innovators and sustain innovations

(2) Network of professionals to provide a platform (esp. web-enabled) for ‘Great Minds’ to interact and engage, i.e. sustaining an interactive professionals’ database

(3) Aligning govt ministries (esp. finance support and officials) to support innovations and innovators in their respective sectors

(4) A facilitation centre (esp. created in a Public-Private partnership model) to coordinate all branches of innovation support and execute centre’s administrative activities for public support

(5) Annual face-to-face Networking and Group Discussion Event to bring together Manipuris (esp. professionals across the globe) and govt officials to build trust and relationships

(6) A business oriented forum to lobby or discuss business issues and govt policies that impact specific business sectors in the overall industry

Thus, the key building blocks for a Manipur specific Innovation Management framework may comprises (1) Academic and research institutions, (2) Govt departments, (3) A centralized innovation support centre, (4) virtualized knowledge exchange networks, (5) A business representatives’ forum. And the key activities required within the framework may comprise of (1) Conducting an annual semi-professional global summit, (2) Organizing webinars on topics relevant to Manipuris by inviting distinguished industry professionals on the panel, (3) Allowing students to undertake internship projects in various govt departments (4) Allowing professionals to contribute their work experiences through guest speech or tendered consultancy project, (5) Liaising with Manipuris in foreign countries and outside the state to promote Manipur tourism.

The KEN-Manipur initiative (started by few Overseas Manipuris after the Pravashi Bharatiya Divas 2011 in coordination with few dedicated state govt officials and local academic institutions) is aimed towards building an online database of high caliber Manipuri professionals (residing across the globe) per knowledge/industry sector as ‘Knowledge Exchange Networks’ and each network being supported by relevant departments in the state govt as well as local academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. State govt needs to embed this KEN-Manipur initiative within the state innovation council so that every Manipuri (who may belong or have originated in the past from any village/town within Manipur) can contribute and interact in the virtual web-platform under professional conduct comfortably without feeling discriminated or alienated by focusing on the topic rather than person/ethnicity. Also, relevant govt departments can send out press releases, tender notice, consultation invite on policy formulation, and internship/short projects on the KEN-Manipur website periodically. Interestingly, most social associations and professional discussion forums in Manipur are found being restricted to few individuals only on the basis of ethnicity, religion, birth-place, etc (thereby with own vested self-interest) and there seems no cross-sectors knowledge sharing mechanism connecting each other. Moreover, overall development in every village/town in Manipur may be feasible at a faster speed with active contribution from Global Manipuri professionals in addition to support provided by state govt officials. Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) of UK Govt is one such example of KEN-Manipur initiative used elsewhere.

An annual Global Manipuris Summit (GMS) is the need of the hour to inspire Manipuris residing across the globe to visit Manipur once a year and create a bonding relationship with local Manipuris as well as state govt officials. The summit may be conducted as a semi-professional event by having theme-based workshop/seminar programs, and cultural programs. The benefits of such summit are (1) cause a mindset change impact among various local Manipuris (currently being segregated on ethnic/religious interests instead of humanity) towards a socio-economic development focus, (2) share working knowledge and life experiences received elsewhere by global Manipuris relevant to the local people, (3) contribute to growth of tourism and hospitality sectors in Manipur by the visit of thousands of non-resident Manipuris, (4) receive foreign direct investments (FDI) and professional expertise contributions to various socio-economic projects within Manipur. Also, unlike annual Manipur Sangai Festival, Global Manipuris Summit is likely to bring in extra revenue to the state govt as well as local tourist/hospitality businesses with the inflow of Non-resident Manipuris. Pravashi Bharatiya Divas of Central Indian Govt is one such example of Global Manipuris Summit conducted elsewhere.

A dedicated facilitation centre (e.g. Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre – GMFC) needs to be established in a Public-Private Partnership model to provide important administrative supports to coordinate KEN-Manipur activities (online as well as conducting of monthly local knowledge exchange event), to organize annual Global Manipuris Summit, to liaise with the industry partners for business engagement by global Manipuris as well as govt officials, and to link with the academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. With opening of Moreh as international trade gateway to South East Asian Countries, many visa/legal permission related issues that may impact overseas Manipuris (and local Manipuris) are often going to come up waiting for quick resolution. Such a centre can support redirection of genuine queries from Manipuris to relevant state/central ministries for quick action. Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) of Central Indian Govt (created by partnership between Confederation of Indian Industries – CII and Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs – MIOA) is one such example of Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre created elsewhere.

A new comprehensive business forum (e.g. Manipur Social and Business Enterprises Network – MSBEN) functioning under global professional ethics and represented by most business enterprises within Manipur is essential to complement any possible collective benefit to industry sectors in Manipur by coordinating with both state govt ministries and other local bodies. Currently available business forums in Manipur lack global perspective and are fragmented to only few industry sectors. The new business forum ought to cater to only Manipur specific businesses yet covering businesses run by Manipuris in other global locations in order to enable building global supply chain of Manipuri business owners. Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is one example of such business forum.

Schools, colleges, training centres, and universities within Manipur may be transformed into innovation houses wherein not just students and staffs in those institutions indulge in creating new innovations but also local businesses and social bodies can gain business support services and avail innovation support resources for their benefits. Innovation also refers to bringing mindset change (i.e. way of thinking) in addition to creating new technology products/ideas. There can be a centralized (and web-based) innovation support centre having policy documents, and high value staffs; while few chosen or most academic/research institutions can have trained staffs (being delegated or newly recruited) to provide support for enterprise development and business activities. Some of the specialized innovation institutions may be asked to take ownership of conducting monthly/periodic KEN-Manipur workshops by inviting/receiving Manipuri professionals (who may be returning to Manipur state for holiday break), and video/presentations of such useful discussions may be uploaded in KEN-Manipur website for future access. This approach of institutional ownership also enables respective institutions to build strong ties with industry and professionals for the benefit of their staffs, students and alumni. In addition, these institutions can avail access to thousands of highly qualified Manipuri professionals via the database of KEN-Manipur. Innovation vouchers and Capacity Building funds may be made available centrally and be allowed for individual institutions to bid for project sanctions.

Most State Govt departments tend to work in-silo and people (esp. the intended target consumers of each department) often don’t receive govt dept’s announcement of relevant information on time. Most plans under each department (as created by state planning department) fail to reach success at a reasonable level of completion mostly due to implementation issues and bottlenecks during rolled out phase of the plans. Thus, there is a need for collective overseeing of innovation support services provided in each state govt department. Each department may delegate officials to contribute in relevant networks of KEN-Manipur by sensing ongoing discussions in particular networks and by promoting activities/policies/funding info available in their department for usage by professionals and local businesses. Also, there is feasibility to cross sell opportunities (tenders/projects) by govt department to networks relevant to another department within KEN-Manipur (thereby leading to effective usage of govt money).

One key hurdle to be overcome for enabling non-resident Manipuris and local Manipuris (including state govt officials) to engage effectively is the need for acclimatization by both parties to a mid-way work culture suitable to both i.e. adjustment of attitudes/egos. There needs to be orientation programs such as ‘Train the Trainer’ – to help industry professionals to learn working culture (ethics and attitudes) prevalent in Manipur state before they even start their personal contribution, ‘Openness and Team-work training’ – to help state govt officials to adjust their working style to corporate environment by understanding how industry professionals work.

If the state govt has the will to initiate implementing the above recommendations with funding from either state govt or Union Ministry of DoNER (or elsewhere), Manipuri professionals working across the globe can start contributing easily in a simple process towards socio-economic development of every village/town in Manipur. Also, current social unrest in Manipur due to mistrust among communities may go away faster in due course with mindset of local people getting changed because of knowledge inflow from non-resident Manipuris on a peer-to-peer contact basis.

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

 Everyone is wondering ‘Why so many complex issues one after another?’, and ‘when everything will be alright in Manipur?’ Reading concepts from sociology and public administration literatures (with specific emphasis on Manipur rather than Indian Union) can help us to enable Manipur state transformed back into a peaceful and prosperous land. ‘Poorly planned transition from traditional kingship model (i.e. rule by a king) to democratic Westminster model (i.e. representative MLAs/MPs supported by civil servants such as IAS, IPS) as way of public governance seems to be the source of all these chaos in current Manipur’. Transition, itself, is neither good nor bad; but rather it was too quick and inadequate change management programs for people during the transition phase were not seriously taken into consideration. Moreover, the then Manipur merging into Indian Union has added another new dimension to the transition complexities.

Manipur-constituencies_01

Institutional Failures:

If we have a quick glance at Manipur map showing assembly constituencies (spreading across entire villages in Manipur), we may feel as if there seems a well-balanced democratic representation from all ethnic groups and regions within Manipur. There ought not to be so many pending issues in Manipur (including demand of autonomies and homelands). So, what exactly went wrong with the transition phase as well as merging of Manipur into Indian Union. The answer seems rather simple than difficult – ‘Institutional failure of democratic and innovational systems within Manipur is the root cause of entire chaos in current Manipur State’.

Mindsets of people in Manipur (born and lived during 1891 to 1971) are yet to come out of the norms and way of thinking during Kingship of Meitei kings in then Manipur country. Lack of rapid expansion of educational and innovation institutions in villages/towns in order to catch up with impact of changes in public governance approach has indeed led to current chaos. Religious preaching by missionaries (with own vested interests) to various ethnic groups within Manipur has also seriously increased complexity of issues in Manipur. People have failed to recognize that ‘Religions are less to do with Spirituality, but rather are just political forums just like a social association’. When one follows a religion, they follow the culture, thinking and norms practiced in those foreign lands instead of local traditional values. Christianity followers will look toward West, Islam followers towards Arab, while Hinduism followers will look towards Hindi Mainland India. If there does exist GOD (supernatural almighty), isn’t it to do with SELF and HIM only? How is that prayer to our forefathers and traditional customs in Manipur not considered as a form of spirituality? Though we may lack in many concepts of GOD/spirituality as compared to other religions, what we indeed practice is about humanity instead of political forum (i.e. religion). Reading books and practices of religions are indeed good for enhancing societal knowledge and another perspective of thinking. Yet, we (as people of Manipur) ought to prevent mixing religion to our communities and state institutions.

Penetration by Christian missionaries in hill regions prior to setup of democratic and innovational institutions has highly intoxicated mindset of tribal groups with religious preaching as compared to modern scientific/logical mindset. Representations of tribal groups are supposed to be done by tribal leaders or village chiefs; instead church leaders (with one-sided myopic perspective of world as per their religious boundaries) are coming out to represent tribal ethnic groups. Among Meitei group, many have just started to come out from being blind followers of Vaishnavism and started to reason self with the inflow of education (scientific way of thinking). Spread of Hindi language and Hinduism in Manipur (and North East India) seems like tactics to bring NE Indian states within the current Indian Nationalism concept [created by Hindi Mainland India]. Growth of Muslim population in Manipur with influx immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar brings in non-local way of thinking creating fallout to the very existence of Manipur state as it is. In the past centuries, colonization of nations happened after spread of religious missionaries to foreign nations.

Societal Issues:

Prior to merging with Indian Union in 1949, public governance of then Manipur country starts and ends with the King. Though it may be a Meitei king and majority population was of Meitei group, there were also many other tribal ethnics groups. In the past 2000yrs+ civilization, there were mechanisms under the rule of King to include different ethnic groups into Meitei group by inserting them into one of 7-Meitei clans under a surname or exclude a current ethnic group by out-casting from 7-meitei clans. In fact, current Meitei group under a 7-clans structure is found to be final outcome of assimilation of different ethnic tribal groups spanning across centuries. Similar example that can be cited is the recent effort to form a ‘Naga group’ by clubbing many different small tribal groups. If we wish to know further on cultures and tradition of various tribal groups in the then Manipur country (including current Meitei group), we’ve to explore other ancient civilizations existed in current landmass of Manipur state such as the then ‘Moirang Kingdom’. In Moirang Kingdom era, the earliest Meitei sect is found to comprise only few smaller tribal groups unlike the current Meitei group. Only after downfall of Moirang Kingdom in 17th century, there came to exist only one kingdom of Meiteis with capital at Imphal (in various names such as Kathee/Kathey/Munnipoor). Thus, there was some control on social composition under the King’s reign. It is a fact beyond doubt that all tribes and Meitei group in current Manipur have common ancestors. But since 1950 (merging into Indian Republic), no insertion into or removal of ethnic tribes out of Meitei group is further taken care of (with the loss of kingship governance model). Complexity in Manipur’s society got increased further by inflow of new ethnic/religious groups from Indian Union into Manipur. Also, rule of law (for societal governance) starts following constitution of Indian Union rather than Manipur specific requirements and people are yet to adapt completely to the transition.

Insurgency Issues:

Underground militant groups along with their overground support organizations seem just fighting for own vested interests of power/control over people. Bargaining vested interests by these groups will only lead to the scenario of drowning themselves together and dying along with all civilian ethnic people within current Manipur state. Under current social complexities (in 2013), it seems to hint that time has already slipped for Meitei nationalism (as promoted by Meitei militant groups since 1964) to reclaim the ancient Meitei country by just emphasizing on the merger of Manipur kingdom into Indian Union in 1949 and story of Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. Meitei militant groups need to broaden their thinking by understanding that Manipur’s ancient history and culture isn’t only about current Meitei group, but also for various tribal groups which are not yet inserted into Meitei group. Thus, their vision of Meitei country (under the banner of ‘Manipur’ brand) isn’t likely to be a reality; because every ethnic group (under the Indian Union) has got their desire to lead and not follow other ethnic groups.

Resurgence of Naga militant groups in current Manipur state around 1980 by trying to regroup different smaller tribes into Naga nationalism seem just only a reactionary measure to mistreatment in the past to those Naga militant leaders at Imphal city by few Meiteis (who were born and still living with kingship era mentality i.e. attitude existed prior to merger of Manipur state to Indian Union in 1949). Kuki militant groups trying to create Kuki nationalism seems another reactionary measure to Naga group’s ethnic cleaning in 1990s. Also, appearance of other tribal militant groups seems reactionary measures to Kuki and Naga militant groups for their survival and dominance within current Manipur state. Emergence of Muslim militant groups in Manipur may be also because of religious fundamentalists among Muslim community by copying militancy activities happening in other parts of India and abroad by Muslims.

A Way Out from Socio-Economic-Politico Issues:

Individuals (from all ethnic groups) born after 1970s (i.e. after statehood of Manipur state within Indian Union) are likely to be of different mindset (far away from ideologies prevalent in those Meitei kingship era), exposed to global thinking (by understanding diversities in different countries), inspired with knowledge (of scientific logical thought process toward humanity), and majority living as working professionals (in various part of India and abroad). Those non-resident groups of Manipur people are the best bet to bring socio-economic-political transformation in Manipur, because they are experts in own professional careers and think reasonably on logical ways. Amidst current complex mistrusts among ethnic and religious communities in Manipur, the biggest onus to bring change in Manipur state lies with the state govt; since majority of Manipur’s population still consider govt as the only impartial form of public governance.

Manipur State govt needs to facilitate sharing of knowledge and experiences among Manipuris (i.e. those non-resident people and local people) under a systematic approach to support and maneuver the impact. Govt ought to organize ‘Global Manipuris Summit’ annually similar to ‘Pravashi Bharatiya Divas’ (conducted by central Indian govt) to bring global Manipuris together again for sake of Manipur state. Also, ‘KEN-Manipur’ ought to be created by state govt to systematically support virtual Knowledge Exchange Networks per industry/knowledge sector wherein professionals of Manipur origin (from all ethnic groups across the globe) can share experiences and knowledge thereby making a huge socio-economic-political impact to the future of every village/town in Manipur. Thus, Manipur State govt has to initiate creating a mechanism for people to people interaction supporting activities of Govt’s public services and also facilitate people’s willful contribution on logical/humanity terms (instead of vested religious or ethnic or political contribution by a party).

Thus, we (the people of current Manipur) have to create a common vision for future Manipur State and the purpose of existence of Manipur in the future, if Manipur and Manipuris are to remain existing on Earth

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

 

Education is imparted in a systematic approach worldwide for a purpose which is ‘sharing knowledge to inspire minds’. Though School Education may be rather about teaching and learning, but, Higher Education in college/university is more about empowering students to get a job or start a new business in their post-degree career. Unless graduates are exposed to skills and experiences during their studies (thereby finding utility latter in the job market and social environment), the time spent in college/university will amount to waste of time and effort in today’s competitive world. Thus, teaching may be considered as the main theme of education, yet ‘Employability & Enterprise’ tends to be the main objective of education from the ‘performance measure’ perspective.

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 The current education policy in Manipur state has been focusing mostly on providing teachers to schools/colleges and their transfers management, creating infrastructure, and student intake numbers; instead of any new innovation and growth aspects in education to deal with local societal needs and changing global environment. This approach may work with management of school level (up to 10th or 12th standard) institutions but ought to fail drastically when dealing management of colleges and universities. Students out of school level institutions feed into colleges and professional institutions for higher studies or on-the-job studies. If there is no better college, Manipuri students just need to leave Manipur state in post 10th or 12th std for higher studies and thus, we are seeing thousands of students leaving every year (thereby also affecting state’s economy). For higher education institutions to survive, presence of vibrant industries around to provide jobs and business setup opportunities to graduates out of those colleges/universities is also essential. Higher education institutions are source of inspiration and guide to our society by producing responsible adults with add-on values in addition to the book knowledge. Thus, education policies for school level and higher level ought to vary drastically and both need serious attention by using different approaches to deal with.

Private schools (if not govt schools) within Manipur can survive successfully; because ‘score-card and pass % of students’ (which is within the control of school management with less/no influence from other external sources) are the only benchmark used for rating schools and no other measuring aspects are currently used (e.g. extra-curricular activities, staff profile, diversity of staffs as well as students intake, health and safety on school premises, financial fees and scholarships offers, support for disability students, religious tolerance, focus on sports facilities, and promotion on traditional culture, etc). State govt also seems to focus more on school education as compared to higher education and even indicated its intention to create ‘Manipur Education Services (MES)’ similar to Manipur Civil Services (MCS) just to look after school education services. Though it may be innovative, the focus has been not yet clarified on what exactly will be role and accountability of MES officers. One MES official can be assigned per a group of schools or per zone or per district to manage the non-academic aspect of school administration; e.g. management of school infrastructures to maximize utilization factor and timely maintenance (thereby cost saving), budget management and local social impact of school to maximize benefits of govt funding and school education objectives, etc. Thus, school teachers can focus on teaching part while state education officials can focus on non-academic aspects.

State govt seems to get no clue what to do with higher education sector in Manipur. Manipur University may be responsible for academic aspects of its affiliated colleges (e.g. updating course materials, checking mandatory quantity and quality of academic staffs per college, conducting exams under the new semester system, providing certificates to graduates, etc), but, its role starts and ends with affiliation of colleges only. Also, since Manipur University is now a central university and not under state govt, it may say anytime to any govt colleges to seek for de-affiliation if unsatisfied with what/how they function. Yet, Higher Education officials seem pleased only with task of govt colleges in Manipur just getting affiliation certificate from Manipur University. State govt are supposed to work more closely than before with Manipur University to devise far-reaching higher education strategies for Manipur and transform colleges into innovation houses; thus, helping villages/towns across Manipur getting the benefits from nearby colleges apart from local youths getting college education. Because, Manipur University has already gain autonomy from state govt on what/how it likes to function, thereby state govt can’t just direct whatever it used to in the past. Thus, Higher Education officials ought to be clear on what is within their role and what is delegated to Manipur University regarding the management of govt colleges within Manipur.

We are yet to see much discussion on ‘what happens to students graduating out of colleges in Manipur (affiliated to Manipur University and other universities outside Manipur) and universities in Manipur (i.e. Manipur University, Central Agricultural University)’, and ‘how colleges/universities in Manipur ought to support students for their future careers’. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) does take employability (i.e. students getting a job on graduation) and enterprise (i.e. student enterprises in college, new startups by students, new innovation ideas/products from college, engagement with local businesses and industry professionals/alumni) as part of their rating approach for colleges and universities in India, though in less priority and less percentage focus. Sadly, ‘Employability & Enterprise’ agenda has not yet been  seen as one of the main priority areas of Higher Education policy in Manipur, though the agenda is very essential for the survival of colleges within Manipur and can transform colleges into innovation houses for benefits of local people in Manipur.

Looking from the perspective of ‘Education as a system of input, operation, and output’, questions arise like – ‘Why do we create products (degree courses) for consumers (college students) which got less utility (applications) in the local market (industry jobs)?’; ‘how much % of course contents is about hands-on application of knowledge being taught?’, ‘how much budget % is allocated per college on career development aspect as compared to staff salaries and infrastructure maintenance?’, ‘what is the policy of local business engagement for each college around course design and skill development aspects?’, ‘what is the involvement policy of alumni to support back colleges/universities?’, ‘how is other ministries in state govt (e.g. Industries & Commerce, Science & Technology, regional development agencies in each district and panchayat zones) coordinating with higher education department and various colleges from the aspect of innovation for enterprise and employability agenda?’, ‘how about satisfaction surveys from graduates every year on each college by defining performance metrics to rate each college and accordingly provide innovation funding for relevant support?’, ‘how much responsibility and accountability is assigned to the management team in each college for welfare of students and college infrastructure as compared to education ministry itself?’, ‘how the aspect of student unions in colleges currently focused on political aspects can be reoriented towards innovations around course studies?’, ‘why no plans are made to make buildings and equipments of colleges available for students’ career and skills development activities instead of leaving under-utilized in non-working hours (of evenings, weekends, and holiday breaks), ‘why no delegated staffs assigned to provide career development and enterprise creation support in each college/university?’ and, so on.

On the ‘Employability and Enterprise’ agenda, state govt may implement a hybrid model of funding and operation for higher education institutions in Manipur e.g. a centralized depository of support services (in terms of course contents, business startup funds, on-demand enterprise support services, advisory consultants/academics, equipments, a web-based knowledge resource to be accessed by representative of each college if not by every students, etc) and a localized support services per college (e.g. one-to-few teaching staffs be delegated after relevant trainings to advise on entrepreneurship and deliver enterprise support activities, or appointment of management graduates having experience in such enterprise activities).

‘Manipur Innovation Council’ chaired by Chief Minister setup in 2011 ought to look into overall higher education scenario and enable colleges and other higher education institutions to transform themselves into innovation houses to cause effective socio-economic impact to the village/town wherein they are located. Also, upcoming ‘Manipur Innovation Roadmap 2012-2020’ whose design work is currently advertised by Planning Department in Manipur State Govt through a tender process needs to incorporate concepts of making all the higher education institutes in Manipur contribute towards innovation culture in Manipur, and integrating other innovation related govt ministries with higher education institutes to empower youth as well as local businesses in easy access to necessary business support and technical know-how.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com