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Dr. S. J. Chopra, Chancellor – UPES Dehradun

I strongly believe in compassion, Empathy and Cross-fertilization of Ideas. I have grown by eliminating any potential hindrance to learning and encouraging lifelong learning.

Education Post 17 August 2021 09:46

Dr. S. J. Chopra, Chancellor – UPES Dehradun

Dr. S.J. Chopra, Chancellor, UPES Dehradun has had an illustrious career, spanning over 5 decades. He has been felicitated with the Petrotech Life Time Achievement Award, CSIR Technology Award, NRDC Independence Day Award and Dept. of Petrochemicals Govt. of India Award.

Position Held

My professional life started as a simple Shift chemist/In-charge at Grasim Industries, in Nagda (M.P), where I worked from 1962 to 1965. After that, for one year, I worked as Production Superintendent with a small pharmaceutical company in Indore (M.P). Deciding to pursue research work after that, I moved to IIT Delhi as a Senior Research fellow. This led me to Engineers India Ltd in New Delhi, where I joined as General Manager-R & D in 1970 and worked till 2001, leaving the company as Chairman and Managing Director. From 2001 to 2003, I took the position of Executive Director with the Centre for Higher Technology, New Delhi. In 2003, I joined the University of Petroleum & Energy Studies (Hydrocarbon Education Research Society), where I am serving currently as Founder Chancellor. Over the years, I have acted as a Visiting Professor at IIT Delhi and IIT Roorkee.

Leadership Style

I strongly believe in compassion, Empathy and Cross-fertilization of Ideas. I have grown by eliminating any potential hindrance to learning and encouraging lifelong learning. I am generally practical in approach and able to drive people. I even encourage colleagues to challenge themselves, while giving autonomy to the team & trusting their abilities. Leading with intellectual Integrity and being a good listener is very important for managing the playing areas and developing the competencies required.

 Challenges and Opportunities at EIL

I joined the EIL-R & D in its initial stages and got many opportunities. It is a great place to learn and work with a very healthy culture and friendly environment.

We get freedom to work and one could spend almost 20% of his time on pursuing areas of interest to self. We also do extensive networking with premier research as well as industrial organizations in the country. Starting with recruitment of Creative Researchers with ability to collaborate to Sustained Engagement of recruited young work force and Integration of professionals, collaborating on a specific job, the institute has a seamless process. Moreover, it enjoys membership of International Collaborative Research Forums like IFRF, Centre for process Integration at UMIST, HTRI, HTFS, FRI, PSRI, Centre for process Design at Carnegie Mellon University etc. We focus on developing abilities for wholesome approach to take a technology from laboratory skills to commercialization. Lastly, we believe in celebrating each-other’s success and remaining connected.

Some challenges that were initially present were regarding Integration with the rest of the organization, and Commercialization of Indigenous technologies[1]with insistence on a reference unit for implementation of developed technology. We also have to face the Rising cost of R&D activities and meagre funding support from internal sources.

Resource Management for Oil and Gas Sector

India is the third-largest energy consumer globally and economic growth is linked to the energy consumption. However, India has not been served well by nature towards the availability of Oil and Gas. So, the country continues to import very large quantity of hydrocarbon resources to meet its burgeoning demand. India’s import bill for crude oil for 2019-20 was in excess of $100 Billion with India’s refining capacity close to 250 MMT and indigenous production of 30.5 MMT only But India has taken measure to encourage investment in Oil and Gas sector. Crude oil consumption is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.60% to 500 MMT by 2040. Anticipating this demand, OVL (ONGC Videsh Ltd) has been investing abroad in various exploration & production projects to help country meet its energy demand. The expected investment in exploration and production is expected to be of the order of U.S $ 25 Billion. The Govt is encouraging FDI in upstream and refining sectors. Even in the PSU refining projects, FDI has been raised to 49%. OALP & CBM policies have been liberalized to encourage investment.

The GoI has also developed the Hydrocarbon & Exploration licensing Policy (HELP) to vigorously pursue upstream activities. This provides for a revenue sharing model with freedom for marketing and pricing for any hydrocarbons produced. We have also looked at exploiting small and marginal fields. The discovered small field policy 2015 aims to bring such fields into production. The contractors are allowed to market the production in the domestic market exclusively through a transparent bidding process.

The hydrocarbon vision document 2025 envisages upgradation of technology and capacity to make the industry globally competitive, promoting healthy competition, improving customer service and ensuring oil security for the country. The petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board also oversees the various facets of the hydrocarbon industry. By and large the Government is on the right track to ensure that investments are made in the hydrocarbon sector for meeting our requirements.

Advances in Academic Research in India and Industry Support

The Ministry of Science and Technology had released the Frame work of the Industry-University Linkages in Research in 2019. It brought out that optimum cooperation between industry and academic is not happening.

The industry and academic have to collaborate for the enhancing R&D activities, developing knowledge, ensuring proto-type development and commercialization of developed technologies. These collaborations/ partnerships help to ensure that the work force created through academic institutions is contemporary and meets industry requirements.

The industry, generally, is biased towards developing short term solutions of commercial importance. Academia wants to develop new knowledge. It is important for the policy makers to develop a dual-job concept where Industry personnel and academia can migrate to the other side to cross[1]breed solutions that can be useful for the industry.

It will be beneficial if the working team for the industry sponsored R&D Projects at academia institute provides for involvement of an industry person in the team and is stationed at the academic institute on a continuous basis. Positive benefits can come out of involvementof international experts in such projects. The Govt. of India has taken steps for developing Research Parks and Technology Incubators are becoming the order of the day at all leading institutes.

India’s Gross Expenditure on R & D has been on the rise but is still at a dismal 0.81% of GDP which is well below the international levels. India has one of the largest networks of HEI and with the young tech-savvy workforce available, it is imperative that academia & industry work together towards developing corporate research laboratories. This can help in ensuring that undergraduate students go to such Research labs and that their creative, innovative as well as entrepreneurial skills are enhanced.

Learnings from the Corporate World application in the education sector

The learning from the corporate world are very much applicable to the education sector. We learn to be flexible and innovative, as well as develop individual skills for the faculty and staff. We need to involve people consistently to work on something “New” because with IT and other Technology and Innovation revolution, the nature of the jobs will change. Also, attracting and retaining talented people is a huge challenge.

Regular comprehensive documentation is required, along with time bound review (every quarter) and feedback. Developing Multi-skilling capabilities in the students and a separate HR function is the order of the day. The future is going to be exciting and we are here to “WIN”.

Effective Learning Environment

An effective learning environment has to be a hybrid model, based on both face to face and online simulations, animations, videos and personal touch. It has to be Project and Internship based learning. We should be integrating data sets. It is important to bring out, what I call, the “Discretionary Energy “of the learner.

The environment has to ensure that the learner develops compassion and respect for the fellow beings and passion for work, besides looking at personalized learning. Collaborative learning and group activities have to be encouraged.

Opportunities for talented students as well as slow learners have to be provided. The environment must create pathways for practice and growth, provide safe environment and freedom to express views. It has to be engaging and positive and help in developing communication and other personality traits.

Finally, the learners must be developed to ask the right questions rather than giving the right answers.

Organize, plan and prioritizing work for the University

The best thing is to have an outcome-based approach, which is student and faculty centric, and promotes capacity building. Implement delegation and empowerment, and assign accountability.

Creating communities and connections is also important. This can be done by prioritizing and addressing psychological challenges, encouraging parents, teachers and students’ interaction. The last aspect is developing Inclusive learning solution and Quality Assurance Mechanisms. We put focus on integrating Meditation, Yoga and CSR activities in the syllabi.

Changes in the Higher Education Sector and Indian Education System

The gross enrollment ratio in Indian Education Sector is about 26-27% with over 40,000 Colleges and more than 1000 Universities. This ratio is set to increase to 50% during this decade. The new Education Policy (NEP 2020), which if implemented in totality, is very Quality Centric and will result in the survival of the fittest.

The Universities will have to go for internationalization across all the three pillars of infrastructure, students as well as faculty. The HEI’s will necessarily have to be multi-disciplinary with life science added on to the current syllabi.

It is believed that value-added courses from leading universities and ‘Industrial Work Integrated’ learning will become the order of the day. India with increased research output will become a hub for international talent.

Indian Academicians performing on a global stage

Persons of Indian origin have done well both in the industry and education abroad. One can keep on counting the number of top positions held by Indians in either of these sectors. This is due to the environment that is provided abroad. We, in the education sector, hope that all these eminent people are developing linkages to improve the quality of education in their home country.

The New Education Policy should provide a fillip to Indian Academicians seeking collaboration with other global players. There are various areas of Research as well as Education policy that is of vital importance and I am sure that, Indians can contribute quite a bit in the international areas.

Indian academicians have expertise in the areas of waste plastic utilization, CO2 management, Biomass to chemicals, Minimization of Reactor sizes, and have the capability to develop competitive technologies, which can be offered at the global level. The Indian knack of “Startups” can also be used at the global level.

Sharing with students

The first and foremost message that I will like to share is “RESPECT”- respect for others, respect for processes, respect for the person on the street, respect for diversity. You must remember that you are a “lifelong learner” and must always address anxiety. Be calm, don’t react, take a breath before you respond.

Integrity and ethics are very important human values that need to be cultivated and adhered to.

Be a good listener, be humble, develop humility and invest in yourself. Developmental toughness and resolve to complete a given job. Remember that you cannot succeed in the 21st century by using 19th-century tools. Broaden your learning so that you can build on those for success when “change” comes in.

Finally, the Team is always bigger than self. Each individual has limitations and the drawbacks-the team helps us to overcome these.


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