IIFT: Goldmine of international trade studies
Abhay Anand, 22 Apr 2014

Indian Institute of Foregn Institute (IIFT) Director Dr Surajit Mitra is an IAS Officer who has served on the Board of Directors of Navratna PSUs and also taught at DU, NEHU and JNU. He shares his views on what a university should be with Career360’s Abhay Anand.


Q. What according to you is a ‘World Class University’?

A. Those universities are world class, which are knowledge centres, because a university can be always evaluated in terms of its infrastructure, faculty, students, etc. It should contribute to the growth of knowledge. It is not the size of the university or the quality of infrastructure but sum total of it. If it is not doing this then it is just a degree granting institution.


Q. What is IIFT’s plans to become ‘World Class’ ?

A. If IIFT is to become a world-class institution then we need to become a knowledge centre, a one-stop hub for research in international trade and business, a hub for export-import strategy, data, information, everything put together.  


Q. What challenges do you face as the Director of an institute of national repute? Is there some  scope for improvement?

A. Every institution requires improvement; we need to constantly upgrade our faculty. We also need to invest heavily in research. Without this it will not be called a great institution. The other challenge is to upgrade the faculty and introduce new subjects. It is also a challenge for me to not only produce very efficient MBA students but at the same time socially aware and sensitized human beings for the social issues. 


“We have not been able to bring investment in establishing world-class labs, world-class science institutions, and skill development institutions”


Q. Are you following any unique academic practice?

A. In international trade you cannot survive if you are not contemporary, therefore we constantly revise our curriculum. We try to teach more applied theory, which means we look more at simulations; case studies so that when our students become managers they can effectively handle various issues.     


Q. What is your take on IIFT’s key future initiatives?

A. I want to create a few centres of knowledge, one will be a centre for energy studies because I feel that energy trading is the biggest trading in the world and every country should strategize itself in energy trading.


Q. How to make India’s higher education more robust?

A. Most of the investment in the higher education was done in Engineering, Medical and Management. But we have not been able to bring investment in establishing world-class labs, world-class science institutions, and skill development institutions. Unless we do that we cannot produce world-class scientists. We also need to connect academia with the industry. 


Q. Your views on the current regulatory regime?

A. UGC has played its role in a very efficient way and there is some kind of standardization among the government universities. But we do not have that kind of control over the private ones. I am not in favour of any kind of strict regime. There should be less control and more facilitating environment.   


Q. A large number of MBA, Engineering institutions  are now closing down, how do you see this?

A. Many people opened educational institutions to grab land. A lot of dilution has taken place; therefore quality control is very important, which we lost sight of.


Q. What are your views on the accreditation process being followed in India?

A. We need to make accreditation compulsory for all the higher education institutions; there is need of independent judicious accreditation bodies. The bodies that are there have not been very effective till date.


Q. How can India make a mark in research publications?

A. We have to incentivize research to motivate faculty by various ways, not just by giving cash awards. We have to be careful about good and bad publications, as we haven’t focused on it till now. We should also promote journals. 

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