Mumbai: Mumbai R.D. National College, is the first College of HSNC board located at Bandra and one of the oldest educational institutions affiliated to the University of Mumbai.
Hello Mumbai News Feature Editor, Rachna Mehta interacts with Dr.Neha Jagtiani, In-Charge Principal, R.D. National College, Bandra, Mumbai in a free-wheel interview.
1.Rachna Mehta: Hello Madam, please enlighten us on your academic journey right from the beginning till date.
Dr.Neha Jagtiani: I am an M.Com Gold Medallist having topped the University of Mumbai and one among the only two from Mumbai and seven from all over India to clear the All India NET Examination in. I hold an Honours Degree in ‘Masters in Subject Communication’ and was granted a two-years study leave by UGC to complete my P.HD. I started my career as an academician at the prestigious Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, where I taught for two years and joined R.D. National College, the pioneering college of the Hyderabad Sind Board (HSNC Board) in 1996. In January 2015, I took on the position of the Vice principal and have been serving as the In-charge principal of this prestigious institute since June 2019.
During the last two decades, I have chaired various conferences, presented numerous research papers at national and international platforms and have written for global publications. I am an author too and to my credit have two published books, one with an international publisher. I also have had the opportunity to serve as a member of Indian Merchants Chambers’ Education Committee and was honoured with the “Woman Achievers’ Award” by the Sindhi Chamber of Commerce. I have also won the ‘Best Citizen of India’ award from International Publishing House and had also been a part of the prestigious Educators Delegation to the Universities in the UK and Australia.
2.Rachna Mehta: What is your vision on R. D. National College and its future?
Dr. Neha Jagtian: Well, R.D. and S.H. National College were established with the blessings and leadership of Rishi Dayaram Gidumal and Dr. Annie Besant in 1949. It is one of the oldest colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai and the first of the 24 educational institutions established by the Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate Board. Bringing hope to a partition-torn country, Vidyasagar K. M. Kundnani set foot to Bombay penniless with a resolve to re-establish National College that was formerly in Hyderabad, Sind (now Pakistan). He didn’t even have had the slightest hesitation in mortgaging his wife. Smt. Jotu Kundnani’s jewellery for this endeavour. With a pride, he constructed a College truly ‘national’ in spirit as although it was set up by the Sindhis, with the first student to enrol being a Muslim. The HSNC Board has grown from strength to strength and carrying on to establish over 20 educational institutions in the past 7 decades. We are the mother institution and so envelope within ourselves the cultural richness and the history of the Hyderabad and Sindh Board. In our legacy of 70 years, we have had leaders and prominent personalities from all walks of life from the late president of India. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to the music maestro, A.R. Rahman, visiting and motivating our students from time to time.
This year as we commemorate our 70 years of academic excellence and nation building, my vision for this institute is to be acknowledged as a first-class comprehensive college whose multicultural dimensions of student education, scholarly output and contribution to the community shall consistently meet the global standards of excellence.
3. Rachna Mehta: Share your experience being the IC principal of R.D. National college.
Dr. Neha Jagtiani: Amid smiles, she said “It is truly an honour as well as a great responsibility for me to helm an institute of such a stature and repute. The coming years promises full of opportunities for students pursuing higher education and to deliver them a brighter future. I have strived to provide maximum inputs and services in nurturing this young bright generation. During my tenure as the IC Principal since June 2019, with unwavering support from the management and co-operation of my colleagues, juniors and the support staff , I’ve involved myself in organising numerous seminars, workshops and festivals such as, a programme commemorating the institute’s 70 years of Academic Excellence and Nation Building; Jashan – A celebration of Sindhiyat in Us to rejoice, endorse and protect the Sindhi Language, Culture and Heritage; One Day National Colloquium on ‘ Institutional Social Responsibility for a Greener Campus’, acknowledging the potential of an educational institute in imbibing the spirit of living in harmony with the environment and focusing on sustainable development; an educational career conclave “From Campus to Corporate” for the second and third year undergraduate students, networking with industry professionals from 39 companies such as Nippon, Gempl, Renewsys, ICICI and others; celebration of International Science Day by commemorating the achievements of seven exceptional researchers and academicians in the field of Science & Technology with the Vigyaan Gaurav Award; among others.
I have also been able to launch the Centre for Innovation, Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship under the aegis of the DBT Grant, at the hands of Shri. R. Ramanan, Mission Director of the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Ayog, GOI.
Furthermore, I have been able to initiate the Masters course in Entertainment, Media & Advertising affiliated to the University of Mumbai and skill-development courses such as Professional Proficiency in English and Computers Proficiency for the support staff and have introduced new facilities on our campus such as a state-of-the-art laboratory, a Centralised Facility Centre, and a Centre for E-Learning to encourage undergraduate research, among other initiatives.
4. Rachna Mehta: Mam, finally, your advice and suggestions to this younger generation?
Dr.Neha Jagtiani: I always advice the young generation that no matter how important your personal life may be, professional life is equally important in this competitive world.
In a country like India where most of the women aren’t encouraged to think big especially the rural parts of the nation, there are some who have soared higher than one would expect from a constrictive setup. These wonder-women are inspiring other women to venture on the path of startups through the stories of their personal struggles and challenges. As a result, India is steadily rising up the ranks when it comes to a favorable startup ecosystem with solid backing from the Government.
Furthermore, I always encourage my students to dream big and to have the courage to take the first step in achieving that dream. As the Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
5 .Rachna Mehta: Being a woman educationist how you foresee yourself in this competitive era?
Dr.Neha Jagtiani: A woman faces more challenges professionally as compared to the opposite gender. But its up to you how you take it. Working should be a passion rather than a burden to support the dependants financially. Only then can you survive in this competitive world. The most successful women started working because of their passion. Therefore, they’ve achieved their goals. And I get all my inspiration from such strong women.
6.Rachnan Mehta: As we, Women, today are entrepreneurs, we are rising in our country, your candid views on that.
Dr.Neha Jagtiani: That’s the sign of a developing Nation. Women today are ambitious! They know how to balance their personal and professional life. They know the importance of education, and it is this education that is leading them to become a successful entrepreneur.
7. Rachna Mehta: What are your views on the existing Education system?
Dr. Neha Jagtiani: You see, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam once said that, “It is not unemployment that is the major problem, it is the question of un-employability which is the major crisis in the competitive arena.” Truly, unemployability is a serious peril and is rapidly rising in India. Young graduates come out of college, polished in academics. But, to be employable is beyond acquiring degrees. It requires various skills as well. However, the current academic system merely provides information and textbook knowledge, and turns a blind eye towards skill development of these youth.
However, in an attempt to fill in this lacuna created by our current academic system, we at National College, have been taking an extra step to create awareness regarding various industry internship and placement activities amongst our students.
8.Rachna Mehta: Mam, Today in this online era, what are your initiatives to promote online Education. Do you think online education system has great potential and future.
Dr.NehabJagtiani: Well, I believe that online as well as classroom education, both have their pros and cons. However, it is crucial that we adapt to the changing times and the needs of our students and the market. So, I think that the best strategy is to be situational and try to gain maximum benefits of both the education systems for our students.
9.Rachna Mehta: Could you please elaborate on women empowerment?
Dr. Neha Jagtiani: To me , empowerment of women starts from encouraging women to make their own decisions and to hold forth their own convictions.
As an administrator , I oversee a Women’s Development Cell in the college that has very Abel teachers who have organised inspirational speakers from the field of medicine , emerging careers to motivational speakers who address issues pertaining to women .
Young women and pre adults attend these sessions with zest and I am sure take home many life lessons. In all I believe women are extremely resourceful and strong , they just need to be made aware of their abilities.
10.Rachna Mehta: Mam, last question, your message to the women amid this Covid 19 pandemic crisis?
Dr.Neha Jagtiani: Again amidst smiles, she said “Women are born strong. However, I always wonder why people call strong women ‘Iron lady’. Because, you see, iron is tough, inflexible and if you hit it hard, it breaks. That’s for men…Women, on the other hand, are like steel. Malleable, flexible and so strong that no matter how hard you hit them, they will never break.
So, my message to all the women out there is simple. Please take care, stay positive and find some time to have fun and to smile. It is challenging to operate under the current restrictions but, stay strong. We have been through worse and we shall get through this as well…Together
Well, this is the free’wheel interview by Hello Mumbai News Feature Editor Rachna Mehta with R.D.National College’s In-Charge Principal, the dynamic and a woman of substance, Dr.Neha Jagtiani.
News Edit by K.V.Raman