1. What inspired you and your father to become entrepreneurs?
We both believe that an entrepreneur is someone who adds value to society by taking strong and impactful initiatives. The vision of adding value to the existing education system in central India and improving it by giving global exposure to the next generation propelled my father Shri Hari Mohan Gupta to start the Jagran Social Welfare Society.
My grandfather, and an inspiration for both of us, Late Shri Guru Dev Gupta ji was known throughout the country as a visionary who always took various initiatives to promote education. Thus in 1997, “Jagran Social Welfare Society Bhopal” (JSWS) was established to develop and propagate educational programs, by the way of establishing progressive schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions in India, open to all without any distinction of race, caste or creed and other social welfare objectives of the society. DPS Bhopal established in 2000, revolutionized the school education system in Bhopal, and then after founding ‘Jagran Lakecity University’ (JLU) the same feat is getting repeated in the higher education space.
2. Can you give our readers some tips on how to make the father-son entrepreneurial duo an effective and successful venture?
It is his leadership that I trust and follow because I saw him take decisions that resulted in impactful positive changes in the state’s education system. He is an institute in himself and I keep learning from him every day. Few other things that make us work effectively are ‘Continuous Learning’ and ‘Mutual Respect’. I saw something very similar between him and my grandfather as well.
Also, I believe that there are certain basic team ethics that are the prime reasons for effective working. One of the most important is to respect the difference of opinion. My Father and I belong to two different generations. His ideas sometimes differ from mine but we make sure that our ideas are a good mix of experience and innovation.
3. Briefly describe what basically Jagran Social Welfare Society (Bhopal) is and some of the work that has been initiated?
In the past 23 years of its operations, the Jagran Social Welfare Society (Bhopal) has carved a niche in the state of Madhya Pradesh for itself and has set new benchmarks in providing quality education to more than 40,000 students since its inception. The society is successfully operating four branches of Delhi Public Schools in Bhopal and Indore.
Being true to its ideology of giving back to society, Jagran Social Welfare Society also established Shiksha Kendra in the year 2003. Today three such Shiksha Kendra’s in schools and one in the university are providing completely free education to more than 1,000 less fortunate children annually, from 1st standard all the way up to graduation.
Under its umbrella, the JSWS also has ‘Jagran Lakecity University (JLU), Bhopal which is one of the fastest growing and one of the most awarded universities of Central India having practice-based pedagogy at its core. Currently, the university is offering a 56-degree program to more than 2500 students from 8 countries and 27 states of India.
4. Please throw some light on future trends in the higher education ecosystem in India and how JLU plans to align with them?
I am certain that the future of teaching and learning is “Blended”, which is a combination of the physical classroom and online learning. Indian regulatory authorities have allowed for 40% online learning and we are prepared to make adequate adjustments to blend both mediums. This blending has to be carefully, cautiously, and creatively calibrated. Online learning must be to supplement offline learning and the proportions of both should be laid out in the best interest of all the stakeholders.
JLU already practices blended learning by:
Making sure that the Members of the Faculty are facilitators and not just teachers:Today, teachers are not the only providers of information as there are a plethora of avenues for that, so they must assist the students in making sense of this information that they acquire and do this so diligently that the students don’t feel confused with these chunks of information and where to use it.
Promoting Practice-based learning to bridge the gap between the world of study and the world of work: The flexibility of curriculum will be the determining factor of the New Education Policy-2020’s aspirations of making youth work-ready. Students will get a certificate, diploma, degree, and Hons. degree on completion of 1,2,3&4 years of their education respectively but are given the choice to go and work after completing any level of education and come back to earn the next level credential.
The most important flexibility will be in not keeping learning in silos, a math student must be allowed to learn to appreciate arts, commerce the graduate must also know about conducting an orchestra, an engineer must know about nuances of banking and an arts graduate should be well versed in laws of physics. Only then can we say with certainty that the new normal has arrived.
5. How has the education system in India? How has JLU integrated technology in its operations to offset the massive disruption?
I think this pandemic has shaken the whole education sector out of its laxity which has been a blessing in disguise. The sprouting of new digital tools and updated curricula are the testaments of this revolutionized eduspace. JLU was quick to adapt to these changes both in terms of curricula and the use of digital resources. I claim that we have entered into Eduspcace 2.0 now. Blended learning (40% online & 60% offline) is the way ahead where the students’ aspirations will be fulfilled without an ounce of compromise on the quality of delivery. The testament of this is that Jagran Lakecity University was the first in MP & CG to be awarded the QS IGauge E-Learning Excellence for Academic Digitization (E-Lead) Certification 2020, with a perfect score of 150/150. The University has become a certified Institution for being digitally prepared and for its robust digital ecosystem for virtually imparting quality education to the students.
6. Tell us more about your journey so far and the vision you have for the future.
Jagran Lakecity University is fairly a new entrant into the higher education space, but in the past 8 years of its establishment, JLU has been ranked no. 1 in Madhya Pradesh and top 15 in India in 2020 and the University has been bestowed with several prestigious awards, such as ‘University of the Year’ by Government of Madhya Pradesh for consecutive four years in 2015, 2016 2017 & 2018. Our Chancellor, who is also the second vice president of AUAP recently, was conferred the ‘Asia Global Hero Award’ by the president of the Philippines. My Vision is to see JLU being a university of distinction where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship are cultivated, through a practice-based pedagogy, giving an impetus to our belief in nurturing leaders of the future that have honesty, vision, and fortitude to shape all spheres of human existence by thinking globally but acting locally. The strength to achieve these pillars comes from our four pillars viz. ‘Student Centric Approach’, ‘Skill-based Interdisciplinary Degrees’, ‘Intensive Industry Intervention’ and ‘Global Network Connect’.
7. Who has been the inspiration in your life and what were your key takeaways from them?
My Grandfather SHRI GURUDEV GUPTA is the biggest inspiration in my life. Even before being a member of the Rajya Sabha, he was actively serving the nation through his revolutionary activities against the British. Anyone who reads about his life can certainly say that he lived by the motto of ‘Service Before Self’. Quality Education, in my opinion, is the only way to guarantee that the future of the nation is in the right hands. My father and Chancellor of JLU, Shri Hari Mohan Gupta sums it up precisely in his quote, “On earth, there is no purifier as great as Knowledge”. I wish to continue their legacy of serving the nation through initiatives and creating a positive impact.
8. What are some of the challenges that you face on a daily basis? Would you like to share your thoughts on work-life balance for entrepreneurs in general?
If you would have asked this question last year, I would have given a long list but today, the biggest and only challenge is to deal with the present Pandemic. It taught us that everything can be managed and thus, prepared us mentally to appreciate what we had before COVID 19.
Prepare a to-do list, trust your team with the work they are doing, plan in advance, and make sure that you follow the timelines strictly. These will give time for work as well as life. It is not like I do not struggle but, at the end, these points help settle for better.
9. Elaborate on some of the flagship courses and the faculty heading these courses at JLU.
The Faculty of Journalism and Creative Studies is our flagship faculty which is an interdisciplinary center of graduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies that combines a variety of fields and experiential learning in a modern and expansive campus. The three main schools in this faculty are the Jagran School of Journalism and Communication, the Jagran School of Visual Arts and Design, and the Jagran Wizcraft MIME School of Entertainment and Events. All of these schools are highly revered institutions for creative disciplines and studies. The courses range from Journalism, Design, Visual Arts, and Events. Our other four faculties as per the New Education Policy of 2020 are Faculty of Law, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Management and Commerce, and Faculty of applied sciences and technology. JLU offers 56-degree programs in fields like LAW, MBA, Economics, Accounting, Public Policy, Psychology, English literature, UI/UX, Data Sciences, Hospitality, Culinary Arts, Physical Education among others.
10. Can you tell us a little more about the media incubation at JLU and its contributions to the startup ecosystem in Central India
Jagran Lakecity University has magnificent state-of-the-art ‘ShriGurudev Gupta Media Studios’, which is the physical embodiment of our goal to give our students the best ‘Practice Based’ Knowledge. It is a 20000 sq. ft., multi-facility building having an Art Gallery, Media Production room with green screen, Theatre with seating for 70 people (To showcase student’s work), Radio Broadcast room, Photography Studio, Audio Recording Labs and Multiple Computer Equipped Classrooms where students can practice and improve their art.
The media incubation center has lead to the initiatives such as, ‘Lakecity Voice’ which is a student-led, edutaining, and non-commercial IP radio station of JLU, and ‘Lakecity Live’ which is a student lead news platform that publishes the activities inside JLU and articles from the faculty members, etc. Students from the faculty of Journalism and Creative Studies get immense hands-on experience in these facilities. The center is one of a kind in central India where all this states of the art equipment is available under one roof. Students are thus enabled to venture into the entrepreneurial world and get into any field of their choice as they have gotten exposure to it, right here at JLU.
11. Is JLU involved in any entrepreneurship development, R&D, and grassroots innovation? Elaborate on some of the student innovations being supported at JLU.
JLU takes pride in being a university with rich practice-based pedagogy. Our school of engineering and technology offers courses under a broad spectrum of Data Sciences, AI & Machine Learning, User Experience Design, and others. This opens a vast field of innovation for us, in these fields. Keeping the emerging opportunities in mind, JLU has a ‘Start-up Incubation Fund’ of INR. 25 Lac, reserved to fund any and every innovative idea from our students as well as members of faculty. The idea is not only to fund the initiative but also to provide proper guidance in developing a successful business model around the idea.
From the recent alumni data, we are certain that around 70% of jagranites, chose an entrepreneurial path right after graduation or end up in one after gaining experience in their respective fields. We are certain that something big is right around the corner for JLU in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship.