Monday, 23 December 2013


Hospitality Students - Internship dilemma
This is a global issue. Opinions differ on its objective, duration, structure, monitoring mechanism,levels and areas of operation involved, stipend, working hours, treatment by the regular staff and the establishment and +ves / -ves likely to accrue during internship. High manpower turnover and  lack of trained personnel is a well established fact in the hospitality industry. All stakeholders must accept it without any pretence. It is also a fact that major part of the future work force will come from the interns who train with the hotels as part of the curriculum. Who is an intern? Why did he/she choose hospitality as a career? Let us take a look at his/her background.
The general impression of students joining the IHMs is that they were (1) awed by its glamour, (2) impressed by TV Chef shows (70%to 80% at the time of admission said that they want to become a CHEF), (3) not so good in academics so they considered Hotel Studies as an easy exit from the Academic Overload and (4) few because their family were in the hospitality business. In India most of the 10+2 students appear for 3 or 4 Entrance tests for Engineering, Medical, Law, Defence – some by choice and some forced by parents. Few  apply for Hotel Management as a standby arrangement and very few by choice. This is apparent from the numbers. While the numbers of applicants for Engineering, Medical, Law courses are in the range of Lakhs and increasing every year, the number of applicants for the Hotel Management courses are in the range of 15,000 and this number is either static or subject to very minor increase/decrease each year. Compare this with 14 Lakh applications for IIT JEE in 2013  alone.  This actually leaves many IHMs with a lot of vacant seats in reserved for SC/ST/OBC/PH quota category as there not as many takers for the course. The students admitted under the General category, barring few exceptions, are academically “Below Average” or “Average” students having scored between 40% to 60% marks in 10+2 – some of them who have completed 10+2 in two or three attempts, some have completed 10+2 from NIOS, some have opted out after remaining unsuccessful in Engineering/Medical courses, some joined the course after attempting admission to Engineering/ Medical for one or two years  and some have back papers yet to clear – some interested and some not really interested but by default in the course.. So each IHM has a mixed batch of “Below Average” or “Average” students from General category and “Walk-ins” form Reserved category.
The profile of students has undergone a sea change in past decade and half. These youngsters grew up witnessing 9/11, Norway carnage, 26/11, Madrid, Bali, Tahrir square, Jasmine effect, Anna’s movement, Saddam’s fate, Osama’s fate, Gaddafi’s downfall, Nirbhaya case, Tsunami, Katrina, emergence of FB/Twitter,  CWG, 2G, Coalgate, F-1, English Football live with Hindi commentary, Modi’s rise, blue tooth, Greece economy, McD/KFC/etc..  and Starbucks entry in India, periodical tamashas in Lokshabha & Rajyasabha live– the list is endless. This generation is different. They are tech-savvy, self-absorbed, lack loyalty, impatient, however, they are knowledge workers, eager to learn their way and very creative. They live for the moment blending work with play, passion and family. As children they grew up in “Adult Free” time doing their own things and hence developed their own perceptions. They are not easily influenced by marketing, however, brand-wise. They are connected world-wide via social media based on common interests and not proximity. Even though the Urban and Non-Urban profiles differ significantly – both take travel for granted. They seek of careers with perceived higher quality of life than their parents and also look forward to higher wages.
There are differing views on the duration, construct of IT schedule, stipend and working hours of interns. Some advocate a longer period of internship at one hotel during the course of study and some think that short spells of internships at different hotels of different nature is better for student. The logic of the latter case is that  intern gets a better comparative overall picture of industry and God forbid if in the first scheme if intern happens to land in an intern-unfriendly property he/she is in for a real bad time for longer duration. Difficult to decipher which is better. Shorter IT means more work for HR / Training Managers. Hotels would like opt for longer duration IT as it solves their manpower problems to a large extent. On the other hand the hotel schools also would prefer longer duration IT as it means less faculty costs and better classroom/Lab utilizations. The question is whether it is in the best interest of the intern or not. Debate continues. In many cases meagre stipend and long working hours with irratic breaks is an add-on to the woes of interns.
What happens in the IHMs before they are sent for Internship? Basics of Hospitality are introduced. Strong dose of discipline and manners is given to students. Importance of cleanliness and hygiene is stressed upon. A sense of punctuality is inculcated. Respect for seniors and faculty sets in. A sense of seriousness prevails during campus placements when the freshers see the recruiters from industry on campus and  witness the signs of anxiety and nervousness in their seniors. This leads them in believing that the performance standards expected of them in industry are very high. The real metamorphosis of a student’s mind starts while the student is in first year of IHM.This also results in confusion over deciding the property in which they should try for their forthcoming Internships as there are hotels GOOD and BAD labeled informally by the seniors and mentors. Some hotels take the interns seriously, some treat them as a casual work force (usually Banquet Department being their Karma Bhoomi), some follow the structured IT schedule, some Training Managers (TM) assume that the intern will learn himself/herself from the staff once he/she is placed in a section of a department,  some hotel managements see interns as a HR costs saving instruments. Some students have notions of certain hotel properties being a good training ground for a particular aspect e.g. culinary, F&B service or Housekeeping. Confusions galore but in any case students have high expectations from their internship and look forward eagerly to spending the training period constructively and learn as much as possible.
It is during the Internship that the student’s perception towards industry firms up completely. The quality of experience that a student gets during internship becomes the turning point for his possible career. That’s when he may lose self respect and get disillusioned or otherwise. Many a times the students are treated as contract laborers.  During this time they are either paid a menial sum or no amount. Very often they are used as fillers for the absent regular hotel staff.  That leads to odd working hours with shortest possible notice. Long working hours go without saying. They are also largely made to work overtime. It is also noticed that an intern gets no consideration for a case of ill-health or sickness. Abusive language used by the hotel staff is a revelation of HR practices.  It dawns upon the 18 - 20 year old that the industry works 24X7 and 365 days. A thought prevails in the students mind that beyond cleaning, helping and serving they are considered no good for anything else. He learns that low wages compared to work put in, is the hall mark of the industry. At this stage the student also realizes that all that is taught in college is anything but management. The management component of learning is completely absent.  Apart from these there may be many more reasons why a hotel management student falls out of love for the industry. These realizations makes a student feel cheated leading to disappointment and de-motivation. Parents observe that their child is getting overworked, uninterested and unhappy and may start exploring an alternate career for the student.
Post–IT the students are lost in a dizzy to adjust back to the hotel school atmosphere when they compare what they were taught and what is the practice in the industry, the latest equipment/technologies  in hotels with the antiquated gadgets in the institute. They share the bad and the good stories of their IT with faculty and classmates. Information percolates through to the student community, they in turn form good or bad opinion about particular chains or unit hotels. Smart faculty take their cue and update their teaching inputs. Training Managers who attend the IT presentations in the hotel schools also benefit and make possible amends. This is the most crucial period for         decision- making. Most of the interns are in the age bracket of 19 to 22 years – the formative years of their life ( make or break phase of life). This is in almost all cases their first-time exposure to the real industry. They easily either take a liking or disliking  for the industry depending on the way the internship shapes up. No wonder many get disheartened and chose to drop-out or shift to other service industry segments at the first available opportunity. This is reflected very much during the final year placements when students opt out for other segments of the service industry jobs.
There was an award winning article ‘Pygmalion in Management’ in 1969 Harvard Business Review by J. Sterling Livingston. It refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, often children or students and employees, the better they perform. The effect is named after Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor in a narrative by Ovid in Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory. The Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, and, in this respect, people with poor expectations internalize their negative label, and those with positive labels succeed accordingly. Within sociology, the effect is often cited with regards to education and social class. Hotel industry by and large gets what it deserves because of the standards it sets for the interns who happen to be its future torch bearers. If HR/Training/Department managers believe that interns are meant to be deployed in the hotel in the way they are now then the interns tend to behave in the expected mode. His title also pays homage to George Bernard Shaw, whose play Pygmalion explores the notion that the way one person treats another can, for better or worse, be transforming. In his article, Livingston notes that creating positive expectations is remarkably difficult, and he offers guidelines for managers: Focus special attention on an employee’s first year because that’s when expectations are set, make sure new hires get matched with outstanding supervisors, and set high expectations for yourself. This is equally true for interns as well. They are the future workforce of industry.
In George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle (Movie - My Fair Lady)explains:
“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins because he always treats me as a flower girl and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady and always will.”
Some managers always treat their subordinates in a way that leads to superior performance. But most managers, like Professor Higgins, unintentionally treat their subordinates in a way that leads to lower performance than they are capable of achieving. The way managers treat their subordinates is subtly influenced by what they expect of them. If managers’ expectations are high, result is likely to be excellent and vice versa. Importance of managerial expectations for individual and group performance has not been widely understood. Students going for an internship in the industry are like them stepping in to a school. The Industry’s role during this period is of a Guru or a mentor, to mould fresh minds, share vision and wisdom. Students should be treated with respect and without discrimination. They must feel welcomed, evolved right through the internships. Hotels should have guidelines or policies for trainees just like what they do for their new employees. Many hotels not really put their effort to guide those trainee since they have the perception that trainee will just come and go after few months which actually not worth for them to train them. It will be better if hotels can provide on the job training checklist for trainees and assigned a buddy for trainees rather than them following everyday different senior and doing different tasks.  Hotel industry do have their responsibility to cultivate the interns since they might become the next generation who continue to group up the hospitality industry in the future. Of course, hotels might have their own difficulties but then this issue is too important to be ignored and sidelined.  Solutions must be found. Hotel industry must compete the same way for attracting the interns as they do for new customers – attract them, develop and retain. There is a strong case for matching the stipend with comparable allied service industry sectors. Expectations of students from IT should be adequately addressed by industry.
Everyone knows hotel industry’s growth potential in future, especially in India. Obviously, enormous quality manpower will be required to successfully run it. India will have to compete with the rest of the world on all fronts including hotel services. Under the circumstances industry has no option but to formulate certain internship norms. Formulate such norms that will maintain the dignity and ignite the feeling of evolvement for an upcoming future hotelier, as it’s the industry that will lose out on manpower, reputation and goodwill in future.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Part 3
 Web presence of book - Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh
When the book was published we did create a very basic web-site describing the book and its contents with the help of a well-wisher Mr. Satyendra Gupta. The website  which still exists, had fairly good number of hits.
                The result was that we started getting mails from all over the world. First one came from a person who was a native of Kakori,  now living in Dubai appreciating our recipe of Kakori Kabab on the net. Second one came from Managing Editor of Cuisine Net Café’ in Brooklyn stating that it is very difficult to light a dung cake fire there to do our ‘Zamin Doz Machli” recipe. Many more mails appreciating the work followed. Few of the noted ones :
A botany herbarium expert of Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, UK
Dean, Hotel School, Virginia Tech, VA, USA
A senior citizen couple from Canberra, Australia who liked our recipe of “Lazzez Lauki” but wanted to know more about khoya, curd, chironji and kewra water
A businessman from Pune - a regular at Dum Pukht – who tried our recipe of Raan and found it very good.
A Hotelier from Hyderabad who wanted help to set up an Awadhi Speciality restaurant
CEO of starting a discussion on his portal on Awadhi cuisine and ingredients like Zarakush and Baobeer
There were many reviews on different sites, many sites blatantly copied and reproduced text/pictures from our site. I found in  atleast two up-scale restaurants- one in Machla Marg, New Delhi and  another in Hammersmith, London – menus in which the name & description of the some dishes were copied word-by-word from our book. Horror of horrors – when I perused an award winning book “Emperor’s Table, The Art of Mughal Cuisine” by Salma Husain released in 2008. This book won Gourmand’s 2008 World Cookbook Award for "Best Culinary History" on 01st  July 2009 in Paris. The book had simply reproduced 2-3 pages word-by-word description of cooking methods from our book. We did not want to bring it to the notice of the author or publisher. As long as Awadhi Cuisine was gaining ground nationally and internationally, it served the objectives of the initiative which we undertook in 1997. On a random check, references to our book were found on the following web sites :

Friday, 25 May 2012

Evolution of the book - Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh

Part 2

Though there was no formal promotion. I shot of a few personal letters to Chefs, hoteliers and friends informing them of the release of the book. Publisher gave us two complimentry copies each. I also created a brief website on Awadh cuisine. The sale took off. Letters, emails started came in from various parts of the world – some of appreciation, some seeking more information on ingredients, some asking permission to provide links on their web-sites, some seeking help to organize Awadh food festivals in their hotels etc.. Hindustan Times carried a book review done by Jiggs Kalra in its All India edition of Sunday magazine and another review appeared in The Indian Express. One airline management bought many copies as their corporate gift. Book shops like Universal and Advani displayed the book in the show case window. Local papers The Pioneer, TOI etc carried stories about the book. On request of Tourism Department Institute put up a Awadh Cuisine restaurant at Lucknow festival at Begum Hazrat Mahal Park. Hotel chains sent their chefs and HR managers to prospect Khansamas in Lucknow with our assistance for their units speciality restaurants. Over a period of two to three years hotels & restaurant industry started taking note of Awadhi cuisine. Speciality restaurants serving cuisine started coming up even in South India – Bangalore , Chennai, Hyderabad etc.. A travel agent organized a group of 20 Japanese Food Lovers to come over to Lucknow at our institute for a day’s workshop on Awadh cuisine. Local travel agent Tornos started promoting culinary tours to Lucknow. Well known American food magazine “Saveur” sent their food editor Margo True to us to find more about Awadhi cuisine and to explore the possibility of an article in their publication. The magazine did come up with a lengthy article on Awadh cuisine of 16 pages with 29 colour pictures in their October 2004 issue – thanks to the second trip of Margo True with her camera team to Lucknow for about a week earlier in February, 2004. A research scholar Holly Schaffer from Dartmouth College, New York came to India on Fulbright Scholarship to do work on the cuisine under our guidance. The book sold in large numbers in Pakistan and Middle East. Then the book went out-of-stock.
We started getting mails about how to obtain a copy from a lot of prospective buyers. When we approached Rupa & Co. with whom Harper Collins had partnership in India, we were told that the partnership has come to an end.  The new partners of Harper Collins are the India Today group, however, if we are interested then Rupa can do another edition provided we revert our copyright from Harper Collins and have a fresh contract with Rupa. I think Rupa had the pulse of the market demand  but were unable to do a reprint as the original copyright contract was with Harper Collins.
We talked to the India Today . They were not sure as to what to do. In their wisdom they decided not to do another edition and agreed to revert the copyright to us provided we pay Rs. 50,000 towards cost of photography and films. Sangeeta and I discussed this and decided to ask Rupa to do the fresh contract provided they pay India Today Rs. 50,000. Rupa was willing to pay Rs. 35,000 only. So we conveyed to India Today that we found Rs. 50,000 on higher side and offered to pay Rs. 35,000. I happened to be in Delhi in February, 2005 and met and discussed the matter with Ashok Chopra, CEO of India Today. To my surprise he was not very well briefed and had not even seen the book. When I told him that Rupa was footing the payment of Rs. 35,000 to do a fresh contract and do a new edition, he must have seen some sense in that business decision. He called for the book and glanced through the pages and decided then and there to go for the second edition. Fresh contracts came to us within two weeks time which we gladly signed and conveyed big thanks to Rupa declining their offer of Rs. 35,000. The second edition came out in early 2006. We were relieved now that the second edition was out but horrific was the book in its new format. The cover page was changed – lay-out, pictures, colour, back-drop – everything. And it was done in a very unprofessional way. Gone was the Islamic touch associated the Awadh culture. The dishes on the cover page had nothing to do with the Awadhi Cuisine. Typographical errors were not rectified. But the second edition was there and it had steady sale then and is selling even now with all the shortcomings. Well, we get our Royalty cheques every six months but not very happy about it.


Friday, 4 May 2012

"Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh" book origin

No one will believe it but there is a connection between demolition of Babri Masjid on Dec. 6th in the year 1992 in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India. I was the Director of the Institute of Hotel Management, Lucknow then.
In the aftermath of the event the then Union Minister of Railways Mr. Madhav Rao Scindia visited UP. On his recommendation the BJP Government in UP headed by Mr. Kalyan Singh was dissolved and President’s Rule was imposed. Three advisors to the Governor Mr. Romesh Bhandari were appointed, one of them was Mr. B.K. Goswami who happened to be my earlier boss when he was Director General and later Secretary in the Union Ministry of Tourism. Before retirement he was Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir and Advisor to Governor of J&K. One of the many portfolios he was given to handle was Tourism. I was aware of his arrival in Lucknow but I thought that since he must be very busy dealing with the current situation it may not be appropriate for me to make a courtesy call now. Let the situation improve, tempers cool down and then I will call on him. To my surprise I got a call from his office within a day of his assuming charge that Advisor wishes to me to meet him at the earliest. This I had not anticipated.
Sheepishly when I went to his office, he was chairing an  important meeting of very senior officials. I was asked by his staff to wait in his private chamber. Mr. Goswami, when informed about my arrival, to my surprise put the meeting on hold to see me in his private chamber. Before I could apologise to him for not contacting him earlier, he shot off instructions that he is short of time and therefore came to the point that I have to co-author a book on Awadh Cuisine with Mrs. Sangeeta Bhatnagar, wife of Mr. Pradeep Bhatnagar, District Magistrate of Barabanki which falls mid-way between Lucknow and Faizabad. He rattled few names of the references I was supposed to get in touch with regarding this project and get their coordinates from his staff. And that I should let him know the progress next week. Phew and he was gone to continue with his important meeting. I could not figure out which meeting was more important – the one happening in his office or the one which took place with me in his private chamber. I had no idea of who Mrs. Sangeeta was, what was her background except that whenever  Mr. Goswami visited Babri Masjid site at Ayodhya, Faizabad he always stopped over at DM’s residence in Barabanki and enjoyed the Awadhi delicacies prepared by her.
I was confused. Sangeeta was confused. She was in Barabanki. I was in Lucknow. References whom I was supposed to contact were scattered all over in India, UK and USA. Where do we start and how? What about the costs involved – who will bear them? Should I do it during working hours on the job because I am on payroll of IHM? Sangeeta had no such problems but to do a project like this we have to meet which involves travelling between Barabanki and Lucknow. Neither of us were experts on Awadh. Only qualification we had were that 1. both of us were hardcore Lucknowites – born and brought up in Lucknow, 2. She had passion for local cuisine, 3. I was associated with cuisine as a part of line of job and 4. Mr. Goswami thought that we will make a good team and deliver. I am not sure but I had a feeling that initially Mr. Pradip Gupta was amused by the proposal though he never mentioned it. We did not know  what to do so we did not anything until after ten days or so I got another call summoning me to Mr. Goswami’s office to appraise him of the developments. There were none. During the interactions with him I realized it was not the earlier Boss-Subordinate relationship which prevailed but the love for cuisine and confidence combined with faith that he had in us to deliver. This changed our thinking a bit. Our initial thoughts revolved about developing few recipes and the best way it could be done was that  it be done as an assignment sponsored by an external agency. Idea was suggested to Mr. Goswami. What resulted was very funny. I was called to his office where he introduced me to my Chairman of past two years (Secretary, Tourism, U.P.Govt.) asking him to sponsor the project through the State Department of Tourism. My Chairman did not appear to be very pleased about it but had little choice in the matter. What we got after a week was a cheque of Rs. 5000/- from Directorate of Tourism, U.P. Govt. as incidentals for developing local recipes.
At this stage we had no choice but to get down to some work. We met and decided to develop few typical recipes of Awadh.  Faizabad was the one time capital of Awadh and is adjacent to Barabanki. There are a number of Zamindars in the region having large estates and  retinue of servants. Many, who can afford, are still carrying on with the traditions of which cuisine is an integral part. Sangeeta, being better half of the DM of the district, had an advantage in getting us invited to their household for sampling authentic dishes recipes of which their Khansamas were handed over by their forefathers since generations. I got a team of interested students assembled to work with us. We would land up early and witness how the dishes were actually prepared. The Khansamas not much to their liking had not much of choice but to allow us in the kitchens as we were invitees of their landlord. Our team would take notes of going-ons, video the proceedings, seek explanations wherever required from the Khansama or the lady of the house and finally do a sensory evaluation of the finished preparations while relishing the meal. Armed with all the information the team would then first write down the recipe, prepare it in our training kitchen, caliberate the ingredients after first round of sensory evaluation, prepare it again and again with revised recipe till the time we felt that it was a near thing. Then we would invite some few connoisseurs to validate. Once OKayed the recipe was standardized for ingredients, quantities, time, temperature, method and presentation. Somehow or other we got so much engrossed into it that without realising we actually started enjoying what we were doing. The more we visited and interacted with the Nawabs, Zamindars, Raja Sahebs and Rani Sahibas the more the insights we got. Some of the Khansamas were very candid and in discussing their secret recipes.  In few months we had standardised enough recipes. By the time we did all this, there were elections in the state and there was a new Government in place. Mr. Goswami had gone back to New Delhi as President’s rule came to an end.
We had a number of standardized typical Awadhi cuisine recipes saved on our hard disks. But we did not know what to do the next. Since the Directorate of Tourism had paid us Rs. 5000, we thought it most appropriate that we approach them and hand-over the recipes to them. They in turn may like to use the recipes in their promotional materials. With new Government in place there were new officials in the office and when we met them they said they have no interest in our work and you are free to do what you want with it. So much for the hard work which had gone into it. Completely taken aback we were at crossroads. Under the circumstances the best alternative, we thought was to send it to some publisher. Not very sure that any publisher would be interested in recipes coming from a city like Lucknow, we sent just a sample print-out of about five recipes to the editor of Harper Collins (India). We were not expecting any reply since there were already many renowned cook book authors in the field namely Madhur Jaffrey, Sanjiv Kapoor, Tarla Dalal, Thangam Philip, Jiggs Kalra, Pushpesh pant etc.. specializing in Indian Cuisine. To our utter surprise there was immediate response from the publishers office asking us to meet them in Daryaganj Delhi office. During the meeting few unexpected things happened. Editor asked us for the photographs. We had none and told her so. She said get them done from some expert photographer specializing in food photography. We said that it is not our cup of tea and you do it at your own cost. She said she will get back. We thought that is the end of it. She called back after few days and said that the photographers in Delhi are very expensive and are asking for a moon to do the job plus hospitality, travel expenses to & fro Lucknow  and requested us to find a reasonable photographer locally. It is then we realized the the publishers were serious about the book because none had been written in the past about this cuisine. We found a very good photographer Mr. Anil Risal Singh and reverted to the publisher with his details and professional charges which were far less than the Delhi ones. Publisher agreed to pay and signed copyright and royalty agreement with us. We got down to serious business which meant fine tuning the recipes and the text. We arranged the food preparations, props and locations for food photography  by Anil, went with him for outdoor shooting, did indoor shooting in our presence to ensure the kind of results we wanted. This took time and effort and was a different kind of an experience. In the meantime the publishers got Janab Muzaffar Ali to do the foreword. Finally we sent the entire script and photographs to the publisher. After few weeks they sent a run-of-the-mill prototype of the cover and inside pages for our approval. We did not like it and rejected it outright. This was done by a young couple in Delhi (Aart Creations). We said we will meet them and discuss the book design and  outlay. We met and explained what we wanted – Pakistan flag green, gold fonts Urdu title, gaudy pink English title letters, background pattern and a Islamic look by using what we called Nizamuddin colours (inspired by the gaudy cake icing colours used by the bakeries in that area of Delhi). They did a good job. The book was out in few months time. Someone goofed up the proof reading and there were many typo errors. There was no formal launch ceremony.
P.S. - No political or personal inferences are meant to be derived out of this blog. it is just a statement of facts.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Vocational education in India – Quality vs. Quantity
At the institution I work we have a training hotel for students of some of our courses. The clientele includes corporates, educational institutions, professional bodies like CII, AICTE etc.. One of the leading IIM decided to book our seminar rooms facility as Mumbai center for post-CAT GDs and Interviews and guest rooms for the professors eight years back. Other IIMs followed. Basically it was due to word-of-mouth publicity as IIM educators is a small community. Then private Management institutes followed. This was a result of recommendation of the superannuating faculty joining private institutions. So our management educational institutions market segment grew rapidly. Result is that this year we have back-to-back  as well as overlapping guest room  and seminar room bookings of IIMs & pvt. Institutes from Mid-February to Mid-April. There are new IIMs and IITs being added to our client list each year. There are so many national level institutes being set up in recent years. We are seeing the impact right here at our training hotel.
However, the question being asked is about the usefulness of such an exercise. The issue is of Quality vs. Quantity. More IIMs, IITs, IIITs, NITs, NIFTs, IHMs, AIIMs, Central Universities, World class universities (new category), engineering colleges etc. are welcome but do they deliver quality or just churn out graduates of poor quality. We now have 13 IIMs, 16 IITs, 6 IIITs (20 in pipeline), 30 NITs, 15 NIFTs, 51 IHMs, 7 AIIMs, 16 new Central Universities, 14 new World class universities (new category).  India is now home to 3,393 engineering colleges that have 14.86 lakhs seats; today there are 3,900 management schools with a total student intake of 3.5 lakh. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have about 70% tech institutes. When admissions closed last year, AICTE estimated that nearly three lakh seats were unfilled. Maharashtra has a rich pool of 348 engineering institutes and 408 MBA colleges. And the fact that 34,000 seats did not have any takers last year did not play spoilsport. However, the edupreneurs (education entrepreneurs) from Maharashtra are bullish on the growth This year  AICTE received 30 applications to start engineering colleges and 15 for MBA institutes from Maharashtra. State Governments such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra told the AICTE to not to clear proposals for new institutes. AICTE may bar new engineering, management colleges from 2014.
On the other hand top B-schools across the country are set to hike their intake this year or the next. SP Jain Institute-Mumbai, plans to increase intake from 180 to 240, Sydenham Institute of Management-Mumbai from 60 to 120, XLRI – Jamshedpur 240 to 360.  ISB- Hyderabad has 570 seats, will have a new campus in Mohali with 200 seats. While there still is a huge gap between demand and supply in good schools, a large number of seats remain vacant in many institutes as they lack basic infrastructure and good teachers. Faculty Demand Supply situation remains lop sided. Issues relating to compensation package hamper the situation. Last year the country saw rising friction between IIT / IIM profs. with HRD Ministry over pay and autonomy. In the first week of the this year NIFT organized an interaction with the fashion industry. All big wigs from Ministry of Textiles and industry discussed quality issue. Opinions expressed indicated that rapid expansion of NIFTs has been at the cost of quality expected of them – main culprit being shortage of good faculty. Same is the fate of other streams. Recently many industry leaders have opined negatively about “employable” graduates coming out of IITs/IIMs etc.

India’s growth story will need many more professionals. We need to create a mechanism by which there is a continuous availability of faculty across the country. There is need for Faculty development, training the teachers, adequate compensation package and continuous interaction between institutions and stakeholders for quality improvement.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Interesting  signages during travels
I came across some interesting displays during my travels.Few samples which were captured on camera are here.
This is on a beach front road which has many eateries. It was kept outside on the walkway next to the entrance of a restaurant. I suppose the establishment was targeting a very specific demographic segment of customers. In F&B S or Nutrition classes in IHMs we never taught this kind of special menu or diet.
Pizza Hawaaiian – ham, mushroom,  sausage &  pineapple * Pizza Seafood  * Mango with sticky rice
Pizza Hot American  *  Pizza Fried Minced Pork with basil leave & chili * Plain Mango
Hard Rock Café in restricts entry of WMD and Drugs. The town  is world famous for drugs, sleaze  and prostitution. Never came across any SOP manual on how to deal with a customer who decides to come in with a nuclear weapon.

Gokarna, Karnataka
Outside the famous Mahabaleshwara temple this little snack shack the menu includes Brack-fast, Milk Sheks but the interesting  item was under the Sopt -Drinks  namely Dadar Lassi. Since I spent 12 years in Dadar and am still living in heart of Dadar between Shiavji Park and Siddhi Vinayak temple, this one was a bit intriguing (Dadar + Lassi = ???) so I ordered one. It turned out to be just a regular Lassi. Will not be surprised to find a Karol Bagh Nimbu Pani near Mahabalipuram Shore Temple.
Old Goa
This one is inside a Wax Museum owned by a private entity near Basilica Bom Jesus, Goa . Interestingly one of the exhibit is a wax statue of Veerappan.

Baijnath, Uttrakhand
In the precincts of ancient Mahadev temple.

Yana Rock Formation, Karnataka
At the entrance of Bhasmasur Rock, Yana this sign board in middle of the thick jungle reads – “Wines and chickens are prohibited. Dangar with honeybee. Keep quite. Cooking and campfire in this plase is prohibited.”

Melaka, Malaysia (Malacca)
An epitaph in St Francis Xavier’s Church built in 1856 located on Jalan Laksamana, Malacca. Free citizen ????

Shankracharya Math, Karnataka
On the wall of a math en route Sirsi – Jog Falls.

Port Dickson, Malaysia
Port Dickson or PD to locals is a beach and holiday destination situated about 90 km from Kuala Lumpur. Thi sign on the wall of a change room reads “Boy 1 Ringgit Girl Ringgit” i.e. Ladies & Gents PD style .
Phuket, Thailand
On the shopping area street in evening .

Famous Calangute beach Goa
Action on the beach – tourist attraction

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

This is my first blog – it is short and crisp. It describes the kind of things which will appear in the blog in near future and in long run. Basically for next one year or so this blog will revolve around my interest in Awadh cuisine, my travels, my acquaintances, food in general and other interesting things or events. On professional  matters relating to hospitality education and industry, however,  I will write blogs after my superannuation which is likely to happen in mid-2013 year as it sounds a bit unethical when one is in active Govt. employment.
Well to start with the Awadh cuisine :
I have co-authored with Sangeeta Bhatnagar a coffee table treatise on Awadh cuisine ‘Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh – The cuisine of Lucknow’ (published by Harper Collins (India) & India Today Group -first edition in the year 1998, second edition in the year 2006). It costs Rs. 395 in India and US$19.95 in other countries. To get a feel visit  The portal also has few traditional recipes – both veg. and non-veg. like Kakori Kabab, Murg Mussalam, Nimona etc.. Any discussion on the Awadh cuisine is welcome.

Kakori Kabab
Before  I begin with my travel blogs I would like to mention here that my son-in-law Prashant (Almora Boy) is a Uttrakhand trek freak and blogs extensively on   Any one who is trekking in that region must read the blog. It has minute details and some excellent photographs.

My recent reading included “Lucknow Boy -  A memoir” by Vinod Mehta. I am myself a Lucknow Boy therefore was looking forward to reading this book. The book had the first chapter about the city life style during Mehta’s young days and the rest, more or less, was about how and why Mr. Mehta went about changing jobs for different reasons. There are some unkind words for few individuals. One of them is Ms. Shobha De'. About a  week back  review of the book was done in a leading publication by Ms. De'. Wherein she reciprocated the sentiment and wrote not-so-many-good-things about the book. It sounds like a full circle.