Habil Khorakiwala, chairman,Wockhardt Group is the new Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi. He speaks about his vision for the University, the gaps in the Indian higher education sector and the importance of hard work in a conversation with Prachi Rege.
What is your vision for Jamia Hamdard University?
Primarily, my responsibility is to give the University a direction. I will not be involved in the academics and everyday functioning of the institute. As a Chancellor, it will be my responsibility to give them a reality check of what they are doing and how relevant it is to things happening around them. Since we are responsible for creating the future workforce of the country, it is important to stay relevant to the aspirations and requirement of students. I am not fundamentally an academician, so it becomes easier for me to present the University with a broader perspective of things from the other side of the fence.
What aspects of business management do you believe will help you to manage the university?
Frankly I haven't given it a serious thought yet. However, I can assure you that my focus will be to challenge the faculty to aim for excellence. I will ask them to benchmark Jamia Hamdard against peer Universities in the same space, to see how they have fared and explore areas of improvement. I want to harness the University's existing strength and talent and raise the bar further.
What gaps do you see in the higher education space in India? How can one bridge them?
Our IITs, IIMs and many other universities qualify as centres of excellence. However, I am disillusioned that we have not focused enough on creating excellence. This is because there is a centralisation of authority while managing our education institutes. As a result, most of them do not have autonomy. A loose-tight approach needs to be applied while managing higher education institutes. This means that while certain aspects can be monitored to keep a thorough check on the functioning, designing the curriculum and grading system should be autonomous. Most Indian industries have foreign investments, then why not education? Luckily we are an English speaking country, so partnering with international academic counterparts should be a smooth.
What is your view of the Indian pharma sector? Do you see it as one of the major employers in the near future?
Today 50 per cent of our revenue comes from drug exports. Most top Indian pharma companies earn 70 per cent of their revenue from global exports. Until a few years ago, we had less than two per cent market share that number today stands at a healthy 22 per cent. Almost 60 per cent of vaccines globally comes from India. Moreover, I think the next stage will see India emerge as the largest supplier of affordable medicines worldwide. Secondly, both in emerging and developed markets, our companies will get into the new drug discovery space. Such growth will create jobs not only inside organisations but also on the outside, for example distributors, chemists and also doctors who administer the drug to the patient. It has been estimated that the sector will create three million jobs in the next few years.
A comment on the Healthcare education in the country
In the emerging market, our medical professionals are the best in the world. However, this quality is not consistent at all levels. We have a large gap that needs to be filled. The reason is that unlike Western countries, our doctors are not required to update their knowledge continually. So once in practice, they never return to school. The medical education institutes are more input driven rather than output driven. It is essential to shape up an effective healthcare education system to ensure that medical facilities equally reach all parts of the country.
What inspires you or drives you to do better? Also, any advice for the youth?
I like to challenge the boundaries of everything that is deemed impossible. I like to challenge my employees by asking them to listen to themselves rather than to others. This is because success is not created by following others; you have to create your own path. Best way to achieve whatever you want in life is through hard work because there are no shortcuts. Compromising your values will bear you short-term fruits, but sticking to them will pay in the long run. So believe in yourself, do not let 'other's thinking process' influence you and develop your own power to think.