Interview with Dr. P.R. Sodani, President, IIHMR University, Jaipur

What makes IIHMR University one of the premier institutions in research and public health domain?

Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) that was established in 1984, with a fundamental purpose of creating the great knowledge and developing alternate modes of improving healthcare to management research, education and training in India and other parts of the world. The Institute has notably contributed to the zones of health research management in the country and in South-East Asia Region. IIHMR has developed meaningful collaborations with several national and international institutes. Recently from disease-specific research projects to public health training (such as pharmaceutical and development management) IIHMR is coming up with new post graduate or MBA courses like for improving the quality of public health awareness or training in the country. IIHMR has developed various IIHMR Schools for the good of Public Health and their healthy life ecosystem. IIHMR not being anywhere lacking has also worked closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), Johns Hopkins University, as well as numerous other institutional partners in India and abroad.

At IIHMR, we strive to offer quality education to the students, who in turn work for the betterment of rehabilitation. Enhancing the profession of healthy lifestyle through education, research and services, helps build our student’s future which is smoothened by facilitation of offering them a suitable ecosystem to reap benefits from. There is no substantial good than serving humankind and we would be indebted for it. We still turn up with the vision to emerge as a world-class post-graduate and research Premier University in generating and disseminating knowledge and providing students an extra ordinary learning experience in management or industrial education and research with internships that will best serve the betterment of society.

How has Covid-19 impacted the normal functioning of the university?

On account of the pandemic, has been extremely challenging for everyone, where the COVID19 exposed existing tensions regarding the value of university education. Insecurities about the value of a higher education degree have been doubted by the COVID pandemic leading to worsen scenarios. One of the core reasons why students enroll in universities is to approach the full “college experience and real time activities” which is, primarily, even correct. There is a general consensus that heavy online learning is far from satisfaction and can only go a certain distance in what attention spans can bear. Students eager to enjoy each other’s company at university and in many ways, social meetings, gatherings, sororities, fraternities and clubs are the inner core of a university experience. University life amid Covid has forcefully been changed with knowledge that without these elements of social bonding will gradually turn young people away from the extremely expensive prospect of an experience that is already disrupting huge student debt problems. with COVID-19 spreading and becoming deadlier, universities in India are combatted various entrance exams postponed, rescheduled and some entrance exams have even been cancelled due to the current situation. The education sector in India is in a huge confusion leading to dilemma as to what’s next and when’s some form of action be carried out. Fast forward to July, the COVID-19 cases in India have been jumping high with only increasing numbers and the government is doing all it can to ensure that there is social distancing and daily hygienic practices such that no form of problems are faced when it comes to the admission process.

What are some of the unique programs that the university plans to unveil in the future?

IIHMR University has an optimistic expansion plan for coming years; the aim is to add on more branches in the existing school and open few more schools across the nation and even beyond the boundaries. The outline of future expansion is dedicated to the improvement in standards of health through better management of health care and related programs. It seeks to fulfil this through management research, training programmes, consultation, institutional networking, and spreading adequate awareness in a national and global perspective. IIHMR University is indulged in policy issues, program planning, and queries with the management and capacity building in the health and related sectors. It undertakes research, training, consulting and guiding activities in the following areas:

  • Public Health and Primary Health Care
  • Health and Hospital Management
  • Pharmaceutical Management
  • Population and Reproductive Health
  • Health Economics and Finance
  • NGO Management and Networking

Above all we look forward with various certificate, diplomas and degrees to students who fulfil the criteria and our expansion plan goes somewhat like with the exploration of:

  • School of Public Health
  • Healthcare expertise in leadership and strategy
  • Advance managements programs in healthcare leadership
  • Diploma programs in Corporate Social Responsibility and Health Entrepreneurship, etc

How did the university prepare to keep up with online education in the advent of the lockdown? What were the major challenges you faced while implementing the same?

As a part of the education community IIHMR University has felicitated, honoured & applauded the remarkable contributions to keep the students already demoralized with the halt in the daily working of their routines. There are not many ways on which IIHMR successfully made to work out to keep the mind engaged right, including reading more books, learning languages and taking online courses. The lockdown owing to the Covid-19 outbreak that has shaken is in all economies has brought the entire world to a halt, which was almost unthinkable in today’s world and economy. Nobody would have ever thought to face the situation where the whole world was made to standstill irrespective of the situations they were going through.

The academic industry, which is fully dependent upon the brick and mortar set-up, has been evolving itself to the change and adapting as per the accelerated rates. Schools and colleges have set up classes on Moodle, massive open online course platforms and other virtual tools.

However, many students are scared about what is being offered online and skeptical to go to invest their times on those. Very often, they think, once this lockdown is over, they will get back to their normal routines with the New Normal trend on campus and resume learning. And they are always doubtful to wait and watch or maximise the use of the internet with TOI and explore everything that is being offered by the education industry online.

As all the major institutions are beginning to unlock the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. What special arrangements have been put in place to ensure the safety of the students in the university?

For every stem we took we always had to keep in mind to ensure student safety and school security as it will only make sure universities are doing enough to protect their students from security issues. As any violation or lapses or hindering with regard to student safety and healthy being of children in premises may result in disaffiliation of the crowd. While these situations demand a decent amount of accountability from schools, a holistic approach ensuring responsibility to tackle the student safety issue is also needed. Schools must recognize the power of vigilance as the key to protect the students.

How do you see the future of online education in India? How long will it take to make it a sustainable ecosystem?

Where the online or digital concept has already taken over the traditional system of education or any other stream across the world being historically present is not what is demanded everywhere and every time. As long as you have access to a computer you can have access to a quality education whenever and wherever you want. However online education over traditional education happens to be more flexible and enables the teacher and the student to set their own learning pace, as per their demands and necessities and there’s the added flexibility of setting a schedule that fits everyone’s agenda with offering a wide selection of program with growing number of universities and higher education areas to offer online versions of their programs for various levels and disciplines thereby allowing a customized learning experience.

A word of advice for the young readers of Envoy Excellency.

India even during the controversial times is regarded as the growing technological superpower. Information technologies is already contributing to strengthening the ties between Indian sectors. India have come a long way when it comes to trade and will continue exceeding no matter what comes its way. Rather than resorting to fear or panic, specially for the young generation that is going to prove themselves as the young leaders of the nation we would suggest them to be the real heroes of the time and the future that is soon going to surround us. As fear comes around faster than facts, guide yourself about the virus. Deepen your knowledge and strengthen your mindset and point others to trusted information. This will go a long way to disown myths and build resilience in the community. Consider the ones who are most vulnerable to the virus, including older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, etc). Do your best to support them or guide them and help them in the best possible manner.

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