#InConversation with Mr. T.K. Razdan, Principal, Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology, Chandigarh
Isha Pharka 27.04.2016
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A bit early for my interview with Mr. T.K. Razdan, Principal, Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (CIHMCT), Sector 42, Chandigarh, I seated myself in the waiting room of the administrative block. On looking around and trying to get familiar with the campus, I then walked through its quiet corridors which spoke volumes about its disciplined and focused approach.

                                Mr. T.K. Razdan
Also, amid this were various ongoing activities like the practical class in the kitchen where students donned their chef caps, students getting an invitation signed from teachers for an event, office work and much more. Soon in the Principal’s office and minutes into the interview, Mr. Razdan’s composure and discipline is all I could notice. No points for guessing why the campus was in such order.


Inclined towards teaching

After graduating from Kashmir University, Mr. Razdan pursued his interest in Hotel Management with a Diploma from the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Chennai, in 1981. Introduced to the profession of teaching through his father, he soon knew that this was his calling. He then took the first step into this noble profession at Institute of Hotel Management, Srinagar, which is also his hometown. Mr. Razdan later went on to join Dr. Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Chandigarh, and taught there for 18 long years. Part of CIHMCT since 2008, he continues to enjoy his teaching career of more than 34 years.


Understanding students

CIHMCT, in the words of Mr. Razdan, is a training institute where the objective is learning. But to ensure its effectiveness a certain environment needs to be created which remains the biggest challenge for him. He explains, “Such an environment includes the motivational level of teachers, students, staff, their relationships, commitment and enthusiasm. How research oriented one is, interest in their growth and development, the growth of students, infrastructure, resource materials, library, all these are part of the environment that you have to create for the students. You have to make a student very comfortable so that he can concentrate on learning other than thinking about petty issues. That is the major challenge.” 


"The student teacher relationship is very important and that results in the respect which is not out of fear. It is because what is in your heart comes naturally, not forced, but from your soul. That is also because of the way the teacher manages the class."


So how does one overcome this challenge and make efforts in the way of helping students build their career, be it any profession? “Counseling is what is helpful. Give all options to the students and make all options clear too. Explain to them what is the growth part and make sure to start this from a very young age. For any parent and teacher, it is a must to recognize different qualities in a child when they are growing—a child may be a good writer, good orator, sketcher and so you know about similar professions and can get into it when guided timely.” He further adds that a teacher has a primary responsibility but it’s also the responsibility of parents to not thrust a career on the students but recognize and open as many options available. This has to be followed with a discussion with the teacher and the students.


Building a career

For any professional institute the ultimate aim is placements, the quality of placements, and one constantly strives for that. Similarly, at CIHMCT too, this remains the focus and the relationship with the industry is of paramount importance. “We have people coming from the industry. Then another yardstick are the students who have joined the industry as they are our torchbearers, flag bearers, ambassadors. Once they are in the industry everyone knows there is an institution in Chandigarh, which is producing good quality students and this is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Although we have come into the degree program only 8-9 years back, we have a mark in the industry and people in the industry know there is an institute in Chandigarh known as CIHMCT”, shares Mr. Razdan.


Communication and Training

A national level trainer from the Department of Personnel & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the reflection of Mr. Razdan’s demeanor can be easily seen in the students. When asked about how important it is to understand students and how he manages it, he explains, “To be able to ensure the growth of your students you have to know them well. You have to know their strengths and weaknesses, make them stronger and remove, eliminate all the shortcomings. For that you have to interact with them. You can say that you have to be friends with your students but within a certain professional circle. Only when you are friendly with your students will they open up and show you what they are. But you have to ensure that they know you are their teacher and they don’t take any liberties like they would with their friends. You are a friend, a mentor a guide, a counselor, everything. So there is a thin line dividing all these things. You just have to draw that line very carefully.”


Furthermore, Mr. Razdan defines communication as an ongoing process both for the students and also for the faculty. He also addresses communication as a challenge because it has a wide scope and various aspects. “It doesn’t only mean speaking and writing. A lot of stress is therefore laid on communication and we have personality development classes where we call in experts from the field to interact and get the students ready to be a part of the industry. Our final batch undergoes a one week program before they start their campuses; we call expert trainers who specialize in building communication skills, profile, writing CV’s, interview techniques, group discussions and so on.”


In working towards the development of the students and making them industry ready, teachers too are exposed to a learning environment. In the view of Mr. Razdan, it is important for teachers to stay updated and know about the latest techniques. “Teachers need to have industry exposure which we ensure via Faculty Development Programmes and send them to various workshops, provide e-books and teachers are also sent to hotels to see what is happening in the industry.” 


Mr. Razdan therefore looks at teaching not just as a means to pass knowledge, but encourage learning. With the doors of his office open for students at all times, he also opens the window of opportinities for his students and teachers and does every bit to push them towards making the most of it. 



Understanding Technology as a Teaching Tool
1) Technology definitely plays an important role but we have to see in what way we are using it.
2) We have to ensure as teachers that students use it for their benefit and not get addicted or misuse it.
3) You have the whole library in your pocket. All this information you have is for the sake of knowledge and it may not necessarily result in learning. One has to make sure that it is converted into learning, not just restricted to knowledge. Learning has to take place.


QUICK FIVE:

A book that has inspired you: I don’t get much time but numerous motivational books are good.

A saying you always pass on: ‘Karam Kiye Jaa Phal Ki Chinta Mat Kar’ from the Bhagavad Gita. Focus on what you can do rather than what others are doing, especially for a teacher it has to be selfless.

Teaching for you is: Transfer of learning, knowledge, skill, which results in behavior changes in your students. A teacher is more of a facilitator. The knowledge may not be with the teacher but they’ll tell you go here for this book, you’ll find things here... so a teacher knows that and can help you. So it’s not necessary a teacher has to be an encyclopedia.

A message for the teachers: Look forward to your students’ growth. You have to be passionate, get angry at times but all round growth has to be your priority. A teacher is as good as a parent. The topper is as important as the one at the bottom. That should be the objective with no discrimination.

A student of today must look forward to: Students today have more awareness and the liberty to choose their career path and parents also do understand that. What results from this is that success or failure, you as an individual own it. To prove yourself right, you put in more effort because it is your decision after all. And you know you made this decision because you have it in you. So understand that and you will do well.