Prof. Sinha's interview
Of New Beginnings: In conversation with Prof Ravi Sinha, Dean Alumni and Corporate Relations
Berthold Brecht had once famously said,-“Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are”. It seems an apt way to introduce to you all, the change of responsibilities at Alumni and Corporate Relations office this month. Earlier this week the baton passed in a quiet seamless transition from Prof Ali Contractor to Prof Ravi Sinha who has now taken over as the new Dean of Alumni and Corporate Relations at IIT Bombay. The Knowledge Tree team met Prof Sinha for a one-on-one chat which is reproduced below in the form of an interview. We hope it acts as a quick introduction to the person who will be your anchor in the next leg of alumni relations at IIT Bombay.
Prof Sinha, like Prof Contractor is an IIT BombayAlum (C’86). He completed his Masters in 1987 from Vanderbilt University and went on to complete his doctorate from the Northwestern University in 1991 before returning to IIT Bombay in 1992 to join as a Faculty Member in the Civil Engineering Department. Prof Sinha’s work is in the area of Structural Engineering specifically specializing in Earthquake Engineering. He is a member of several government panels, and has been the Honorary Advisor to Government of Maharashtraon earthquake risk management. He joins the alumni and corporate relations team after completing a (3 Year stint) as the Professor in Charge of Placement Office.
Prof Sinha if we were to ask you tell us a little bit about yourself briefly how would you describe yourself?
RS) Well, to make it very brief (smiles), I would describe myself as a traditional engineer who has a fairly collaborative style of working. My research and passion is in transferring state-of-the art scientific knowledge in my area of earthquake engineering as an important tool for policy-making in disaster management in our country. Consequences of natural disasters like earthquakes can be significantly better managed if there are right technological and scientific inputs in a systemic way. For instance, last year when there was an earthquake in Sikkim, it was in the middle of the Monsoon season when roads where closed and large sections of the affected area was completely closed off and the government and rescue operations had no means of knowing the impact. In such a case the possible scenario can be simulated, which is exactly what we did.
Q Speaking of Disaster management, were you not a member of the Advisory Committee of GujaratStateDisaster Management Authority, as well as a member of Anjar Area Development Authority which was responsible for developing and implementing strategies to rebuild Anjar city following the Bhuj earthquake ?
RS) Yes that is correct.
Q) From your teaching and research interests let us turn now towards the new office you have taken up. Would you like to comment on the legacy that you have inherited?
RS) One of the advantages of the office of Alumni Corporate Relations (say as opposed to Placement Office) is that it is a relatively new department within the Institute. Alumni movements and the programmes have grown organically and successive deans have had the freedom to respond based on the need of the hour. The absence of existing longstanding traditions or any baggage so to speak, in my view is a big plus for this office which has the makings of a growing, vibrant organization. There are many useful activities and programmes that have already been initiated and my plan is to further strengthen existing operations.
Q) Do you already have some specific plans for the Dean ACR office?
RS) In my understanding this office has two distinct functions,- to connect and maintain bonds with IIT Bombay’s alumni and secondly resource mobilization. My aim is to connect both these activities together so that the networks we develop with alumni can be seen as a means of resource generation in the decades that follow. In other words forge your bonds now and the support will follow.
Q) Can you expand on the idea further?
RS) I am looking at alumni relations in the long term perspective. For instance, I am interested in devising special programs with younger alumni in mind. Strengthening existing mentorship programs and organizing specific events tailor made for them.In addition once the alumni database, currently managed by alumni volunteers and IITBAA office is handed over to IIT Bombay (planned for this year) I would like to organize systems so that the Database becomes far more useful in providing multifaceted connections with the alumni.
I also feel that alumni are not adequately connected with their departments, this is something, I would like to address and improve. Students at the department have a lot to learn from the expertise and experience of alumni.
In the resource mobilization front, in addition to focusing our attention on High net worth Individuals I would also like to increase our engagement with corporate and focus on corporate sources of funding.
Last but not the least with the changing profile of students joining IIT the number of students from financially disadvantaged sections of the society has been rising exponentially and alumni donations can do a lot to improve the number and quantum of scholarships available to IIT Bombay students today.
Professor Sinha is a known workaholic and he seemed full of plans and ideas and absolutely raring to go. As a closing comment he mentioned that he absolutely loves unsolicited advice and invited all alumni to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you will all oblige.