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Address of Shri C. B. Garware, Garware Foundation, at the First Abasaheb Garware Memorial Lecture, on 8th December, 2004, in the Convocation Hall, University of Mumbai.

Category : Non Profits

[This is a speech I have preserved because it reminds me of my good old days at the Garware Institute and of the educational adventure the institute is in. I reproduce it in full below.]

This year the UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI’S GARWARE INSTITUTE FOR CAREER EDUCATION & DEVELOPMENT has attained the ripe age of twenty years, and we as a family and the GARWARE FOUNDATION take great pride in this achievement and the fact that our Late father Dr. Abasaheb Garware would have completed 100 years of his life. Unfortunately he is not here to share this proud day, but as his second son I would like to remember his dreams and his vision in establishing this Institute devoted strictly for vocational/skill-based education.

The Late Abbasaheb, as he was popularly called, came to Mumbai to seek his fortunes in this “City of Gold”, but, as he did not have any formal education failed to secure a job with the then Imperial Bank, today’s State Bank of India. He thus went on to start his business in a small way. At the outbreak of the 2nd World War he saw an opportunity in trading in second-hand cars and ventured to contract the same in Europe for the Maharajas and the rich in India. Thus he established ‘GARWARE MOTORS’ and became a large importer of automobiles manufactured in the United Kingdom. Chance brought him to manufacturing Casein(the oldest plastic) buttons for the British Army, and from there his dreams for newer materials made him venture into the manufacture of a variety of plastics. His was the largest Plastic extrusion factory, the first Nylon Spinning Plant, and the first Polypropelene Rope Plant! His pride and joy was to have been a Director of the State Bank of India for 13 long years, and to retire as the Vice Chairman of its Western Region Board – a Bank that had refused him a job as a clerk!

He did not have the academic qualifications, but he had acquired the skills and the knowledge to be invited to Chair the Maharshtra State Financial Corporation as well. And the University of Pune bestowed him with an Honorary D.Litt. in recognition of his achievements.

As he saw success upon success and led many delegations for the Government of India, he did not forget his roots and the difficulties he had faced in his early years. He genuinely believed that wealth earned must be shared. That it must be ploughed back for the betterment of Society. He thus established the GARWARE FOUNDATION to share with his fellowmen what he had been lucky to acquire.

He contributed to establishing medical facilities and the Garware Club House & Pavilion in Mumbai, but dearest to his heart was education and how to make it more relevant to the needs of the day. In Sangli he established a Centre for vocational education for women; in Pune he contributed to the fund strapped Maharshatra Education Society, who then named their Arts, Science & Commerce College in his memory; he assisted the University of Pune to establish its Post-Graduate Department of Organic Chemistry; but he was still in search of realising his dream – to vocationalise education and thereby address the mismatch between the needs of national development and the output of universities.

In the year 1981, he was approached by the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Ram Joshi to support the UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI’s efforts to celebrate its 125 years. He agreed on one condition, that the University join hands with the Foundation to establish a separate Institute to meet the needs of Indian education — to bridge the gap between skills and theoretical knowledge. To ensure that knowledge imparted has a strong practical experience base because, and here I quote his words, “knowledge without practice is sterile”.

Fortunately, in Late Prof. Ram Joshi he found a kindred soul who shared his vision, and thus was borne the UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI’S GARWARE INSITUTE. It is, even today, the only Institute in the country offering such education for the furtherance of careers and development.

Along with my late father, we also pay our respect and gratitude to Prof. Ram Joshi, who shared the vision. The vision was based on hopes of an enduring partnership between the university and industry – a partnership that would combine the university’s academic strengths with  industry’s ability to provide  human capital and physical resources .

The vision of our founders is even more relevant to educational planning today than it was twenty years ago. By all accounts, the growth in demand for skilled manpower has rapidly outpaced its availability leading to much higher incidence of unemployment among the educated . According to the Planning Commission, 12 million persons are likely to enter the labor force every year. Of this number, only 1.5 million enter the workforce with any degree of formal training. Only 5% of the country’s population in the age group 20-24 has had any kind of vocational training. Maharashtra alone has about 8 lakh students enrolled for undergraduate courses and the overwhelming majority of them go through the traditional BA /BCom / BSc streams without acquisition of skills that would improve their employability. The consequences of such unplanned growth  are ominous.

I am aware of the bold initiatives taken by the University of Mumbai in adding a vocational component to some of these courses at selected colleges. I welcome these initiatives and hope that they can profit from the experience gained by the GARWARE INSTITUTE in designing and delivering career courses and are integrated with these courses.

The GARWARE FOUNDATION has been keen to support the University’s efforts to promote a vocation based alternative to traditional education. The Foundation has not only taken active interest in promoting the Institute to industry but has given it high priority in its fund allocations.

In keeping with Abasaheb’s vision, a few thoughts arise on the potential for growth of career education in this country. I foresee four main drivers to the growth of such education:

  1. Pace of Technological Change
    The rapid pace of technological change has led to a visible change in the structure and size of the labor force in the organized sector. Down sizing and consequent displacement of workmen calls for new initiatives in employee retraining and multi-skilling. I see for the Institute a distinct scope for entry into this challenging field.
  2. The Global Economy
    Economic globalization has already had its impact on Indian industry. As firms, particularly in the West, have moved from vertical structures to decentralized forms, they have outsourced non-core processes and this has resulted in an impressive expansion of job opportunities in India. This trend is likely to continue and will be aided by inexpensive communications and information transmission flowing from advances in information technology.
  3. The Rural Work Force
    Agriculture has for long been the main provider of jobs in the rural sector. Even agriculture is today on the threshold of great changes.  If current discussions on the growth of the Food Processing industry are any guide, large numbers will have to  be trained in a completely new set of skills to meet the manpower needs of this industry. The Institute’s initiative in developing a university course in Agri-Business is indeed opportune. Agriculture remains the biggest industry in India.There is even greater scope for investment in skills in non-agricultural pursuits in rural and semi- rural areas- to name a few, construction, para -medical personnel, automotive maintenance and repair, inland tourism and even computer hardware and software professionals.
  4. Demographic Changes
    About 47% of India’s population is under the age of 20. According to demographers, this is likely to rise to 55% by 2015. This young population is exposed to more than 70 TV channels, is technology savvy and has high career aspirations. This is a market waiting to be tapped if one can develop the right offerings and give them the guidance they would undoubtedly need.

I would add that career education efforts will always need to be underpinned by career counseling and information dissemination.

I am aware that the Garware Institute cannot, all by itself, hope to meet al these challenges. It can, however, experiment, innovate and create a model that can be replicated elsewhere. The University of Mumbai has been at the forefront of innovative educational endeavors and the Institute itself is one its finest examples. I am confident that the collective will of the University and, may I add, the Foundation can light up a path that others in the country would want to follow.

On behalf of the Garware family and the FOUNDATION I pledge our commitment to the cause of vocational education, and hope the Institute will grow from strength to strength under the University of Mumbai’s guardianship.

Further, I would also like to place on record our gratitude for the undying efforts of all those who have been associated with this initiative on behalf of the Foundation. Mr. S. S. Wakankar, Mrs. Z. Ghiara, Mr. R. D. Doongaji and Mr. S. M. Kuwelkar. Mr. K.C. R. Raja and my wife, Mrs. Anita Garware, who both continue to take an active interest in all the activities and growth of the Institute.

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