“True creativity comes straight from the heart”
Leading 14 centres of the National Institute of Fashion Technology is no mean feat. P. K. Gera, the director general of this 27- year- old institute tells Sonali Acharjee how hard work and innovation are key to success
Last year, Prem Kumar Gera, an 1985 batch IAS officer, was appointed the director general of the renowned National Institute of Fashion Technology ( NIFT). Having previously served with the Central Information Commission in Delhi, Gera is now looking after all NIFT centres in India. These include Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Kangra, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Raebareli, Patna, Shillong, Bhopal, Taliparamba, Bhubaneswar and Jodhpur. In his short span as director general he has already witnessed many student achievements as well as controversies at the institute. From the much- debated 40 per cent fee hike in tuitions at NIFT to students from the textile design course in Delhi emerging as winners at the prestigious World of Wearable Art Contest held last year in New Zealand, Gera knows how to deal with both success and failure. His philosophy? Take life with a pinch of salt and never stop striving for perfection.
LIFE AT NIFT As a fashion and design school we are constantly looking for new ways to add to our repertoire. In the last few years we have placed special emphasis on promoting inter- disciplinary studies. This helps to provide students, in one course, a basic idea of other aspects of the industry as well. For example, someone in fashion design will learn about manufacturing and management as well, giving them a holistic view of the entire process. We have also instituted several practical programmes where students get the chance to go on field trips and learn from local craftsmen from across the country. Education is as much about personality development as it is about skill development. These trips help in that regard. Our faculty too have been busy undertaking industry projects and research. Last year we designed fan merchandise for the Delhi Daredevils which was a huge success. There is a spirit of innovation and a hunger to do more at NIFT which is what makes both the environment and work experience so unique.
CHARGING AHEAD Life is cyclical. There will be good days and bad days. What remains important is not to loose sight of your goals and dreams. There is very little that can be achieved through complaining or focusing on the negative. At NIFT we have tried to follow this principle and are always looking ahead towards the next set of positive changes that we can make together. In the coming few years, the head office of NIFT in Delhi is set to get an infrastructural makeover. We have commissioned a new seven- storey building that will be built within our existing campus. The building will feature state- of- the- art design equipment and labs. As our student community continues to grow, we need to constantly update our facilities if we wish to continue providing a productive learning experience for all. We are also looking at ways in which to increase our interaction with various alumni members. Student often love to revisit their alma mater and we are more than eager to host them.
WORDS OF WISDOM One should never shirk work or avoid taking up new projects. If you can learn to adapt to different circumstances and situations with ease then there is very little that will hold you back. This is something that we strive to teach students at NIFT; the benefits of being flexible, innovative and enthusiastic at both work and college. Also it is important to always be open to constructive criticism as this will help to hone your skills and develop your personality in the long run. Learning does not end with a graduation degree. It is a lifelong process and one should grab every opportunity to add to their existing knowledge base. I also believe that students should keep on challenging themselves to improve on their strengths and weaknesses instead of remaining stagnant. With technology and globalisation catching up, the possibilities of what one can achieve today are endless. This generation is lucky to have so many creative outlets and opportunities available. So make the most out of what both life and college can offer you.