A Journey From FCI To IHM

The Food Craft Institute Ahmedabad was registered as a society under the Society’s registration Act 1860, in 1972 with Mr. S MDudani ACS Education GoG as its first Chairman and Mr. A K Mehta Director of Technical Education as its first secretary. The original members of the society were:

ACS Education Government of Gujarat Ex-officio
Director of Technical Education Government of Gujarat Ex-officio
Director of Employment & Training Government of Gujarat Ex-officio
Joint Secretary / Director Ministry Food and Agriculture GoI Ex-officio
Ms.T.E. Philips nominee of the Government of India Member
Nominees of Government of Gujarat:  
JRJ Cama Member
SS Kohsla Member
Principal FCI Ahmedabad- Member Secretary

He started the Institute with following supporting staff:
Mr. C A Joshi-Office Superintendent
Mr. Vaghela-peon (later was selected for regular post in the Income Tax office)
Mr. T J Makwana- security guard

Two Certificate courses were announced in the local print media in February 1973:

1. Certificate course in Reception and Bookkeeping (R&B)
2. Certificate course in Restaurant & Counter Service(RCS)

Eleven applications were received-6 for Reception and Bookkeeping and 5 for Restaurant and Counter Service. All were granted admission .Only two students chose to join the (RCS) course namely:
1. Amin Kazi-fresh school pass out-works for Bank of Baroda–catering services
2. SalimMansuri M.Sc. owner of Imperial restaurant Relief Road
3. In the (R&B) the students were
1. Saiyed-TCGL
2. Patel-
3. Vohra-
4. Ms.Majumdar-chose to practice law
5. Ms.Meenakshi-married migrated to USA

I joined as the first Instructor in March 1973. Since I was the only teacher available I was asked to take joint classes for both courses. I have not been out of a class room since then ! After couple of weeks some more teachers joined which among others included:
Mr. G Updhayay
Ms.Shantha Philip and
Mr.Zarir China

The Principal resigned in May and I was asked to take charge of the post. The selection committee chaired by Mrs.Singhla IAS,Chairperson-the other members being Ms.T.E Philip , Director of Technical Education and Director of Employment and Training. I was offered to either to go to Srinagar or choose to remain in Ahmedabad. I chose the latter. I formally joined as a regular Principal on the 16th September 1973. Thus began my journey on Institutional building at the ripe age of 24 years.

I neither had the academic rigour to instruct on even an entry level program nor the academic administrative experience to cope with the teething problems of an upcoming institute and meet the expectations of stakeholders.

I felt like a leader who has risen to the position of power with no understanding or training in how to use it. It was therefore imperative to develop an Institutional culture that is open transparent and responsive to creativity and innovation and shared leadership The un written rule of thumb was "When you ask for a feedback: Don’t shoot the messenger" In the early years this developed the "us" and "we" mentality whereby every teacher took ownership and responsibility and became "carriers" of the organization. In other words they did not work for it they carried it inside them. "Not one of us is as smart as all of us"-Ken Blanchard. We developed the by-line:

"We Lead People and Manage Processes" and developed the initial draft of the organizational culture around this by-line:

"The FCI Ahmedabad would be a process centered organization, wherein many processes will be reengineered to create an environment conducive to development of institutional capabilities and capacities to "change" to meet new requirement of the Indian Hospitality Industry

The core of the FCI’s organizational culture would be the high level of teachers creativity nurtured in an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, high sense of institutional responsibility and self -discipline. Each teacher at the FCI would be essentially involved in the academic administration and shoulder much of the curriculum management responsibility. This will ensure production and delivery of quality inputs and facilitate the identification of environmental factors that hamper the learning process. The Challenge is to balance "examination orientation" with "learning orientation" and "application of learning" -the underlying philosophy being that if learning cannot be applied it will be a waste of national resources."

In order to expose the faculty members to the academic rigour they were sponsored to various teacher training programs at the Institute of Hotel Management Bombay; Teacher Training Institute Hyderabad and the Technical Teachers Training Institute Bhopal. I also attended seminars conducted by the Cornell University in Chennai and The Lausanne Hotel School in Agra. This was followed by faculty development program at the IIM Ahmedabad. The Government of India nominated me for the Austrian Government Scholarship for the Teachers’ Training Program at the Institute ofTourism and Hotel Management at Salzburg.

Industry Interaction:

In the absence of any meaningful interface with local industry we had to interact with Hotel organizations outside Gujarat for placement of our students. Given our organizational culture FCI was perceived be an organization which thinks out of the box. Many Hotel companies started visiting our campus for recruitment.

Consequent upon the Ministry of Tourism taking over the reins of the IHMS and FCIs from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture a National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology was established for Pan India admissions and examinations. The FCI Ahmedabad was upgraded to the Institute of Hotel Management Applied Nutrition and Catering Technology with effect from the academic session 1983-84 on the condition that that the State Government provides a land admeasuring at least five acres. I was nominated to the Board of Governors of the Council and served on various committees including among others the curriculum development committee. I was asked by the Ministry of Tourism Government of India to Organize a Workshop on behalf of the "UN Economic Commission for the Asia and the Pacific" In New Delhi from May 21 to 26 in 1990 entitled" Human Resources Development in the Tourism sector in the Asia and the Pacific Region. About 20 countries participated in the workshop. I presented a paper on "Regional Co-operation in Human Resources Development in the Tourism Sector".

Our immediate dilemma was to upgrade the faculty to deliver at higher level and on par with already established Institutions. We adopted a three pronged approach.

1. Recruit Faculty with experience of teaching at Higher Levels in core areas
2. Hire Part time teachers from the local reputed institutions for subjects like: Principals of Management (Mrs.HavoviTrivedi-HL College of Commence with occasional lectures from professors of IIM-Professor Monappa and Saiyedain). For Accounts we had Dr. N R Dixit from the school of Management Gujarat University and Professor Trivedi from the HL College of commerce.
For the subjects Communication/English we hired Mrs.AshaVerma trained in Canada for teaching English and Communication to non English Speaking students and Professor AbidShamshifrom the St.Xaviers College Ahmedabad who had a long stint in advertising before taking up academics.
3. We approached two Hotel Groups for setting up Chair Professorships:

1. The Taj Group
2. ITC

Mr. JRD Tata responded favourably and suggested that I meet Mr.AjitKerkar and Mr. V S Mahesh.I met Mr.Kerkar for the Chair professorship however he chose to interview me for thePrincipal’s Job at Aurangabad while Mr. Mahesh had moved to UK to pursue a career in academics. The matter was actively pursued till the change of guards.

My interest in the ITC group was to seek sponsorship for a Chair Professor in Finance and Accounts from their Accountants Training school In Kolkata. In this context I met Major Rehaman and Vice President Finance of the ITC hotel group things did not proceed beyond the meeting.

The Land
Our Chairman Mr C K Koshi had taken over as ACS Revenue Department GoG. I approached him with a request for land for the for Institute building. He arranged a meeting with the then Chief Secretary Mr. H K Khan. The immediate response was to ensure reservation of seats for the local students which request was turned down by the Government of India. We again approached him with new proposal to train managers/employees of the Circuit Houses and Tourism Corporation of Gujarat on gratis basis. This proposal was accepted and the Revenue Secretary called the Collector Gandhinagar to find suitable land which is neither forest land nor grazing land.A land leased to a brick kiln owner for making bricks for the new secretariat was identified for the Institute building. The Collector advised that we take possession of land immediately. We took possession at about 8 in the night from the government officials.

Selection of the Architect
Special permission was taken from the government of India to hire a private architect for designing the building. A building Committee was constituted chaired by the Secretary Roads & Buildings.

The initial brief to the architect was to design a green building with rain water harvesting shaded pathways and lots of interactive shaded platforms/plazas

The construction of the building was outsourced to GIDC.

The present building is not as per the original brief probably because of budgetary or space constraints.

My association with the Institute was ended through voluntary retirement in December 1998 to pursue a career overseas in the Kingdom of Bahrain up to 2005.

I now serve on Board of six companies; mentor a Hotel Management Program at a University; actively involved in setting up the State Institute Of Hotel Management at Sidhpur; setting up a Centre of Excellence in Hospitality at a Business School and Advisor to a Hotel Company on Training and Development.

A sense of pride and fulfilment
In my almost 25 years of association with Institute I feel a sense of pride and fulfilment when I see students occupying positions of responsibility in multiple sectors as Chief Executive Officers; General Managers; Executive Chefs; Academicians; Government Officials/civil servants and Entrepreneurs.

The only regret I have is not being able to set up Chair professorships. Now that we have a large representation in Hotels the Alumni Association should take up the matter with the hotel companies aggressively.

Founder Principal IHM Ahmedabad - Mr. NM Rafique