A Story of Fate & Fortitude — Bharat Gupta is an unconventional educationist with an uncompromising legacy to fulfill — to redefine quality education in the age of millennials.
Bharat Gupta is not your usual university chairman. He isn’t a serious faced veteran with gravitas and wisdom yet a rigid umbrella of ideas. He is young and dynamic millennial, but expresses a certain nonchalance in his demeanor.
Gupta is a second-generation education entrepreneur – rich in mentoring on unshakable principles of educational nobility but exhumes the millennial fluidity that is always open for change that empowers and uplifts. Through his unconventional approach as the chairperson, Gupta is revolutionizing and democratizing educational excellence in a country where skill-building is often a domain inhabited by class privileges.
Over the years, Ganga Group has empowered more than 50,000 young citizens break the barriers of societal and class divisions to emerge as celebrated individuals in the country – ranging from prominent administrators and sportspersons. Young minds nurtured by the Ganga Group have gone on to achieve extraordinary feats – in sports like Cricket, Football, Taekwondo, and have won scholarships and prizes from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of HRD.
From being the first child to have enrolled as a student at the Ganga Group to becoming the chairperson spearing in an inspiring legacy of change, Gupta’s story has been swansong, yet it’s just getting started. In a candid conversation with DKODING Media, Mr. Bharat Gupta, Chairman of the Ganga Group of Institutions sheds light on his journey, the ethos and vision at Ganga group, and his perception of the future of Indian education, aptly adding to his arguments with interesting anecdotes.
Profit has No Business in Education — The Bharat Gupta Story
How has the path panned out for you – From starting out professionally to becoming the Chairman of the Ganga Group?
Inspired by my father, I jumped into work when other kids my age spent evenings on tuitions and cricket.
My father started working in the fifth grade. I entered the professional world as a class tenth student. My first gig was at a Call Center, after which I had a stint working for a Chartered Accountant. Then came college and Ganga Group, calling at the same time.
While pursuing my graduation at Delhi University’s Sri Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce, I started working for the Purchase Department of the Group in part-time shifts, running errands within stipulated time slots. It was during this time when the entrepreneur in me started coming to the fore. At college, I became a core member of the Entrepreneurship Society. I founded my first venture with my group members here and gained vital experience mentoring three startups that have since then tasted deserved success.
With time, the responsibility I was expected to shoulder grew, and I was made in-charge of the Group’s Marketing Department. I’ve always had a knack for marketing and it has been one of my strengths. Heading the department, my first year passed as a silent observer. The second ended up completely revamping the dynamics of the group. We shed a lot of our old practices and adopted new ones. We replaced redundancy with the latest technology. The result – Direct admissions, which earlier used to form 30 percent of the total admissions (70 percent came through consultants traditionally) grew to 70 percent. We witnessed a 180-degree turn in the ratio. Then I was made the Executive Officer in 2017. As EO, I was in charge of running 5 colleges apart from purchase and marketing. The same year in December, I was given Chairmanship of the Group.
What sets Ganga Group apart from other private stakeholders in Education?
Ganga Group’s journey started two decades ago with a vision to create the best-in-class non-profit private educational institutions.
In 2000, the Founders took over one school and started out with the parent branch. Since then, we have grown to 6 schools and 5 colleges over a span of 20 years. It is basically the belief of the founder that, “Whatever the Society gives, ultimately we have to give back to the society”. Ganga Group was built on the ethos that only a quarter of our personal wealth should be transferred to the next generation and that the rest three quarters belong and go back to society. All the schools and colleges that have been opened are either non-profit or break-evens.
Watch: A Glimpse of a student’s life at Ganga International School
The focus of the Ganga concept of education is to give the opportunity of quality learning and pedagogy to the society’s lower-income groups. If you look around in Delhi, the schools with land area of less than an acre charge day-schooling fees upwards of INR 1.25 to 1.5 lacs per annum. In comparison, Ganga Group is an established institution built across 15 acres of land inside India’s capital city that provides a chance at quality day-schooling at just INR 70 thousand.
Institutions under the Ganga Group Umbrella
- Institutes of Higher Education
- Ganga Institute of Technology & Management
- Ganga Technical Campus
- Ganga Institute of Education
- Ganga Institute of Architecture & Town Planning
- Schools run by the Group
- Ganga International School, New Delhi (2)
- Ganga International School, Jhajjar
- Ganga International School, Bahadurgarh (2)
- Govind Ram Gurukul Sr. Sec. School, Delhi
In what mold do you see yourself as an educationist?
Education used to be a ‘sector’. People have now turned it into an ‘industry’.Bharat Gupta, Chairman, Ganga Group
Education is not a profession suited to all, but only for those looking for internal satisfaction. The thing about non-profit institutions is that it’s easier to set it up than to keep running and maintaining it in the same sense is a challenge in itself. Sometimes money, or the ‘not-so-much’ of it, becomes an issue. But then we look around, we see the biggest and meanest of businessmen, venture capitalists, and others whining about so little they have. I think to myself – I at least have a sense of internal satisfaction.
Many private players now see education as an industry rather than a sector. The industry is something where the raw materials are processed into standardized products, I believe education should not be in these lines and thus refrain ourselves from doing so. There’s an old saying that goes, “Even adults reveal their childish nature when they are around kids.” So, if intend on living a life relishing those times, this is just the place for it.
Can you shed some light on Ganga Group’s new initiatives for the near future?
In this era of volatility, what we study in colleges is in a complete contrast to what the Industry wants.
To this effect, we have identified those set of skills that caters to the needs of those students who find themselves in a puddle with lacking industry skillset despite having completed professional courses.
We are planning to go into Skill Development Programs under the Government of India’s Skill India initiative, with an initial target of almost 600 students over the first year. With the recent completion of our building, we’ll be filing with the Government next month. We have already tied up with 150+ companies and identified job routes for these aspirants.
Watch: Ganga Institute of Technology & Management (GITAM) – A Glance
Under this program, we will provide them with 6 months of residential training. For an additional edge, students will be provided with a Certified Training course to improve the chances of landing a decent job. We have also signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with some of the companies to hire our trained students for a minimum period of 6 months. We are also in talks with some of the renowned neighboring institutes to conduct expert lectures in our colleges by some of their established students having 5-6 years of experience in the sector and to address the financial gap driven by the lack of a specific skillset. This will help students grasp a better understanding of the hardships one faces in the real world out there and not just be part of the herd.
What are your personal ambitions, with a long-term vision of 2030?
No one should forego the right to quality education due to financial hindrance.
My personal ambition is to be a one-stop destination for parents around the world for the lower-income groups, starting from KG and traversing all the way to PG. The vision which we started with is still at the core of our undertakings and endeavors. We believe that we are doing our bit to eradicate the class divide in education and hope others follow the same.
Quick Fire Questions
The Chairman Experience
As Boss, you have to know the backstory of everything.
As the head of a big institution like the Ganga Group, you end up seeing a lot of ups and down – You get to know the backstory of everything – not a department or two, but the whole picture. I realize the value the position holds for an organization that used to be just 50 employees but has now risen to 1,500 employees.
One thing you love about your job
One great thing about working with schools and colleges is that u never get old.
Where in my school days I used to refrain attending science classes, now my students teach me scientific concepts and surprisingly, I am now drawn towards the subject. I feel like I have to keep myself updated on latest science and technology like blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. I encourage my students and don’t come off as hindrance to their education. One way to do that is by talking to my students and also to the experts in the field.
Watch: Chairman Bharat Gupta with Ganga Group students at a Project Competition
The Entrepreneurial Journey
I haven’t even started from the start line yet; I have to go miles.
If a person in his years as of me thinks he has completed half of his journey in life, then he is clearly mistaken. Even my father who is in his jubilee years considers himself as someone who has just left the crease, so I am very far behind the finishing line.