Dr Naresh Dutt Mathur is Professor in the Department of Economics and Director at theSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Law, Manipal University Jaipur. He completed his PhD (price policy in public enterprises) from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. To learn more about Dr Mathur’s work, you can visit: https://jaipur.manipal.edu/foa/schools-faculty/faculty-list/Naresh-Dutt-Mathur.html
What are your primary research interests? What prompted you to pursue those specific areas?
My research area is public sector management, which was long back in 1988. The Indian economy at that time mainly comprised the public sector, as that was not the time of globalization. I took up this particular field because something bothered me in public sector management. When things start bothering you, you feel intellectually restless about certain problems or certain sectors. I felt intellectually restless about certain things in the public sector, so I started working on it.
What advice would you give to high-school students who want to delve into economics?
Even though economics is a social science, it is different from other subjects of social sciences like sociology and political science. My advice to students is that they should not enter the field of economics by chance. They should be genuinely interested in the subject, and they should value choice over chance. In fact, even if someone enters the subject by chance, they should then make it a choice. My advice is that the students should try to explore the field from the beginning itself. The students should subscribe to journals like The Economic Times, and regularly read the articles from the point of view of economics. Whatever they read, they should see the economic point of view. Overall, all prospective economics students must have a love for the subject.
What would you say is the hardest part of your job as a professor?
I never found my job hard as a professor! While I did face difficulties as an administrative, I never found any such difficulties teaching in the classroom. I always enjoy teaching the students in the classes. I think there is the highest degree of autonomy in this profession. I have 42 years of experience in teaching, but I have never had any major problems.
Teaching is a profession which demands something in return. Once you have reaped all the benefits of education, whatever you have received, it is your responsibility to give it back to society. If you are an administrator, you give it back as an administrator, if you are a doctor, you give it back as a doctor. So it is the responsibility of every educated person to give something back to society.
What do you think of the idea that the concept of education should be expanded from classroom teaching to digital modules/ online lectures?
Especially with the lock-down, schools and universities are closed across India. In this situation, teachers have resorted to online teaching. They are using different digital tools to keep in touch with the students, to conduct webinars, and to share supporting materials and resources with them. I am delivering lectures from my home every day. This shift to online teaching during the pandemic has reduced the cost of education, making learning more accessible and available. During this time, we need this. Coursera and all – without charge. No digital method can replace / substitute a teacher.
How can we, as students, learn to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical understanding of concepts?
We can bridge the gap by applying the theories of economics to the real world. When I teach topics to students, I try to infuse real-world examples into my lectures. For example, if I am teaching Oligopoly markets in my class, I will discuss real-world cases and questions related to that – What is actually happening with Oligopoly markets in the country? How are the prices determined? How is the demand curve changing? How do cartels work in different countries? I take those examples and cases and that helps the students understand the concept in a clear way, while also bridging the gap between theoretical and practical knowledge.