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PhD, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam
Interviewer: How did you choose an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career in Holland?
Randhir: Previously, I was working as a Research Associate with Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, where I was assigned the task of working on Wage Indicator project jointly undertaken by Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). This was my first exposure to the high academic benchmark and research standards of University of Amsterdam and getting a PhD degree from it seemed quite appealing. My positive experience of working with AIAS researchers motivated me to look for PhD avenues at University of Amsterdam.
Interviewer: What was your first impression when you landed in Holland?
Randhir: It was a sunny but pleasant day when I first landed Amsterdam. I was awe-struck by the organized city plan and beautiful looking medieval-era buildings. Coming from a city like Mumbai, I felt like that there were not enough people on the train. Once I reached my place of accommodation, I found the neighborhood to be cozy, beautiful and well maintained.
Randhir: The Dutch are very accommodating and friendly. I still remember how easy it was for me to strike a conversation with local persons who were quite welcoming and approachable. It was a pleasure to learn that the locals could easily switch from Dutch to English and communicate flawlessly in it.
Interviewer: How did you choose your course/university?
Randhir: As I had my masters in Social Sciences from TISS, Mumbai, my default choice was to pursue my PhD in social sciences discipline. I was also rightly guided by my professor from IIM Ahmedabad, under whom I worked for the Wage Indicator Project. He apprised me about the advertisement floated by AISSR, School of Human Geography and Planning, seeking researchers for their PhD research project.
Another critical factor for narrowing down to the University of Amsterdam and faculty of Social Sciences (AISSR) was because of its high global ranking. Moreover, it is a well-known institute for its academic programmes in my field. QS World University Rankings 2011/2012, released in September 2011, ranked Social Sciences of UvA as 39 among the top hundred, while the overall rank of Uva was featured to be 63 among the upper 100 global universities.
Interviewer:How is your current education system different from that being followed in India?
Randhir: The PhD programme of University of Amsterdam is drastically different from that of India. First of all it is highly focused and PhD candidates are effectively guided to narrow down their research topic initially. Thereafter, the next nine months are dedicated fully for the relevant course work and preparation of a detailed research proposal. Once the proposal is ready, it offers us multiple opportunities to get feedback from top notch academicians of the field, by inviting them for a seminar, where the PhD candidates present their proposal and thereafter get feedback. There is a great flexibility in terms of data collection and mode of awarding the degree. It means that a student can write either minimum stipulated high quality journal papers, or prepare a monograph which is later published as a book by University of Amsterdam Press. The infrastructure support in terms of quality research training and online journal resource are unmatchable and the guides just go out of their way to dissipate any of the practical research concern. Furthermore, the support in terms of healthy stipend is among the best, which is unfeasible for the institutes offering PhD in India.
Can you tell us about your thesis? The PhD project is to explore the outcomes of gloabalisation due to offshore service sector in the city of Mumbai and Manilla. It is a joint project undertaken by University of Amsterdam and Mumbai University(Dept. of Economics)
Interviewer: How do you think your study in Holland will help you with your future endeavours?
Randhir: I wish to become an eminent researcher and academician in the field of Social Sciences and being a student of University of Amsterdam will act as a strong foundation for the same. The brand value as well as advance knowledge acquired during the course of pursuing PhD will make me competitive enough to secure good positions in top notch Universities in the World.
Interviewer: Would you recommend Holland as a ‘Study Destination’? And why?
Randhir: I strongly recommend Holland as a ‘Study Destination’ because other than teaching the subject matter, it gives you an immense opportunity to network with its cosmopolitan student crowd. Now I have contacts with students of different nationalities, which could be very strategic in long term career growth. Also the quality of study programmes is fantastic and I believe one can definitely capitalize on the brand value of the Universities in Holland.
Interviewer: Your most cherished memory in Holland so far…
Randhir: There are plenty; I still cherish my memories of going on long cycling trips to the outskirts of Amsterdam. During such sunny days, the first thing that uses to come in my mind is to go for a long bicycle ride!
Interviewer: Would you like to take up a job in Holland and live there, if there is an opportunity?
Randhir: Personally I would love to take up a job and live in Holland; however a potential deterring factor for me would be the prolonged winters. While the climate during summer season is unparalleled, winters can be too harsh and I have somewhat a penchant for bright sunny days.