Lifestyle Leading Towards Success

Interview of Dr. S.M. Seth

About Dr. S.M. Seth

Dr. S.M. Seth, a teacher, researcher and administrator, had excellent academic career in Civil Engineering, especially in Dam Design, Irrigation Engineering and Hydraulics. He did his PhD in Hydrology as a commonwealth scholar from Victoria University of Manchester, UK in 1972. A major of his teaching experience was at University of Jodhpur and University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) and he has been examiner at various other universities and at IITs.

Dr. S.M. Seth possesses teaching, research and administrative experience of more than 49 years at reputed institutions. This includes MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur, IIT Roorkee, University of Manchester (UK), National Institute of Hydrology, and Roorkee (NIH) and at Poornima Group of Colleges, Jaipur, which he joined as founder Principal in the year 2000 after retirement from the post of Director NIH. He has been guide for 26 M.E and 9 PhD theses. He has contributed more than 299 technical papers in national and international journals/seminars. He is widely traveled and has visited 20 countries for interaction and exchange of technical knowledge.

Dr. Seth as a Faculty and a scientist in the area of Hydrology and water resources has made significant contribution in the establishment of NIH as a UNDP sponsored project and also in coordination of number of consultancy research projects including those sponsored by UNDP, World Bank, European Economic Community, WAPCOS and Govt. of India. The work done by him has been recognized at national and international level. He has been actively associated in various assignments as a WHO/World Bank/FAO consultant and as member/expert chairman /vice chairman of various committees / working groups such as Indian core team for National Hydraulics Project, World Bank Mission, CBIP National Advisory Committee and IHP Working group on the governance of UNESCO-IHP program. He is currently actively associated with Dam safety review panels for the states of Rajasthan and Maharastra in India. He has received a number of prestigious awards such as CBIP Award, National Hydrology Award, Brij Mohan Lal Memorial Medal and Institution of Engineers Medal.

He is now the Chairman of Poornima Group of Colleges and Chairman of Poornima JIET Education Foundation. Dr. Seth is also the Member Secretary of the Poornima JIET Education Foundation (PJF) Advisory Board since its inception.   

Let us listen from Dr. Seth himself what is the secret of a happy and successful Life. In his words, gifted are those who have a willingness to learn continuously.

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An Interaction with Dr. S.M. Seth – an Institutional Builder One Who Believes in Benevolent Guidance to Build Others

Interviewer: Sir, do you agree that developing a balanced lifestyle helps in getting sustainable success.

Dr. Seth: A balanced Life style brings out the hidden potential of a person and gives it a definite shape. Thus, a healthy and balanced lifestyle is the foundation on which the super structure of a happy and successful life can be built.

Interviewer: Which principles you have followed in life and you would like others to follow the same?

Dr. Seth: First of all, I always gave first priority to goddess Saraswati, that is, ‘Supremacy of Knowledge’. My decisions were always based on pursuit of knowledge and not on money. When I got a chance to work with University of Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee), I also had an offer from Iraq. I could have gone there to make lot of money but I preferred Roorkee since the prospects for knowledge enhancement were better there. Later, when I got an offer to work for NIH, I had another offer from Baghdad. But I chose NIH.

Secondly, I always believed in principle of ‘simple living high thinking’ and I always believed in hard work. I was a topper till class10th   and a merit position holder. Further on also I got good success in whatever I did in academics. The reason is that I always worked for 16 -17 hours a day. I believe that in short term, intelligence can lead to success. However, in the long term, diligence and hard work are essentials for success.

Interviewer: Sir, you are an institutional builder. What qualities do you think are needed in an institutional builder?

Dr. Seth: Passion is the first quality which is needed in an institutional builder. A high level of commitment, a systematic approach, time management and focus on results should be there. The most important of all is, of course, a clear vision.

A leader who builds institutions should also have good HR skills. He should know how to build on the strengths of his people. Benevolent and proper guidance can groom people and help in building strong work teams. Moreover, a leader should not only establish linkages from top to bottom but also from bottom to top.

Interviewer: You have always inspired people to grow and achieve professional excellence. What quality of yours motivates people?

Dr. Seth: What I feel is that I always keep in mind the progress of the other person whenever I inspire others for achieving excellence. As an example of this, a senior research associate working with me in NIH is now a Director and a peon is now an Accounts Officer.

Interviewer: How do you deal when a subordinate or a younger one makes a mistake?

Dr. Seth: By explaining the implications of the mistake. Everything has a multiplying effect. I first explain the consequences of the mistake and then guide the person to rectify and take corrective steps.

Interviewer: What has been your philosophy as a parent? What would you suggest to young parents especially when both are working?

Dr. Seth: My philosophy as a parent has been of playing complementary roles. One parent should be affectionate and protective while the other should be normative. The roles should be designed by both the parents consciously with proper communication. Both the parents should follow a systematic approach. At least one of the parents should be in constant touch with children, listening to them when they talk about their day to day experiences and helping them balancing their emotions.

We (my self & my wife) have always followed this and also given emphasis on developing a knowledge oriented environment in the family for our children. We used to give books as gifts. Books are like a garden where everyone can get a place to blossom like a flower.

When both the parents are working both of them should be highly systematic and spend some quality time with their children. Their sensitivity towards the children should be very high so that they can immediately understand if the child is facing any difficulty. They should ensure that there is no communication gap in the family.

Interviewer: Have you been influenced deeply by any person, book or an event in your life?

Dr. Seth: I am highly influenced by Mahabharata. It teaches us what life is all about. Everything revolves around Krishna who stands for the real principles of life.

To talk of persons, I have been highly influenced by three people, my maternal grandfather (Nanaji), my father, and my wife. My grandfather was the first M.A. (Master of Arts in year 1907) of Jodhpur and Bikaner States. He used to subscribe Reader’s Digest in those days and I developed a habit of reading this magazine regularly at the age of 12 years. He was a knowledge oriented person. I learned the principle of simple living and high thinking from him.

My father had a multiple responsibility approach. He played multiple roles at a time. He also used to subscribe to Aarogya, Dharmyug, Illustrated Weekly, Rashtra Doot, etc. and I became a regular reader of all these. My father used to dress up in European style. But the day ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were brought to my hometown Sirohi, he changed overnight and started wearing only Khadi and changed his lifestyle till his death. His strong determination had an induction effect in my grooming and decision making in life.

Above all, my wife Shakun, whose devotion and dedication have always been source of strength. She is a pillar of hope and support for the whole family. When I was on long tours for various consultancy projects, etc., she managed everything beautifully well. She is in regular touch with our US settled son-Deepak and daughter- Jayshree and understands them very well.

Talking of events, an event which has influenced me deeply was my father’s death. He died when I was taking my examination of B.E. Final Year in Jodhpur.  My courageous mother did not inform me and ensured that nobody informs me till examinations are over. Later, I managed everything and took the responsibility of my younger siblings- two brothers and two sisters. This event made me mature, almost overnight.

Interviewer:  Sir, these days youth working with corporates is under stress because of the increasing complexities of life and excessive work pressure. What would you suggest to them?

Dr. Seth: The first key to manage stress is ‘Mind Management’. The power of mind is immense if we manage it properly with positive attitude. Everyone should discover one’s own Ignition key which ignites or gives tremendous positive energy to his or her mind and soul. The ignition key may be a thought or a deep faith in the supreme power or may be soft music or gardening. Everyday in the morning we should ignite our mind with this ignition key and use it in difficult moments. Everyone should have a faith in some supreme power. It gives us peace and strength.

Positive attitude and habit for hard work always pays in life. We should perceive our role and be effective and efficient in doing whatever our role demands. Dedication, hard work and continuous urge to learn throughout life should be maintained to get success and happiness in life. Youth can create immense opportunities with entrepreneurial frame of mind. When I was in NIH, I could create many opportunities to build the institution. When we are really motivated and energized, sky is the limit. Here, I would like to quote the words which have always inspired me:

ज़िन्दगी की असली उड़ान अभी बाकी है!
आपके  इरादों  का  इम्तिहान  अभी बाकी है! 
अभी तो नापी है मुट्ठी भर जमीन
आगे अभी सारा आसमान बाकी है!

The real flight of Life is yet to be taken
Your determination is yet to be evaluated
So far you have measured only a small piece of earth
Flight in the Eternal Sky is yet to be taken.

इस पथ का उद्देश्य नहीं है श्रांत भवन में  टिके  रहना
किन्तु पहुंचना उस मंजिल पर जिसके आगे राह नहीं

                                      जयशंकर प्रसाद

The aim of this path is not to sit still in a quiet palace But to reach the destination beyond which there is no path. 
                                       Jaishankar Prasad

Interviewer:  Would you like to share a special recent experience of yours?

Dr. Seth: Yes, it is about the celebrations of Cancer Survivor’s Day at Mahaveer Cancer Hospital, Jaipur. Being a Cancer patient, I was also one of the invitees. They asked me to share my thoughts. I told them they should rename this day as ‘Cancer Winners Day’. Fighting with a disease like Cancer successfully is also like winning a battle. I gave them 7 M's to be a Cancer Winner which I have used in my case also:

Management of disease through proper consultation
Mind Management
Medication done properly
Monitoring at regular intervals as suggested by the doctors
Motivation by Family and Society
Medi Claim Insurance

With strong faith, family support and systematic approach we can win the biggest of challenges.

Interviewer: Sir, talking to you has been really highly inspiring. Even at this moment, instead of giving your total time to your health, you are actively engaged in contributing towards institutional growth and towards the future of your students.

What would you like our viewers to remember at every moment of their life?

Dr. Seth:  We should aspire to be a role model for others. If we remember these lines, we can face every challenge of life successfully:

काम करो ऐसा की पहचान बन जाओ
हर क़दम चलो ऐसा की निशान बन जाओ
ज़िन्दगी तो सभी काटते हैं दोस्तों
तुम ज़िन्दगी ऐसे जियो की मिसाल बन जाओ

Do a work in such a way that this you are identified with the work
Take every step to leave a mark
Everyone spends life for that matter, my friends
You should live to be an ideal example for others


I would like to conclude this interview with a prayer to God Almighty and a wish that every viewer of Jyotikalash becomes a strong link - a role model for many many others!