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'No knowledge without College'

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Says Prafull Sharma, Printing Technologist and Partner in Scanna Graphics and CEO of Content Creators.

I studied Printing Technology in 1983 at the KJ Somaiya College and Government Institute of Printing Technology (Situated at JJ School of Arts Campus) and followed it up with a Diploma in 1986 from Germany. There were not many options at that time in technical education besides main stream BA, BCom or BSc. My friend’s friend was studying Printing Technology. His books fascinated me and I was keen to join this course.

The first day of college in Mumbai was full of enthusiasm and anxiety. It was a very exciting day for me. No school uniforms and no school bags was a chill factor on the first day. Less discipline compared to school was shocking. Being a day scholar, I was not ragged. But, those who had come from outstation and stayed at a hostel in Bandra East were ragged. Our professors being technical people from the printing industry were very different than most typical college professors. The studies focused less on academics and more on the technical points. They were more practical than theoretical. We used to work on printing machines and on pre and post printing operations.

My college campus had and still has some of the old art-deco buildings surrounded with lush green tall trees. It is so far removed from the concrete jungle that has spawned most of Mumbai. It was always a pleasure being in the campus as it was cool, refreshing and very scenic.

My family lived in Ghatkopar and my college was bang opposite VT (now CST) station,  next to Anjuman-e-Islam school. I used to travel by train from Ghatkopar to VT. I still remember catching the 9.23 am or 9.35 am fast train from Ghatkopar to VT in the morning and the 5.29 pm or 5.44 pm fast train in the evening from VT to Ghatkopar. A few years ago around 2012, on one Saturday evening I took the 5.31 pm train from CST station for Ghatkopar, just to relive travelling during my college days. Nothing has changed during all these years except the timing of trains by a few minutes. The crowds have remained the same and it took almost the same time 24 minutes to reach Ghatkopar from CST. College life was full of fun. After lectures or practicals sometimes we used to go for a walk in Fort area up to Jehangir Art Gallery to see exhibitions, or at times towards Cuffe Parade. Yes, we used to walk from our college near CST to World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade and return the same way. The college canteen and Samovar at Jehangir Art Gallery were our usual meeting, eating and socializing places.

The Printing Diploma course did help me in shaping my career as a Printing Technologist. The salary in my vocation depends on the city and kind of organisation you are working with but in general one can expect approximately Rs. 20 lakhs per annum. I did study abroad (for Post Diploma in Printing) in Germany. I found the college studies here in India, to be more casual (can say at least of my vocation) compared with the studies abroad. Abroad they are more focused, disciplined and very goal oriented in college.

Today, there are many vocational courses for students who want to specialize in a particular field. Back in those days there were very few of such courses available. Printing was a growing industry then and offered good potential for a career. There used to be very good scope for students who pass out from this course. However today, due to the growth of digital printing and new age technology (social media and computers) printing as such has shrunk to cater mainly to the packaging industry. The market for commercial printing (leaflets, brochures, calendars, posters, diaries etc) has gone down. Hence the scope for a career in printing is now much less. However, we have to grow and adapt with the times. There is very good scope these days in content writing. Many new products are being launched (nationally or internationally) they all need write ups and literature to be prepared. Many companies  resource content for such products. All mobile apps or soft ware programs need literature. Besides in English, there will be bids and demand in regional languages for content writing in the years to come. We have to gear up for this change.

There used to be a phrase going around, during our college days – No knowledge without College. This is very true even today. College life should be taken more seriously now due to tough competition in getting admissions and to get success in a vocation. For those who want to study printing, I will say – It is better to learn electronic/digital printing than conventional or offset printing. Conventional printing has very limited scope now.

With huge penetration of computers in all parts of the world, digitization of all written material is the in-thing. Since paper is going to be in short supply (being warned by environmentalists) in future digital printing will soon replace conventional printing. Hence those who inherit the printing business or want to get into the field it is advisable to go for digital printing courses.

As told to Monarose Sheila Pereira

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