In this interview series where we ask questions to people who are making a difference, it can be big, it can be small, it doesn’t matter, what matters is their contribution to our society. It can be anyone from any walk of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.
Prof. J P Verma is a Professor of Statistics and Dean Students Welfare at Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education Gwalior. He has earned his doctorate in the area of sports genetics. He has three masters degree to his credit namely Statistics, Psychology and Computer application. His research interests are sports statistics, research designs, data modeling and multivariate analysis with SPSS. He is widely acclaimed academician and researcher and conducted numerous workshops on research methods and research designs in Foreign and Indian universities.
Following are his thoughts on some of our questions
- Tell us something about yourself?
I am currently working as Professor (Statistics) and Dean Students Welfare at Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE) and have experience of more than thirty five years of teaching and research. This institute is a deemed university under the ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India. I have served as an in-charge Vice Chancellor of LNIPE since Nov. 2014 to Sept 2015. I have worked as Director, Centre for Advanced Studies for about three years. I am working as a professor in the Institute for more than thirteen years, and possess three masters degree; in Statistics, Psychology and Computer application besides PhD degree in the area of sports genetics. I introduced first time in the Institute, the online admission process and E-Communication among staff, students and administration for immediate delivery of information and notices during my short stint as in-charge vice chancellor.
I have a distinction of holding Ist position in MSc(Statistics) from Kanpur university and Ist position in MA(Psychology) from Jiwaji university Gwalior. I have successfully guided nine PhD candidates and have eight books (out of which 3 published by Wiley, USA and Canada, 1 by Springer, Europe and 2 from McGraw Hills) on research and statistics in the area of management, psychology, exercise science, health, sports and physical education, and 37 research papers/articles to his credit. Many of my books are read all over the world as they have been published by the international publishers of USA and Europe. I have developed sports statistics in the country as an academic discipline and produced text book on it which is widely read in India and many other countries. I was instrumental in starting IT in physical education in the institute with the result many of the Indian universities have incorporated this module in their syllabus for masters’ degree programmes. I introduced computers in my Institute and developed all the computer labs. I have a patent to my credit on FitnessWatch (A fitness assessment and management system for school children and youth). This know-how was validated by the independent body appointed by the LNIPE with the grant of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India. I have also successfully completed one research project sponsored by the UGC. Presently I am working on a major research project on talent identification in sports in the country sponsored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India with a grant of Rs. 35,30,000(Thirty five lakh and thirty thousand only). I have acted as an expert for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), New Delhi, on various assignments. At present I have been nominated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) as the Chairman of the Committee for the On-the-Spot Evaluation of ongoing projects for the development of sports infrastructures and Equipments in different colleges of India.
I was a visiting fellow in the University of Sydney in 2002. I had an academic visit in Australia, Poland, Scotland and Qatar and conducted numerous workshops on research methodology, research designs, multivariate analysis, and data modeling in the area of management, social sciences, physical education, sports sciences, economics, and health sciences in many of the foreign and Indian universities. I was visiting faculty in many of the institutes such as IIITM, IITTM, Prestige institute of Management etc. I was instrumental in starting SPIC MACAY in Gwalior through which he organized many classical musical concerts in and around Gwalior. I started the computer literacy programme and trained thousands of students in IT in Gwalior.
- How did you got involved in the field of physical education?
It was accidental, as I was searching for a job after finishing my masters in Statistics from Kanpur University in 1980. I happened to see the advertisement in English daily and I appeared in the interview. Since at that time I was preparing for my Indian Statistical Services, I was very thorough with the subject matter hence my interview went very well and I was selected for the faculty position in LNIPE Gwalior. Since then I stuck to this institute looking to the scope of work in this niche area.
- Can you tell us about your research in this field and your key accomplishments?
I started my research in the area of sports genetics for identification of talents in sports and completed PhD in this area. Mostly talent in any sport is being identified on the basis of the present day performance but what if somebody could not perform during selection process but has the potential to become sports person in the country. Thus, genetic intervention can be used as a supplement in identification of talent in sports. I have published many research papers on this topic and guided many PhD scholars in the area of sports genetics.
I have developed a knowhow for fitness assessment and management system for the school children and youth in the age categories 7 to 20 years. This project is known as FitnessWatch. I got the patent on this knowhow. Through this project, functional fitness in the form of health related components of an individual can be assessed. This system is meant for implementing in schools and youth clubs. It generates fitness reports, prescription of customized fitness schedule based on present status and provision of comparative evaluation of fitness level after following the schedule. This system has been validated by the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education under the grant of Govt. of India and has been declared fit for implementation in the schools of India and Abroad.
If FitnessWatch is implemented in schools of India each school will get a fitness index which would be an indication of fitness status of the children in that school. This will not only make the children active in the country but will improve functional efficiency in their day to day functioning and reduce the medical bill as well. The most important aspect of this project is that it will inculcate healthy habit in the citizens of the country.
Another important landmark about my research work is the development of weighted scale system for constructing the norms for any performance parameters. The methodology is based on the concept that the enhancement in the performance at the top level requires lots of effort in comparison to the same level of increase in performance at the lower level hence slight improvement at the top level should be rewarded more. This paper was published in Australia. This knowhow can be used in any field of study.
At present I am working on a talent identification project sponsored by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. In this study effort is to develop screening criteria to spot out the talents at an early age who could be the prospective sportsperson in future. Further, strategies shall be developed to identify the talent in four differ different sports namely Athletics, Basketball, Gymnastics and Wrestling based on their physical and genetic characteristics.
- What’s your approach to researching a subject? Can your methodology in sports research applied to other fields?
I always look for the practical application of my research topic. Give lots of emphasis to research designs and assumptions used in statistical techniques in minimizing the errors in findings while answering my research questions. Another important feature of my research is the sample size determination for any study. Small sample may not detect the findings and large sample is the wastage of resources in the study. Thus, optimum sample is the first step for any researcher. For helping the researchers in the country and abroad in improving their quality of research, I have provided resources on research methods, research designs and advanced statistical techniques in the form of presentations, write-ups and sample size determination module in my website www.jpverma.org .
All the designs and analytical techniques which we use in sports and physical education research can well be used in management, social sciences and other areas as well. The weighted scale procedure which I have developed can be used in any field of study.
- What’s your opinion on improving the state of sports in country? Where do we lack when it comes to medals in competitions like Olympics?
We need to give more focus on developing identification criteria in different sports and developing test battery based on the specific fitness. The sports need to be broad based clubbed with physical education at the grassroots level.
In my opinion three specific policies will boost the effort in increasing the medal tally in the country. Firstly, No school and college should be given permission to operate until there is sufficient sports facilities and fitness centre in their premises. Secondly, to make the population more active people in different Govt. and private organizations should be give incentives to join fitness program by means of reduced insurance premium. Thirdly, there should be national standards on different health related fitness parameters as per the age and gender, and proper incentives may be given to achieve some landmark.
- What are your views on spotting and nurturing talent for sports in the country?
As I have already emphasized the importance of identification of talent, it is equally important to develop the strategy for assessment during nurturing the identified talents in sports in progressive manner. This requires collaborative research for developing different models for assessment. In our country we have an expertise in different areas; the need is to do interdisciplinary research to develop such models where the professionals in the area of statistics, mathematics, bio-chemistry exercise science, exercise physiology, sports sciences, physical education, sports psychology etc., should join their hands for this national cause.
- Though interested in sports, a lot of youngsters in our country hesitate in taking it as a career option, what would you say to them?
After 1982 Asian Games I have seen tremendous change in the mentality of people. Now people are more conscious about their food habit and physical activity. But, lot more effort is required to encourage them to be active and play some or the other sports. More sports facilities in community may encourage the large participation in sports activities. Indigenous sports may be encouraged so that some of the sports which are not costly can be made more popular in rural areas.
- What’s your favorite sport and how do you keep yourself motivated?
I do play Badminton and try to be active by using my exercise regimen. I am more close to the nature and do take lots of natural stuff for enhancing my immunity and fitness. For instance, my daily intake includes black pepper, raw garlic, chyawanprash, honey, sprouts, Basel leaves, almonds, other dry fruits and milk. I prefer lemon tea.
- What are your plans for future?
On the professional front I aspire to develop an international forum for providing the inputs to the researchers to pursue their dream in creative activities by following proper methodological issues.
On the social front I wish to be more active member of the Ramkrishna Mission for helping the children and old age people to the best possible of my capacity for making them to live a dignified life.
- Your message for our readers?
In my opinion everybody in this universe is born with full of opportunities. On a scale of 0 to 100 how much I can go, depends upon how effectively I utilize my time. To be more productive I always try to follow the policy of forgetting so that at the end of day I can be more productive. Last word, be with those who inspire you and be away who creates negativity around you.