Dr. Manas K Mandal, who recently joined IIT Kharagpur as Distinguished Visiting Faculty has been, conferred the Technology Leadership Award, DRDO. He received the award from the Defense Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley in the presence of the Minister of State for Defense, Dr. Subhash Bhamre, and the Chairman, DRDO, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus Dr. S. Christopher.
Dr. Mandal was a Distinguished Scientist and the Director General (LS) in DRDO before joining IIT-Kharagpur and did make exemplary contribution towards military psychology for the Indian Armed Forces. He took up the challenge to serve the armed forces in critical areas like selection system for the Armed Forces, test development for Special Forces, military motivation in low-intensity-conflict, trade allocation system for military hardware, pilot selection system for fighter aircraft, psychological adaptation in extreme environment. His contribution to military psychology has been greatly appreciated for which he also received Agni Award for Excellence – 2005; Scientist-of-the-Year – 2006; Defense Technology Spin-off Award – 2007, from the then Prime Minister of India in consecutive years.
Dr. Mandal is now associated with the Rekhi Centre for Science of Happiness as an Advisor and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at IIT Kharagpur. Dr Mandal was a former professor of IIT Kharagpur before joining DRDO in 2004.
The thrust area of Dr. Mandal currently is in the domain of cognitive neuroscience wherein his primary focus has been to understand the functional architecture of the brain through transdisciplinary research. In this pursuit, he took up research in examining human cognitive –motor capability by the way of ascertaining lateral bias of the two sides of the body and the brain. Findings of his study indicate that people with left ward bias finds it difficult to deal with any implement which are designed for rightward people, for example, gun, scissors, mouse, screwdriver, brake pedal, etc. His studies suggested that the efficiency of leftward people or people with mixed bias can be enhanced by designing tools to the natural bias of that person. He has also found that people with mixed side bias commit more accidents than people with clear bias.
"Motivation training is a scientific process; it shall be imparted by experts in the field. The training is given imperceptibly with reason first, emotion later & not through pep-talk (thus creating optimism ‘bias’), and with learning to tolerate frustration and having the ability to ‘bounce back’ (resilience). Motivation training without learning how to bounce back has a temporary relevance" said Dr. Mandal who is teaching a micro-credit course which has been launched under the aegis of the Rekhi Centre for Science of Happiness at IIT Kharagpur. The course focuses on developing positive traits and riddance of negative traits. It includes decision-making, coping style, effective communication developing resilience, failure management, commitment through incentivization, motivational training, operationalize loyalty Vs. morality from reality perpective, traditional value system, self-help meditational practice. More than 100 students are enrolled for this programme. "What begins with, as part of the training for career, will definitely impact life, since career is within the life and life is not within the career. The motivation to make others happy will bring happiness for us in its purest form" added Dr. Mandal.
On being asked about psychological training to help students especially those at a tender age and away from home, Dr. Mandal emphasised on the motivation training at NCC which can very well be done with a structured program. "What has relevance for armed forces is also meaningful to NCC as a peace time force and as a self-discipline course" added Dr. Mandal, however, such training must co-exist with the assessment of (presence of) positive traits and (absence of) negative traits in a cadet. To enhance positive traits, we should be able to set clear goals (target setting) with thought clarity, bring meaningfulness and sense of responsibility towards owning the goal, and by helping the cadet align their interest-ability-expectation" he added.