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Where they stand today

Indian Business Schools

Dr. D. Mukhopadhyay
Management education in India has witnessed  a remarkable growth  during last one  and a half decades.   The journey of  Indian management education   was  started  with the business programme  in 1954 by the  Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management  (IISWBM) affiliated to the University of Calcutta. In the Country, there were about 135 B-Schools in 1985 which rose to 4,500 in 2005 and due to economic recession  in 2008, the same came down to  3,217 as on date from 3541 in 2012.  The number of AICTE approved seats  in B-Schools   has increased  to 3,85,008 in 2012 from 94,704 in 2006.  Thus  this  is worth mentioning that  the MBA has become one of the most popular academic qualifications  across the globe.  According  to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB),  India  tops the list  in terms of number of B-Schools followed by United States of America and Philippines which they have 1,624 and 1,259 respectively.
But the most tragic part of the story is that no Indian  B-Schools is visible  in global top 10 across various rankings. B-Schools are supposed  to groom the young minds with the skills  such as leadership, collaborative, initiative, interpersonal relationship , goal setting, quantitative analysis, information  analysis and interpretation etc but many of the them remain absent in Indian management pedagogy and mostly  students are given bookish and theoretical inputs. As a result they face tremendous stress to cope with the day today challenges.   Most of the Indian B-Schools are giving  MBA Degrees without   offering  essential skills  that a manager needs  to solve and deal with the practical world.  MBA aspirants are provided with information without experience and  therefore no knowledge, since, information plus experience is knowledge.  Majority of the  B-Schools recruit  faculty members  attributed with  theoretical knowledge without any mandatory industrial experience.  MBA curriculum  needs  to have 60 to 70% job related experience contents, 20 %  from interaction with others and  the  remaining 20% should be  formal  educational class room contents.  But in actuality, it is just reverse. Majority of the contents of the curriculum comes from class room theoretical teaching and remaining from others and this is the genesis of the problem .
To perform satisfactorily a managerial duty in an organization, the concerned person needs to be bestowed with  the capability of strategic thinking,  problem solving ability, interpersonal  and team building skill and last but not  the least is the communication skill. 21st century is the  age of technology and  adoption of technology is the most desired  aspects  for being  globalized. Indian top notch B-Schools design their course curricula  by adopting the practice followed by the B-Schools  of economically developed country like USA and European countries. Most of Indian B-Schools barring the top-notch B-Schools  offer finance, marketing and human resource related subjects only  in the name of specializations.  In true sense, specialization comes from rigorous practical  training  on the back of  time-honoured theoretical knowledge. But here training is by and large  missing.  Now management education  is facing  a note of interrogation in the context of  relevance. The moot point of rationale for such void is the gulf between  desire and delivery. The Indian B-Schools have miserably failed  to deliver according to the desire of the corporate world.  Corporate world is the cause and B-Schools are the effects. Effects are  subsidiary to the  causes  by any means .  The   corporate world  requires  collaborative  and readymade problem solving leaders. The corporate scams and scandals are rampant in India and  this comes of the incapacity or incapability of non-handling the situations with care by the leaders who mostly hail from leading B-Schools.
This raises the question of contemporary relevance of management education at large. It may not  sound irrelevant that India is one of the signatories of  the protocol of General Agreement on Trade Services (GATS) which includes the area of higher education and as a consequence she shall be facing a tough and uncomfortable competition from the global and international institutions  of higher education. Under the stated circumstances,  quality  is the only criterion that would matter much and in no way quantity.  To be more specific, quality of research, publications, faculty development programmes, placement scenario along with the size of compensation package, industry-B-Schools interface, contribution of the alumni, governance and accountability shall be the most important parameters to evaluate the  core competence and relevance of management education provided by a B-Schools. Now a question  arises as to whether how many B-Schools across the country are ready or having preparedness to meet the benchmark set by the global B-School leaders. It is a high time to ponder over these issues.  A B-School which shall  not be able to meet the criteria set for performance evaluation cannot sustain and survive under changed scenario  and only those who can pass this litmus test shall exist. Indian education governance is highly centralized and there are multiple governing bodies . Time is  witness to say that they have failed to give good academic governance in terms of creativity and contemporary relevance.
The centralized governance structures are not suitable to  meet the contemporary challenges that a corporate world faces . It is only a few  higher educational institutions  from India  who have   a place  in the list of global  ranking of academic excellence.  B-Schools  are based on the philosophy of the  economists and not that of the professional  models of   Accountants (Professional Accountants like CA/CMA),  Lawyers and Medical Practitioners. They are meant for diagnosis  of the trouble and instant delivery of treatment  in order to  cure the disease.  Quality of the faculty hired is very important and faculty hired should have the attribute of  industrial experience, communicating and teaching ability and high quality of research outputs. International exposure can be an added advantage.  Case study analysis,  practical training in the form of internships  for  a longer duration at least equivalent  one semester along with project handling experience is  a must. The quality control mechanism of B-Schools is very weak.  The mushrooming growth  in management institutions in the country has  declined the quality of the management graduates. There is no mandatory requirement for quality maintenance  of the management institutes after obtaining the approval of the AICTE for commencing a particular programme. NBA is an arm of AICTE which evaluates the standards of the management programmes in the country but it is optional. Management institutes and programmes are poorly governed and hardly meet the global standard benchmarks. Now the  management  education delivery system needs a thorough revamping and reformation. A transformational change from the grass root level is necessary for  taking corrective measures.  Moreover, academic freedom  is a necessity for  having flexibility in decision making  for running the day to day affairs of the management institutions.
Currently some of the IIMs are playing  mentorship roles for  certain young IIMs but that should not remain  restricted at IIMs level only. IIMs should play the guiding  and mentoring roles  for  other B-Schools in the country too besides  young IIMs.  Comparatively, IIMs do have better infrastructure , ambience and qualified faculty with industry and practical exposure and that is why  management graduates from IIMs are preferred to non-IIM management graduates by the corporate world. But IIMs have  annual intake capacity around 3,500 MBA aspirants only. India is a vast country and abode of 130 crores people and her requirement is also diverse.  Therefore, non-IIM B-Schools also have a role to play in the socio-economic development of the country.
(The author is  Professor of Management, School of Business,                  Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra,           Jammu & Kashmir.)
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