Saturday, February 2, 2008


Just read this in DNA .Could not resist keeping a copy on my blog
This was written by R.Jagganath

The Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) has done the country proud by figuring in the Top 20 of the Financial Times ranking of B-schools.
The surprise is not that the ISB made it in just about six years of existence, but that the much-hyped Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are nowhere in the pecking order. Perhaps, they didn’t participate; perhaps they couldn’t care less; but it’s a shame.
The broad reason for this is clear: being owned by the government is like the kiss of death. The IIMs are dying a slow death, though this is not apparent from the numbers still dying to get in every year.
There is little innovation or research coming from the IIMs despite 45 and more years of existence. I wouldn’t expect much from them unless they manage to get the government off their backs.
The ISB, on the other hand, could go one-up precisely because it’s a free agent. It is not accredited to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — which tells you a lot about the council’s competence.
In recent years, the council has approved hundreds of B-schools that ought not to be allowed to exist. It is neither equipped nor eligible to undertake the task of judging B-schools and their curricula.
It is at best another manifestation of the licence-permit raj in education. It needs to be scrapped. B-schools would probably be better off letting the market decide which ones perform a useful function and which ones don’t.
The ISB is succeeding because, unlike the IIMs, it actually has to compete for students. Especially given its high fee structure (annual costs of Rs17-20 lakh). The ISB did two or three things that are unconventional. One, it placed a premium on work experience, with the average work experience of its students being five years.
At the IIMs, most students wouldn’t even have seen the insides of an office before enrolling. How can you teach management to someone who hasn’t managed one single person in his life?
Two, by making the course a 12-month affair, the ISB opened up an entirely new market for experienced professionals who can’t afford to hang around campuses for two years.
The IIMs are now scurrying to fill this gap in the market. Three, the school deliberately chose autonomy by rejecting the AICTE’s accreditation. It took some courage to cock a snook at the babus, but it also made sense: the AICTE brings no value to the institutions it approves. Its dhobi-mark is no guarantee of quality education.
As for the IIMs, they are unlikely to hit the big time — never mind their larger-than-life presence in India — as long as they have to kow-tow to babus and visionless bosses like Murli Manohar Joshi (HRD minister in the NDA government), and Arjun Singh (the present incumbent).
The IIMs still produce hundreds of MBAs who get picked up by the corporate sector for mouth-watering salaries, but this has little to do with what the IIMs themselves do.
The IIMs, and the IITs, to a lesser extent, produce great alumni because they have developed a fantastic sieving process to keep out all but the extremely gifted. After selecting the best among the best, it would take a really lousy institution to subtract value from them. Put another way, it is the students who add value to the IIMs, and not the other way round.
If I were an Indian (or multinational) business house, I would recruit people immediately after they pass their CAT exams; what the IIM does to their job market value after CAT is minimal. By recruiting after CAT, companies would not only get cheaper products, but also less inflated egos.