B -Schools Causing Inequity

Today most of the prospective students and their parents dream of IITs and IIMs. It didn’t happen so much in 60s. Most of the students from Presidency though selected in IIT went for higher science degrees. I still remember our senior Kamal Dutta who pursued physics. My own friend Ashoke Sengupta went to Bengal Engineering College. He had a preference for the civil engineering and the college was rated the best in the subject. I joined IIT, Kharagpur and selected mechanical engineering. I don’t remember if any of my classmates from Presidency or IIT did try for any management degree. Many did get promoted and held responsible managerial positions. Didn’t we become good managers? Would have we been a better manager with present management education?

I consider the craze for MBA education as damaging. The best brains, if the success in the entrance examinations of these institutes were a criterion, trained through a costly coaching system, are vying to enter IIMs. Even IITians and other professionals including medical graduates after four years of rigorous purely technical education prefer to complete the MBA course before entering the job market. Those who fail to get in the IIMs or some of the better-known B-schools of the country go to US. As per one estimate, between 10 and 15% of US B-school graduates are of Indian origin (this is true of B-schooll faculty too). Many who went to US for MS in engineering subjects as getting financial assistance was easier for that, later switched over for a MBA course.

Education was never so commercial before MBA degree got popularly demanded in crazy corporate houses of US and then in India. Japan never had any management schools. I wish someone had researched how the managers without MBA degree faired in actual working scenario. And now even an annual cost of Rs 2 million or more including fee at IIMs and ISB is meager considering the pay packet that it commands after completion. It is surprising, the aspirants as well as the parent start calculating the break-even period after starting the work. It may be insanely difficult to get entry because of immense competition, but after securing the entry only mad ones will leave it whatever may be the fee and over all cost. As someone said, “MBA is a business, big business for both student and colleges. Students calculate returns and consider MBA as a cash cow.” Somehow, I can’t relish education to be treated as business.

The big starting pay packets offered for MBAs are causing serious complexes among other professionals including in the teachers of the same B-schools who trained those graduates. Is there any justification for a twenty-fold fee differential between the IITs and IIMs?

It all started with the shortage of good colleges for higher professional education. At one time, the fee in private engineering and medical colleges used to be the highest. The demand for the seats in the few colleges of national importance used to be very high. The private colleges established by businessmen and politicians started making huge money to meet the demand even for very poor quality of education provided by them. And then came IIMs and very soon it build a brand that could get a very high starting salary for its students. Today, the medical education has lost its charm. The fees have tumbled, and seats go unfilled. It is when the medical practitioners are in great demand to man public health centers throughout the country. But the poor living conditions and the initial salary offered have additionally made it unattractive. IIMs and IITs have created another flourishing business of coaching. The best example gets manifested in the rise of Kota or through the huge hoardings in every small and big city.

The rise of IIMs has created a craze for huge initial salary in all professions that is harmful. Today an IAS, IPS officers are aggrieved. The officers in defence forces are getting demoralized.

India needs more of technocrats- good doctors, architects, chartered accountants, product-hardware and software designers, maintenance engineers, quality engineers, and millions of skilled hands to push the country on the growth path of prosperity for all and not for few. Industry must provide at least 40% more entry salary for those with Masters and 60% more for PhDs. Additionally it must take care of the salaries of teachers for the courses as prerequisite. I get shocked to hear that some unscrupulous teachers can get one a PhD at a cost and it is all because they feel marginalized in the education system.

I am not against the management education. However, it must be very specialized and continually innovating too. It should be meant for the sufficiently experienced people from the different professions, and not for any fresh graduates from any stream. And the fees for the courses should be dependent on the years of experiences and status attained at the existing workplace such as lower management, middle management, and senior management.

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