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By Way2k Way2k
Way2k 29 Sep 2012
Is management education serving its purpose?

The story is attributed to Swami Vivekananda that a young man who hailed from a rich family and had completed his education, approached the Saint and said, “Swamiji, every young man only wants to earn, grab and get more and more. I wish to give to society instead of taking from it. I need your guidance about how to give to society.” The youth was shocked when Vivekananda told him, “Fine. First go out and start earning some money.” He protested, “I didn’t expect you, a sage, to say this to me,” and the sage replied, “You can never give away anything unless you have earned it. Learn how difficult it is to earn, and then decide whether you will give away even a part of it.”

Is management education serving its purpose?

This highlights the approach that any young and upwardly mobile Indian should take at the threshold of his professional life –develop the capacity to earn, understand its value, and then learn how to spend it wisely. One need not become an ascetic to find a deeper purpose in life, but one needs to understand the actual benefits of being ethical and upholding the highest of values. I personally learnt this lesson very well when decades ago I was graduating from IIT. The British CEO of a multinational known as GKW had come to interview some of my classmates for campus recruitment. He casually asked the first one, “How much phosphorus is there in phosphor bronze?” Despite being a Metallurgist, my friend did not know.

But not wanting to cut a sorry figure, he hazarded a wild guess. “Around …. 25%, sir?” The gentleman said, “Yes, absolutely right!” and let him go. He came out and shared this with seven other classmates who were waiting to go in. None of them knew the answer. The Englishman kept asking the same question during his interview to each one of them, and they all parroted the same answer with great confidence. At the end, the CEO came out and addressed the boys. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I would have loved it if you had been truthful and told me that you do not know the answer. But you copied one after another and tried to bluff me. I would not like to have people like this interacting with me day in and day out in my company.

Let me tells you, Young Men, that there is NO phosphorus in phosphor bronze, and there is NO job for you in GKW. Good Day!” and he walked off. What do we learn from this incident, if anything? Do we realise that if one boy had the courage of conviction to admit frankly that he did not know the answer, he would have landed a cushy job in a multinational company? These principles may not be taught in many B-Schools, but they do form a part of the business practices of some of the most illiterate but successful businessmen. Management education has proliferated all over the country, both at degree and post-graduation level.

The BBM or BBA degree serves as a good foundation to get a feel and overview of management, but certainly does not make a person an independent and competent manager. Slowly there is a feeling that MBA is also degenerating to that level, partly because of the proliferation of unprofessional B-schools, and partly due to the syllabus and topics getting outdated. Thankfully due to the slowdown of the economy and slipping demand for management courses, many institutes are waking up to tighten their belts and are ensuring that they provide quality education.

Dr. M. J. Xavier, the director of IIM-Ranchi, has gone on record expressing concern that even the top B-schools need to improve and evolve. The personal touch to empower students is being given importance in colleges. Prof. Ramgopal Srinivas of MP Birla Institute of Management is one such concerned teacher who is initiating a 'mentoring system' for students, so that selected and sensitive faculty members are trained to give individual attention to the needs and growth of the students. A shake-out is expected in the coming years, with only the best surviving, but until then any student seeking admission for management education needs to ascertain whether the course and institution will really add value to him as a manager and as a human.

Courtesy: DNA India

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