The MBA degree is the most sought after degree in India.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of students apply to the Indian Institutes of Management, and only hundreds are selected for the course.

The standards of education in each of the IIMs is very high indeed.  The students are taught through the case method, and the students have access to the most advanced concepts and the research pertaining to any concept at any point in time.

However, the standards of the MBA degree offered by most Universities in India, have repeatedly declined in the past few years, and has now touched rock bottom.

There are many reasons for this decline. 

Firstly, the authorities who frame the syllabus are far removed from the realities of the Corporate world.  They do not understand what is going on, and are not at all updated with the various techniques and latest concepts that rule the Corporate world.

For example, a superb topic such as Core Competence is just mentioned in the passing in many a syllabus of Strategic Management in India.  However, in the IIMs, there are serious debates on whether this concept can be applied in India, what are the various success stories like for example, ITC, where the concept has really taken off, how to build such competencies on a mass scale, what benefits will accrue to any organization, if they are serious about implementing the concept and so on.

Hence, the doors and windows of Core Competence, in practice, open very wide for those in the IIIMs, who are benefit through and by live lectures from very practical managers who are so successful in building such competencies.

However, this never happens in the Universities, and the students are left far behind in terms of both conceptual understanding and the practical orientation as well.

Secondly, the Universities have always tended to start and run the MBA course as an extension of the Master's Degree Course in Commerce.  The teachers who have a commerce background are hardly the types who can do any serious research in the Indian context.  Worse, they are woefully  inadequate in terms of understanding what it takes to build a good Manager, in the Indian context.  The theory orientation of the MBA course in Indian universities, continues unabated, and the result is absolute chaos.

Thirdly, whenever and wherever any new methodologies of teaching emerge, the MBA teachers do not understand such techniques and do not understand the realities of such changes, or the importance of such changes.

For instance, far removed from the shackles of the University syllabus and the restrictive nature of the whole System, there are many standalone B schools where the students learn to do things differently, by studying for the Post Graduate Diploma in Management.  This PGDM course is affiliated to the All India Council for Technical Education ( AICTE).  

The institute if free to frame its own syllabus and it can bring in new electives.  The teachers are often from the industry, and really attempt to bring in a very big industry orientation.  These main changes help the students to learn what is really required by the industry and quickly adapt themselves to change.  

However, the University authorities often frown upon these students and the teachers and the authorities as well, and do not attempt to change at all.  Even in big cities like Chennai, where the PGDM has really taken off, the University of Madras colleges do not have any big standards to boast of.  This pathetic situation is not at all disturbing to the students, who study to just the MBA degree at any cost, even if the degree is of dubious quality. 

 Fourthly, the students themselves do not take any effort to update their knowledge.  There is a big thriving business in terms of bazaar notes happily dished out by some local publisher or the other, and most of these are highly exam oriented.  There is no attempt to even take up a single case study in any of notes.

Fifthly, the teachers of the University colleges, merely go through the rituals, as there is absolutely no check or accountability on the standard of the MBAs coming out.  The teachers are paid their salaries anyway, by the Government, and even if the teacher is in a quasi-Government institution, he or she is very happy dishing out just what is contained in the syllabus.

There are many other reasons, but the main reasons have been mentioned in the aforesaid paragraphs.

To stem the rot that is already in place, one has to undertake a massive reform of the whole process of teaching.  The IIMs, and another twenty  B schools in India -- at least six of these are in Mumbai -- would do well, to pitch in with their expertise,  The Government should bring in the "Mentoring" concept, so that each of these top twenty B schools virtually adapts at least three State Universities, and suggests to the State Government, the drastic improvements needed in the syllabus and methodology of teaching.

Once this is done, the State Universities will also be able to measure up to the standards of the better B schools.  There ought to be a huge amount of autonomy given to these B schools, to bring in drastic reform.

For example, if the TA Manipal Institute of Management, is given the authority to Mentor the Bangalore and Mangalore Universities, the entire scenario can change for the better,

Similarly, if the Bharadidasan Institute of Management is given the authority to Mentor the Bharadidasan and the Tiruvalluvar Universities, it will be a great experience for the institutions under these Universities.

Another point that may be considered is to have a Government-initiated process of industry-institute collaboration, that can help the B schools teachers take a one year sabbatical, go to some good organization and get hands-on experience.  During this one year, the organization may be required to pay fifty percent of the salary of the teacher, while the rest could come from the institute.  In this fashion, the teachers will be far better equipped to handle the case studies and this can also bring about a welcome change.

The industries can also supply a good number of trained HR professionals, who can train the teachers o soft skills, which is one area of deep concern.  Once this happens, the teachers will be able to impart these to the students, and the quality of the MBA degree can drastically improve.

Huge organizations like Infosys Technologies, may be roped in to suggest ways and means in which the industry experts in IT, for example, can share their huge reservoir of knowledge, to open up far better vistas of knowledge and skill sharing.

The scope is very wide, but unless one makes a start, one can go nowhere.  We all need to wake up and do something, very urgently. 



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