Is the current Education System relevant?

Today, I attended my son’s annual day celebrations. He is 3 years old. Part of the celebrations included him and his classmates performing on stage. Seeing him dance and wave his hands in the air on the stage reminded me of my first stage performance.

Continue reading “Is the current Education System relevant?”

Rising Cost of Higher Education

Came across this infographic in my email, worth sharing and something to mull over.

Cost of Higher Education

Interesting to note that the incremental costs of a higher capitation does not necessarily translate into commensurate incremental benefits. Is brand value in education at such a premium?

I remember when I was in IIM Indore, the fees were fairly low and I was happy to get into a first grade b-school at less than 4 lakhs INR. These days when I see the fees, I tell the MBA aspirants that forget a b-school degree, the opportunity cost would be too high. Shouldn’t this rising cost of higher education consolidate somewhere and correct its ever rising trend?

What do you think?

A Question of Ethics

Disclaimer: I do not have anything personal against IITians, in case you are one, then I am not judging YOU, do not take this personally. This is certainly not an IIT bashing post, but I prefer to think of it as a call to action. In case you have some clout in those areas, please think this through and do correct me if I am passing assessment based on the wrong sample set.

In the last couple of years, I have had both the fortune and misfortune of knowing IITians. Fortune because these people have raw brain power … the CAT although is the most competitive exam, but the IIT-JEE is the real test of thinking and application. Anyone who has cracked the JEE on his own merit, is definitely intelligent (although I can’t make such claims for all the people who have cleared the CAT ;-)).

The national institutes (IITs and the IIMs) are a haven of variety, and were created to be an incubation center of the nations next generation of talent. Due to it’s separation from the surrounding environment, and policies … these institutes have also become an eco-system having their own flavor.

Yes, talent is nurtured and given guidance. Some of them do great things … but do they teach things like Ethics in such places? I doubt it.

Of all the IITians I have met in the past (and there’s a lot of them), all of them have indulged in unethical behavior. From simple copying someone else’s notes, to downright corporate espionage. From avoiding taxes to downright embezzlement. From speaking a harmless lie to generate some laughter to downright filing a wrong criminal case.

It’s not a one off case that I am citing here, its 7-8 different people of different ages and in different circumstances. There is absolutely no qualm for breaking the law, or what’s ethically right. Perhaps its ignorance, but it could also be indifference.

You may say that they have their own set of moral code, but that code seems to be based on the premise of individual superiority over the rest. Which seems logical since they have been hearing the same thing over and over again – a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. I am not the moral police, but a basic level of ethics needs to be inculcated into the raw talent of the country.

They should follow the Spiderman quote –

With great power comes great responsibility.

Batch of 2005

IIM Indore

The world of business talks fondly of the batch of 1989 from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. This is due to the fact that a lot of participants in this class turned towards entrepreneurship and launched successful ventures of their own. The likes of Sanjeev Bhikchandani of, Rashesh Shah of Edelweiss Capital and many more.

Yesterday I was talking to some of my seniors, and suddenly there has been a tipping point in almost 30% of their careers. These 30% have left their well paying cushy jobs and started on the road to entrepreneurship. Some of them have already made a name for themselves, some of them are in the making.

I wish them all the best and hope that the batch of 2005, IIM-I is someday as famous (if not more) as the batch of 1989, IIM-A!

Careers: Visibility is not the only problem

One of my assumptions about career design lays shattered today. I thought that students do not have visibility into their next career spaces, and that is why there is so much confusion in the careers area.

However, after reading this post by Rashmi Bansal, it’s not just career visibility that is the problem, but also something else. In the post Rashmi has put down her conversation with an ambitious fellow. This fellow is an engineer (aren’t they all!!) working in an IT MNC firm (you knew this would be there) and wanting to work in a finance role such as i-banking or analyst (surprise, surprise). For this purpose, he has done enough research on the pros and cons of giving the CAT, doing an MS from IIT Madras and doing a PhD from a US University.

The boy has done his research, at one point Rashmi tells him to do give the CAT and to do an MBA from the IIMs; to which the boy replies that he wishes to do a PhD due to a demand-supply difference in the no. of PhD students v/s the no. of IIM grads.

All said and done, the boy is still in a quandary and hell bent on doing a PhD. Interestingly enough, all his choices can get him there. So the visibility is not stopping him, then what is? It’s fear.

Fear of making the wrong choice. He wants to foist off the choice making to someone has informed as Rashmi Bansal. In his latest book, even Seth Godin has touched upon this point. It’s fear that makes us fit in. Here the boy is talking about PhD because less people are doing it, but he is afraid of fitting in – because if he makes the wrong choice, then he will be singled out.

Alumni Meet

IIM Indore

3986014805_17c34bdae8_b Last weekend was IIM-Indore’s alumni meet. Unlike the older IIM’s, we at Indore have this event every year for all the batches. And generally its one huge event in the calendar of the institute. This time was no different. For me, it was a whole new experience altogether.

My first alumni meet was in 2006, when I was a newly graduated “distinguished” member of my alma  matter. I knew everyone of my juniors, and even quite a few of their juniors. I knew all the seniors as well, so for me the meet was one big jalsa. I have fond memories of that meet … until this year.

Due to some reason or the other, I was unable to go to the next three alumni meets. During that time the institute had grown, it had doubled the intake of its students, teachers had changed, traditions had changed … and so had the culture. A young IIM does not have it’s fair share of P&G’s and BCG’s. Now we are not the youngest anymore … needless to say, things have changed.

I was aware of this, yet I decided that it’s time that I pay the alma matter a visit. As always, this involved talking to a lot of friends and rounding them up for buying tickets to Indore … some agreed straightaway (notably Amit Sharma amongst them), some complained that they already had other plans, and some said they will make it. Nevertheless, I had decided to go … and go I shall.

So off we go, October 3rd saw Amit and I in Indore going towards the mole hill. Lo behold, from far off, it looked still the same, a little bit weathered, but still the same old mole hill. I had big plans laid out for the weekend, in a nutshell it involved friends, loads of nostalgia, liters of booze and some good music and drunken dancing on the Melting Pot. Registration was fairly quick, there was some minor hassle about getting clean rooms and some beds and bed sheets … but that’s okay, we weren’t supposed to sleep anyway!! We were here to dance the night away!!! Except for one teensy-weensy hitch … apart from us two, no one else form my batch of 2006 had shown up … and the same for the batches of 2005 and 2007!!

By evening that day it was apparent that we were the most senior alumni there!! Brrr … I still get a shiver up my spine when the realization strikes me again … and again. All the traditions that we were a part of, were suddenly no longer being followed … the feeling instead of being one coming back to one’s home changed to one intruding someone else’s home. The alumni committee and the students were a welcoming lot though, all credit to them. But as someone has said, the people make the place … I couldn’t agree more. Just that those people were no longer there, the place wasn’t the same.

The feeling of loneliness in a throng of people was even more pronounced when we were asked to inaugurate the event. An honor generally kept for the most senior alumni, the oldies. OMG!! That’s me right there … lighting the lamp. In a tumult of emotions I realized that this was one thing which I would have relished doing had I been some guru in management, or atleast with enough grey hair on my head. Not when I am in my late twenties!! At least let me deserve it before I get to claim it :-)

I do not have the guts to go on, possible Amit can tell you more on this experience. Or I might come back and finish off this post some time later. Yes, and the photo that you see above is the academic block’s main entrance taken by Amit.

PS – The world’s best phirni is still available at Nafees, Indore :-)

Remember the Teacher

I was reading my feeds when I came across –

A Teacher on the Front Line as Faith and Science Clash and Now THERE’s a Teacher

Takes you back to movies like To Sir, with Love, doesn’t it? Just that the students are not half that bad. What often moves or works against the teacher are the preconceived notions of the students. In our lifetimes as students hell bent to finish the term as soon as possible, we sometimes forget the main task at hand – knowledge and learning.

I remember one of my Services Marketing professors in this regard, Prof. Ram Kumar, who was the faculty at IIM-A. In the second lecture, he gave us senior students as quiz, one simple question – “What is services marketing?”

Having finished our preliminary year with a lot of poppycock, we had learned the management mantra and more than eager to try it out. At the end of the quiz, Ram Kumar made us write a textbook definition of the same, 20 times on the back side of the question paper. Honestly, I felt like a school kid. The only thought that was going through all our collective minds was – “This is what they do at IIM-A, huh?” or “All this effort for doing this?”. The rest of the course was awesome, with presentations and assignments which made us think … no, really think. Come out with ideas, collaborate, discuss the merits and demerits of different services, and most importantly, learn to ask the question Why?

At the end of the course, the last session had us sitting in the class, with one minor change. The class’ mike was attached to a mini stereo system. Our disastrous quiz papers were distributed amongst the class … I was staring at my bad handwriting and wondering, what am I to do with this paper? Ram Kumar, then hit the stereo’s play button … and asked us to tear up the quiz sheet where we had expressed our rote learning and throw them in the air. The background music was – Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd.

Tearing up a piece of paper never felt that good.