A considerable amount of thought is being directed at management and the way it is being taught. Recently, The Economist expressed the global concern about business schools by bemoaning their proliferation. It suggested that the only way for students to distinguish themselves is to aim for the most prestigious schools. Spurred by the dearth of jobs in the finance sectors, careers advisers have been steering graduates into unfamiliar terrains, such as the government and the non-profit world.
In India, there has been an unbelievable proliferation of B-schools. Just drive up any of the highways leaving Delhi and you will see huge edifices proclaiming “Institutes of Management and Technology”. Even as one leaves Santiniketan, one comes across the building of the Bengal Institute of Technology and Management. Reportedly, there are 2,500 B-schools in India, of which 1,999 are registered with the All India Council for Technical Education. The large number of B-Schools raises doubts about their standards and makes one fear that they may suffer the same fate as the one that befell the medical colleges registered under the superseded regulatory body. With their record of placements and the diminishing intake of students in the last two years, the promoters must be worried about the servicing of their capitals.
At first, one used to marvel at the aspirants’ ability to pay two lakh rupees every year as tuition fee. In ‘shining India’, ample bank loans seem to have fixed this problem. But the truly amazing question, for which there has been no answer yet, is this: from where do the institutes —other than the top schools — get their faculty? Management educators are supposed to provide a mix of theory and practice. From personal knowledge, I know that the right combination does not exist. Most teachers spout theories, and students memorize them before examinations. It is often forgotten that the ‘A’ in ‘MBA’ stands for ‘administration’.
Perhaps one must seriously examine the possibility of diverting the investments made in the B-schools that are going to face closure into the setting up of effective teachers’ training colleges in management with two-year programmes, alternating periods of work with classroom teaching. This should be the prime task of the AICTE and its likely successor under the guidance of the All India Management Association. Courses should also be designed for those who are already employed. At present, there is much more emphasis on the knowledge to be acquired than on the pupil who has to do the learning.What the country needs is a single national objective rating of all B-schools, covering their quality and specific strengths. The admission to all registered B-schools should be routed through a national test. Only then can B-schools become agents of change.