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INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, RANCHI

What strikes one most as one enters the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi (IIM-R), is the conspicuous absence of campus. While most IIMs are endowed with a sprawling campus, this new institute still operates out of two floors of Suchana Bhavan, a government office building in Ranchi.

The institute started operating two years ago but a full-fledged campus is yet to come up because the allocated land is embroiled in a legal dispute. “Lack of a proper campus has put a spanner in our expansion plans,” says M.J. Xavier, the director of IIM-R.

Ironically, the crisis has turned into an opportunity for the institute. Lack of adequate classrooms forced the administration to depend heavily on online learning. “As networked learning is now a world-wide phenomenon, it is time to move to an online model. Massive open online courses introduced by top global institutes reinforce the redundancy of a physical campus in higher education,” says Xavier.

Learning Management System (LMS), pioneered by Xavier, helps students learn through videos, conduct online chats with teachers, classmates and even get themselves assessed, on the lines of social networking sites.

LMS also helps address the dearth of permanent faculty members on the campus. Since there are only seven full-time faculty members, the institute has to rely heavily on a large pool of visiting professors, mostly from IIM-Calcutta — the mentor institute for IIM-R. “Lectures are videographed and students interact with teachers online.” According to Xavier, this module encourages students to ask a lot of questions and keeps them on their toes.

Unlike the older IIMs, IIM-R focuses more on local case studies and is rooted to local needs. “We want to shed the image that IIMs are elitist and students only prepare themselves to work for multinational companies. Through internship with government departments in Jharkhand, we want to send a message that students are socially sensitive and have concerns for civil society,” says Xavier. Partnership between the institute and the state — a relatively backward one — is mutually beneficial.

To promote entrepreneurship among rural people, the institute has introduced a unique ‘barefoot manager’ programme. Says Amarendu Nandy, assistant professor, “This is a video-based 15-day programme that provides opportunity to illiterate people to learn management concepts.” Students are actively involved so that they can learn the realities of rural India. “We are thinking in terms of regional development and inclusive growth. We are trying to produce managers who not only think about profit margins but are also sensitive to the needs of society,” says Subir Verma, dean, academics.

The institute is now planning to foray into new areas of management. “The new research centres in business analytics, neuromanagement and inclusive growth will help us stay ahead in management education,” says Ashis Hajela, a faculty member.

The most striking attribute of the institute is its student-driven culture. Says Vishal Ravikumar, a second-year PGDM student, “We help organise conferences, manage the canteen and maintain liaison with the corporate world for summer jobs.”

The students, in fact, are decision-makers even in administration. Says Shubhankar Rai, an alumnus of the first batch (2012), “When we joined IIM-R we didn’t have a logo, a website or even a director. So, we had to take a lot of initiatives on our own to help build the IIM-R brand. We travelled across the country to create awareness about our institute in the industry. We also invited more than 50 guest lecturers from top corporate houses.” Rai now works as manager (business development), Godrej Boyce, Bangalore. Rai’s batchmate Vijay Krishna who now works as assistant manager, (operations), Maruti Suzuki, Gurgaon, says, “As we had to build the institute from scratch, we were infused with an entrepreneurial spirit.”

No wonder, all 46 students of the batch are well placed in the industry with a median starting salary of Rs 12.5 lakh per year.

All said and done, students miss a permanent campus. The hostel is also 8km away in a makeshift sports complex. A student of the third batch laments, “God knows when we’ll shift to a new campus. But this odd location gives us the opportunity to participate in a variety of games and sports.”

Vital Statistics

WHAT IS IT?

A premier management institute, the ninth from the IIM stable

WHO’S THE BOSS?

M.J. Xavier is the director

Where is it?

Suchana Bhavan, Ranchi, Jharkhand,

Phone: (0651) 2280113

Website: www.iimranchi.ac.in

Pros

Focus on local case studies, technology-enabled novel courses, mentored by IIM-Calcutta

CONS

No permanent campus, few full-time faculty members, not counted among the top IIMs by a section of industry

PRASUN CHAUDHURI