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Degrees or basics? Make a choice

An engineering degree topped up with an MBA is just a gate pass to a job, Sandip Ghose, the director of the National Institute of Securities Markets, told young management students last week.

But no one’s going to “look at that qualification once you join a job… rather it would depend on what you did with that qualification”, he said at the Calcutta Management Association in association with The Telegraph presents Moneymatters, an essay competition on “An analysis of the present Indian financial market and three suggested major areas of reform” at the ICC Towers.

He said the bulk of the management students have engineering background in this age of “academic inflation” where good communication skills, not a surfeit of degrees, could keep one in good stead in the corporate world.

The man who had spent three decades with the Reserve Bank of India said the RBI was overwhelmed with 7.5 lakh applications after it advertised for 1,000 clerical positions three years ago. “About 5,000 came for the interview and each one was an MBA engineer. Three of them were full-fledged doctors. We are living in an age of academic inflation. We are picking up degrees and qualifications without knowing where they are leading us,” he added.

Ghose said reading, writing and speaking skills were the keys to surviving in the corporate world. “These skills are becoming rare… Each and everyone of us who goes through 16-18-20-24 years of education should be very comfortable with these basic skills but this does not happen.”

Ghose travelled back in time when mobile phones had just entered India to make a point. “When I first went to Mumbai in 1995 from Patna, which was a place of posting I had with the RBI, you had to wait for three years on Tatkal to get a telephone connection. In March that year, life changed and we had mobile phones. At that juncture we did not know that this instrument would take over 40 per cent of the life of young people. I would request you to treat it as a communication tool rather than to allow it to take over your life.”

Communication was the focus at the programme where teams from seven management institutes participated after clearing the prelims where 20 teams from 11 institutions were present.

Asok K. Banerjee, the chairman of IIM Calcutta Alumni Association and one of the judges at the event, asked the team from the Army Institute of Management if “you were the finance minister tomorrow will you follow the ‘Look East policy’ or ‘Look West policy’ or look nowhere policy?”

The answer propelled the team to first position: “The more developed economies like the US and the UK are reaching a saturation point. So it will be better for developing countries like India to engage with countries like Japan and other Southeast Asian countries where there is more scope for trade. Consequently, this will mean cash flow and that way deficit can be reduced.”

The Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (IISWBM) finished second while Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur, came third.