Tuesday, January 31, 2012

IIT JEE set to go, 40% weightage for Class 12

A common aptitude-cum-advanced knowledge test will replace the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) in 2013. Test scores will have 60 per cent weight in deciding admissions; school board marks will have 40 per cent. Test and board scores will determine admissions to all centrally funded engineering institutions. The common entrance exam, planned as a SAT-type test, is likely to be held online from 2014, and could be given twice a year, highly placed sources said. The paper test is likely to stay on until the online system stabilizes.

The NIT Council has approved the new format. All the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) have agreed too, and are likely to give their formal approval at a meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) on February 18. The Ministry if Human Resource Development (MHRD) has formed a committee of IIT directors and CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) officials to work out the modalities before the meeting. The ministry has been working on a common entrance format for over a year, with the aim of reducing the stress of taking multiple tests for students just out of Class 12, checking the coaching business which promotes learning by rote, and reinforcing the importance of school education.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal plans to take the proposal to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) to help build acceptability and consensus for the common entrance test among state governments. “The common entrance exam will have two elements — simple aptitude testing to assess scholastic levels, and an advanced section which a student can choose to either continue with or skip,” said a source.

“This test will essentially produce only scorecards for each student, and the concerned institute will then decide how it will use the 60 per cent weight — say, an IIT can rely more on scores achieved on the advanced level section than on aptitude. It could be a 30-30 aptitude-advanced knowledge format for IITs, and 40-20 for NITs,” the source said. “While AIEEE and JEE will go, the JAB and the Central Counselling Board (CCB) will stay to work on these finer points and modalities of admission.”

The JEE currently decides admissions to the 15 IITs; the AIEEE to the 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), 4 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), and 5 Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs). A host of private engineering and technical institutes in the states also use AIEEE scores. Over 1 million students apply for AIEEE and 500,000 for JEE every year.

Source: The Indian Express, January 31, 2012

ISB slips in FT rankings, IIM-A retains ground at 11th

The Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) has slipped seven places to rank at 20 from 13th position in the Global Top MBA Rankings 2012 released by Financial Times, London. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, (IIM-A), which debuted last year, with its one-year post graduate programme for executives (PGPX), has cling on to its 11th position in the FT rankings.

ISB and IIM-A are the only Indian business schools featured on the FT rankings, as B-Schools which participate in the rankings must be internationally accredited and the management programme must have run for at least four consecutive years. This year, 150 B-Schools participated.

While FT-ranked IIM-A, as the top business school in terms of career progression, ISB stood at 29th position for the same. The weighted salary of IIM Ahmedabad stands at $175,076 whereas the weighted salary for ISB is $129,512.

"While the rankings are based on multiple parameters, the one area where we were ranked number one in the whole world was in career progression of our students. It is because of this that we have been able to maintain our 11th rank in the global MBA list brought out by FT," said Saral Mukherjee, chairperson of PGPX at IIM-A.

IIM-A’s weighted salary is marginally up this year by $636, closing to Harvard Business School whose weighted salary is $178,249. The weighted salary for ISB on the other hand is $129,512, down by 3.64 per cent.

In terms of value for money parameter, IIM-A is ranked at 29th and ISB stood at 52. The overall salary percentage increase at IIM-A is 140 per cent, down by 12 per cent, compared to last year's increase. ISB on the other hand recorded salary percentage increase of 177 per cent this year.

One of the factors for ISB's comparatively overall lower rank may be its lack of participation in the doctoral rank category in which IIM-A has scored 52nd rank. Also, the IIM-A's research rank was 92 this year, 11 positions below ISB's 70th rank.

US-based Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and University of Pennsylvania's Wharton are ranked first, second and third respectively. China's Hong Kong UST Business School is ranked tenth and National University of Singapore's School of Business is ranked 23rd.

"Movement in rankings is very common and year-to-year variation happens all the time. You will have to understand that there are a large number of factors and each school makes changes in each factor over a period of time. Also these factors are closely clubbed together. So, you will see some huge swings in rankings. We, however, look at specific things like research ranking, where we have moved up and would want to be in the top 50. Also, so long as we remain among the top schools, we are satisfied," said Ajit Rangnekar, Dean ISB.

Source: Business Standard, January 31, 2012

The B-School Hall of Fame

Indian School of Business (ISB) lost seven places to finish at 20 and Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) retained the 11th rank in the Financial Times, London, Global MBA Rankings for 2012.

Stanford Graduate School of Business topped the rankings for the first time, dethroning London Business School. ISB is in august company, though, sharing its rank with Yale School of Management and University of Oxford.

"The drop of seven does not bother me. Rankings are based on parameters not in our control," says ISB Dean Ajit Rangnekar. "These are world-class B-schools. You have to be in the top set."

IIM-A graduates, three years after passing out, earned the fourth highest salary and enjoyed the best career progress among all B-schools even though it ranked 11th in the overall rankings. The FT rankings are based on data across 20 parameters.

Source: The Economic Times, January 31, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Now UK schools woo Indian students

Till now it has been universities and colleges from overseas sending delegations to woo Indian students for higher education. In a new trend, a delegation of headmasters of UK independent boarding schools are on a visit to India to explore the growing need of parents with means, willing to provide quality education to their children even though it comes at a cost.

A significant increase in the number of enquiries from parents in India about school and secondary education in the UK in the recent past was what prompted the visit. For education that costs a premium, between 20,000 and 55,000 a year, it came as a surprise to the visiting delegation that more than two-thirds of the parents they met in Mumbai and other parts of the country were not worried about affordability.

What they want is, like a parent aptly mentioned, to enable our children to be able to create a better future for themselves than leave them an inheritance, says Julie Dowling, headmistress, Abbots Bromley School. Caitriona Redding, head of international admissions, Oundle School, says that besides proficiency in English and in science and mathematics, what schools look for is also talent in a child which might not be fully formed and also not necessarily academic like dance or arts.

Mark Heywood, headmaster, The Royal Wolverhampton School, says that his school already has six students from India, four hailing from Punjab and two from rural Rajasthan. Parents in India understand that children will get a global perspective and build future contacts when they study in schools that house children from as many as 23 nationalities, he says. He adds that similarities in education between India and UK, from similar curriculum and high aspirations of parents, to teachers wanting to give their best for each child, are many. State-of-the-art facilities and advanced technology, besides multiculturalism that a student is exposed to in these schools, help him/her in making the transition to the new environment smoother.

What the members of the consortium are also looking at are partnerships and collaborations for pupil and teacher exchanges with premier Indian schools to provide a first-hand exposure and enable knowledge exchange.

Source: The Times of India (Education Times), January 30, 2012

Search panel drags feet, UGC still headless

The selection of the chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been considerably delayed with the three-member search committee dragging its feet without reaching any concrete conclusions. The search committee has now sought an appointment with the human resources development (HRD) minister, Kapil Sibal, to seek some “unnecessary’’ clarifications regarding eligibility criteria of candidates in general and the age clause in particular.

Sources said that the reason for seeking clarification was that some candidates in the age range of 62-64 years also figured in the zone of consideration. The UGC Act, significantly, stipulates that the office of the UGC chairman shall be whole time and he/she shall “hold office for a term of five years or until he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier’’. Accordingly, the UGC chairman has to be appointed on a whole time basis and for the full term. The provision does not allow for interpretation knowingly or deliberately that a person could be appointed chairman for a period, which will not be one term of five years.

The appointment is, therefore, to be guided in that the identified incumbent should be able to serve five years in office and without exceeding the age of superannuation — 65 years. The stipulation in the advertisement given by the Ministry of HRD (MHRD) on this subject mentioned, “…nominees should be preferably below the age of 60 years’’. This appears to have also been guided by this principle. Non-adherence to this provision will tantamount to violation of the relevant stipulation in the UGC. Curtailment of full term due to an intervening factor such as superannuation or some unforeseen reasons of exit from the position would be an exception and not a rule.

The MHRD’s decision in the appointment of Prof. S.S. Mantha as the chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), made nearly a fortnight ago, supports the principle cited for the position of the UGC chairman. The AICTE chairman has been appointed for a full term of three years (as per the provision of the AICTE Act) by the ministry notwithstanding the introduction of the legislation about the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) in Parliament.

Sources said that attempt to get the age clause relaxed by the search committee could be to bring in some candidates who do not otherwise fulfil the criteria. Hectic lobbying is going on for this coveted position where the names of some vice chancellors who are facing an enquiry also figure. The long list of aspirants has amongst the front-runners a former vice chancellor who was overlooked for a similar position for the Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University last year.

Source: Hindustan Times, January 30, 2012

India to grant $1.5 million to Chicago varsity for Vivekananda Chair

India will provide a grant of $1.5 million to the University of Chicago to establish a Vivekananda Chair for Indian studies, as part of the initiatives to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the 19th century luminary, Swami Vivekananda, and polymath Rabindranath Tagore. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in this regard between Dean of University of Chicago (UOC) Martha Roth and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Culture Sanjiv Mittal, in the presence of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mr. Mukherjee on Sunday dedicated a plaque of Swami Vivekananda at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) and inaugurated a Tagore art exhibition here, to mark the 150th birth anniversaries of Swami Vivekananda and Tagore. The grant is meant to honour Swami Vivekananda's life and legacy and facilitate exchange of research scholars from/to India.

Martha Roth, Dean of the Humanities and the Chauncey S. Boucher Professor of Assyriology; and Dipesh Chakrabarty, the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations, also spoke about Swami Vivekananda's contribution to religious freedom, which opened the doors of religious tolerance between the East and the West. Also present was Chicago Consul-General of India Mukta Dutta Tomar. University students also performed dance and music at the event. The University also did a live webcast of the event that could be viewed from the “UChicago Live” tab in the UChicago Facebook page.

“Swami Vivekananda was practically India's first cultural ambassador to the United States,” Mr. Mukherjee said at Fullerton Hall, where Vivekananda had delivered the famous and historic address at the Parliament of the World Religions in 1893 to tremendous applause.

Source: The Hindu, January 30, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thinking heads: Indian-origin intellectuals heading global academic schools

The appointment of Soumitra Dutta as the head of the Ivy League business school of Cornell University is one more addition to elite club of Indian-origin intellectuals and thinkers occupying positions of importance in international institutions in the US and UK. Madeleine Sumption, policy analyst at Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Washington, attributes this growing number of Indian intellectuals to the growth of the Indian economy and its gradual opening up that has provided opportunities to Indian immigrants. "It's part of a broader success story of Indian immigrants," she says.

The Indian success story of academics is long, but now thanks to globalisation, there has been a huge influx of CEOs and IT experts from India. The phenomenon has helped India endorse itself as a brand. A MPI study further says the recent trend has branded India as a source of well-educated and hard working professionals, rather than a poverty ridden country of "snake charmers". Also, besides the higher level of education, the study says, proficiency in English has helped in better integration with foreign societies.

Though, the number of Indians who had moved to the US between 1820 and 1900 was no more than 700, according to MPI, presently the country has 2.8 million ethnic Indians. There are 1.3 million in Britain and 1 million in Canada and a large number of low or semi-skilled Indians in Gulf countries. In developed countries, a significant majority of them hold a bachelor's degree. While first generation Indians, highly skilled and distinct in adaptability to tough working conditions, have made their mark in management, academics and the IT sector, the second and third generation have raised the bar with their active presence in local politics, educational establishments and research centres in destination countries.

After globalisation and India's economic reforms, with all its shortcomings, Indians have been flourishing especially in the private sector. "India's soft power is its private sector entrepreneurs," says India-born UK parliamentarian, Lord Meghnad Desai. Talk about India's global presence, and a comparison with China is hard to evade. A recent study by talent management farm, DDI says that about 60% or more of the Indian leaders are found to be more effective than their Chinese counterparts when it comes to excelling in critical skills required for successful leadership.

But, the magic of Indians in the private sector internationally has not really transcended domestically, especially in the public sector. "In the West, India is now regarded as a competitive tiger when it comes to the private sector. It is the public sector which fails India at every turn," adds Desai. But, the increased spending on research and higher education in India is showing results. "Rome was not built in a day," says Director of Centre for Theoretical Physics in Jamia Millia Islamia, M. Sami, who rose to prominence after his paper on ‘Dynamics of Dark Energy' was included in the Nobel Prize committee document in 2011.

Many believe that while there is much focus on Indians in the West, intellectuals based in India are largely neglected. "The cumulative impact of the over focus on foreign institutions is to ignore people working wonderfully in different circumstances in India," says Pratap Bhanu Mehta, head of Centre for Policy Research, a Delhi-based think-tank. "There is also a disproportionate focus on business schools; the real Indian contribution is now in fields like mathematics, etc." Ashis Nandy, Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, who was chosen among 100 public intellectuals of the world by Foreign Policy magazine in 2008, says Indians go overboard in celebrating the success of Indian-origin emigrants. "Have you ever seen the French, German or Irish taking so much pride in their second and third generation migrants as we do?"

Rather, the obvious observation, experts suggest, is that proud Indians have come a long way now to achieve international acclaim. Many constructive policies which are now seeing light in other parts of the world are actually the contribution of Indian thinkers and intellectuals who formulated our initial five-year plans. For instance, says senior fellow at the New York-based think-tank, Council on Foreign Relations, Jagdish Bhagwati, "The UNDP thinks it invented these concerns when in fact its advisers from our subcontinent simply reproduced these concerns and objectives from what we had been doing for decades."

A 25 million strong Indian diaspora is a liability sometimes — in terms of brain-drain — and an asset at other times — for instance during market slowdown. The worldwide recession in 2008 complemented the positive trend for India. Another study by MPI shows that compared to others, Indians fared better during recession. The trend is that once immigrants become stable in host countries, they contribute to their home country. As Sumption puts, "Data is scarce, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the US-born children of immigrants have also begun to seek out opportunities in India in greater numbers."

Source: Hindustan Times, January 29, 2012

IIT B-schools to have single online portal for MBA applications

After doing away with the Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET) last year and embracing the Common Admission Test (CAT), the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are now planning a slew of measures to make their management programmes more attractive and sought after. Foremost on the list is to merge their application process and adopt a common online portal for admissions in MBA programmes.

“It would be ideal to have a single portal for inviting applications and coordination among all IITs to conduct group discussion and personal interview so that duplication of efforts is avoided and the entire process of admissions is simplified. As 70-80 per cent of the candidate pool is common among the IIT B-schools, it will be in a relief for both the institutes and the students. The IITs will end up utilising their efforts and resources in an optimum manner. Also, the candidates will not have to juggle at multiple places, saving time and expenses,” said M P Gupta, admissions coordinator at IIT Delhi’s Department of Management Studies.

Currently, candidates apply separately to each management programme of IITs, supplying almost the same data to all, with each application costing Rs. 1,500. The IIT B-schools which are planning to merge and have common application portals are Sailesh J Mehta School of Management (IIT-Bombay), Department of Management Studies (IIT-Delhi), Department of Management Studies (IIT-Roorkee), Vinod Gupta School of Management (IIT-Kharagpur) and Department of Management Studies (IIT-Madras). The common portal will be handled by IITs in rotation and in coordination with the IIM organising CAT. In the common process, candidates will be required to mention their preference order for IIT B-schools, probably similar to the B Tech admission process of IITs. With these plans, the next five years will be a period to watch out for these big-league management schools as the IITs.

These schools are also contemplating the launch of a new dual degree: a five-year course combining their B Tech and MBA programmes. The proposal is at an advanced stage of planning and is likely to be launched in July 2013. IIT students will be given an option to enter the dual degree programme in their second or third year, as most will take time to get the necessary exposure for such a decision. Interested students will be required to go through an internal group discussion and personal interview process, before qualifying for the dual degree. “Since many IIT students are already going on to do an MBA subsequently after passing out of IITs, why not give them an option to do so here? Also, IITs have the entire wherewithal to efficiently deliver MBA education, making it an easy process to implement,” added Gupta.

These B-schools are also revamping their curriculum. The B-schools want to make their curriculum more contemporary, with a heavy emphasis on global exposure. Another important change for candidates will be review of the admission criteria, with aim to simplify it and give chance to any graduate, not only engineers. Discussions are also on for offering MBAs with focus on emerging areas such as infrastructure, healthcare, public sector, international business, real estate, media etc. Executive MBA, a common feature of the programmes of major B-schools, is also on the table.

Source: Business Standard, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Xander Group founder Siddharth Yog gifts $11 million to Harvard Business School

On the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011 at 11:11 a.m., Siddharth Yog gifted $11 million as 'guru dakshina' to his professor Arthur I. Segel at the Harvard Business School, his alma mater. He added a dollar to that amount as 'shagun', or a token for good luck. The 38-year-old founder of Xander Group Inc., a global investment company focused on emerging markets that manages over $2 billion of equity capital, follows in the footsteps of prominent Harvard alumni who have given back to the business school that played a major role in moulding them into successful business people.

Other Indians to figure on that list include Anand Mahindra, Ratan Tata and Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy. In early October 2010, the Vice-Chairman & Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra had given $10 million to support Harvard's Humanities Center; days later, the Tata Group donated $50 million to fund a campus building; and earlier in the same year, the Murthy family gifted $5.2 million to publish 'The Murthy Classical Library of India'.

Yog's gift has its distinctive elements. For one, it figures amongst the single-largest personal gifts an Indian has made to Harvard University. For another, it follows the 'shishya-guru parampara', or the age-old Indian disciple-teacher tradition. "I can never thank Arthur enough for what he has taught me. The gift is to the institute and specifically to Arthur for bringing about a life-changing experience (in me)," said the class of 2004 alumnus in an interaction with this writer during a recent visit to New Delhi to be part of a lunch hosted by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust.

On his 30th trip to India in seven years, the guru, a co-founder and co-owner (between 1982 and 2001) of a private equity real estate development and investment advisory company, is a tad embarrassed by the 'guru dakshina'. "Teaching is such a joy... but the idea of a gift in my name is preposterous. It is very nice, but unnecessary," says Segel with a grin. Yog convinced the good professor to accept the offering by narrating the story of Eklavya from Mahabharata, who cut off his thumb and offered it as dakshina to his guru Dronacharya.

So why is this maverick - who now rubs shoulders with the likes of Tata, Mahindra, Murthy as well as western donors such as David Rockefeller - so indebted to Harvard University? Well, it's thanks to the university, and to Segel, that Yog turned entrepreneur. Before that, since 1993, Yog was involved in global real estate and infrastructure. Between 1999 and 2002, Yog was based in Singapore and Hong Kong as founder-director of CB Richard Ellis' (CBRE's) Asia-Pacific strategic consulting practice. Prior to that, from 1994 to 1998, he helped set up CBRE's India operations and led the consulting, valuation and research groups. He has also worked at Bain & Company in New York, Deutsche Bank Real Estate Investment Management GmbH in Frankfurt, and Feedback Ventures in New Delhi. But after nine years of working, Yog found himself asking the quintessential mid-career question: where do I go from here? Answer: the Harvard Business School, where he landed in 2002.

Segel recalls his first meeting with his shishya when Yog walked into his office at Harvard; Yog knew only real estate, and Segel taught the subject. "He was among the top students of his 900-strong batch," the professor recalls. Yog went on to write a case with Segel on real estate major Eldeco; Segel still teaches it. Like most regular MBA grads, whose next destination is a coveted job in the financial services industry, Yog was set to start JPMorgan Chase's private equity business in the Asia-Pacific after graduating in 2004. "But, as they say, life happens," recalls Yog.

In New Delhi to get his visa stamped, none other than Segel prodded Yog to start a business of his own. Yog, with Segel and a clutch of investors in tow, duly founded Xander Group Inc. The private equity business of the group has investments from Lord Rothschild's family, RIT Cap Partners, The Getty Family Trusts, and of course Segel and Yog, who is currently based in London. Over the past seven years, Xander Group has grown to 75-plus employees with offices in New Delhi, Singapore, London, Boston, Mauritius, Bangalore and Mumbai, among other outposts. The focus is primarily on companies and assets in real estate, retail, entertainment, infrastructure and hospitality.

Yog says the exposure to Lord Rothschild's philanthropy played a big part in his decision to give back to Harvard. "It was a desire to start early. As Steve Jobs said: stay hungry, stay foolish. I did that and I am hungry and foolish again." The gift of $11 million spans multiple Harvard schools and focuses on innovative science, educational access, public service and academic-public policy collaborations. The financial aid and fellowships have an India and emerging market focus, says Yog.

To be sure, India is top of mind for Yog. "The company is named after Alexander the Great, who first tried to marry East and West. The idea is to create an ecosystem between the East and the West and to tie back the opportunities in India specifically along with other emerging markets."

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), January 28, 2012

Asia set to overtake US in science, tech research: Report

The Asian region may soon overtake the US as global leader in research and development in the field of science and technology, says a new American report. Sounding alarm bells to the US authorities, the Director of National Science Foundation, the policy-making division of NSB, Mr. Subra Suresh, in a release on the findings last week, urged them to “re-examine long-held assumptions about the global dominance of the American science and technology enterprise.”

Mr. Suresh oversees NSF's $7-billion budget, which funds basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering. “The largest global S&T gains have occurred in the “Asia-10” — China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand — as these countries have integrated S&T into economic growth,” the report, Science and Engineering Indicators: 2012, released last week says.

In fact, China has become the world leader in high-technology trade and, for the first time, Asia has matched the US in R&D investments. “Between 1999 and 2009, for example, the US share of global R&D dropped from 38 per cent to 31 per cent, whereas it grew from 24 per cent to 35 per cent in the Asian region during the same time”, the report says. The European Union's share declined from 27 per cent to 23 per cent.

The report also points out that the US is rapidly losing high-technology jobs as American companies expand their R&D labs in China and other Asian countries. Since 2000, the US has lost 28 per cent or 687,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs. American universities, too, have cut back 20 per cent on public research and 85 per cent of growth in R&D jobs by American companies have occurred abroad. In China alone, R&D growth increased 28 per cent in a single year (2008-09), speeding past Japan and into second place behind the US.

Source: The Hindu, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

IIT-Kharagpur extension centres in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chhattisgarh

Engineering teachers in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Chhattisgarh will now be trained by the faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-K). The Board of Governors of IIT-K has approved the creation of an Extension Centre at Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Damodar Acharya, IIT (K) Director told The Hindu on Thursday. Finer details are being worked out, he said. There are concerns over the quality of teaching in engineering and technical institutions in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Chhattisgarh because of lack of facilities for training of teachers.

In Chhattisgarh, the admissions to undergraduate engineering programmes in the various colleges show that it has many as 17 engineering colleges (all of them in the non-government sector), 60 per cent or more seats remained vacant. Even though many of these institutions may satisfying the minimum requirements in terms of number of faculty as laid down by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the quality of instructions is always questionable.

Prof. Acharya explained that teachers and engineers from these two places would be trained through video-conferencing and contact mode and granted an M.Tech. Degree but this course would be extended to three years instead of two which is the regular course duration. The faculty would have to attend classes on week-ends at an identified centre – possibly at Kolkata or Bhubaneshwar – and once a month visit Kharagpur for laboratory classes. “If this does not work out, we can have the students (faculty) visiting Kharagpur once in a semester for longer duration,” Prof. Acharya said. Neither Madhya Pradesh nor Chhattisgarh has an IIT. The nearest IITs are all in the surrounding States of Rajasthan (Kota), UP (Kanpur), Orissa (Bhubaneswar) and Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad).

Source: The Hindu, January 27, 2012

UGC mulls 20 exclusive universities, 800 colleges for women

Espousing the cause of women's education, the 12th Five Year Plan period document of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has proposed 20 exclusive universities for them and 800 constituent colleges under the central varsities to ensure equity in access to quality education. The UGC has also sought a four-time hike in allocation during the Five-Year Plan period from Rs. 46,632 crore (Rs. 466.32 billion) to Rs. 184,740 crore (Rs. 1.8474 trillion) to achieve its proposed initiatives.

The initiatives also include upgrading of autonomous colleges with potential of excellence, enhancing intake capacity of institutes of higher education and development of 'college cluster universities'. The plan document broadly emphasis on achieving the triple objectives of access and expansion, equity and inclusion, and quality and excellence, with an emphasis on consolidation and optimal use of infrastructure already created during the 11th Plan period.

Giving thrust to women's education, the plan document has proposed 20 universities facilitating their entry into higher education even from traditional background and rural and sub-urban areas. The Centre has proposed to fund their establishment while the state governments may provide the land and help to establish such universities, the document states while holding the idea was included "because the social dynamics of our system". Stating that certain sectors of our population are still not open to send girls to coeducational institutions, the UGC document contends that exclusive institutes of higher education in some pockets for women "may act as a fillip to the participation of girls in higher education".

In addition to the already proposed and partially implemented 374 model colleges scheme, a new scheme of constituent colleges has been proposed for the 40 central universities in the country. Under the scheme, 20 colleges each will be set up in the respective states in the district headquarters, numbering to 800 new colleges in all. This will balance the regional distribution of colleges based on population density of the youth in the age group of 18-23 years. "The colleges should be of international configuration in infrastructure, hostels, playground, library and technology-savvy classrooms, and to be 100% funded by the Centre as is presently followed in the case of the Delhi University," it said.

Source: The Times of India, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

IIT-Madras announces Distinguished Alumnus Awards

Corporate head honchos V. Sumantran and Prabhakar Raghavan are among the winners of this year's Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) Distinguished Alumnus Award (DAA), the institute said today. During his Republic Day address, IIT-Madras Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said the Selection Committee for DAA has chosen Hinduja Automotive Ltd. Vice Chairman Sumantran and Yahoo! Labs Chief Strategy Officer and Head Raghavan for this year's distinguished alumnus award.

The others chosen for the award by the selection committee were Drexel University Professor Raj Mutharasan, Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science Department of Computer Science and Automation Senior Professor Jayant R. Haritsa; and University of Illinois Franklin W. Woeltge Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering P.R. Kumar.

In addition, US firm Chevron Corp's V-P (Technology for Global Downstream) .S Krishnaswamy, Hyderabad-based Thermopads Pvt Ltd. Technical Director and Thermo Cables Ltd. Managing Director Uma Ghurka and Chennai-based AID India Founder and CEO Balaji Sampath were selected for the DAA 2012.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), January 26, 2012

Single engineering entrance examination likely from 2013

Come February, and the cloud over the issue of conducting a single entrance examination for admissions to engineering institutes may finally be cleared. Directors of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) that Business Standard spoke to said that by the end of February 2012, there may be a consensus on whether to hold a single entrance examination in 2013 and thereon.

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) held for admissions to the IITs and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) for admission to Centrally-funded technical institutes may be merged to create a single entrance test. "Directors of the IITs, NITs, IIITs and Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs) have been asked to give their feedback. A formal notification on this will be issued next month. Mostly, we are all on the same page," said an IIT Director on the condition of anonymity.

In September 2011, the IIT Council had accepted the recommendations of the T. Ramaswami Committee report on JEE reforms and proposed a single entrance test for all engineering colleges, including IITs, NITs and other engineering institutions. Key reforms that the committee was looking at include reduction in the number of examinations to one; testing knowledge intensity; alignment to the 12th class syllabus; reduction of dependency on coaching and pressure on students and emphasis on aptitude among other things. IITs say a formal notification will be issued with details of the examination format to be followed by IITs. That is, while considering a student for a seat — whether to give 50 per cent or 60 per cent weightage to the board exams and the rest to IIT-JEE scores.

Centrally-funded technical institutes along with other Deemed Universities and Technical Institutions offer admissions to students through AIEEE. Last year, 10,53,807 candidates took the AIEEE exam out of 11,14,541 registered candidates. Approximately 34,311 seats are there for BE and BTech and 1,070 seats for Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Planning in various institutions. The institutes located in West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Chandigarh and Delhi accepted AIEEE scores to admit students. There are four IIITs at Allahabad, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Kanchipuram. Total number of NITs at present is 20. Also, 10 new NITs are proposed to be set up during 11th Five Year Plan. NITs are expected to be at par with other national level technical institutes.

IIT-JEE, say IIT directors, has become a craze among students, largely because of the high-paying jobs one lands after an IIT degree. "Entrance examination is a big racket in our country. And if you want to reduce the number of examinations, then different systems should not be asked to hold different examinations," said another IIT Director. Last year around 485,00 students — an increase of 6.5 per cent or 30,000 — appeared for the joint entrance examination to seek admission to 9,600 seats on offer in 15 IITs.

Source: Business Standard, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Like Nalanda, Vikramshila may rise from ruins

It was among the most important centres of Buddhist learning in ancient India, but the remains of Vikramshila University in Bihar have been sadly neglected for years. Now, it appears, the ruins of the university would be conserved on the line of its older counterpart Nalanda.The conservation plan comes in the wake of the Bihar government's move to develop Vikramshila's ruins as a tourist destination like Nalanda, situated around 90 km from the state capital.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has roped in the National Culture Fund (NCF) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to conserve its excavated ruins with an initial investment of Rs. 2 crore (Rs. 20 million).

Vikramshila University was set up by the Pala dynasty (750-1174 A.D) king Dharmapala in the late 8th or early 9th century. The site is located near Antichak village in Kahalgaon sub-division of Bhagalpur district, about 150 km from Patna.

"The conservation work would begin from February in a phase-wise manner," ASI Patna circle's Superintending Archaeologist Sanjay K. Manjul told IANS in Patna. He said the initial investment will be Rs. 2 crore, though the total cost of the mega conservation and development plan is yet to be worked out. "NTPC has agreed to fund the conservation work through NCF. A memorandum of understanding has been finalised for it," he said. NTPC, under its corporate social responsibility scheme, decided to fund the conservation work. Officials of the three agencies visited the site last December.

Last year, the ASI decided to launch a mega plan for conservation of the university ruins. Manjul said the conservation, which has been neglected for decades, will help preserve the legacy for future generations. According to ASI officials here, conservation of 52 shells or reading room-like structures adjoining the main stupa and a major portion of the excavated structure will be taken up.

The ancient Vikramshila University was intended to complement the existing world-class universities at Nalanda and Takshila. It lasted four centuries before being destroyed during an attack on local kingdoms by Bakhtiyar Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate. As per the ASI, the remains at Antichak were excavated by B.P. Sinha of Patna University during 1960-69.

The antiquities found at Vikramashila comprise terracotta objects, including a large number of plaques representing Buddhist and Brahmanical deities, animal and bird figurines and some symbolic representations, as also a large number of stone images of gods and goddesses. A few small bronze statues of Buddhist deities like the Buddha, Maitreya, Vajrapani, Avalokitesvara and Manjusri too have been found. The bulk of antiquities comprise stone, iron, copper, silver and bronze objects, including a few silver and copper coins.

Members of the Vikramshila Nagarik Samiti said after more than three and a half decades of excavation by the ASI, no work has been done at the site on the pattern of Nalanda. The Samiti has been demanding that Vikramshila be included in the state's Buddhist tourist circuit for its development.

The ancient university at Nalanda was a seat of higher learning in the fifth century. The university was home to over 10,000 students, including from abroad, and nearly 2,000 teachers.

Source: www.news.in.msn.com

Delhi University inks research pact with DRDO

Research in Delhi University (DU) will no longer be confined to departments and faculties. DU has initiated a number of programmes for undergraduate students and teachers. It has tied up with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for setting up a centre of excellence in DU by 2015. The university has also invited proposals for funding innovative projects in its colleges.

DU and DRDO signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for joint collaboration on research and development on Monday. The idea is to identify core research areas of mutual interest and work towards establishing a centre of excellence through funding from DRDO within three years. This collaboration will enable the centre to take up joint sponsored projects.

Meanwhile, for the first time, DU is introducing trans-disciplinary research projects for college students. The students will be led by three faculty members and will be guided in each project by an erudite figure from outside the colleges. Students who propose innovative research projects, that are not linked to their syllabi, will be given a grant of up to Rs. 1 million to execute the project within a year. The fund will be divided into Rs. 300,000 for equipment, Rs. 200,000 for outstation field trips and Rs. 100,000 for local trips, among others.

"Undergraduate students have the best mindset and can think out of the box to come up with innovative ideas. This is one of the most ambitious projects by the university to involve undergraduate students in serious research. The idea is to get students excited about what they are studying during their three years of college in DU. Moreover, along with students, teachers will also get involved," said Vice-Chancellor of DU, Dinesh Singh.

The project proposals have to be prepared by a team of 10 undergraduate students from at least two departments. The team should also have three faculty members of different departments. Students working in the selected project will get a stipend of Rs. 1,000 per month, while the advisor will be eligible for a one-time honourarium of Rs. 25,000.

Source: The Times of India, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

B-School laterals are a mixed bag

Placements 2012 at management institutes across the country may turn out to be a subdued affair, if lateral placements are any indication. Premier institutes like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and XLRI, Jamshedpur have reached out wider to new companies to compensate for lesser hiring numbers from regular recruiters.

Consulting, information technology (IT), e-commerce and IT products are among the sectors that are looking good, while those like banking and financial services and fast moving consumer goods have scaled down the number of offers. The process began at some of the IIMs in December, while others started in early January.

At IIM-Lucknow, for instance, where some 200-odd candidates with an average work experience of 32 months have gone into lateral placements, IT and general management companies are showing greater interest. “The impact of the economy is being felt in terms of numbers per company. But if we are losing out there, we are making up in terms of new companies,” says KV Nitin, recruitment coordinator.

“We have some exclusive recruiters in retail, IT and e-commerce,” he adds, explaining that international executive search firm Michael Page International is making its debut on campus, while Olam International and Deloitte are among the regular recruiters. E-commerce, oil and gas, renewable energy and retail are “among the hot sectors.”

Institutes have done their groundwork and dug deeper into their databases, expecting the number of offers per company to come down because of the overall slowdown. As a result, a number of new companies making their presence felt on campus. At IIM Calcutta, first-timers on campus during lateral placements include a US-based IT product company, and more from the power and manufacturing sectors, says IIM-Calcutta placements chairperson Amit Dhiman, who refused to disclose their names.

More than 100 students at the institute have been placed so far. These include about 78 candidates who have received pre-placement offers and nearly 40 who have been hired during the laterals process. At IIM-Bangalore, the lateral placement process started in mid-December and is still in progress, with around 246 students qualified to participate. “It is going very well, with 45-50 companies having confirmed their participation. We are expecting 100-plus offers during laterals,” said Sapna Agarwal, head of IIM-Bangalore’s Career Development Services.

About 75 of the institute’s students already have PPOs in hand. According to Agarwal, IIM-B has had organisations from consulting, FMCG, technology, manufacturing and general management making offers. “Though some companies have made fewer offers than expected, there are others who have made double-digit offers so it balances out,” she adds.

At XLRI Jamshedpur, apart from around 60 pre-placement offers (PPOs), some 35 offers have come in during the lateral placements which kicked off in the first week of January. Among those who have already visited are regular recruiters like Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Accenture. “We tried to widen our net. While financial sector companies are fewer in number, operations and consulting are doing well,” says placements chairperson Rajiv Mishra.

At IIM Indore, too, more than a 100 candidates have been placed so far in about 14 companies. Among the top recruiters so far are Cognizant Business Consulting — which has hired about 28 candidates from the campus, compared with 12 last year and Deloitte India, which hired 12 candidates this year compared with eight in the previous year. The institutes did not disclose salary figures, while IIM-A did not wish to reveal details till the process was complete.

Source: The Economic Times, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

XLRI and Weatherhead launch a new programme

XLRI School of Business & Human Resources, Jamshedpur, in a strategic partnership with Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA, has announced the launch of a unique programme on organisational transformation and leadership skills christened Masters Programme in Positive Organisational Development & Change (MPOD). This programme is intended for executives who are interested in leading positive change, building sustainable institutions and shaping vibrant communities, and will be open to professionals from all management functional areas, provided they have at least 10 years of relevant work experience in organisations.

The 15-month programme will commence in November 2012 at XLRI and will be conducted in six modules spread over 15 months. The modules will be spaced 10-12 weeks apart, thereby making it flexible enough to accommodate the busy schedules of executives and enabling them to attend on-campus classroom sessions in India and the US without leaving their jobs.

“MPOD is the outcome of our continuous efforts to build responsible future leaders of tomorrow,” said Fr. E Abraham, the Director of XLRI. On the occasion, Dr. J. Singh, faculty, XLRI and co-director of MPOD, said, “MPOD will educate and develop business leaders who will shape an enduring socio-economic ecosystem that offers extraordinary value to all stakeholders, nourish the cooperative human spirit, and contribute towards ecological sustainability and global well-being.” Dr. Mohan Reddy, Dean of Weatherhead School of Management, said, “We are glad to offer this pioneering programme for students from the Indian subcontinent and beyond.”

Source: The Financial Express, January 23, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Opportunities sparse for US LLM degree holders

"I was an eyewitness: I saw the Lehman Brothers sign being taken down,” says Apar Gupta, recalling a memory of the US recession that followed the September 2008 collapse of the Wall Street investment bank. Gupta was studying at Columbia Law School in Manhattan, pursuing a master’s degree with 14 other graduate students from India, many of whom had worked at the largest Indian law firms. But after completing their master’s programme, not a single one found a job with a comparable US law firm through campus placements, he says. Most didn’t even get a rejection call.

Research conducted by 2011 Columbia postgraduate Rohan Kaul of Indians studying for a master’s degree in law in the US reveals that there has been a slight recovery since 2008 in the prospects of landing a job with a respectable law firm. But the study also showed that opportunities remain sparse and tuition fees for foreign students keep increasing. Some 60 Indians did their master’s at some of the top law schools in the US: Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, Columbia Law School, NYU School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, Berkeley Law University of California, Penn Law School University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University Law School and Northwestern University Law School. Of those 60, some opted for alternative careers or academia, but only around five found jobs with top US or international law firms.

“Post-2007, there has been a huge reduction in the number who got such jobs,” says one 2011 Berkeley graduate. “Ninety percent of guys didn’t get a (US) job for sure, I know that.” He was part of the fortunate 10% and managed to bag an offer from one of Wall Street’s most elite legal firms. “The market conditions in 2005 were very favourable,” remembers Shishir Mehta, who was at Columbia in 2004-05. “I think pretty much everyone who wanted jobs in 2005 and 2006 got one, from what I know—there was at least a 70 to 80% strike rate (for US jobs) in prestigious law firms.”

“Those years were fantastic,” says Gupta, “You hear stories from there. Everyone got (job) offers.” By then, there was also a “critical mass” of Indian lawyers in New York, says Mehta, which meant firms were less apprehensive about hiring qualified Indian lawyers. Mehta himself went on to take a job at White and Case LLP in New York, having had previous experience in London, and in 2010 he returned to India as a partner at Khaitan and Co. in Mumbai.

Professional networking
That story has become a bit of a template — practice law in India for a few years, do an LLM and get a job abroad, then return to India a few years later with a career boost. There are dozens of Indian lawyers with similar resumes. Some who went abroad never came back, and became pure play foreign lawyers. Apart from politicians such as Kapil Sibal, who went to Harvard for an LLM in 1977, a generation of corporate lawyers was inspired by two of AZB & Partners co-founders: Zia Mody (1979 Harvard Law School LLM to Baker and McKenzie) and Bahram Vakil (1983 LLM at Columbia followed by Debevoise and Plimpton).

Vakil says that only he, Mody and at most six other Indian lawyers worked in New York at that time, but they would meet almost every week. “I think now it’s over 800,” he estimates the number of Indian lawyers in New York. The connections one can make at a US law school remains a major draw for applicants. “Above and beyond the teaching,” says Gupta. “There is a huge emphasis on professional networking dinners.”

An LLM at Columbia Law School in 2011-12 cost $54,932 (around Rs. 2.7 million) in tuition fees, coming to $77,000 including New York living costs for nine months. In 2008-09, the total cost at Columbia was more than 10% lower at $68,000, confirmed a college spokesperson. Spending a year elsewhere is not much cheaper: tuition at Harvard Law School’s LLM programme in Boston costs $47,600, rising to at least $72,800 including accommodation and other living expenses.

The easiest way to pay off those debts quickly, unless well-off relatives are funding the education, are jobs with US law firms where starting salaries for the most junior lawyer can range from $125,000 to $160,000 per year. Many partners at Indian firms do not make this much money in a year. The appetite for these jobs remains almost undiminished. Several US LLM graduates of the past years recount how everyone attended the New York legal job fairs and a majority hoped to land a gig at a corporate law firm, recount several US LLM graduates of past years. But the chances of even getting a foot in the door of such big law firms has become “tremendously grim”, explains 2011 George Washington University Law School graduate Areej Faiz, who has since joined Virginia-based IT consultancy firm DISYS.

To blame are the state of the economy, difficulties in getting H1-B visa sponsorship and only one intense year in which to develop local networks. “Job opportunities have decreased,” says Faiz, “but then this holds true for everyone, not just Indian LLMs.”

Brazilian exception
That much is true to an extent — the US legal trade press has been flooded with headlines about lay-offs, mass unemployment amongst law graduates and large firms deferring hiring as the world’s biggest economy struggles for recovery. Last year two US law schools were sued for more than $200 million each by former students, claiming they were misled about job prospects by the colleges. But according to Gupta, who ended up starting his own law firm in India later, that is not the complete picture. “Surprisingly, if you look at other jurisdictions, particularly the Brazilians, they still got job offers,” he claims. Some US and international law firms are hiring Brazilian LLM graduates to work abroad for a year, and then send them back to their booming offices in Brazil later, he says. The possibilities for Indian lawyers to move back to India within a foreign law firm are all but non-existent because of restrictions on such firms operating in India.

The numbers have not suffered over the years. Mehta’s Columbia batch of 2004-05 had no more than six Indian lawyers. In 2011 there were at least 11. At New York University there were 14 Indian lawyers and Harvard welcomed eight. “LLM programmes are increasingly becoming a cash grab for law schools,” claims Elie Mystal, US-based editor of online legal website called Above the Law. “While they still offer some help for foreign law students, law deans are more concerned about the money they can make from desperate foreign law students, as opposed to making the programmes something employers value. But the larger question is: why would you want to come into the faltering, struggling US legal job market in the first place?” Spokespersons for Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School declined comment.

While the number of Indians opting for an LLM programme in the US have increased, the job market has been difficult for the last three years or so, said an Indian lawyer who is now working with a top New York firm. “It is certainly not something for you if your sole agenda of pursuing the LLM is to break into the US legal market,” he says.

But the lure will remain. Even in 2011, US law firm Sullivan & Cromwell advised on $393 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) — single-handedly more than ten times the size of India’s entire national M&A activity the same year. Indeed, the appeal of the so-called Big Law career option in the US, however slim that chance has become, is unlikely to diminish, meaning Indian lawyers will not simply disappear overnight from US LLM programmes.

Source: Mint, January 20, 2012

Government to spend Rs.1 trillion to democratize information, connect institutions of learning and research

India will spend Rs.1 trillion over the next three years to “democratize information” through projects such as the National Knowledge Network (NKN) and the gram panchayat (village councils) network, Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister on public information, infrastructure and innovation, said on Thursday. Pitroda, also a member of the National Innovation Council (NInC), said though the budget for NKN is now Rs. 6,000 crore (Rs. 60 billion), it could increase by some 65%. “We will probably end up spending some Rs. 10,000 crore (Rs. 100 billion) by the time the project is completed.”

NKN aims to connect the top universities, science research institutes, central institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and research labs through fibre optics, to promote research in the country. It will be a multi-gigabit pan-India network providing a unified highspeed network backbone for all knowledge-related institutes in the country. Of the targeted 1,500 institutes, NKN has so far connected 693; the rest will be connected before the end of 2012. “Multi-disciplinary research needs immersive interaction and NKN is facilitating it,” Pitroda said at a select press briefing to give a lowdown on the progress on NKN. “What we are doing now is putting an infrastructure of infrastructure that will drive the growth of India in the coming years.”

NKN will later connect with Edusat (education satellite launched by the Indian Space Research Organization) and foreign research labs to allow people from diverse background to come together, he added. “If you put together all such projects, including UID (unique identity project), then the total investment will be around Rs. 100,000 crore (Rs. 1 trillion) in three years.” Providing broadband connectivity to all village panchayats alone, which is overseen by NInC, will need some Rs. 25,000 crore (Rs. 250 billion), Pitroda said.

All meteorological organizations and related institutions, including the India Meteorological Department in Delhi, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services in Hyderabad are now interconnected under NKN for grid computing on climate change, said R. Chidambaram, scientific adviser to the government. The National Brain Research Centre and Canada’s McGill University too are working together on a project, he said. “It (NKN) is facilitating academia-industry interaction, remote access to advance facilities, rural tech delivery, and research collaboration,” Chidambaram explained. S.V. Raghavan, scientific secretary to the government, said NKN, once fully rolled out, will allow for virtual classrooms, countrywide classrooms and sharing of faculty among institutions. The Meta University that the government wants to set up will be based on the NKN backbone, he added.

Meta University, through which students can take up more than one course at a time and study from different universities, will not be a physical infrastructure. It will be a network based model, said R. Gopalkrishnan, member secretary of NInC. “It will start operation from the 2012 academic session and the details will be fleshed out within a couple of months. We think top-grade universities should be allowed to come together to start this.”

On the challenges to NKN, Pitroda said while the network will provide connectivity, “the need is for content, Indian (local language) content and new applications. We have to see how we can use it to promote vocational education.” But primarily, Pitroda added, there has to be a “change of mindset at the students’, teachers’ and researchers’ level.”

Source: Mint, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

B-School Wisdom Out of Sync with Real-Life Business - India Inc. unhappy with syllabus

A year after top Ivy League institutes in the United States began revamping their MBA programmes, in the process challenging decades of conventional business wisdom, India's top-rung B-schools are attempting something similar. An overhauled syllabus with new subjects thrown in and old ones scrubbed out is expected to be ready for 2012-13 at many premier institutes.

The Indian School of Business (ISB), Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), IIM-Kozhikode (IIM-K), and S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) are some of the schools attempting to bridge the gap between classroom wisdom and business realities. Subjects like ethics, corporate social responsibility and management mantras from the Bhagavad Gita have made a debut along with hardship stints in backward villages and mandatory internships with NGOs. That should come as soup for the soul of a battle-weary India Inc hunting for socially-responsible and innovative leaders, right? Not quite.

The view from industry is that most of the changes in the curriculum are cosmetic and do little to tackle the root of the malaise at Indian B-schools - that they serve to create an elite social network and are clueless about the way business is run in real life. Senior executives say the top-tier schools, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), are out of sync with corporates and do not have enough good quality research emerging. "Some executives I have spoken to find it hard to imagine that a student can grasp concepts of marketing without selling anything to anybody; or the concepts of operations if they have never spent time on a factory floor," says Professor Srikant Datar of HBS, co-author of 'Rethinking the MBA'.

The B-schools counter that India Inc is fixated on short-term goals, reluctant to provide information for research and has a limited knowledge base. "Our context is learning and not quarterly performance and that may be why there is seen to be no connect between our teachings and corporate life. But our corporates too are obsolete in their knowledge, yet we take their voices seriously," says IIM-K Director Debashis Chatterjee. "Each of us has different mandates; the shared space is defined by learning. That shared space needs to be explored," adds the professor. IIM-K is doing its bit to become more relevant by cutting back 10% of its regular content and making place for unstructured thinking.

The B-school is also working on breaking silos created in B-schools. These silos typically have specialised faculty for operations, human resources, marketing and other such fields. "We decided to change curriculum so that these subjects are integrated in some way," explains Chatterjee. The attempt, he says, is to ensure that when students get into a company, they are able to integrate different functions for one goal. "In fact last year, 32 members of our faculty got together to teach one course over five days," adds the IIM-K Director.

That is a step in the right direction, but many more similar measures are needed to convince sceptical Indian business heads. As A Mahendran, managing director of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, says: "There is no real connect between the curriculum and managing real time business complexities." K Ramkumar, group HR chief at ICICI Bank, derides IIMs as placement agencies. "Management is a skill and merely teaching organisational behaviour in classrooms is a waste of time," he says.

The B-schools say it is unfair to expect a sea change overnight as the curriculum overhaul is still work in progress. Efforts are under way to de-emphasise a lot of what is referred to as the 'normative' part of courses such as theories and discussions within classrooms and including a lot more of the 'subjective' part; the latter pertains to dealing with people, learning how to negotiate and studying consumer behaviour. For instance, IIM-A has set up a 'Negotiations Clinic' course that is based on real-life experiences of negotiation episodes in organisations.

At SPJIMR in Mumbai, faculty member Harsh Mohan says 60% of the curriculum is now focused on learnings out of classroom. These include attitude building, rural visits, how to deal with multiple cultures and getting sensitised to people at the bottom of the pyramid. "We get our students to go and interact with organisations such as the Railways and municipal corporations to learn how to deal with unstructured environments," explains Mohan. ISB is looking at introducing revised courses to develop leadership traits and emphasise on self-analysis. It is offering more flexibility in the programme structure to allow students to customise their courses. The effort is also to impart a global perspective by teaching students to manage situations of economic, institutional, and cultural differences across countries.

"The second major review process will be completed by 2012 and implemented from academic year 2013-2014. Currently, we are in the process of collecting data from all the stakeholder groups and, once this is done, the data will be analysed and further deliberated by the curriculum review committee," says an ISB spokesperson. "The world has changed and we have now made it compulsory to review courses every year keeping the global economy in mind," adds Debashis Sanyal, Dean, School of Business Management of NMIMS.

Similar efforts aimed at more diversity are on at other premier B-schools. IIM-K exposes students to a 'spiritual quotient;' the Mumbai Business School is introducing courses in philosophy that include along with the Bhagvad Gita and the Upanishads, eastern philosophies as well; and the Xavier Labour Relations Institute has a compulsory course called 'ethical ways of running a business,' for which it has professors who are not typical academicians but corporate practitioners.

But could the problem lie less with the institutes and more with insatiable students? HBS' Datar says the best students in B-schools want to join management consultancies and investment banks that offer top dollar. So B-schools automatically tune their teaching methods to pander to their needs. "B-schools are focused on teaching students to advise and analyse and are not preparing them for entrepreneurship, leadership and action-oriented innovative thinking," says Datar.

Adds TV Mohandas Pai, former head of HR at Infosys: "It is just a case of demand-supply scenario and the hefty packages offered by investment bankers have set the tone for compensation. The corporate engagement at B-schools is superficial." Still Datar adds "We cannot fault the students on choosing jobs that they think will give the right fillip to their careers." Atanu Ghosh, visiting professor in business policy at IIM-A, avers that the career choices are out of the control of the IIMs. "We do have students who join the public sector but if a large chunk chooses a line that will determine their course of life and lifestyle, we can do little about it. It is a market-driven economy."

Santrupt Misra, head of HR at the Aditya Birla group, says it is difficult to heap all the blame on either B-schools or on industry. "The current curriculum has not kept pace with the changing business environment, and limited research in our academia has aggravated the problem. I must also say that industry is not forthcoming in providing access to its research." That has to change - and perhaps has already begun to. Says Leena Nair, executive director HR at Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL): "We are now sharing case studies so that students are not dealing with a 30-year-old case. Instead of blaming each other, we should work together and influence key campuses."

Source: The Economic Times, January 19, 2012

Centre may offer greater autonomy to 3 more IIMs

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) who have long sought greater freedom from the government are close to attaining that goal. The Ministryof Human Resource Development (MHRD) on Thursday is expected to amend memorandum of associations (MoA) to three IIMs - Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Lucknow. The amended MoAs will result in drastic changes to their governing structure, reflecting greater autonomy.

ET had in its edition dated January 18 reported that IIM-Kozhikode had received the amended MoA. The boards of governors of the IIMs will have to formally ratify the amended MoA. The changes in the governance structure are in keeping with recommendations of RC Bhargava Committee. The committee was of the view that the divided responsibility for governance between the government, board, and directors inhibited the IIMs from developing effective strategies to meet the challenges that B-schools are faced with. "Till now, the IIMs had to approach the ministry for approval or notifying changes in the board members and so on, with these changes, governance of the institutes will become smoother. The IIMs will have greater autonomy now but that comes with greater responsibility," a senior official said.

A lean Board of Governors comprising 15 members, as against the current size of 24-26 members, will now be responsible for the IIM's governance. Instead of the government selecting board members, the board will make appointments in the event of vacancies. The government nominees will be ex-officio members, reducing the need for notification in the event the officer is transferred.

Source: The Economic Times, January 19, 2012

Educational institutions to publish balance sheets

All educational institutes under the central government and those that get grants or approvals from central education regulators will be directed by the government to publish a balance sheet every year, starting 2013, to bring in more transparency to the sector.

The educational institutes will follow a uniform accounting norm and disclose income and expenditure in a standard format similar to that of companies, according to an initiative unveiled on Wednesday. “The aim is to bring transparency and openness in our educational institutes,” said Kapil Sibal, minister for human resource development.

All Union government institutes, including central universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will have to adhere to the accounting standards. Besides, all universities and colleges under the University Grant Commission (UGC), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the National Council of Teachers Education (NCTE) will have to follow the norms. Even schools affiliated to the Union government-controlled Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will have to incorporate the accounting norms.

The standards and guidelines have been prepared by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). “Donations coming from within or outside India, grants received and expenditures incurred will all be detailed in a uniform format,” said G. Ramaswamy, ICAI president. India has 572 universities and more than 31,000 colleges, where around 15 million students pursue higher education. In addition, there are at least 10,000 CBSE schools.

Sibal said his ministry had accepted the report in principle and “it will come into force from the 2013 academic session”. Sibal will discuss the report in the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), a panel comprising experts, academicians and state education ministers. “I would like to see this adopted by all educational institutes in the country but states need to come on board too,” he said.

Though central government institutes submit their accounts to the government and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India audits them, private institutes are not obliged to do so. At least 60% of colleges are under private control. The standards will provide clarity on the deployment of funds, Ramaswamy said. “It will lead to decommercialisation and orderly growth of education,” he said.

The ICAI president said that some colleges might be talking about sustainable revenue model but that needs to be spelt out. “Once the accounting is done, you will put it online in a centralized server,” he said. “If you are earning revenue then you have to deploy 85% in education every year. This accounting norm will help analyse and come to a conclusion on who is doing what.” Jaydeep N. Shah, Vice-President of ICAI, said the step will take care of concerns that many private institutions engage in malpractices to fleece students.

A private university administrator in the National Capital Region attacked the move and said it would discourage investment. “The education malpractice Bill, the education tribunal Bill and even this accounting standard are aimed at one direction — scuttle private investment. If somebody is investing a billion rupees, he would like to get some return,” said the official, requesting anonymity. “When government can’t provide access to all, why is it then discouraging private participation?”

Source: Mint, January 19, 2012

India priority for Irish varsities

India is a priority for Irish universities looking to draw students from across the world, said Ms. Orla Battersby, Head, Education In Ireland. Speaking to Indian mediapersons visiting Dublin at the invitation of the Dublin Airport Authority, she said the country is promoting post-graduate and PhD programmes in India.

Why Ireland?
The country's safety scores (Ireland was ranked 11th in the Global Peace Index 2011) will be attractive to parents, and students can be assured of a very personal teaching experience, she said. Pointing to companies such as Google, Apple, Pfizer, Citi and IBM being present in the country, she claimed: “These companies don't just focus on our science and technology graduates – their CEOs also highly rate the Irish-educated graduates in the arts and humanities, who they regard as having the creativity, collaboration, flexibility and other core skills necessary for modern business.”

This year seven universities and a ministerial delegation will visit the country to acquaint students with studying in Ireland. Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D) and University of Pune are among those which are conducting research projects with Irish educational institutions.

Students can opt for flexible approaches to international programmes such as blended courses and one-year exchanges. International graduates can remain in Ireland for a year to find a job or develop a business idea, Ms. Battersby said.

Education costs
A note from Education In Ireland says a Masters could cost between €7,500 and €22,000 per annum, while a PhD could cost €6,000 to €9,000. Living costs range from €6,000 to €9,000. To a query, she said there were more efforts by the Irish government to focus scholarships on a smaller number of countries, of which India will be given top preference.

Currently, about 1,000 Indian students study in Ireland. About 33 per cent study business and administration, 26 per cent computing and engineering-related courses and 18 per cent sciences. Fifty-seven per cent are post-graduate students.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, January 19, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Marketing guru Philip Kotler to interact with Indian corporates and students

When there is rough weather on the high seas, sensible sailors do not sit idle. They get everything ready for a blue-skies scenario. Caught in a slowdown, and clueless when it will end, some top honchos of India Inc., are going to take a tip or two next month from Dr. Philip Kotler, the US-based marketing guru, on how to sail through difficult times. He will have a special session with students on trends in marketing during his two-day stay in India on March 5 and 6. Top executives from companies such as Apollo, Apollo Munich, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and TVS are expected to turn up to listen to him.

The 81-year-old S.C. Johnson and Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management is visiting India after four years. The indefatigable guru seems to have protested when Apollo Hospitals (which is sponsoring the event) prepared a modest itinerary for him. “He wanted to involve himself more during his two-day stay, forcing us to pack the programme with interactions with students and CEOs, and exclusive sessions for some corporates and media,” Ms. Sangitha Reddy, Executive Director of Apollo Hospitals, said.

Dr. Kotler has written several books, including one that deals with Marketing 3.0. He proposes that the new model for marketing should treat customers not as mere customers but as the complex, multi-dimensional human beings they are. “Corporates must create products, services and corporate cultures that inspire, include and reflect their customers' values,” he proposes in the model. He will speak on business challenges and opportunities, how to search for powerful new ideas and improving branding power.

Addressing a press conference in Hyderabad to announce the training sessions with Dr. Kotler, Ms. Reddy said the proceeds of the conference would go to SACHi (Save a Child's Heart initiative), a fund started by Apollo Hospitals to help under-privileged children in the country who require cardiac interventions.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, January 18, 2012

Business Standard B-school Awards: Insurance scheme for poor bags top slot

A Rs. 2 health insurance scheme for rural India and a project on empowering cooperative banks through effective application of information technology — ideas that looked at tackling such problems received the thumbs-up from the jury of the Business Standard B-school Award 2012 held in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Arul Vel Arasan, a management student from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), bagged the first prize for his idea to sell a Rs. 2 per day health insurance scheme for rural India. At present, Salem ,with a population of 70,000 is being considered for piloting this idea. Around 20 regions would be covered by 2017. This would be applicable only to people with monthly income above Rs. 4,000.

Tapojyotee Bandopadhyay of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Rohtak, bagged the second position. His idea was to empower cooperative banks through effective application of information technology through cloud computing and linking several urban cooperative banks using a secured network for using shared facilities. This would include modernisation of banks by setting up a data centre and disaster recovery centre.

Aditya Kaul from Sailesh J. Mehta School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, claimed the third position for proposing to solve the complexities of Asian Paints by using technology like SAP CRM. The jury, chaired by Ajit Balakrishnan, founder-CEO, Rediff.com, also comprised P M Murty, MD and CEO, Asian Paints; Roopen Roy, MD, Deloitte & Touche Consulting India; Rama Bijapurkar, marketing consultant; and J G Kulkarni, VP (Power Systems-Asia), Crompton Greaves.

Five participants who made the final cut from 135 entries from the country’s top business schools were earlier shortlisted by the jury, based on the criteria of innovation, rigour, thought, clarity and how implementable their project ideas were. Deloitte had done the initial shortlisting of 15 projects. Balakrishnan, who presented the awards in the presence of students, professors and deans of several business schools, said, “It is heartening that B-school students are looking at solving problems faced by the vast majority of Indians in rural areas.”

Sanil Bhatia of the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai, and Tijo Eldho George of the Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida, NCR, won the consolation prize for their ideas on empowering the youth in Himachal Pradesh by guiding them and to make ideal NTPC citizens out of NTPC employees. An elated Arasan said, “I have seen people in rural areas suffer, as they were unable to afford their medical expenses. This was true even in case of simple diseases. I believe that this would help us to get into a whole new world, as in terms of health insurance our country is at least 100 years behind the developed nations."

The third prize winner, Kaul, said a multi-modal interaction was not available in the existing CRM process of Asian Paints. Also, a central management facility that would capture all transactions was missing. “This prompted me to go for a SAP-based CRM process. Here, the SAP master data would be used by all processes.” The presentation emphasised incentivising customers for getting more data for CRM, customer account and ensuring that senior management implement it.

Source: Business Standard, January 18, 2012

Despite rupee depreciation, education loans witness spurt

Loans may be getting dearer for several categories of people, but students need not worry as they are still the favoured lot. Government data shows that banks have been readily doling out education loans to bail out students who have got admission overseas, but are unable to cough up the fees by themselves. Despite the banking sector witnessing a sluggish trend in disbursements, education loans by commercial banks continue to see a sharp spurt.

Going forward though, analysts predict that the depreciation in the Rupee could dent the growth in education loan disbursals. “Education loans are still being considered by banks, but we are not sure for how long if the rupee continues to fall and we are left with no choice but to be more cautious in doling out loans for higher education,” said an official of a public sector bank.

However, the story so far has been encouraging. The educational loans outstanding at Rs. 27,709 crore (Rs. 227.09 billion) by end-March 2009, increased to Rs. 42,808 crore (Rs. 428.08 billion) as at end-March 2011, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data. This had further surged to Rs. 48,965 crore (Rs. 489.65 billion) by October 2011, a 17 per cent year-on-year growth in disbursals at a time when disbursals to most other priority sectors have been largely subdued.

Analysts ascribe this to efforts by the RBI to bring more students under the category of ‘education loans' by formulating policy guidelines for lending to education by the banking system. The steps introduced include classifying such loans and advances granted to individuals for educational purposes up to Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1 million)for studies in India and Rs. 20 lakh (Rs. 2 million) for studies abroad, under ‘priority sector'. In fact, in June 2004, the scope of definition of ‘infrastructure lending' was expanded to include construction of educational institutions.

Accordingly, schools and colleges are entitled to avail bank finance for improving their infrastructure. RBI has also been liberalizing foreign exchange rules for acquiring education from institutions abroad. So students are now able to draw foreign exchange equivalent to $10,000 under the private visit quota at the time of traveling overseas to pursue a study course. The limit of $30,000 for education abroad on declaration basis was enhanced to $100,000 since July 17, 2003.

In addition, a student can also draw foreign exchange equivalent to $ 2,00,000 for education purposes under liberalized remittance scheme before leaving the country, before he or she gains the status of non-resident. Students can also avail loan from a bank abroad for study purposes on the basis of counter guarantee given by an Indian Bank under the approval route.

Source: The Hindu, January 18, 2012

MHRD nod to MoA will give IIM-Kozhikode operational autonomy

The Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIM-K), is set to enjoy greater operational autonomy with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) approving its amended memorandum of association (MoA). Under the changed MoA, the institute will be able to appoint its own director and board of governors (BoG) besides revising the remuneration of the faculty. "The amended MoA will help us in managing and raising funds, recruiting and compensating the faculty besides setting up new campuses both in India and abroad,” said Debashis Chatterjee, Director, IIM-K.

IIMs are societies established under various Societies Registration Acts, and each society has an MoA which lays down the objects and rules of governance of the IIM. The general superintendence, direction and control of the affairs of the society and its income and property are vested in the board of governors. As per the revised MoA, the IIM’s Board of Governors -- and not the ministry -- will set up a search-cum-selection committee on its own and this committee will then shortlist three candidates for the post of the IIM director. At present, the government takes all these decisions.

With the changed MoA, making faculty pay more flexible is on the institute's agenda and it is discussing the matter with the board. “We are looking at excellent faculty and ways of retaining them by topping up their salary,” Chatterjee added.

Source: The Financial Express, January 18, 2012

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