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BW Businessworld

‘We haven’t done enough for nation building’

In an exclusive Conversation With BW Businessworld, Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM Indore shares his views on what he thinks of India as a future education hub, the impact of the Covid pandemic on education, the role of educational institutions towards the community in the present circumstances and their contribution to nation-building. Excerpts:

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Where do you think the education industry is heading, and what sort of measures are being taken up by the B-schools in response to the crisis arising out of Covid-19?

There are two elements that I would like to briefly expound upon. Irrespective of the pandemic, education as a field is moving inexorably towards an auto-directed world, which means we are moving towards a world where participants will choose when and how they want to consume education. The second thing is that the fourth industrial evolution is underway, and therefore, the kind of skills which are going to be required after this are going to be very different from those that are currently there, both in terms of the courses and programmes that are being offered by the educational institutions. The one thing that Covid has transformed is that it has accelerated the use of technology to deliver these programmes. Another point which I want to mention is that institutes of higher education have not contributed enough towards nation-building. We haven’t done enough. 

What are the innovations required right now for B-schools?

They try to upgrade their skills, particularly when they know that the economy is shifting in terms of a paradigm, which means that there are some categories of jobs which will disappear completely, and there’s going to be a new set of industries and organisations, for which a new set of skillsets will be required. For individuals to upgrade those new skillsets will be of paramount importance. Therefore, some Bschools will do very well, while some others will disappear.
 Evaluation is a process that critically examines a programme. How should the regulators go about changing the evaluation process to improve the education structure? And what is IIM Indore doing in that direction? 

All the IIMs in any case have the method of continuous evaluation, and different methods of evaluation. We have written exams, group assignments, group activities, and also class participating evaluation which you will not find in many business schools of India. IIM Indore believes in continuous assessment. Other than most of the IIMs, as far as other institutions are concerned, the regulators will need to step in and figure out different methods. I want to make a point which personally to me, is very significant and comes from my experience. 

We have a concept called class participation where we look at how people react in the classroom, and the quality of interaction. This is to ensure that not everybody is amenable to the same assessment tool. 

The regulators have to look at these individual differences. We will need to have a holistic system, so that no student is at a disadvantage. 

Since your core area is human resource management, do you have any advice for startups that are trying to create a company culture?

It is not just startups, but even family owned businesses that are fraught with a common problem — that is while the head of the business has a set of values in mind, those values do not percolate down the organisation for multiple reasons. And one of the reasons is that all familyowned businesses try to maintain a very close and tight hold over their organisation instead of delegating or letting it grow.  

Since your core area is human resource management, do you have any advice for startups that are trying to create a company culture?

It is not just startups, but even family owned businesses that are fraught with a common problem — that is while the head of the business has a set of values in mind, those values do not percolate down the organisation for multiple reasons. And one of the reasons is that all familyowned businesses try to maintain a very close and tight hold over their organisation instead of delegating or letting it grow. 

My advice to startups would be that they have to take care of three things: first, they need to articulate the vision of their startup right in the beginning. Vision is a philosophical statement about what kind of an organisation do you want to become, what sort of an ecosystem you wish to create, and what are your core values which you will never abandon. The problem with some of the startups is that they start with some medium-term goals, and subsequently start going all over the place and lose sight of their primary vision for which they started in the first place. 

My first suggestion would be to have a vision statement, because your vision statement is going to drive the entire organisation. My second suggestion would be to make sure that your behaviour is aligned with your vision. Make a mistake, but don’t violate your core values.