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BW Businessworld

Editor's Letter: B-schools Buffeted By Changing Times

For years BW Businessworld has tracked B-schools, the key link in the galloping expansion of capitalist enterprise. This year is no exception and we present to you the rankings and findings of the most prominent B-schools of the country in collaboration with survey agency C fore.

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I went back this year to my alma mater, St Paul’s School, in Darjeeling, after 43 long years. It was a nostalgic journey made by several of us who could barely recognise each other behind those pot bellies, mangled teeth and balding scalps. Amidst the Himalayan pines and the stately beauty of the Kunchenjunga range, we hugged each other and recalled the hoary days of well-rounded education where climbing peaks and crossing rivers was as much part of learning as the formal class routine. But after the bonhomie and chapel service was over, the stark reality seeped through. The beautiful school was struggling to make ends meet; there were only 550 students, far short of an optimum capacity of 800. There were whispers that if some miracle did not happen, St Paul’s might well shut shop in a couple of years.

Forty years ago, the public schools were right on top. Thousands jostled to enter the hallowed portals of a Doon School or a Mayo College. But over the years, as education required more focus, and not the training that produced gentlemen, the public school network lost its relevance. Along the way, the more robust Kendriya Vidyalayas took over. They offered good teachers, a common curriculum, and were accessible everywhere offering seamless entry to children of government servants and armymen on the move.

Yes, the public schools survived, but the main clientele for many of them today are the Punjab farmers whose limited objective is to see their kids learn the language and etiquette of the English speaking elite. At the other end of the spectrum are the education factories of Kota, that prepare students for medical colleges and IITs; but where the terror of competition ensures dozens of dejected kids take their lives each year.

At the mass level, no one can deny there has been steady progress. Literacy has gone up and the 2011 census showed India touching 73 per cent coverage, an 8 per cent increase from the 2001. The drive for ‘free and compulsory’ primary education has also ensured an enrolment of over 90 per cent of kids between the ages of 9 and 14. However, the quality of the education is embarrassingly poor. Teachers are in short supply, badly paid and 25 per cent of the posts are vacant.

On the other hand, the specialised needs of trained manpower to administer businesses and services has spawned some of the best institutions in the world in the country — the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and the chain of government-aided IITs and IIMs. For years BW Businessworld has tracked B-schools, the key link in the galloping expansion of capitalist enterprise. This year is no exception and we present to you the rankings and findings of the most prominent B-schools of the country in collaboration with survey agency C fore.

The survey revealed some interesting facts. The continuing sluggishness in the business environment has impacted growth and over 300 of them have shut down since 2012. Many others have cut capacity. On the flip side, the new wave of start-ups in e-commerce has added a new dimension to recruitment. These Johnny-come-latelies like Urban Ladder and CodeNation are now competing with more established companies offering annual entry salaries of Rs 18-24 lakh. But now these young lads have changed focus. They are not interested in big salaries. They are rebuffing fat offers and are turning entrepreneurs much to the chagrin of organized industry. These youngsters realize it is the ‘big idea’ more than Capital that makes Big Business. Those B-schools who do not keep up with the changing times, and fail to keep ‘businesses’ centre stage of their programmes, will suffer the same fate as the celebrated public schools.

We have also introduced a new section in the magazine to bring back timeless, laidback reading. And, who better than the inimitable Gurcharan Das to kick it off with a piece on ‘The Dharma of Capitalism’.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)


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