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BW Businessworld

The India Classroom

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Under the eye of Ganesha, 25 western European, in rags or in riches, hurry to the IIM Lucknow classes, escaping the unrealistic heat of Lucknowi summers. One of them is myself, pretending to be a Nawab student for the entire second-year of the two-year programme here at IIM-L, my impressions and thoughts are the following.
Classes at IIM-L for exchange students are on an elective basis in order to allow foreign students to coordinate their studies with their specialisation as well as organise a timetable that will allow some kind of travel around India. So, accordingly, I took up classes on International Economics, Consumer Behaviour and Corporate Valuation to Project Management, Leadership through Literature and Supply Chain Management.
The intensity of class work and participation is different in Indian B-schools. These classes are exhaustive too, I should add. While we essentially differentiate ourselves through how effectively we can interact, what we have experienced and where we have previously worked, students in Indian B-schools give greater importance to book-based study and participation in school events.
Essentially, many western B-school students consider management schools more as a path towards a good job rather than a place of intensive academia. This is what usually differentiates B-schools from law, medical schools, among others, in the west. In my view, the major difference between western and Indian B-school models is this different consideration for pragmatism. Once again, when most students from the West will take an application from JP Morgan or a McKinsey & Company extremely seriously, they will be much more relaxed than local students about the reading of 25 pages of a purely academic case on Strategic Management.
Otherwise, consistent with a major part of European attitude towards education, one of the primary motivations for studying in India for western students is "learning by travelling". Western students in IIM-L, essentially due to the location of the city, usually plan trips to places such as Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and even up to Nepal in order to learn to cope with the diversity of travelling methods in India and meet as many people as this infinitely diverse country has to offer them.
Personally, I feel that my experience in India is a bundle of hands-on learning, new colours, new food and cultural insights that plays a very important part in my overall education. This will be recognised by companies in Europe as a bonus point on the CV, as in the end, graduate recruitment is more about recruiting people who can face different situations, different forms of stress and deliver something quickly rather than recruiting experts on International Accounting Standards.
Finally, I am convinced that studying in India in IIM-L , in the same way as working here, gives every foreigner an insight and a sense of Indian culture, history and society that is far more interesting than any form of tourism.
Jerome Glynn Smith is an exchange student in IIM Lucknow currently in the second year of the PGP Program from ESCP Europe.