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Three Critical Challenges

Another big regulatory challenge is certainty of the passing of the iim bill, 2017, which is overdue in the winter session of parliament

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There is serious concern among management educators, policymakers and regulatory bodies like AICTE and UGC about the dwindling fortunes of B-schools. It is a big irony of the current economic scenario where the Indian economy is showing stellar performance but with shrinking job opportunities for MBA/PGDM pass-outs. Indian B-schools, even after six decades of illustrious legacy, are facing some of their biggest challenges in recent years. Three key challenges are related to implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution, regulatory upheavals and a serious crunch of competent leaders in B-schools at all levels.

1.  4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)
Industry 4.0, the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) was originally coined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Hanover Fair in 2011 but it gained global attention when the Founder CEO of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, emphatically proclaimed its global emergence at Davos in 2016.  In his famous book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he has said, “The changes are so profound that from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril”. The 4th Industrial Revolution is showing its full force today in many industrialised nations including India, due to the exponential growth of new fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Internet of  Things (IOT), 3D Printing, Quantum Computing, Driverless Vehicles, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Material Sciences etc.

The 4th Industrial Revolution has had a visible impact on the curriculum and course offering  of Ivy League B-schools.  In India, a few B-schools have taken cognisance of the rising storm created by the 4IR and have introduced a few new courses mainly on A1, IOT, 3D Printing, Robotics, but a large number of B-schools are still suffering from a mindset of Industry 2.0 or Industry 3.0.

One of the main reasons for the poor employability of Indian MBAs in recent years has been a casual approach towards these revolutionary changes.  A quote of Nobel Laureate in Economics (2013), Robert J. Shiller, Professor at Yale University, is very apt in describing the Indian B-schools’ apathy towards 4 IR, “You cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance.  We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

2.  Archaic Regulatory Regimes & IIM Bill 
Challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution are forcing Indian B-schools to adopt these radical changes very quickly and become agile, proactive and resilient in the shortest possible time.  This requires new kind of regulations and mindsets from the AICTE and UGC which are still following frameworks and models of the 1990’s, when management education got an impetus from the economic reforms introduced by the Narasimha Rao Government.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, there was a big shortage of MBAs and the newly set up B-schools required some controls from the AICTE.  The current Indian scenario is completely different, in the sense that recruiters are absorbing only 25 per cent of the total intake and have a lot of complaints about the preparedness of fresh MBAs to meet the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

It is good to note that there are some changes in the thinking of the MHRD, AICTE and UGC.  They are now contemplating giving more autonomy to quality institutions. But the pace of change is very slow and cannot match the velocity of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Another big regulatory challenge is certainty of the passing of the IIM Bill, 2017, which is overdue in the Winter Session of Parliament. Although the IIM Bill, 2017 is good for the future growth of IIMs, it is certainly going to create a big problem for private self-financed PGDM institutions. (These 500 plus PGDM institutions are severely short of being on a level playing field with the IIMs.) In the last few decades, both IIMs and PGDM institutions like XLRI, MDI, SP Jain, IMI, IMT, TAPMI and BIMTECH enjoyed a similar kind of autonomy, since these institutions were free to frame their curriculum and enjoyed substantial academic autonomy.   The passing of the IIM Bill 2017 in December will create doubts in the minds of recruiters and foreign B-schools.

There is a dire need to bring a Management Education Bill which can meet the requirements of the next 20 years or so.  Indian industry will need one million managerial manpower every year in future which cannot be met by 20 IIMs only.

3. Crunch of Competent Leadership
The history of Indian Management Education bears enough evidence of the critical role played by legendary academic leaders like Vikram Sarabhai, Ravi Mathai, V. S. Vyas, Ishwar Dayal, Uday Parikh, T. V. Rao, Pradeep Khandlwala, Dharni P. Sinha, S. K. Bhattacharya, Pritam Singh etc.  These academic leaders were great institution builders and were considered to be very passionate and committed to the institutions led by them.  They were firstly supported by their boards as well as by the faculty community.

Post 2000, the exponential growth of B-schools required a larger number of competent deans and directors but there were only a few in the market.  The acute shortage of committed and competent B-school leaders has impeded the healthy growth of management education. Developing and grooming academic leaders in management education has been  neglected, a fact that has not even caught the attention of the MHRD and regulatory bodies.  Due to lack of trained and experienced deans and directors, B-schools in India are facing a serious leadership vacuum which would ultimately result in deterioration in governance standards and inefficient delivery of services.

Management education in India could attain a healthy growth and compete globally if attention is paid to these critical challenges.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Dr Harivansh Chaturvedi

The author is Alternate President, EPSI & Director, BIMTECH

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